Friday, May 25, 2018

Grief & Loneliness

As I've been back and forth between a couple of grief support groups, I'm learning a main theme among everyone who has lost someone dear to them: loneliness and abandonment. I'm not even speaking of feeling abandoned by the deceased loved one -- it's abandonment from friends, family, acquaintances, etc. People seem to just leave your life just. like. that. I couldn't believe all of these people felt the same way I did. When I was caregiving for my mother, my friends would either come over, or sometimes we'd meet them for a drink or two -- nothing major, but they were still in my life. After the funeral, and after all of the "condolences" and "I'm here if you need to talk" kind of gestures, it was as if every single person drove off into the sunset to never return again. It's approaching the one year mark since my mother died and I've only spent a handful of times with my own siblings. I seriously thought that it would be the total opposite. Many other people in the grief support group stated the same thing. Some were actually really upset over the absence of some of their family members -- or even just a call to say, "Hey, how you holding up?" I asked some of them if they made their own attempt to try and get together with them, some did, while others 'expected' an invite or a phone call.

Here's the thing: if all of you lost someone you love dearly, then all of you are going through similar types of grieving. Some immerse themselves in their work, while others focus on their immediate family. For me, I focused on my work, but I also focused on making new friends and cultivating somewhat of a "new normal" for myself. I took on my mother's recipes to comfort my siblings when they did come over for dinner and I also delved into my hobbies, like playing guitar and doing writing projects. Many people who aren't related to you may feel awkward contacting you, or perhaps unsure of how you are. They don't want to upset you so they're on this strange boundary line of, "What if it upsets her if I call?" That's so common. But with relatives, the same baseline of grieving and delving into whatever takes their minds off their deceased loved one is absolutely normal. You have to forgive them, and you also need to seek forgiveness for being absent yourself. But is it all about forgiveness? Because technically, nobody did anything "wrong." Maybe it's just accepting what is, therefore you won't suffer the absence of your friends and family if they need more time coping with their loss.

I hope this doesn't sound bad, but I find it easier to talk to new friends if I need to vent about the loss of my mother. They don't have that look of, "Eeeeeeeeeeeek --- she's going there again!" They listen and then tell me their stories about their losses in life. It's a give and take kind of conversation, without the depressing part of the process. Sometimes, talking to someone who is grieving over the same person as you are, can conjure up a lot of tears and heartache. So give people time to deal with whatever it is they're dealing with. I mean, I would love to see my siblings every single day, but it's just not possible. They know my door is always open --- so without a doubt, if they want a "Sunday gravy" at their ancestral home, I would always welcome that.

And word of advice: if your friends have stopped contacting you, that's because they don't know how you REALLY are. CONTACT THEM. Pick up the phone -- don't text -- ask them to go out for a bite to eat with you. Invite them over. Welcome them. They feel out of sorts and scared to touch upon topics that may bring on the waterworks. They are scared. Forgive them. But don't forget about them.

I will say this... I did have one friend who basically used me as a bed & breakfast or a free dinner whenever she was bored. I was always her last resort for some reason. Both Madelene and I noticed this, but thought, "Eh, maybe we're looking too much into this."  So a few months after my mom passed, this friend called me up and said, "Hey, can I come by and hang out?" Which means, dinner drinks and a sleepover. I was like, "Sure! I would love that!" Then I got to thinking --- how nice it would be for somebody else to cook for me, since I always cook for everyone. So I said, "Hey, will you cook me something pleeeeaaaaase?" She's known to be a great cook. Minutes later she said, "Oh, sorry I forgot, I have plans." *Click*  Then the other day, she texted me and said, "Hi, I'm off tomorrow, can I come over?" This is on a Thursday. I said, "I wish I could, but you know I work that day." So then I suggested for her to come over this Memorial Weekend and BBQ with us. No response whatsoever! So basically, this girl just calls or texts me by the seat of her pants, hoping I have a free spot for her free meal ticket. She does this to a lot of people in her life, and I always wondered why they stuck around. I finally put up boundaries, told her how I felt and to also, lose my number. I haven't done that in years! It takes a lot for me to cast you out of my life for good. But again, people will use you because they think you're lonely and you have nothing better to do but grieve and sit around hoping someone comes over to visit you.

That's been my experience with this whole grieving process and how it affects relationships with your friends and family. Feeling abandoned is very normal, but remember, people are trying to be busy and take a breather from everything around them. Don't take offense to it. Just welcome them when they feel better enough to come around again.

For more of Deb's articles, please visit: www.debrapasquella.com or join her on Facebook and Twitter. Check out her cooking blog for some of her famous recipes!

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Taking a Breather

Stress can be really strange as far as symptoms go. I mean, I can't tell you how many times I've had the 'good ol' panic attack' -- but that's expected sometimes. Other times, it's insomnia and myoclonic jerking before I fall asleep, while in some cases, it's strange heart palpitations from my adrenaline rushing way too fast for my heart to keep up. I've been checked out by a cardiologist to rule out anything serious. But lately, my symptoms have been different. I noticed that I've bene fitting into my old clothes, but with a high cost. I'm not dieting either, trust that. Some days, I can't even get out of the house because I need a bathroom nearby. See where I'm heading with this one?... Of course I can freak out, go to the doctor and wonder if I have some sort of disease --- but it's stress. I remember a few years ago, a friend of mine came over for dinner. She used to be very curvy -- a thicker frame like myself. When she walked in, she looked completely different. She was thin and frail. I immediately noticed the weight loss and said, "Oh wow! You've lost a lot of weight!" And while I wanted it to come out as a compliment, it seemed to have come out as a concern. She said only one thing after that.

"Stress."

She had recently divorced her husband and in the process, had IBS due to stress and anxiety. She even said that she ate normally, except if she had to go somewhere. So now, I'm faced with this same dilemma, (except for the extreme weight loss) -- and I'm a bit taken aback by my limitations with this symptom. I tried to go out and meet a friend for dinner yesterday. As soon as I opened the door, I had to run to the bathroom. I was feeling okay the entire day! What happened? I didn't eat anything weird -- in fact, I ate lightly too. I was so disappointed to call her up and tell her that I would not be coming. I couldn't even invite her over to my house, because it was that bad.

I get so frustrated when I hear someone say, "Oh stress is a killer," and they also go into the fact that anxiety and stress can cause physical symptoms. OK ok ok --- but how do you fix it without tossing a whole bunch of benzos down your throat? I pray, I meditate, I do mindful breathing techniques, but somehow, my stress and anxiety comes out in various forms. For instance, the other day I had to go to court for a minor traffic violation. They packed me into a tiny room of 100+ people. I can literally smell what some people had for lunch. It was awful. My heart started palpitating and I thought I was going to pass out right there. So in the midst of waiting to get my name called, I closed my eyes while sitting down and did my mindful breathing right there. I didn't care if anyone saw -- it just looked like I was trying to get a snooze in. But I have to say, it did help.

I'm always trying to conquer my fears!

Last Saturday, I ventured off into another town that was about 30 minutes away from me. I took my dog too. We drove in the rain and got there safely. I didn't have any symptoms of anxiety whatsoever. I felt like I conquered this huge fear of mine and was really happy about it. But when I was leaving to go home, my heart started palpitating. I continued to start the car in the pouring rain and after my navigation pointed me in the right direction of where I was familiar --- my palpitations stopped. So subconsciously, I was afraid to get lost. But I had navigation! How does anyone get lost with navigation or a good GPS system? So these irrational fears are on the attack! Little by little, I'm exploring my limitations, or should I say --- my strength to go further and further into fighting back the fear inside. To conquer fear is to face the fear --- NOT to avoid it. So I am noting this down right now that I will not let this :"symptom" of anxiety get to me. I'm trying so hard to get back on my feet and live my life as I used to, but even better than before.

The one thing I feel terrible about is that my sincere attempt to go out and meet my friends are valid, but sometimes, that fear creeps in and wins. Little by little, you'll see me showing up more. You'll see me mingling in crowds more. You'll see me driving to new places more. I'm sick and tired of being sick and tired all the time. I did a lot this month, so right now, I am taking a breather. This even means from live streaming as well. I'm still editing and doing freelance work on the side, but my blog was the one thing that gave me joy. It let me vent. I may come on here to just give updates and let you know what helped me. I know a lot of you who read my blog suffer from anxiety and depression. I'm on a mission to not only help myself, but to help you in the process. The best person to go to for help is someone who has gone through it. So give me some time until I figure out how to cope with this new symptom of mine, which also includes prayer. Because without God, nothing is possible.

For more of Deb's articles, please visit: www.debrapasquella.com or join her on Facebook and Twitter. Check out her cooking blog for some of her famous recipes!

Saturday, May 12, 2018

To the Strongest Woman I've Ever Known on Mother's Day

"Love as powerful as your mother's for you leaves its own mark...to have been loved so deeply...will give us some protection forever." --J.K. Rowling
There are many "best moms in the whole world", but let me tell you why my mother is the best mom. Mom didn't have it easy with me. First of all, I came along seven years after my three older siblings. She was free and clear from raising yet another baby. But I surprised her and thankfully, she accepted me. I was a breech baby -- my foot came out as my dad was driving toward the hospital while my mother was in labor. She kept quiet, not wanting to stress out my father more than he already was. The birthing was the most painful and excruciating thing my mother had ever gone through. They had to turn me around while still in the womb. The umbilical cord twisted me in ten million ways, leaving me with clicking hips and a squished nose. We both were not supposed to make it out of that birthing alive. But, we made it. She had no epidural or any pain meds to relieve her from the excruciating pain that she endured. So thank you for going through hell and back for me. You're the strongest woman I know.

Mom worked so hard, taking care of all four of us and of course, taking care of Dad too. From cleaning every single room in the house from top to bottom, to doing all of our laundry and having a new meal on the table every single night.  Since I was too young for school and too young to play with my older sisters, Mom would keep me company and play with me for hours upon hours. She was my best friend. I was never out of her sight. She took me to the grocery stores and lugged me around everywhere she went. I never had a sitter, unless she went out to dinner with my dad, to which my grandmother would then help out.

One winter day, Mom took me out to the department store to buy me new ice-skates. She was nervous because I was only around 6 years old, but I wanted to ice-skate so badly like my other friends did. We went to the large pond in the middle of our town where everyone gathered to skate and play ice hockey. I put my new skates on and hobbled over to the edge of the pond with my mother holding my hand.

"You can let go now!"
"No, you'll fall and hurt yourself -- hold my hand and I'll walk along the edge with you."
"Ma, just let go," I said, trying to do it on my own.

She let go and I glided toward the middle of the pond without falling. Even though the ice had quite a few bumps along the way, I made it through like a champ. When I returned back to where Mom was standing, she smiled and said, "I can't believe how well you skate!" When we left the pond, we went to a Polynesian restaurant and ordered a Pu Pu platter which used to be my favorite thing. I looked over at Mom and said, "This was the best day of my life!" And it was.

That's how it was like growing up with Mom -- she always supported me with anything I wanted to do, even if she had to let go a little. She always stood at the edge of the 'pond' waiting for me to return, in case I needed her. If I hit a bump or two in the ice, I'd look back at my mother and would know that without a doubt, she was right there to help and support me with whatever I was going through. Her unconditional love was the one thing I could count on in life, and it still is till this day.

She's been through so much these past few years. She also stood at the edge of the pond for my father when he was ill. She took such good care of him, letting him feel reassured that if there was a bump on that icy path, that she'd be there to hold his hand. I watched how strong she tried to remain for him, while holding his hand on the edge of his hospital bed. Dad didn't like to see anybody cry, because that meant something bad was happening.

But it was that moment, when Mom said something I thought I'd never hear come out of her mouth.

While holding Dad's hand, she said very softly, "You can let go now..."

It was then I knew that without a doubt, Mom was the strongest woman I've ever known. And even while dealing with her own health issues and extreme pain, she still managed to hold all of our hands, making sure we didn't fall or hurt ourselves.
After three long torturous years battling with cancer, I stood next to her at her bed, holding her hand, caressing the side of her head, hoping somehow, she would hear the next thing I'd say to her. She wasn't supposed to make it through the night. It was my last time I would ever say goodbye to her...it was my first time I ever said to my mother,

"You can let go now, Ma...I love you."

She was my best friend, my superwoman. She was the most loving, most selfless and compassionate woman I know. I wish I was more like her, and maybe one day I will be.

So today I just want to say, thank you Mom for being our superwoman. Thank you for always being on the edge holding all of our hands. Thank you for all the support, encouragement and unconditional love you have given to each and every one of us. You're the real deal -- and without a doubt, the best mom in the world.

I love you. I'll always love you.

For more of Deb's articles, please visit: www.debrapasquella.com or join her on Facebook and Twitter. Check out her cooking blog for some of her famous recipes!

Wednesday, May 09, 2018

Memories, Prayers & Healing

If you suffer with anxiety or depression and/or experiencing grief and loss, you already know that feeling -- like a sense of impending doom -- or a heavy sense of dread that seems to overtake you. Sometimes, it's all you can do to get out of bed, while other times, you have a little bit of fight left in you. And that's all you need. I got a phone call at 8am the other morning asking for Rosalie...my mother. I'm no longer being super polite, muttering out, "I'm sorry, she's deceased. How can I help you?' These days, I just say two words: "She's dead," just so I can hear the awkward silence on the other end of the phone. I'm just fed up with the amount of calls I get asking for her -- mostly from scammers trying to prey on the elderly. Then there are the calls about our ancestral home, which kind of tugs at my heart a little. I thought we'd be in a better place financially, so that we could pay off the reverse mortgage my father took out on the home, but unfortunately, it looks like we'll either run the course of our stay to save money or just rent an apartment or buy a townhouse somewhere. The uncertainty of my living arrangement sometimes scares me. But honestly, I'm grateful for any home I end up with (unless it's some weird money pit.) I have had so many people slip into my mailbox these letters asking if they can buy my home. They usually lowball you because they already know what's owed on the house.

What's more unsettling is waking up without making coffee, bacon and eggs for Mom. She liked her toast to have melted butter on it and cut into little triangles. She preferred Coffee-mate, this powdery creamer that tastes like crap. No sugar. Whenever we'd go shopping, she would use a cart whether she knew she was buying things or not. She grabbed a cart only because it was hard for her to walk without one. She would curse you off if you even mentioned using a walker. When she put her carts away, I would lock arms with her so she could walk back over to the car that was parked nearby. She couldn't stand the fact that she was getting sick. She didn't want anyone to know she was sick for that matter. She didn't even want me to know the extent of her illness. Her last couple of years here, she preferred going to smaller supermarkets. She used to love Shoprite -- but it was too overwhelming for her. She used to get excited when I used to bring her to this Korean farm market down the road. Even though they're like ten times more expensive than a regular supermarket, it was small and she found most produce and fish that she needed. Little by little, her world became smaller. I started ordering Shoprite home delivery service. Although she hated the idea of it, because she needed to feel and squeeze every single thing she bought -- she realized how convenient this all was. Till this day, I still get Shoprite's home delivery service. For an extra $16 bucks, someone shops for you and brings it right into your kitchen. Sold.

A typical day included doing some work in the morning, taking care of Mom and then cleaning. Sometimes I'd make her a special dinner. We have two kitchens -- one upstairs and one downstairs. She'd always say, "Oh cook downstairs! I feel better knowing you're here and smelling the good food." So I always did, unless she was with my sisters or didn't want to eat, then I'd cook upstairs. She'd lay down on the sofa watching Grey's Anatomy in her big comfy blanket. When 5:30 hit -- we'd both make a drink together while dinner was simmering and if she was feeling well enough, we'd sit outside. She'd come alive after a few sips of her vodka and club. We'd talk about her childhood and all the things she and her sister used to do -- couple of troublemakers. Her entire face would light up talking about the good ol days. I used to make her talk about her past all the time for a couple of reasons. 1. It sharpens her memory and 2. It was fricken funny and interesting! I've never heard such stories coming from someone who was about to turn 80 years old! My mom lived quite a life -- a wild one at that. But when she settled down, she kept her fun sense of self, even while caring for a large family and a demanding (and loving) husband. During my childhood, the only nights she didn't cook was Fridays. It was takeout night. When people say, "Oh you're turning into your mother," ----GOOD! I'm glad! That's a huge compliment, because I would love to just be a fraction of the woman she was.

I feel pretty lucky to have spent over 43 years with this amazing woman. Some people don't even get that much time. Another thing that I am so grateful for is, I got to say goodbye to both my parents -- even before they knew they were dying. I had these strange moments with each parent. With my dad, we held hands when he was sick and he looked over at me and said, "I love you, Debbie," as I said it back. He thanked me for coming back home when I found out he was sick. My mother said her goodbyes to me on the final night she left home to stay at the hospital for good. She hugged me so tightly -- didn't know she had that much strength! Then she said, "I love you, Debbie," and I said it back. Then she said, "I'm so worried about you," as I said, "I'm worried about me too, Ma," and we both laughed and kept hugging for a long time. It was as if her spirit knew she was leaving me for good. As much as I 'wish her back' --- I could never go through watching her suffer again. Sometimes, it was all she could do to finish her dinner at the table. She'd get angry, punching the table saying, "No! I'm enjoying this! No," when her pain kicked in. I told her to sit on the sofa, take the medication and I would bring the dinner over to her. She said, "NO! I want to eat at the table!" Eventually, her face would end up in the mashed potatoes and I would have to sometimes carry her back inside her bedroom....defeated. I never want to see that again. If I ever had the chance to get her back again, it would be the healthy, happy-go-lucky mom who loved to laugh and stay up for coffee outside on the patio as the sun went down. That's what I choose to remember.

Last week, I sought out a new therapist from this group of social workers who dealt with grief, anxiety and depression -- all sorts of mental health related symptoms. I needed help coping with my grief.  First they called me up and said, "Well, I think that maybe you're better suited with this counselor instead of the one you chose." I chose one who dealt with anxiety, depression and grief, so I'm not sure how I went wrong there. Anyway, they set me up with another counselor who was also a female. As I walked inside, she greeted me with a cold fish handshake. I'm big on introductions, especially the handshake. It tells me how confident you are about what you're doing. She looked to be 18 years old -- I am not even exaggerating. Upon first sight, she looked and reminded me of my niece. How is my niece going to help me? I decided to give it a shot, but any time she would speak, she sounded exactly like that Asian girl, Lilly Onakuramara from Pitch Perfect. And if you haven't seen the movies, she speaks so low that you can barely make out one word she's saying. To me, that's another sign of, "I don't know what the hell I'm doing." I walked out of there disappointed. She looked dazed and confused, like an 8 year old waiting to get out of class. I found myself venturing off to my favorite restaurant alone to sit at the bar to receive better therapy and medication (wine.)

So going back to what I was saying in my first paragraph -- I woke up this morning with this sense of dread. I had nightmares all night and barely slept a wink in 3 days. I got up, made some strong coffee and a little breakfast, and then went into my prayer room -- "The Deb Cave." I prayed my gratitude prayer, brought my petitions before the Lord and laid out all my burdens. It's the only thing that takes away that fearfulness -- the dread -- the anxiety. I also wasn't feeling so well. My stomach was off all night. So I do this prayer with anointing oil, and I swear by this -- it truly works. Even though I have ups and downs, I've been having more ups than anything. But I have to be consistent with my prayers, and be consistent with the daily maintenance of meditating on God alone -- giving Him at least a couple of hours out of the day. Sometimes, I find that talk therapy makes things worse. It makes you relive things in a way that makes you take two steps back. Some find that healing, while I find it disturbing. Writing it all out sometimes helps me, as I'm doing right now -- but the talk therapy for some reason makes me feel infuriated. So now, I just bring all my burdens to God, instead of a therapist. I have one psychiatrist who helps me once a month, but that's about it. But as far as talk therapy and rehashing events over and over -- I'm done with it. Especially with this last therapist, how can someone 20 years younger have the same experiences as I have? I realize everyone has their own crosses to bear, but how could her manager set me up with someone who could be my own child?

This week I'm not watching any TV. I can't stand the ads for Mother's Day. Last year, I knew that it would be Mom's last Mother's Day, and I tried to make it as magical as possible. We brought her to a beach house and had a huge BBQ on a beautiful 80 degree day right on the shore. Most of our family were there to celebrate it with her. It's the one day I will never forget. She said to me, "This is the best Mother's Day of my entire life!" It was one of the best days I ever had actually. She even hung out later that night to watch the sunset over the bay. I'm so happy she was "okay" enough to have went with us, because she was really beginning to become weak, and she had already received her approximate "expiration date" by her doctor. The next month following that vacation, she passed away. Maybe this is a trigger month for me, because we knew what we were heading in for, or thought we knew. Even if you're prepared to see a loved one cross over, you're never truly ready for it. I'm still not ready, but I'm forced to be.

For more of Deb's articles, please visit: www.debrapasquella.com or join her on Facebook and Twitter. Check out her cooking blog for some of her famous recipes! Feel free to watch Deb's live broadcasts over on Periscope as well! 

Saturday, May 05, 2018

Deb's Home Remedies & Medicinal Advice -- Proceed With Caution

DISCLAIMER: I am not a doctor, nor play one on the internet. This information is based upon my own experience, as well as intense research on the web. Can't trust everything you read on the web. If you're reading this article and need emergency medical attention, CALL 911 AND GO TO THE ER!!! Please proceed with caution. I'm only someone who suffers with aggravating ailments like anybody else who has found some pretty cool solutions. Cheers! And please let me know if any of these remedies worked for you!

A few of my viewers over on Periscope Live had asked me to write an article based on a broadcast I had done a few months ago about my home remedies and experience with medicines. Yes, this is a bit unconventional, but everything I have experienced and researched has saved me---literally. I couldn't believe how many people came in just to hear about what I've experienced. Maybe I'm a bit over-zealous about medication and that it's just my anxiety that makes hesitant about taking certain meds....but that's just me. I can't help it. Some would say I suffer from hypochondria. Others may say that I'm obsessed with reading the side effects of any medication. But my question is: why aren't people concerned of what they put into their bodies? Doctors and nurses are baffled whenever I'm in extreme pain or in the ER, and even after my hysterectomy when I specifically said, "NO pain medication other than Toradol," -- they double dosed me on Morphine and Dilaudid. See, Toradol is just a super-duper anti-inflammatory that just. takes. away. the. pain... that's it. It doesn't make you high or anything. I always hear, "You don't want the Percocet?" No. I ended up taking Percocet a long time ago when I had back pain. Weeks after the pain was managed mostly by ice packs and Advils, I found myself saying, "Hmm, I have a headache, maybe I should take a Percocet just in case..." That's when it starts in -- the addictive nature of the beast. Sometimes, when the pain was really bad, I would pop one and have a glass of wine. I started to realize my behavior and immediately stopped. Sooner or later, the pills stop working, so either you need to take more, or grab a glass of wine with it, or you could just realize that this stuff is legal heroin. The biggest drug dealers are doctors. I went into the ER for chest pain after hearing that my mother wasn't doing well -- the day I was told she wouldn't be coming home and that she would most likely pass that evening. As I was getting tested for heart related issues, I started crying hysterically after I heard the news that my mom was leaving us for good. All of the sudden, the nurses all gathered around my bed and said, "You want Percocet? Dilaudid? Fentanyl?" I just stared at them and just said no.

Let's get down to smaller stuff, like Tylenol and Advil, also things that mix with natural remedies, especially turmeric. Everyone is looking for a quick fix as well as more natural ways to alleviate symptoms. So from my own research and experience, I will let you in on a few things, if you don't already know them.

Sshh, They Don't Want You To Know This! 
Did you know, that if you take a blood thinner of any kind along with turmeric, that you will increase your risk of internal bleeding? This also goes for vitamin E. If you take an aspirin every day for your heart, do not take turmeric, or you can take it every other day. Also, doctors will not tell you this, but taking vitamin E daily reduces your chances of having a blood clot (DVT). Has the same effects of the blood thinners they prescribe, but big pharma doesn't want you to know that. A very unpopular remedy is drinking a couple of glasses of wine per night. It's also a blood thinner. Only take ONE of these remedies to ward off any 'concerns.'

Did you know that acetaminophen can be lethal if taken around the clock, and/or if you have more than 3 drinks per day? It rips apart your liver. And remember, any Percocet or Codeine (oxycodone, hydrocodone) can contain "APAP" which is acetaminophen (Tylenol).

The Dangers of Ibuprofen
Did you know that ibuprofen can cause a heart attack only in individuals who have kidney problems or high blood pressure? Ibuprofen is known to wreak havoc on your kidneys, so if you have high blood pressure of kidney issues, speak to your doctor about it. It is not dangerous if you don't have these issues. But good to know, right?  I'm sure you already know that ibuprofen can cause stomach bleeding and ulcers. It strips away the natural mucus lining of your stomach, so when you eat acidy foods or let your stress hormones kick in, it's not the ibuprofen that makes the hole in your tummy, it just opens the flood gates and lets the evil acid eat away at your lining.

Pass the Mustard!
Did you know that if you have leg pain at night, that having one large tablespoon of good ol' yellow mustard can take the pain away? Athletes use this method a lot. It also helps with indigestion, due to having turmeric and vinegar in it.

The Benefits of Magnesium 
Another great source of relief from insomnia, muscle pain, leg twitching at night as well as constipation is magnesium. But be careful! Not ever source is the right one. I take Natural Calm, which is in a powder form. You put a half a teaspoon in a 6 oz mug or glass of warm or hot water and drink up before bedtime. Don't overtake this magic potion because you will be living your life in the bathroom. Trust that. Taking too much magnesium can lead to diarrhea. Also, taking the WRONG kind of magnesium can cause you to get sick as well. Everything in moderation. I wouldn't take this during the day, unless you plan on taking a nap. It makes you feel so relaxed -- not like Benadryl drowsiness, but a nice, tranquil kind of feeling --- and the best thing about it is, it's natural! The raspberry and lemon flavor sounds bad, but it's my favorite because it somehow reminds me of chamomile tea. It tastes sooooo good, especially in hot water in a cozy mug before bedtime.

Oooh That Smell!
Did you know that cutting up a large white onion and placing it onto your night stand can ward off flu and cold viruses, and even help with your respiratory system? It absorbs the toxins and viruses in the air. It also helps when ingested, but easy does it!  It was a medieval cure for the plague. When the doctor visited all of the people dying of the plague, he walked into another family's home who all appeared as healthy. The one thing he noticed was that they all had chopped up onions in every room. This is still thought to be a myth, but from MY OWN experience --- this really works! I had the flu really bad, and it shortened it greatly. It even got rid of my wheezing within one night. Amazing stuff. You just have to bear the smell of onions in your room, but at that point, you probably can't smell anything anyway.

Sometimes, Carbs Are Your Friend 
Foods can be healing. Sometimes food can be medicine. Most Chinese remedies have been proven to work better than traditional medicine. I remember when I was doing the Paleo diet, and I was on the keto plan, which means NO carbs whatsoever. I had insomnia for so long, I was starting to hallucinate! Finally, I decided that it was this diet wreaking havoc on my system. So as bad as this sounds --- for dinner one night, I had pasta. I slept for 8 hours. Sometimes, having a bit of carbohydrates can increase serotonin levels and make you sleepy. My body was on overdrive and couldn't fall into a deep sleep at all.

Stress Relief 
Last week, I was rushed into the ER for lower right quadrant pain. It was a mixture of calcification on my appendix, as well as a slight hernia, which needed no operation. The appendix wasn't inflamed so I am just leaving that alone for now. Anyway, while one of the nurses was hooking me up to the monitors, I noticed she smelled really nice. My blood pressure was higher, since I was in excruciating pain, and so was my heart rate. As soon as I smelled her, my heart rate and bp went down. I said, "You smell really good, what are you wearing?" She said to me, "And your vitals went back down to normal. It's working. I'm wearing 'Stress Relief' by Bath & Body Works. Many patients have told me that their pain lessened, and I know because their vitals always go back down to normal again." So needless to say, I bought a bottle of this and it has a smell of eucalyptus with a hint of patchouli. It's strange, because I've been wearing a perfume that has a hint of patchouli in it since I was 16 yrs old. It always calmed me down. It won't make you smell like a hippy --- it'll just give you a hint of deliciousness and a huge dose of calmness. I think aromatherapy does a lot because it can sometimes have nostalgic effects on us. So when I smell eucalyptus, I think of my childhood and when I smell patchouli, I think of calming meditation or getting a massage. There are other scents if you prefer. This one totally does the trick for me. Many people love the smell of lavender, which promotes relaxation and sleep.  

COFFEE!!!
I get so frustrated with the news. Coffee is bad for you...coffee is good for you...now it's bad for you...blah blah blah. Fugeddaboudid! Coffee is GOOD GOOD GOOD. I say this because of a couple of reasons. First of all, there've been studies done that showed people who drank coffee than those who didn't were less likely to have suicidal thoughts. Those who never had coffee or never drink it are more likely to be depressed or they have had suicidal thoughts. Google it. It has also helped me when I didn't have a rescue inhaler available for my asthma. One cup of strong black coffee works just as good as an inhaler. Big pharma won't tell you that. It also works like an allergy pill, which is why they say to drink coffee if you have a cold. It dries up your sinuses and works like a Claritin. Anytime I had a wheeze from an allergen or from my asthma, black coffee always took it away. It's a natural remedy. It also helps with pain relief, in addition to an anti-inflammatory. They put caffeine in pain relievers such as Excedrin. Coffee is also known to prevent certain types of cancer. Recent studies have said that previous claims of coffee dehydrating your body are not found that it actually hydrates you due to the water in it. Kind of makes sense, but remember, yellow---no good. Clear---thumbs up. That's just a little factoid you should all know.

Medicine Cabinet or Liquor Cabinet? 
Oh nobody likes to bring these wonderful remedies up, but what on God's green earth did people do back in the day before medicine became popular? Now, don't get me wrong, if you have a problem stopping at one or two drinks, stop reading this paragraph...now. Still reading? Ok, but I'm not responsible for your massive hangover tomorrow morning. Moving on... My mother, my best friend, the love of my life who is in heaven was a funny little lady with a whole lotta' spunk! I learned a lot about alcohol from her. She would "hush" me right now, but I'm still gonna carry on with this. People used hard booze for pain relief back in the day. I remember my grandmother always putting scotch on her toothache, as well as downing a shot or two for pain relief. (Or recreation possibly.) My mom always suggested that blackberry brandy was the cure for menstrual cramps. One night while screaming my head off, doubled over in pain, she said, "Here Deb," as she handed me a very large shot of blackberry brandy. She said, "Down it fast!" (Great role models, love you Ma!) So I did. Voila, the pain was GONE. This was in addition to the 800mg of ibuprofen I had taken. I had dysmenorrhea -- which is a debilitating type of pain some women get with their menstrual cycle. This is also why I had a hysterectomy. It killed my quality of life every month. It was my saving grace.

Vodka works differently. With my debilitating back pain due to the degenerative disc disease they had diagnosed me with, vodka on the rocks with some lemon took the pain away immediately. So it was vodka on the rocks, and also, my back on the rocks. Ice on everything! It worked better than Percocets. I kid you not. One glass usually does the trick. Try not to exceed that.

White wine has a special place in my heart, preferably Pinot Grigio. This is my drink of choice. It also has healing properties to it, like antioxidants, cancer prevention and lung disease, among others. If you have a sore throat, try drinking a healthy pour of white wine. It kills the bacteria that is associated with throat related viruses. It's also a cough suppressant. It works better than Robitussin. Again, big pharma will never let you know that. You can Google this info too. It works every time. I swear by this one! In fact, I swear by all of them through experience.

Having chest pain? Feel like you're having a heart attack? CALL 911 AND GO TO THE ER! But if you're stubborn like my dad was, all he used do was take a couple of shots of cherry heering. It's some type of liqueur that somehow, takes away angina pain, associated with heart problems. After he had a couple of shots, he was like, "Ok, I'm fine! Don't call 911!" And he was always fine. So, if you're in a place where there is NO possibility of going to the hospital or 911 getting to you, try this trick. Otherwise, GO TO THE ER YOU FOOL! I used to get really angry with him because he never wanted to see doctors ---ever. But, this worked well.

Still having chest pain, but it's sort of sharp and stabby? It feels like someone poking you under the rib somehow? CALL 911 AND GO TO THE ER!!! Or you can drink a beer. Usually, when the pain is felt like a sharp little pin poking you, or a bubbly type of discomfort under your left or right rib -- it's usually a big ball of gas. Blame this method on my mom! I remember a time I came downstairs and I was holding my chest and said, "I have to see a doctor mom! I'm having chest pain." She asked where it was and then said, "Drink a beer, Deb!" Lovely. She convinced me it was gas, and after chugging one beer down, I let out the most obnoxious belch -- it nearly shook the glasses in the cabinets. Pain gone.

My beautiful mother. RIP
Feeling cold? Drink red wine. It's also good for your heart and promotes antioxidants from the grape seed. It's probably the healthiest types of alcohol out there. I'm not much for red wine, but when I'm freezing from being outside too long or it's just a cold winter night, red wine is my go-to.

Acid Reflux/Ugh Muy GERD!
"Don't eat this, don't eat that, that's too acidy, that's too spicy." From my own experience from suffering with acid reflux and GERD is this: your food isn't the problem, unless you're eating total junk food. Healthy foods, like fruit, veggies, garlic, onions and spices -- even hot spices are not the culprit for your heartburn. I've gone to get two endoscopies so far, all to tell me that I had "gastritis." I had one incident where there was significant stomach bleeding that was leading to an ulcer and had to stay in the hospital for three days having nothing but a liquid diet. Looking back, I had back issues and was debilitated for three entire months. My go-to round-the-clock meds were NSAIDS -- ibuprofen, mainly Advil. I popped them like Pez. Again, like I said above, NSAIDS will tear apart the mucus lining of your stomach, making food your 'so called' enemy. Keep in mind, it's not only NSAIDS that will irritate your stomach lining. Medications like antidepressants, and yes -- all of them -- are irritants to the stomach just like NSAIDS. Read the warnings on the label. Everyone says, "Stop reading the side effects!" Well, maybe the side effects include STOMACH BLEEDING! So please, always read up on your medication labels, even if it's a CYA warning, you still know what you're getting into. I always thought my dad was crazy for telling me to drink apple cider vinegar for heartburn and stomach bleeding. I'm like, "That's like putting salt on a wound! Get outta' here with that!" UNTIL I tried it. Ever since I've been putting two tablespoons of Bragg Organic Apple Cider Vinegar (with the mother -- I have no idea what that means ha) --- my heartburn is next to none. Reflux is nearly gone. I don't get that gnawing pain in the pit of my belly. It also gives me incredibly energy! Limiting my NSAID intake, I can now eat spicy foods and squeeze lime in my drinks and dishes again!

Where Will You Be When Your Tummy Wreaks Havoc? 
Sometimes we run into tummy problems, like food poisoning or stress related incidents that stem from IBS. Other times, we create our own tummy problems by drinking way too much the night before. This puts in the bad bacteria, leaving our gut screaming for help, which leaves us living in our bathrooms. If you're planning to go out and have a beer or ten, make sure you pop a probiotic with 2 billion live cultures. Acidophilus is my go-to, but others work just as well. It replaces the good bacteria so your stomach will stop having a war. When I used to drink too much in the past, this was my plan. I always would take it before, but sometimes, you just never know when those drinks would sneak up later that evening, so taking it afterwards wouldn't hurt either. Either way, it's all GOOD.

I hope this info helped you. This info is based purely on experience as well as my own research and "secrets" from doctor friends. If you truly need medical attention, please disregard this article and go straight for medical help. I am NOT a doctor nor claim to be one. I'm just someone who suffers with pain and ailments like the rest of you. I'm just sharing what worked for me.

If you're on here because you either have chest pain, lower right abdominal pain or any other type of medical emergency, CALL 911 AND GO TO THE EMERGENCY FOOL! GET OFF THE INTERNET! With love...

For more of Deb's articles, please visit: www.debrapasquella.com or join her on Facebook and Twitter. Check out her cooking blog for some of her famous recipes! Feel free to watch Deb's live broadcasts over on Periscope as well! 

Wednesday, May 02, 2018

Why Does Anxiety Keep Us Awake All Night?

Why has sleep become one of the hardest things we can do? Millions of people suffer from insomnia, waking up every hour, or falling asleep to wake up and then to only stay up. In my case, I suffer from what's called, "myoclonic hypnic jerks and seizures." This is purely from anxiety. I have been a couple of sleep studies to show that nothing medically is wrong with me. In a strange way, I wish they did find something wrong with me so that I can at least address it. The thing is, with this unknown "mystery diagnosis" that stems from anxiety, it is the hardest thing to fix. It's like a doctor telling you "it's just a spider bite." They basically just labeled "anxiety" onto my chart and sent me off with a prescription of Klonopin that I never filled out. I don't have sleep apnea, nor any other type of sleeping disorders. So why is it so hard for us to fall asleep or to even stay asleep? Whether people admit to this or not, anxiety has been one of the biggest reasons for our lack of slumber. We're over thinkers, or worry warts that run around fussing about every little thing in our lives. Someone asked me, "Deb, whatever you're worrying about, will this matter next week? A month from now? A year from now?" It made sense. No answer was needed to make her point.

I read an article from AWA that explained why some people have trouble sleeping, as well as why many suffer from what I have: hypnic jerks or what's called sleep starts. In a way, it's sort of comical, as well as fascinating that our own genetic code still has somewhat of a memory.

Despite our predominantly urban existence we still feel great connectedness and strong emotional bonds towards trees. It has been suggested that this positive emotional response is, in part, hard-wired. Millions of years of evolution have left us with a partly genetic predisposition to respond positively to trees. Interestingly, this connection to our arboreal origins can still be demonstrated today, as we fall asleep, in what is termed ‘hypnic jerks’. Hypnic jerks are phenomenon most of us have experienced at least a few times, often when very tired or exhausted. As we lay down to sleep, a part of the brain called the reticular formation sends a signal down the spine that causes muscles to relax, and we quickly fall into a deep slumber – only to be suddenly awoken with a jump and slight muscle twitch – often immediately preceded by a brief sensation of falling. They are a common and generally harmless experience, occurring in all sexes and ages to about 70% of the population.

What has this got to do with our relationship with trees? Well, hypnic jerks have been explained as an ancient reflex to the relaxation of muscles during the onset of sleep for tree dwelling primates – the brain essentially misinterprets the sudden relaxation as a sign that the sleeping primate is falling out of a tree and so causes the muscles to quickly react and to awaken. The hypnic jerk reflex is likely to have had selective value by having the sleeper readjust their sleeping position in a nest or on a branch, in order to assure that a fall did not occur. Chimpanzees and bonobos, our nearest relatives, sleep in trees, and it’s easy to see why falling too deeply into slumber when in a tree may not be wise.

Our early human ancestors also probably slept in trees. All the early hominids were bipedal, but all also retained features of a climbing anatomy (robust fore limbs and long arms relative to femur length). This climbing anatomy is linked to living and sleeping in trees, and there is no evidence to suggest that our early ancestors had given up on this sleeping arrangement. The switch from arboreal to ground sleep, what’s termed the ‘tree-to-ground sleep transition‘, did not begin until the arrival of Homo erectus, about two million years ago. Falling out of a tree was an event that our early ancestors did not easily forget, and we still haven’t. Without being consciously aware of it, as we doze too deeply, in the safety of our modern beds, hypnic jerks provide us with a sudden reminder of our earlier, more ape-like way of life. ---read more here.

Here's a good example of how our genetics can actually "remember" our past fears... My dog Lola has an issue with food. (Many dogs do.) And what I mean is -- she will pretend to bury her food, as if she is digging up dirt with her nose and plopping it onto her bowl as if she's hiding it. She has become a "dog in the wild" as she feasts on some good grub in a comfortable home safely. Why does she still think she's in the wild and why would she think that there is dirt on the floor? (Minus my lack of cleaning skills.) Even though there is NO dirt, she is making as if there IS dirt, and "pretending" to cover it. This is a form of genetic memory.

So why do we really fear sleep? Let's face it -- that's what it is. Or is it the fear of dying in one's sleep? Our vulnerability while sleeping somehow puts us at a greater risk. We initially feared the dark. More predators were able to find us and we became extremely vulnerable to those dangers. In today's society, that's kinda malarky b.s. types of assumptions, because we sit in bed and overanalyze what our day's gonna be like, or even dread the next day to come. Sometimes we worry about an intruder (normal type of fear) and sometimes, we have no idea why we're having a panic attack after midnight. We can't pinpoint why we're freaking out over nothing. When the night becomes silent, our minds become louder. During the day, we're busy with people, work, focusing on other things besides TRYING to fall asleep. And the more you TRY to fall asleep, the more sleep eludes you. Some people are afraid they'll die in their sleep because of their hypnic jerks. I know I do sometimes. I'll be in the midst of 'falling' asleep, when all of the sudden, I jolt up and can't catch my breath, gasping for air and my heart racing 200 bpm. It's scary! After that kind of episode, I'm usually awake until 4am. My other half is snoring away, or she is concerned because I'm totally freaking out thinking that I just had some sort of stroke or heart attack.

I wrote an article over on this page, where I discuss my issues of sleeping, and even did revisions and edits at the bottom to show you which coping mechanisms worked for me. The only thing that works for me as of now is prayer. I meditate on the Word of God and His promises through biblical scriptures.

Here's a couple that have made me feel calm and safe...

"If you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet." ~Proverbs 3:24

"I lay down to sleep. I woke up in safety, for the Lord was watching over me." -Psalm 3:5

Also be aware that God may be calling you to take some 'time out' from your slumber in order to talk with Him. When you do this, even if you get 3 hours of sleep, He will give you this unexplainable energy during the day -- as if you slept a full 8 hours. Whenever you are unable to sleep, go into another room and pray to God. Open your Bible and let Him guide you to certain passages that He may need you to read. The other night I couldn't sleep because my surgical scar seemed to have gotten infected and inflamed. So I went into the other room and did a healing prayer, as well as placed anointing oil on it, and within hours, the infection and inflammation was COMPLETELY gone. I even had to show Maddie, because she was going to take me to Urgent Care to have it checked out. She was shocked, but knew it could only be from God. Doctors tried to say it was a hernia and that it was probably my appendix -- but God said something differently, and I trusted Him instead of freaking out and getting an unnecessary surgery done.

A good friend of mine always says, "God wants us in peace, not in pieces!"

Anxiety is a tricky beast. Once you find some way to cope with the anxiety, it's as if the anxiety beast finds out and demolishes it altogether. So you have to constantly find new ways to cope with the anxiety. One of my favorite (besides prayer -- which is #1) -- is grounding techniques. Even though we may think we're not overthinking, sometimes we are, or fretting about the to-do list for the morning.

Grounding

1. Sit upright with your bare feet flat on the floor. Connect with the earth as best as you can.
2. Name 5 objects in the room you are sitting in.
3. Name 5 things you can feel or touch.
4. Name 5 sounds whether inside your home or outside.
5. Name 5 scents that are available where you are, if not, just count as many as you can.

I have a go-to video on Youtube that I put on whenever I am in PANIC-MODE! I mean, this is when my heart is racing, my breath is shallow and I just cannot pull it together. Click here to listen to this amazing 30 minute affirmation video. Within 15 minutes, my anxiety is totally calm, so finishing the entire 30 minutes will leave me sleepy. Try it. What else are ya gonna do -- stare at the ceiling all night?

Here's a video on "grounding" also called, "earthing." Click here if you are not able to view the video below this text. The video has somewhat of a robotic voice, but the info on it is insane! You're not gonna believe how much lack of grounding affects us on a daily basis.

Feel free to let me know how things worked out for you. You can comment over on Facebook.com/DPasquella and explain how you coped with your insomnia or anxiety for that evening. Anxiety may never let up, but we can always use our coping skills! Good luck!

For more of Deb's articles, please visit: www.debrapasquella.com or join her on Facebook and Twitter. Check out her cooking blog for some of her famous recipes! Feel free to watch Deb's live broadcasts over on Periscope as well!