Friday, September 30, 2011

Trying to Eliminate Anxiety & Stress Part II

Let me first start off by pointing out that the term, “eliminate” may be too much of an expectation. Better words to use are coping and managing. The other day while Madelene and I were home, we were watching The Wendy Williams Show, (yeah, how U doin’??) and she had Jennifer Grey as a guest. While roaming around the house, I heard Jennifer say something that stopped me right in my tracks. She was talking about all the surgeries she had and Wendy had asked her if she was still in pain. Jennifer replied, “I’m always in pain.” Wendy was about to console her, until Jennifer interrupted her and said, “We as humans are all in pain, it’s whether or not we learn how to manage it.” I then thought about my own situations, my anxiety, depression, all emotional burdens, etc., and it hit me: manage your pain before it manages you. (Pain can be replaced with anxiety in my case.) She is absolutely right and of course, easier said than done, but most importantly ----possible and very realistic. As I’m learning to reduce and manage my anxiety, I’m finding out more and more, that ‘for me’, it’s so important to listen to advice from those who are either still going through it, or have been through it and conquered their techniques in their coping skills.

It’s very frustrating when 90% of those around you (percentage may be higher for you) don’t understand what you’re going through. It’s that feeling of being alienated because no one understands how debilitating anxiety and depression can be. Yesterday, I finally found someone who works in the stress reduction center who finally understands me. She even remembered things that I forgot I told her over the phone. She was actually able to finish my sentences - not because she’s sick of her job - but she has a passion for helping others, and it’s evident. She asked me what I had been diagnosed with in the past. I told her, “As soon as I walk into any therapist’s office, they scan me, talk to me for a while and just check off the list as ‘generalized anxiety’.” Generalized anxiety is what every single human being on this planet has. We all have that ‘fight or flight’ response and sometimes, it’s a little more than others, but still, I have much more than just “generalized” - it’s come to the point where it’s keeping me from living a full life, due to fear, due to fatigue - it drains all the energy out of me where I cannot function. At times, I’m days without sleep which makes me absolutely useless. I’m just glad this new therapist dug deeper. She actually took the time to get to know me more than anyone else that I’ve seen. Do you know how many years it took me to find someone like her? Twenty-two years!

Now here’s the sad part about getting *good* help: most insurances do not cover licensed psychotherapy & stress reduction types of services. Although, it will cover these run of the mill clinics where you have to sit next to someone having a psychotic episode in the waiting room. They usually come from the mental hospital nearby. It’s not good to mix people with different issues, and I’m saying that in a very nice way. In fact, it’s downright dangerous. There are so many people walking around not getting the needed help due to the lack of insurance coverage. I don’t understand why you can go to a doctor, pay $5 or $10 dollars copay and yet for mental health, they feel that it should be out of pocket -as though someone was going to a health spa. “Well, that’s a luxury.” Bullshit. It’s a necessity to people’s well being just as having diabetes managed or physical therapy after a knee surgery. It’s also not fair to these specially trained psychologists who work so hard and yet don’t get recognized by insurance companies, which in the end result leads to more people having trouble managing their anxiety and depression, and worse off, suicidal thoughts or actions. Their response would be - “Well, if you’re having a mental health crisis, call the hotline or dial 911.” In doing so, you’ll be taken to the worst mental facility filled with people walking around like zombies in their pajamas rocking back and forth in a corner. ...Really? Can’t we do better than that? And most of the times, the people that are sent there come back out worse than they did when they arrived. I know, because a few people close in my life have gone that route and have come out much much worse off.

But I digress. It’s through my own frustrations and disappointments of how the health system works. With that being said, I’ve decided to share the coping techniques I learn with everyone else who reads this blog. I know there are tons of anxiety websites that are helpful, and some where they want you to purchase books and CDs for an outrageous amount of money. So, from time to time, you’ll see a post dedicated to anxiety and depression ---for free. Yes, that’s right! If you log onto my website from time to time, you’ll get FREE advice from yours truly. We’ll even throw in a free handbag as a gift with your subscription. OK, I’m starting to get a little nutty. Maybe I’ve already begun years ago. Always feel free to give your two cents. It’s always appreciated.

For more of Deb's articles, please visit: www.debrapasquella.com

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Trying to Eliminate Anxiety & Stress

The past week or so I’ve been suffering from insomnia. As you probably already read, I suffer from anxiety disorder and depression. I’ll sleep one night, and then be up the following two nights. The thing is, when I’m about to go to bed, I’m exhausted. Right when I start ‘falling’, is when I get these shots of adrenaline, like a ‘fight or flight’ response and jolt up as if somebody used a defibrillator on me and yelled, “CLEAR!” I sit straight up in my bed and try to catch my breath again, before returning, or better yet, hoping to go back to sleep. I’ll get about ten jolts before I finally sleep, and sometimes, I’ll be up all night too frightened to go back to sleep. Of course I scanned every online health article and ‘what it could be’ site, and I came up with a few things that made sense. Oddly enough, there was a huge message board with tons of people on it complaining about the same exact thing. I was surprised I wasn’t alone.

One suggested it may be due to indigestion and acid reflux disease. It definitely made sense since I’ve been suffering from it for years now, but it didn’t convince me 100%. The next person said it was anxiety. That one made a lot of sense, but my anxiety comes in different forms. Most of my panic attacks leave me exhausted. Also, why is it that I am at my calmest when these jolts strike? So I scratched that theory out. Then I saw a woman post something that made it all too clear. She said it was adrenal fatigue. Last year I was told by my OB/GYN that I have a hormonal imbalance. Adrenal fatigue occurs when your adrenal glands aren’t functioning so well. They produce a variety of hormones which our body needs. It can be caused by chronic stress, anxiety disorder and can also lead into depression if not taken care of due to its lack of ‘feel good’ hormones being produced. In worse cases, it can also lead to fibromyalgia for some women. But it all results in one common denominator: stress & anxiety.

Although I haven’t been tested for this and yes, I have self-diagnosed myself, I truly believe that doctors don’t do enough research enough when it comes to someone not feeling well, or someone having chronic fatigue - they like to use blanket diagnosis’ - perhaps a safer one so they don’t get in trouble if they’re wrong - (CYA type of thing). Adrenal fatigue can also make you feel light-headed and dizzy. Last week, I heard a ‘pop’ in my head and I literally fell to the floor due to the dizzy spell. I blacked out while it happened. I had to be sent to the hospital and all they did was look into my eyes with a light and sent me back home. The doctor explained that it ‘must have been’ a blood vessel that popped in my head. I looked at him and said, “So in other words I had an aneurysm that bursted and you’re sending me home now???” He then went on to say that we have blood vessels that pop in our heads all the time, but don’t necessarily hear it all that much. The dippy nurse next to him said, “Yeah, like I totally hear my head popping all the time!” ---Umm, what? Anyway, I was taken back by the lack of research over my ‘pop in the head’ and the dizzy spell that made me black out. No cat scan? No other type of test other than a DWI type of test?

I insisted on more help. I went to my doctor the other day and she is sending me to a stress reduction center where a licensed psychotherapist will help me learn to overcome my anxiety and learn better coping skills. I have changed my diet a little- no refined sugars, less carbs, more protein and more fruit. I’m also on a vitamin regimen of 1,000 mg of vitamin D3, C, B12 & CoQ10. I cycle 3-5 times per week, (depending if I got enough sleep that night) and I have been trying to meditate more. So far, I have been feeling better overall, but the adrenal shocks are just driving me absolutely nuts! Interestingly enough, I received an email from Ryan Rivera, publisher and founder of Calm Clinic who is going to be a guest writer for me in the upcoming days in regards to anxiety and panic attacks.

His bio reads: “Ryan Rivera has spent 7 years of his life suffering from, as he calls it, the ‘whole package’ – panic attacks, severe anxiety, agoraphobia, social anxiety, unbearable physical symptoms, headaches, neck pains, constant tension, diarrhea, palpitations, pounding heart. After trying numerous different treatments for his anxiety (including various medication) a tipping-point in his life made him overcome his emotional problems. Ryan made a number of 'huge leaps' toward anxiety elimination and a more fulfilling life. His successes inspired and gave him determination to help other people who suffer from the same condition as he did and show them the light at the end of the tunnel.”

I’m looking forward to his article and can’t wait to hear some of what he has to say about treating anxiety and panic disorders as well as his opinions about the medications being distributed out there. I prefer hearing from people who have been through it, not just studied it. I’m more for the natural approach and don’t believe in medication, so I’m excited to learn more about Ryan’s methods. If you have any questions or suggestions regarding anxiety/panic disorder or depression, please feel free to leave a comment or you can directly email me. What are some things you do to try to eliminate stress and anxiety? I would love to know for personal reasons as well as for anybody else reading this.

For more of Deb's articles, please visit: www.debrapasquella.com

Monday, September 26, 2011

Conspiracy Theories: Do You Believe Them?

Sometimes we need a little stir in our news stream opposing to what we think and know when it comes to the world, and other times, sometimes those little ‘stirs’ are taken too far in my opinion. For instance, remember when the swine flu was going around? Everyone was so scared about this flu that it nearly left me paralyzed with anxiety. (What doesn’t though?) Even my wife was hesitant to shake her clients’ hands and I wouldn’t dare open a doorknob without my sleeve. Then, when the swine flu did hit me, it was in fact...the flu. Nothing more, nothing less. I got through it with no medication and I treated it like any other flu. When all of the hype simmered down and the swine flu was somewhat of a distant thing, the government was adamant about having everyone get the swine flu vaccination. Wow, what a good idea, but lemme’ Google it first. I always, always Google anything ‘new’ or questionable. They had tons of videos out saying that the H1N1 vaccine was giving people nerve damage, and how one young girl convulsed 24/7 and lost all ability to function her limbs and could only walk backwards without having seizures. Click here for the video. Then it went further... A U.S. female soldier put out some “sensitive information” on Youtube. You can click here to see it. She explained that our troops were being trained to use road blocks to ensure that all people living here in the states have taken the vaccine by placing a “shackle” or, I.D. bracelet around their wrists with numbers on it, saying that they were vaccinated. And if you deny the shot, you’ll be boarded on some bus that takes you to concentration camps. I mean...really?

Let’s bring it back to a recent time when the east coast had that earthquake last month. All conspiracy theorists screamed about how it was a nuclear blast in the government’s deep underground bases. There’s a video (click here to see it) of what they claim is an underground world beneath us, and we don’t have any clue about it. Throughout history, people have been wondering about the government’s actions: the Montauk Monster from Plum Island, the high frequency magnetic waves by HAARP (High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program) that are believed to be for communication only is now thought to be producing massive earthquakes to control the population and last to my knowledge, but not least, the manmade hurricanes to destroy property and raise money for big businesses while the average middle class struggles to get back on their feet. There are so many conspiracy theories it’ll blow your mind. I know a few people who go on about this where this is actual “news” to them - not just a propaganda running rampant. I sometimes have to step away slowly and keep them at arm’s length. You can seriously get sucked into these messy stories. How about the theory that T. Boone Pickens, Texas billionare has paid off Texas lawmakers for their land rich in natural resources, mostly bodies of water? It’s “said” that when and if there is a huge catastrophe, that his water will be dowsed with anti-psychotic drugs so the public won’t panic. Another theory is that the drugs in the water will be able to control our minds. I mean....really? Most of these theories are religiously based upon the Revelations, so to some people, these are the times. We're living in the Revelations where we will see the world eventually come to an end. In my opinion, we're 'in it', but we won't be alive to see it the actual doomsday.

Honestly though, much of it is very interesting and would be so scary if it were true. That’s why we grab onto it - like a horror movie but a bit more ‘realistic’ to our minds because well, it ‘can’ happen, right? Do you think all of these conspiracy theorists are trying to save humankind, or do you think they’re a bunch of crazy alarmists? I’ve questioned it before and found myself in the midst of very intelligent people chatting about all of these things that have yet to come or have already been done, and I’m not too sure what to believe. The Montauk Monster I do believe. I think that Plum Island is experimenting with something that’s undisclosed to the public. I do believe that the government knows much more than the public, and thank God because if we know, then the terrorists know. Sometimes being uninformed is a good idea. What about cameras all over the streets? They catch criminals, rapists, hit and runs and catch the person within hours. That’s good news to me and keeps me somewhat safe. But does it? What about the long term aspects of it when the government will try to control your every move - “big brother”? Did you know that your grocery store’s price card that’s on your keychain is linked with everything you ever bought so that they can have a better idea of what you like to offer you things you’ll most likely buy? Or, is it the government wanting this info? And if it is, why would they want to know how many gallons of milk I bought? Crazy, right? And one more last thing... Have you heard about the NYPD having military strength to blow up a huge plane if one were to try to target another building in Manhattan? I love that idea and feel 100 times safer knowing our NYC cops are now trained like the military is. Some don’t like that idea at all and say that they have too much power. What do you think?

For more of Deb's articles, please visit: www.debrapasquella.com

Thursday, September 22, 2011

"It Gets Better, I Promise" ...Does It?

You’ve probably already heard or read about Jamey Rodemeyer. He was a 14 year old freshman from Buffalo, NY who was being bullied in school and on the internet. From an article on the Washington Post, they stated that on a Formspring account, which many kids have, he received messages such as, “JAMIE IS STUPID, GAY, FAT ANND UGLY. HE MUST DIE!” an anonymous commenter said. “I wouldn't care if you died. No one would. So just do it :) It would make everyone WAY more happier!” said another. Jamey then put a video up called, “It Gets Better”, giving kids around the world a positive message about preventing suicide and how things do get better, but unfortunately, he ended up taking his own life last Sunday. In the video, you can see the hurt, the pain, the agony of this boy and how he was still struggling, yet still giving a positive message to everyone out there listening. This video breaks my heart.


I’m going to come clean about something in hopes that both these young girls, (my nieces on my wife's side) reads this. I’m not sure if they even read my blog, but many months ago, one of my nieces was being viciously bullied on Formspring. When she was thirteen, I swear to you she had the mannerisms and maturity of a twenty-five year old. She holds herself together beautifully and the both of them are absolutely stunning in so many ways. (I’m not just saying that because I love them!) So one day, I saw “Laura” post up her Formspring account. “Ask me anything”, she said, which many kids do these days. The problem with this forum is, it leaves a lot of undesirables and haters commenting anonymously and toying around with other kids’ emotions. Comment after comment was nothing but the most vicious remarks, name calling and even a “kill yourself” statement. I took it upon myself to write an anonymous comment, letting her know that her haters are her biggest fans and most of all, these “anonymous” jerks are all jealous of her. She kept answering all of these negative comments and so I wrote, “Why feed the monsters? You’re giving them too much power. Get rid of this forum and set up a blog where only YOU have the control.” And she did thank God. She even replied to me, “Is this an adult?” I didn’t write like her haters, “Sup, take yo site down these haterz are whack yo!” I should have, to just ‘fit in’.

I am honestly so frightened that my own blood related nieces and my one nephew are growing up way too fast. I fear that one day they’ll be online getting these same messages. Just the other day, my 10 year old niece was on her iPad (yes, her iPad) and asked me a question about my facebook status. I cringed knowing that she even had a facebook account. The problem is, the internet is an evil place where creeps and bullies get to hide behind a screen and make fun of someone who they’re jealous of or just don’t like. It’s a recipe for disaster. You may disagree with me, but I’m blaming this on the leniency of the parents letting their kids go onto the internet without any parental controls. On the playground, it’s different. The kids are face to face. On the internet, the kids don’t have to show their cowardly faces, so they do much more damage. I don’t know what I would do if I found out one of my little ones were getting bullied. I’d probably wanna wrap a couple of cement blocks on their little feet and fling them in the nearest puddle, but instead, I should be knocking down the doors of the parents of these bullies. Ah, but that’s not my job - it’s not my place to do so. I’m actually very happy I don’t have kids just for this reason alone. I’d be too overprotective, and the only technology my kid would be typing on would be a calculator or a typewriter, or at least navigate the internet with parental controls. We need more parental controls in these kids’ lives. It gets better when somebody actually does something about the bullying. RIP Jamey. I only wish he would have viewed his own video about a hundred times so that he’d still be with us today inspiring kids all over the world. What a shame.

For more of Deb's articles, please visit: www.debrapasquella.com

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Why Did You Decide to Become a Lesbian?

Yesterday morning as I was checking my email, I came across an old friend from high school who befriended me on Facebook. We batted a few emails back and forth, and with the last email she had sent me, she asked, “Why did you decide to become a lesbian?” At first, I wanted to respond quickly, swiftly, and of course without thinking. I then paused and wondered if this woman had any type of exposure to any of the LGBT community, or at least knew someone who was gay or lesbian. She was brought up in a very rigid Catholic household. That in itself tells me where this bizarre question came from. She’s also raising her new family with her husband the same way. Nothing wrong with that. So I sat and thought about it, and instead of flat out saying, “Are you serious”, with a sarcastic slap in the face, I decided to slap her in the face with a joke she can either think is serious or not. I replied with, “Well, I thought I’d get more guys that way.” I was wondering how serious she would have taken that or if she would have laughed and said, “Oh stop being silly”, but she shocked me and said, “Deb, you could meet so many nice men that would love to be with you...” She went on to compliment me in different ways (making me feel bad about my “choice”) and then went on to tell me about my chosen sin.

Whenever I get a friend request from an old friend who may not know I’m a lesbian, I cringe. The whole, “So are you married” question always pops up and of course, they all trek into your photo albums to get a gist of what’s happening in your life. When my friend saw my wedding photos, she said, “How is that possible?” Of course, I told her that gay marriage was legal in a few states, and hey, in our own as well. It’s amazing how sheltered some people are as far as knowing what’s going on in the world. It’s also amazing how she chose to phrase her sentence: “Why did you decide to be a lesbian?” In a way she’s right. I did decide to “be” a lesbian, only due to falling in love with my partner, and now wife. I could have chosen to marry a man and have kids, but that wouldn’t be fair for him. That man deserves a wife who is going to love him like a man, as a husband and as the father of her children. I didn’t want to live a lie. I chose this path because it felt natural, despite the religious claims that being a homosexual is unnatural. Further emails had other questions like, “When did you know you liked girls” - and honestly, I knew I leaned more toward females since I was in diapers. So why did I become a lesbian? I guess I’ll happily blame that on my best friend, my wife.

For more of Deb's articles, please visit: www.debrapasquella.com

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Mom's Unconventional Healing Methods

Over the years I’ve written about my parents, mostly about my dad and his botched up Brooklynite accent and slang, but mom is a whole different can-o-beans. And despite her claims of being honest and how she never lies, I’d like to take this time out to dedicate this lovely post to my dear, sweet mama. Her mission: to take care of everyone she loves, even if it may be an unconventional route. She means well. She lies for the ‘good’ and never intentionally tries to deceive anyone. She’ll even convince you that all the “bad things” in life are supposed to be good for you. And sadly, she wins out and you just have to go by her set of rules of what’s best for you. So here’s a little post about my mom...

It’s a cold winter day and my sister and I rush over to our parents’ house to warm up by the fire and have some of her famous pasta fagioli soup. I notice that the soup is thicker than normal, but still delicious. Normally, whenever I see mom make the soup, she gives me the first cup, usually very ‘soupy’ because it hasn’t absorbed into the beans and pasta as of yet. That was a clue that the soup that we were eating might have been cooked a day before or so, perhaps two days, ...hmm, maybe three? “I just made it this morning and let it sit”, she says, darting her eyes back and forth at my sister and I, hoping the truth wouldn’t be revealed while we’re still enjoying our soup. She refuses to tell anyone 'when' she made anything. You just have to trust that it's all good and that she's been doing this for years. Her ammo for me: "You've been eating this for years and nothing happened to you!"

It was a Wednesday morning. I pulled up right when she came back from Shoprite to do her groceries. We hung out for a bit and then later on I left. The following Sunday, I returned to have dinner with them. She said, “Oh, we’re making burgers on the grill.” I immediately asked, “Oh you went shopping again?” She said, “No, I went the other day.” (5 days ago is “the other day”). “Did you freeze the meat or something?” She looks at me and now insists that the chopped meat she got “the other day” was in fact purchased yesterday. I challenge her on this. She lost. I felt bad so I made a trip out to Shoprite and bought chopped meat as well as filet mignons so she wouldn’t feel bad about being ‘outed’ so to speak. The evening went well.

All throughout my life I’ve battled with my weight. I was constantly in and out of Weight Watcher’s, going to the gym, trying all these new fad diets and it worked some of the time (the times I stuck to it) and of course, I went back to my old ways. My mom would always put something entirely filled with fat, like bacon or meatballs in front of me and I would graciously turn it down and let her know I was trying to lose my stalker, aka: my ass. She says, “Oh c’mon! Our family has eaten this all our lives and we’re all still alive.” This is her pitch. When her pitch didn't work, she got out the big guns and would tell me about Uncle Patti. Remember Uncle Patti? He jogged every single day of his life, he never ate meat, only fish, fruits and vegetables. Then, at the age of 32 - BAM - he had a heart attack! Do you want some gravy on your meatballs?” God forbid I should come home with pain from working out - a sore muscle or just something minor: “See? All that working out isn’t healthy for you. Look! You can’t even move!” Just recently, she called me up to ask why I wasn’t around and I said I had pain in my shoulder from sleeping the wrong way. She said, “No, that’s from all the cycling you do.” I just shook my head and said, “Mom? I cycle with my legs.”

Ever since I can remember, I suffered greatly with menstrual cramps. I was a rambunctious new teen who had a newfound love for beer. My mom never let me drink until later in life, at the age of sixteen. It had to be in the house though. That never held up so well, but it was a good reminder that I had somewhat of an “ok” with sipping my favorite brew. My pain increased a lot as I got older, so I would pop 800 mg of Motrin all the time. Sometimes, that wouldn’t even help. So she sat me down to tell me the old Italian remedy to get rid of cramps: blackberry brandy. And let me tell you, it worked like a charm. I used to bring a little container of brandy with me while I was menstruating to work (just a shot), but I could have been fired for it. If I had a toothache, a shot of scotch was suggested. “Oh we’ve been doing this for years.” she says as she joins me in having a nip or two. I remember one night I came flying downstairs because I had chest pains. She goes straight for the fridge and tells me to drink this really fast. She hands me a Sam Adams. “Ma! I might be having a heart attack! How about an aspirin?” She turns to me and says, “That’s impossible, you’re only 20 years old. Drink the beer. Mark my word, it’s gas.” And wouldn’t you know it, I belched like a backwoods bean-eating hillbilly. Another time, I remember I was getting ready for a date. The girl I was about to meet was a former alcoholic and currently in AA. When I told my mother she was in AA while waiting for my date to arrive, she looks at me and says, “How can she be part of our family? She doesn’t drink? Are you kidding?” She pours me a glass of Carlo Rossi from a huge jug, told me to relax and then suggested, “You better drink now before she gets here.”

And now, I am off to have a midday martini with mom. I wouldn't trade her in for anything. Love you, Mom!

For more of Deb's articles, please visit: www.debrapasquella.com

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Stop. Stoppen. इसे बंद Fermarlo. Dejar Que.

Sometimes certain friendships are easily obtained, maintained and can last through the roughest and toughest times, but have you ever had to reel it in and draw back from one for whatever reason? To have a friend, you must be a friend, but what if that one friend constantly does things to disrespect you or your relationship with inappropriate sexual talk or constant digs? First time, no problem. “Please stop” should be enough for the inappropriateness to cease. When you find yourself asking the same person to stop taunting you a million and one times with sexually explicit innuendoes or any chatter alike, isn’t it time to walk away? I can be a tough cookie with my opinions and being bluntly honest to a fault, but I’m very quick to forgive and understand people. I don’t usually “fire” my friends or just make rash decisions in cutting ties. I tell it like it is and if they cannot handle that, then I’m not a good match. If a person goes above and beyond their call of rudeness, and disrespects my wife, that’s a double whammy & chances are, your plank is ready for you to walk upon.

I’ve noticed that more of my male friends would always take it a step further. They’d ‘test the waters’ so to speak, or try to see how far they can go, but when a woman does the same, I have to wonder what their true agenda is. Usually, most women know when to stop - they get the hint faster than say a man would. Sometimes you have to spell it out for some men. With women, it’s more of an understanding. It’s more of a 'I’ve been there so I’m not going to do that to you' kind of thing. So my latest perception of what has recently happened to me, has taken me by surprise. I’d like to think that most women are sensitive to sexual jokes - more on a disrespectful level - not just a dirty joke or two. I’m no prude, I love to joke around and listen to someone talk about sex - but not in a crude and vulgar way.

Another scenario is when another lesbian woman takes a liking or is attracted to one of my siblings. If you are respectful in telling me so, then I smile and usually thank them for the nice compliment they have given to one of my sisters. But if someone is going to sit there and tell me, “Yeah I wouldn’t mind hitting that” - you’re usually going to get a few choice words by yours truly. If you do the same to my wife or myself, the same applies. When it’s done too often enough where I’m always ‘ducking’ to miss the hits - then what am I to do? Just blow it off as yet another inappropriate remark? There are certain social cues that should be taken, but for whatever reason, when a verbal request to stop is not taken seriously, then my tolerance goes down to a zero. When you disrespect a friend, there are consequences. I totally understand some people’s needs to constantly try to be funny, but sometimes the joke goes a bit too far and pushes people away. After the last sexual remark that was directed towards my wife and I, it was time to delete the friendship, media-wise and reality-wise. Why can't the word "stop" just be enough?

For more of Deb's articles, please visit: www.debrapasquella.com

Monday, September 12, 2011

It's Just Too Much...

Have we grieved enough, New York? Is it out of our systems or do we have to keep going on until one day, our own name is written on a plaque...or tombstone? Ten years gone by and it still feels as though it happened yesterday. In my honest and strong-minded opinion, many people are recreating the disaster, more so than just a visit to their resting place. Most survivors of 9/11 have PTSD. Some have been in therapy for ten years, and others keep it in recreating that day over and over inside their minds. On Sunday morning, I turned on the TV to notice every single local channel dedicating it to the 9/11 memorial. It’s nice to see that. But some channels decided to display those awful images and footage of what took place a decade ago. They kept showing the plane going through the second tower over and over again. They also played clips of people falling - jumping out of windows. Enough! Each time I see those images, my stomach starts to hurt and I get a huge lump in my throat. It’s just too much, even after ten years. Why focus on the tragedy instead of just the memorial services?

To take it a bit further, how many times would you want to go to your loved one’s funeral? Think about it. If you’ve ever lost a loved one (family member, husband, wife, child, brother or sister), how many times can you endure another funeral service for them? Haven’t you said your peace? Haven’t you cried enough? In fact, not too many people know this, but I have a huge fear of wakes and funeral services. I guess many people do, but my fear is not only dreading a loss of a loved one, but dreading the fact that I WILL pass out, as I’ve done in the past. For me, it’s just too much to handle. But I have to do it. Why do it ten more times? I think it should be a personal choice whether or not you want to visit your loved one’s resting place. I don’t believe the 9/11 memorial services are helping people who are suffering from PTSD. It really just makes things worse. “Never Forget” - No, how can we? We wouldn’t forget regardless of the memorials, but to do this every single year on the exact date and time? It’s just too much.

The site where they built the memorial is absolutely stunningly beautiful. What a wonderful tribute and remembrance New York has given to us. But, let us go when we’re able to. Let us go on our own personal time. Let us go...when we’re ready. I don’t believe anyone who has lost a loved one on 9/11 will ever forget, especially on that date. I decided to remain silent about it on my social networking sites. I've seen many people changing their profile pictures to a nice photo of the buildings with a dove, or candle, etc., and then I saw someone who placed a photo up of the buildings burning. Why? Is it to instill fear and grief? Can’t we just have time to heal without seeing the images of a building in a plume of smoke? Think about this: at a normal memorial site, for instance, a little visual on the corner of the road where “Johnny” got killed in a car accident. The only photos will be of him. It won’t be a photo of his smashed car or a footage of his accident. It won’t be a photo of him lying on the street. It’s the memory of Johnny - not the tragedy. I guess that doesn’t compare to a terrorist attack though. I can see one year, two years, even three years holding the memorial services, but ten years? It’s just too much.

For more of Deb's articles, please visit: www.debrapasquella.com

Friday, September 09, 2011

Talk to Me

This week from Sept. 4th - the 10th is National Suicide Prevention Week. The Trevor Project is running a “TALK TO ME” campaign, where they encourage people to be available to those who need emotional support, especially if they’re thinking about suicide. They’ve asked people to place the “TALK TO ME” logo onto their Facebook accounts as well as embed them onto their blogs if they have one for one week. While that’s all find and good, to be honest with you, I don’t know one person who has put this logo up onto their website(s) who would actually sit down and take the time out to help someone in need of emotional support. Most who I have seen are only putting it up just for self-promotion and the sense of “looking like a good person”, when in fact it’s utter bullshit. Place it up so people can know you’re genuinely interested in helping them. Place it up if you care about another human being’s life in jeopardy. Place it up if you have the time and patience to care for another person who’s going through emotional turmoil. If that logo is up and you don’t have the time or day to speak to a person in need of your support, then take it down.

I know what it’s like to want to take your own life and have it worsened by the people around you not caring or understanding. I know the feeling of not having anyone to talk to, to trust, to safely turn to and not feel like it’s going to be used against you. Another thing I’ve noticed is that suicide prevention campaigns usually focus on teens and the LGBT community, all the while neglecting to mention how many midlife crisis cases are running rampant and all of the mothers who are going through postpartum depression, or the parents who have had their share of stressors in their lives. While it’s easy to say that most teens experience this and are more likely to carry their mission out - think about the pride and most of all, the wits and intelligence of an adult not voicing their desire to take their own life in fear they’ll be made a mockery of or looked down upon. There are huge stakes when it comes to an adult saying, “I wanna kill myself.” Most keep it quiet until it’s too late. So I’m asking all of my readers, to not only look for signs of depression/suicidal thoughts with their teen loved ones or within the LGBT community, but also look within your circle a bit more. Take a peek at the girl next door raising her child by herself, take a look at the guy who just lost his job and his wife, take a look at the people who have lost their homes recently due to the floods who have nowhere to stay other than a temporary couch at in a relative’s home.

Just take a look....before it’s too late.
Click here if you're willing to talk to someone in need. If you need someone to talk to, email me at deb@debrapasquella.com.

For more of Deb's articles, please visit: www.debrapasquella.com

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Accepting Disappointments

"Sometimes we expect more from someone than they are able or willing to give. It’s easy to see who we want a person to be and ignore all the signs that point to who they actually are. Give people enough time and they always reveal their true selves. Whether you choose to accept the truth is up to you. Ultimately, you can't blame someone for being who they are. The fault lies with you, for believing they were different." ~ 5 Degrees of Comedy ~ Carlos Wallace

My friend Carlos said it so perfectly this morning. (Thank you Carlos.) There are many facets to people to which we sometimes fail to see for many reasons. Speaking for myself, I personally like to give the benefit of the doubt when it comes to those I care about. I want to believe that their intentions are good. I want to believe that they would never hurt me. I want to believe they would never betray me...and so on and so on. Then after a few disappointments, I realized something: they’re human. They’re like me. I know I’ve disappointed some people in my life that I regret and in some cases, I don’t regret because that was my heartfelt choice - not to hurt them intentionally - but to look out for my well-being, even if that meant saying “no” to a friendship or not being there for someone when I was needed most. So now, whenever I get that tinge of disappointment from someone in my life, I try to put myself into their shoes and perhaps, ask some internal questions of my own: Were they going through something personal? Maybe they have their own set of issues to tend to? And if it’s a friendship (whether related or not) that’s been recently reunited, maybe that person isn’t ready to ‘chitchat’ and do lunch yet, possibly having a few resentments to work on? You don't know what's going on in that person's life. It’s all about comfort levels. Reading too much into something can really put a distorted view on whatever situation you’re upset about. Accept it, don’t overanalyze and leave the blame game home because in reality - nobody knows the truth except for that person who had disappointed you. Of course, every situation is different. I recently started learning this valuable life lesson.

"If you're betrayed, release disappointment at once. By that way, the bitterness has no time to take root." ~Toba Beta

The one thing I know is, even in relationships, I don’t care if you’ve been with someone for one month or twenty years - nobody knows anyone fully. You always hear someone after a divorce say, “I thought I knew him/her.” No. You’d like to think that you do. I think once we ‘think’ we know someone fully, we put into our minds that they’re ‘predictable’ and sometimes, downright boring, when in fact, there can be a whole different person lying underneath to which you never chose to tap into. I still tell my wife that I’ve known for over sixteen years that I’m still getting to know her. There are so many different and wonderful aspects about her, that in a sense, it would be presumptuous to say, “Oh well I know how she is.” With anything in life, the day you stop asking questions is the day you stop learning. People change. Hearts change. Minds change. It’s up to us whether we can adapt to every single situation. And let me tell ya, it’s hard sometimes because change can be the biggest stressor for anyone. “We grew apart” is a big reason why people separate. Even friendships, “We just went our own separate ways.” And that’s fine. As long as you accept it, don’t overanalyze and leave the blame game at home, you’ll be better suited for the next round of “disappointments” that cross your path.

For more of Deb's articles, please visit: www.debrapasquella.com

Friday, September 02, 2011

Tiptoeing Around Time Bombs

Sometimes I hear people saying, “Well today it seems more accepted than it did years ago”, or perhaps you get someone who blurts out, “Years ago they didn’t have this type of thing.” Whether they’re talking about people who are gay or lesbian, I’m directing this post toward the transgender community. With all communities, nothing is “new”, it’s just more exposed to society. It’s not like one day somebody realized this “man” isn’t really a man, but because our LGBT community has fought so hard to become part of society; part of everyday interaction because they are people, plain and simple. We’re done hiding. Not all of us are ‘in your face homos & transgender people’ - we simply want the same rights as every other human. We may not get the respect of everyone and we certainly don’t expect it - but we would like to have a peaceful life with the equality of any heterosexual God-given gender born person on this planet. Maybe that’s not realistic thinking, but we’ve come this far thanks to New York recognizing same sex marriage finally, and people beginning to understand more about the transgender community.

When it was announced that Chaz Bono was going to be part of the cast of Dancing With the Stars, my jaw dropped to the floor like many other’s did. I was so impressed with the acceptance in many aspects. This is a huge milestone for America, and sadly, some Americans aren’t taken this all too well. Many Christians are demanding their fellow Christians to not watch the show, yet they’ll turn on another station to watch The Real Housewives of New Jersey, where some women on that show are going through their own “transitions” - the transition to change their “God-given” faces, their “God-given” breasts and to nip, tuck & push up other parts that they’re not happy with. So that’s acceptable, right? I brought this up at local restaurant while sitting at the bar to a so called Christian man and he said, “Well that’s none of my business what they do to their bodies” - speaking in regards to plastic surgery to ‘enhance’ a woman’s features. Then I asked, “Then what business is it of yours of that same woman wanted features to become a man?” He got very wishy-washy with me and said, “Ah, I don’t know, it’s just not natural.” I replied, “So a boob job is? A facelift and tummy tuck are all ‘God-given’? That's natural, right?”

Complete silence.

We’re all transitioning, whether it be trying to lose or gain weight, changing our hair, changing ourselves into something that’ll make us happier. Here’s where I get concerned with any “transition” of any kind. Here's where my opinion may coincide with those who disagree of the lifestyle of transgender folks. It's when you risk your health to become something that you’re ‘not’ - then it’s a whole different ball game. It’s more of a psychological setback that puts the person in a difficult situation. For instance, I just got into a little tiff with a close friend we’ll call, “Sara”, who lives in NYC. She is a transgender woman who used to make a six figure income, who had the most beautiful apartment in the East Village and who lived most of her life as a very feminine gay man. “She” wanted to stop working for a while so that she can take a break and transition without the judgments of her fellow coworkers as she changed dramatically each and every month. Each time we went to see her, it was just amazing to see “another person”, yet all the while, the same “Sara” we both knew and loved. After a year of being without a job and privately transitioning, taking the needed hormones to maintain her new gender, she eventually ran out of funds and then had a very difficult time finding work, sadly due to her appearance. She wasn’t quite ready physically and emotionally. She didn’t have the necessary funds to cover her hormones and needed medical attention. She lost her apartment, her job and her ability to focus on what’s “important” --I guess that would be in my own personal opinion. She started couch surfing and became very belligerent if anyone tried to help her with advice, or anyone who tried to relate to her. She’d rather spend money on hormones to gain more feminine features, rather than spend money on bread and water to survive. Her health deteriorated, both physically and mentally and she tried to commit suicide. Many transgender people who have a difficult time transitioning end up taking their own lives, so I asked her what was more important, food on the table, a roof over her head or to be a fully transitioned woman. I tried voicing my opinion on Twitter, and I had a few interesting responses.

One transgender MTF said, “You really don’t understand what we go through.” Another trans woman stated, “It’s body dysmorphia and our number one priority is to be ourselves first and foremost.” That last comment really struck a chord with me because now I ask, if it’s “body dysmorphia” as anorexia is, then wouldn’t that be considered a mental illness? Wouldn’t that be a sickness where the person needs help? Keep in mind, only one trans woman stated that, so I’m not saying “all” think that, but I was quite surprised to hear something of that nature. We toggled back and forth with this argument, but sadly it didn’t end peacefully because I can’t understand how someone can put a “transition” in front of physical and mental health. Hey - I would love to be skinny, but hell if I’m gonna starve myself or risk my heath doing it. I guess you can say I’m in the process of transitioning to a “thinner person” - but sometimes it takes time and it definitely takes patience getting there. I believe everyone, in their own ways are transitioning in life. But when does it come to the point of risking your life just to be something you’re ‘not’ - something you know you can be or feel that ‘you are’ spiritually & emotionally already? I know this post may offend some people and yes, I may lose a couple of buddies due to my way of thinking, but I’m being honest. I may not understand what transgender people go through, but I do understand that your health is the most important above all. Am I way off on this? And on top of that, through my argument with Sara, it came to brutal verbal blows that left me shocked and surprised over her behavior. Sadly, our friendship ended.

My last rant has to do with the the unbalanced amounts of estrogen being pumped into a man's body. In my own experiences having prior transgender friends who have fully transitioned, I have encountered so many vile arguments, behaviors and unnecessary attacks from them. Some of my former and current friends would get highly offended if I slipped on a pronoun and called "her" a "him". I rarely slipped, but if I did, it was usually with somebody I knew as a former gender in the past. It's like a best friend changing their first name. I slipped. But the amount of anger that was lashed out at me was just uncalled for. One former friend of mine went as far as to write an email to a mutual friend of ours to tell her I was a bigot for calling "her" a "him" and then started calling me Hitler, along with a few photos of concentration camps. I mean, really? I have been attacked by numerous transgender women - not all - but enough to make me want to keep my distance a little. There are tons of stories regarding transgender women who cannot deal with the emotional wellness (or the lack thereof) from the hormone therapy itself. There's a reason why PMS makes natural women crazy.

For instance, last year, a transgender woman went batshit crazy on the police for being called a man. Taken from The Advocate, it reads: "A transgender woman in Idaho — reportedly upset over local police identifying her as male — is accused of rigging four pipe bombs, setting her car on fire, and running nude down a highway. Fifty homes in Payette, Idaho, had to be evacuated after four pipe bombs were found on the porch of 53-year-old Catherine Carlson's trailer home; a bomb squad robot later detonated them. Authorities say that in addition to setting up the bombs, Carlson doused her car with gasoline and set it ablaze inside a storage facility. Carlson was spotting racing down a rural highway wearing no clothes. Carlson was being held on suspicion of use of weapons of mass destruction, arson, and indecent exposure; she allegedly told police she wanted to bring attention to her "plight" as a transgender woman. Carlson received a traffic citation in 2007 and had her name listed as Daniel Carlson on some documents (Carlson had gender-reassignment surgery in 1980). Since then Carlson has been jailed four times for minor infractions. During one of those instances, Carlson raised an objection that she was placed in a solitary jail cell instead of with other women." --The Advocate

In conclusion, I'd like to say that I am very happy that the acceptance of the LGBT community has taken a positive turn, but through my own experiences, and numerous experiences in dealing with those of the transgender community, I feel safer removing the "T" in the LGBT in regards for my own life in fear of another vile outburst, but the thought just saddens me and it goes against what I stand for. I guess for me, this was the straw that broke the camel's back, regarding my recent falling out with my friend. In trying to help her, she lashed out in ways that I will never forget. In all honesty, am I a bigot? Am I being prejudice? Am I acting like "Hitler" as one friend stated? Or, do you think I've been burned one too many times and now have developed a fear of befriending another person who is transitioning? I guess I don't understand what they go through and maybe it's just better that way. I'm sick and tired of tiptoeing around these time bombs.

For more of Deb's articles, please visit: www.debrapasquella.com