Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Giving the Benefit of the Doubt

Sometimes I feel like the word "forgiveness" is overused, or perhaps misplaced at times. For instance, forgiveness not only means pardoning an offense, but it also means to pardon certain behaviors or personality types. To be completely honest, I find myself having a hard time connecting with certain people---which doesn't mean it's all their fault. I place blame on my view of them, their behavior or maybe a clash in opinions and beliefs. It all depends. In the past, I have had a couple of friends who were just bluntly honest to a flaw. I remember this one time, we were all having dinner at a local restaurant and bar. We were talking about our passions in life, mine being art, writing and music, and the other people were very passionate about exercising and going to the gym. They were in super tiptop shape! I admired their dedication to their health. For me, I've never really cared if I was 'thick' or overweight. I mean, granted I'd like to lose weight, but life was so much more than counting calories. At that time, I was pushing 180 lbs, and I had stated this to my friends. One of them had asked me, "Would you ever consider weight loss surgery?"

I answered her with an honest response. I explained that I would never do weight loss surgery due to the risks. I keep recalling my partner's good friend who died right on the table during surgery. I would try my hardest to do it myself and make better food choices. As I sipped my drink and delved deeper into my thoughts, which were forming a much bigger opinion, I started to feel a little offended. I mean, yeah I know I need to lose some weight, but to ask a friend about weight loss surgery? Surgeons won't even offer you weight loss surgery if you are under 230 lbs to begin with, so there's that thought floating through my mind. "Does she think I look 50 pounds heavier?" And while that's not a big deal, because many women suffer with obesity, I had to take into account that maybe she was concerned about my overall health....but I just couldn't let it go. I was offended.

That was a definite a flaw of mine in the past. Whenever a friend got too honest with me, I would take offense. Most people would agree with me---like yeah, that IS offensive. But, is it really? I guess back then I was much more insecure than I am now. I had a lot of self-esteem issues and it just consumed me. My thoughts headed over to the vengeance side (silently in my mind of course) like, "You should talk about health as you guzzle down gallons of wine!" There are other health issues I could've brought to her attention, but the thing was---I wasn't being forgiving of her natural honesty, which frankly these days, is refreshing to me. I'd rather someone come out and say it and be honest than flatter me and let me receive my own zip code. So these days, I appreciate honesty.

Another flaw of mine (do you have all day?) -- is being a "yes girl." I sometimes overspend, over-give, or say yes to events that I don't want to go to. One of my longtime friendships recently ended due to feeling offended. In my mind, she would spend weekends here, to which she treated me like a fricken bed and breakfast. She loved how I cooked for her or went out to get her favorite wine. But at some point, I felt like I was being taken advantage of. If she was bored, she'd call me and say, "Can I come over and we can cook something?" But it really meant me cooking and cleaning---which I already love to do. It started getting worse when she did random unexpected drop ins with her friends, expecting a huge meal and free wine. At this point, I was already clenching my teeth, but catered to her anyway, because I truly did love my friend. But one day as I was sick in bed, she texts me, "Hey, let me know if you need anything today. I'm going to come over and check in on you."  I thought---wow---now that's super sweet of her! So I texted her back, "Oh wow, thank you! Do you think you could cook for me or bring me some chicken soup from that deli tonight?" (She's a really good cook herself.) I get a text back the next second, "Oh sorry, I have plans."

*blink*

Listen, I don't expect anything from anyone. The only thing that gets me are people who use you just for a free meal ticket or those who think you're super rich and have a ton of money to spend on them. I'm not rich, but I will share whatever I have with anyone who needs it. I will feed you, give you a room if you need to stay the night---but once I feel like someone is taking advantage of me, I tend to drop the friendship or become distant. See, friendship is a two way street, much like a love relationship. Maya Angelou said it perfectly. She said, "I've learned that you shouldn't go through life with a catcher's mitt on both hands; you need to be able to throw something back." Although I give without expectations, I sometimes feel bad whenever I'm the one in need, and there's nobody to help me in the process. Today, I have people in my life who compliment my space with love and respect---and most of all, even if I cook or cater to them, I never feel used because there's a certain give and take to the relationship. I've found people who actually care about what you need---not pretend to. They don't ask, "Do you need anything," just to seem like a good person. They really do mean, "Do you need ANYTHING?"

So my point of this entire post is, maybe I should've been more forgiving of those who I 'thought' were taken advantage of me. Maybe being a "yes girl" made them have an entire different perspective  of me. Maybe my "welcome mat" wasn't as sincere as I made it out to be. Maybe this is just all my fault. I'm learning as I go. I'm learning to forgive different personality types, none being right or wrong or good or bad---just different. I'm in no way perfect myself! I'm learning to leave a huge margin of err and offense, in case I was "too sensitive" that day, and trust me, that does happen!

When we're forgiving of someone else's personality type or "offensive comments" -- are we simply being a bunch of pushovers, or do you think it's wiser to let it all go and give the benefit of the doubt instead?

Would love to hear your stories as well. If you'd like to comment on this post, visit me over on my Facebook page or Twitter account. Thanks for reading!

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!

Monday, September 17, 2018

When Someone Minimizes Your Anxiety Disorder

Talking about mental health itself has a certain stigma about it. In fact, I'm not sure if it's gotten better or worse. There's a "crazy" notion attached whenever certain people hear, "anxiety disorder," "depression," "bipolar," or even "mental illness." Let's face it, if you claim to be "normal"---you're no doubt probably the opposite...and guess what? That's OK! We all have our 'thang' so to speak. We all  have struggles in life. We've all most likely lost a loved one through a death or breakup, or we've had our hearts broken or we just suffer from anxiety and depression from a chemical imbalance. There is nothing to be ashamed of. The only thing to be ashamed of is if you're the type of person who belittles other people who are suffering. There's a special kinda hell for people like that. Most of the time, those who mock others with mental illness are showing a sure sign of psychological projection. They fear that they'll end up like "them" ---- that they'll be seen as experiencing similar issues, because well, they probably are.

When I do live broadcasts over on Twitter/Periscope, I never know what kind of crowd I'll get in there. Lately, it's been amazing people with the ability to open up and share their stories about mental illness. It's sort of become like a little support group. We also have people who work in the ER nurses and medical practitioners on there contributing to the conversation to give us a better idea of what others go through as well and how they cope with certain situations in the emergency department. We speak about medications, as well as natural ways to try and relieve stress and anxiety. Everyone is different, so what may work for one person may not work for the other. But the entire glue that keeps us talking is that we know we are not alone in this battle. We know that other people like ourselves are out there, willing to have the talk---willing to have an open dialogue about mental health.

Thing is, I'm not a psychologist or claim to be a know-it-all. I'm a "psyche patient"---a woman who also struggles with anxiety attacks as well as receives counseling. I share my stories on my blog and on my live streams so that maybe, I can help someone else who is struggling too. I mainly like to talk about what helped me cope, instead of just sitting there complaining. There's nothing wrong with seeing a therapist or psychiatrist for help. In this day of age, I'm surprised there are still people out there not using these types of services.

For me, I suffer from PTSD, anxiety disorder and some depression. I'm typically a very happy person, until the anxiety strangles me into becoming an agoraphobic isolated mess. But I always rise up again. My main source of comfort has always been praying to Jesus. He has given me a mighty inner strength and peace that I can't even put into words. But the thing is, I have to keep at it---keep in constant communication with God so that I can benefit from His strength. Sometimes, the only thing I can do is thank Him in the storms. I'm going through this for a reason, and I think the reason is getting clearer and clearer by the minute. I've been finding myself helping those who struggle too---relating to them---sharing myself so that they don't feel so isolated like I did.

There are some wonderful passages in the Bible that helps me stand tall when all I wanna do is curl up in a corner and hide.

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." ---Matthew 11:28-30

"Peace I leave with you, my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be trouble and do not be afraid." ---John 14:27 

"Cast your cares on the Lord and He will sustain you; He will never let the righteous be shaken." ---Psalm 55:22

"Anxiety weighs down the heart, but a kind word cheers it up." ---Proverbs 12:25

"When I am afraid, I put my trust in you." ---Psalm 56:3

"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink, or about your body, or what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can anyone of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his spendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you? You of little faith! So do not worry, saying, 'What shallow eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the pagans run after all these things and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." ---Matthew 6:25-34 

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." ---Philippians 4:6-7

These are just some of the helpful scriptures for when you're feeling anxious and worried. They've help me a lot. There's so much more in the Bible that you can choose from. If you need a really good Bible that has a guidance section on worry, anxiety, depression, grief---all topics, I suggest getting The Promise Bible.  It's a great place to start if you're a new Christian.

Another thing I have learned is to never own the anxiety or depression---whatever you are suffering with. Never say, "*My* anxiety is really bad today," or "*My* depression is killing me." Words have power. Speak down to them: "*This* anxiety is lessening the more I pray," or "*The* depression has lifted and I feel better." It's a hard habit to break, because we're all so used to claiming "our anxiety" or "our depression." But it makes sense, right?

If you'd like to join me for a chat on my live broadcast, come see me over on Periscope. I talk about different topics and I also cook over there, with some interesting conversations. Cooking relieves my stress, so it's one of my favorite things to do. Other things that relieve the anxiety is playing guitar, having friends over, writing in my journal and speaking to my therapist, as well as the group over on Periscope.

And please remember, whenever somebody minimizes your suffering, know that this is a huge indication of psychological projection. Nobody would ever mock you if they weren't suffering. Hurt people hurt, and that's a fact.

If you ever need to contact me, please feel free to use the form on the right side of this blog, or you can DM me over on Twitter. For now, take care and feel better!

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, September 12, 2018

How Do You Cope With a Toxic Person in Your Life?

So many of us have been judged, or have even judged others. We've been taught that "judging" someone is a bad thing to do, but realistically, it's our innate nature to automatically form an opinion---to judge, whether it's good or bad. If I hear someone talking badly about someone or wishing ill will on another person, I automatically "judge" them to be someone who hates themselves. People who hate themselves usually ramble on about other people, or wish bad things to happen to them. That's just psychology 101---not to mention that's also some bad juju. Even gossip itself is a form of judgment. In Judaism, there's a saying that gossip kills three: the speaker, the listener and the one being spoken of. Anyone who gossips about someone else to you, will most likely be gossiping about you as well. I'm not perfect and from time to time, I like hearing about how a friend is doing or what's going on in their lives through someone else, but there's a huge difference between tearing somebody apart while they're not there and just asking how someone else is doing.

Bad energy exudes bad energy. And recently I have experienced this for myself. I was having lunch with old friends a few months ago. Every word out of one of our friend's mouth was a complaint about her life or about someone in her life. I mean, I get it---we can all complain about something, but this was every. single. word. out. of. her. mouth. I started to feel tense and ordered another drink or three, (you can judge me there.) The words out of her mouth were so toxic, that the atmosphere felt poisoned. She even wished death on one of her exes. Eventually, she tarted subtly attacking a few of us at the table. She ultimately ruined a good evening. I then began to realize that this woman absolutely hates everything about herself. There was absolutely no self-love ---no self acceptance or inner peace. She verbally vomited at the table. That's exactly what it felt like. And then I remembered why I rarely hung out with this person. She never changed. I'm not sure if someone like that can change or not. It must be a mind pattern of just constant judgments on people, or maybe, she just needs to learn how to accept herself more. I'm no psychologist, but this was just crazy.

When you're in the company of a very toxic person, or someone who is just verbally vomiting all over your good time----what do you do?

Do you excuse yourself and leave?

Do you wait it out and then never call them again?

Or do you ask them to stop?

I can never have a good time with this person only because it's all fire coming out of her mouth. She's always angry at someone or something. So sadly, I try to keep my distance because it makes me feel anxious. For one, I don't want to be apart of a hate fest. Like they say, misery loves company. And two, I don't want to absorb her energy. I truly believe you can absorb someone's good or bad energy if you're with them long enough. Have you ever left someone after a long visit and felt completely drained?

In life, especially during stressful times, I LOVE to get away with a few friends for the night and just laugh and talk about anything, other than people in a derogatory way. Laughter is the best medicine for anxiety. A bash fest or gossiping just makes me wanna hide under the table and call for help. And don't get me wrong, if a friend calls me up with a problem or needs help with a challenge in their life---I want to be there for them. This is different. I'm talking about the drama lamas and the ones who are constantly putting other people down. I can't take it anymore.

I'm sure many of you are nodding, knowing somebody in your life who does this sort of thing. What do you do? (Asking for a friend.)


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!