Friday, August 30, 2019

When In Doubt

What defines a new chapter in your life? Is it after a breakup or a divorce? Is it meeting the love of your life? Is it finding a new home? Or can it be as simple as a shift in your mindset? The mind is one of the most difficult thing to change. That's why the phrase, "battlefield of the mind" is so common. There's this constant tug between our inner pessimist and inner optimist. We can toss around thoughts about a new place: "Well, what if the boiler goes? What if I don't like the neighborhood? What if I have buyer's remorse?" And then the optimist comes in and says, "Wow, I sleep so well here. The neighborhood is awesome! I love how convenient everything is." There can be so many mixed feelings when it comes to these big life events. What if he's not the right guy? What if he turns out to be a complete jerk? But then you see the good in him and think, "Wow, he's gonna make a great father!" When you approach a complete life change---"a new chapter"---you'll start to notice your mind playing tug-o-war with the 'what ifs' and the positive aspects of it all.

Ten years ago we came back to our ancestral home to take care of my parents. Dad came down with cancer first, then passed. Then mom was grieving, then came down with cancer and eventually passed away too. Of course, after a couple of years, we left our cherished ancestral home which was another heartbreak in itself. I kept asking myself 'why' all the time. Why so much in such a short span of time? Why so much change? Why did God have to take away both my parents? Each 'event' was a learning curb for me---to strengthen my character, perhaps for bigger things down the road. I'm not sure. So I delved into my faith and stood on the Word for comfort. It was the only thing that saved me through this horrific and tragic time in my life. My parents were my world! They were my best friends. I couldn't ever imagine a world without them. But here I am.

We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they are good for us--they help us learn to endure. And endurance develops strength of character in us, and character strengthens our confident expectations of salvation. --Romans 5:3-4

When you think you mastered one challenge, another one is right behind it. It's like having a personal trainer at the gym. "So you can do 20 pushups? Ok, let's try 40 now." This is how I imagine God to be. He's not doing it to punish us--He's doing this to strengthen us.

Physical exercise has some value, but spiritual exercise is valuable in every way, because it promises life both for the present and for the future. --1 Timothy 4:8

Many think that God is just punishing us for whatever reason. He isn't. He may test you, or make your path a little rocky so you'll come out stronger on the other end. And God will never give you anything you can't handle. It may feel overwhelming, but if he brought you to it, He'll get you through it.

When your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be strong in character and ready for anything. --James 1:3-4

Whatever it is you are going through, cast your cares to God. See it as an opportunity to push through it. I had to do that recently. Learning to trust God is hard for all of us since we always try to fix things ourselves, when it's really a matter of faith and trust. Sometimes, it'll push you out of your comfort zone, and once you push through that, it'll be like old hat soon enough. What helps me is knowing that I am never alone and that God is always with me.

Don't be afraid, for I am with you. Do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you. I will help you. I will uphold you with my victorious right hand. --Isaiah 41:10

When in doubt, pray.
When in doubt, trust.

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

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Transformation

Lately, it's been strange for me. It's been two years since my mom passed away, and my partner and I just bought our first home together, which is exciting because we needed a different atmosphere and a new start. It was too much. I thought I was happy, I am happy about it, but every single morning, I wake up with a pounding heart and horrible anxiety. This is a new symptom for me. At first, it alarmed me---I started getting chest pain because I was panicking, and ended up at the doctor's to be told it was just anxiety. So, I literally and intentionally have to slowly rise, get up and go into the other room to pray and meditate for about an hour or so before even having breakfast. After a while, my heart rate goes back down and I can function again. I learned a few coping mechanisms from my therapist that really helps, but I rely on my prayer time with God first and foremost. Another thing I started doing was telling myself all the positives about this huge move we are doing. We are leaving my home---the home I was raised in---the home I spent years of happiness with my parents and siblings, so you can imagine how bittersweet this is. I actually feel bad 'abandoning' this home. That's the only feeling that comes up: abandonment. But it really isn't. It's letting go of the old and embracing the new. And with that, comes transformation.

Transformation is sometimes messy. I've been learning that sometimes when you feel extreme anxiety before a big change, that it's more about being on the cusp of a spiritual awakening. One pastor described it as a caterpillar going into its cocoon to transform. It struggles as it tries to adjust and morph into what God has called it to do. If you take him out too early, he'll fall onto the ground and crawl instead. But if you let the caterpillar go through what it has to go through, it'll transform into a butterfly. This is how it feels for me. I'm struggling to hard here and I rarely reach out to anybody because I don't want to be a burden. But, I have to go through it or I won't learn how to wiggle out of it on my own.

Sometimes "good excitement" can be felt as negative anxiety. It's uncomfortable, because you truly don't know where it's all coming from. Our subconscious minds rattle and shake while our conscious minds are like, "What is happening?" I was always confused of the thought of the subconscious mind and how it can hide the root of all of our issues. While sitting on my therapist's sofa, she asked, "So tell me about your feelings on leaving the family home...."

Tears started to stream out of my eyes, as I told her how heartbreaking it was. I started telling her how strange it was that I have so many good memories, but the bad ones overshadows the good ones. Both my parents suffered here and that's all I can think of! And then more tears.

Then she asked, "Now tell me about your new place and what you look forward to."

She said my face lights up every time I speak about the new place. I start rattling on and on about my plans of fixing up my office and having a true workspace of my own! I started smiling over the thought of walking my dog around this park next-door and how there's so many people walking their own dogs there as well. I don't have to worry about my neighbors huge dogs running after my dog any longer. I began to tell her how excited I was that I no longer have to be scared in the winter because I'm right in the middle of everything, and we never have to plow! I told her how the neighbors are all friendly and most are home during the day. I even mentioned how convenient it was to have my church, grocery stores and doctors nearby---right on the same road! I couldn't stop talking about the new place.

She smiled and said, "Your face totally changed while talking about your new home."

After we closed on the home, I was expecting to move in within days. But that didn't happen. We had to wait and wait and wait. Between the new hardwood floors, painting, HVAC installations as well as new toilets and plumbing---I started to get depressed. It's as though I'm like, alright alright---rip the damn bandaid off now! I didn't realize how toxic it was for me to stay in this house. Working from home really doesn't benefit me in this house. It's all reminders of what was, and who suffered here. I stopped cooking as much, I stopped using some of the rooms in this house, leaving it to truly look abandoned. I'm done here. So I think this recent anxiety is just my cocoon preparing to open up for me so that I can fly out with new wings.

Thing is, I've lost touch with a lot of friends and acquaintances. I'm still cocooning right now and I'm not sure when it'll open---hopefully soon. I feel like I let a lot of people down by not being there for them, or not showing up at certain events and special occasions. Losing mom was one of the most heart wrenching things I have ever experienced. I knew that since I was a baby actually. I knew that she would be my biggest heartbreak. I'm not sure how to recover over this loss, but finding this new home is definitely a start in the right direction. I can't stay here. I don't want to stay here. It's desolate, with echoes of the past. I want to move forward so badly that my heart flutters every single morning when I wake up.
So please bear with me. I may seem a little off, or say the wrong things at the wrong time, but my intentions are good. I feel displaced, lost, hurt, and very sad as I still grieve over my mom. However, I'm genuinely a happy person, especially when I have people around me. But when I'm home working in this empty house, the silence can be deafening. I lost a few friends along the way because I decided to place boundaries against people who try to undermine and belittle me with backhanded compliments or passive aggressiveness. I can't cope with the complications of what friendships can sometimes bring. I just want friends who don't have agendas or underlining anger that somehow rears its ugly head. And hey, while I'm not perfect, I know that the friends who are still by my side right now know what I'm going through and have decided to just. be. kind. I so appreciate that.

I'm fighting the urge to just crawl back into bed and just call it a day. But what good would that do? So I get up, pray, meditate, make some eggs and coffee and listen to soothing music as I work. Usually, the anxiety subsides and I'm able to go about my normal day. Hopefully soon, I'll be in a better place, physically and emotionally.  God is getting me through this and I refuse to give up!

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

Friday, August 16, 2019

Can Anxiety Be a Good Thing?

Just by reading my title, you're probably shaking your head and saying, "No, no no!" And as I sit here typing, I had just finished doing some deep breathing exercises to lower my heart rate just so I can drink my coffee. Sounds bizarre, but I can't give coffee up. Generally, people with anxiety shouldn't drink coffee for obvious reasons. But for me, it makes me feel good, especially if I can control my anxiety. The last few weeks, my heart rate has been 100+ --- sometimes reaching 130bpm. I've seen emergency medical doctors, cardiologist, therapists, psychiatrists to all tell me it's anxiety. Basic 'calming techniques' were given and of course, the follow up appointment.

So Why Would Anxiety Be a Good Thing? 

It's really not, but I just learned from both my sister and therapist that when your heart races or you feel this surge of anxiety rush through you---that can mean you're on the verge of a breakthrough and spiritual awakening. It can mean that God is giving you something greater. For instance, I'm moving and every time we think we are all set, the moving date gets pushed down another week or two due to another issue we have to fix in the new home. It's not huge issues, but ones we'd like to fix before the furniture arrives. This has left me waking up with a rapid heartbeat every single morning. But the thing was, I would entertain it, coddle it, FEAR it, where it would exasperate the anxiety even more. Totally my mistake. And no doubt, moving is a huge change, especially for me, where I am leaving my ancestral home where I took care of my mom and dad, so it has a heavy pull on my heart. This is completely normal! I should know this, but when you feel like your heart is in your throat, your mind can drift off and say, "Am I okay?"

Excess Energy & Grounding

An article I read over on this site said, "Anxiety is a NATURAL part of the awakening process (it may be natural, but its not actually necessary). The anxiety that you’re feeling absolutely WILL PASS and Its actually a sign that you’re right on track. Spiritual awakening anxiety is natural because when those large quotients of energy begin to flood our system, our energy bodies are highly charged. Think of it like leaving a charger in the electrical socket too long. We get charged so much that we’re practically buzzing, and there’s nowhere for that excess energy to go. Now, it has good purpose – it awakens us, and it opens us up to heal our emotions and reconnect with source through our psychic senses – however, it is not necessary for you to feel anxious in order to awaken. It's really important that you grasp this, so I’ll say it again, it is not necessary for you to feel anxious in order to awaken. However, our bodies have likely never experienced a volume or intensity of energy like this, ever. It often perceives it to be anxiety when really, its just energy – we’re just super charged – and our bodies simply don’t have enough physical density to be able to balance it out or to anchor us to the earth. It feels like anxiety, but really, it is just energy. The good news is, that if we can anchor that energy to the earth, and hold enough physical density in our bodies to absorb it, the energy can be balanced, and the anxiety can be released. We do that with grounding."

It's going to feel like nobody understands you, especially if you don't understand the process of "good energy" that's considered to be "bad" --- it's typically just uncomfortable if you're resisting it. Naturally, someone experiencing this out of the blue will automatically think the worst case scenario, rush off to the doctor to be only told that it's anxiety. They'll sit there wondering what they're stressed about or what they were thinking when they were hit with a pounding heart. It can definitely be confusing. Knowing what I know now, I've been using grounding techniques that I should've been doing in the past. I learned how to stabilize myself, while having a racing heart or a panic attack in other forms. I typically just sit, relax, put on this video on Youtube (click here) and start to deep breathe along with its soothing music and affirmations. Then I start my grounding techniques: I name 5 different things I can see, 4 things I can feel, 3 things I can hear, 2 things I can smell and 1 thing I can taste. It's using your senses that make your mind distracted. It truly works. When I'm having these episodes, it's important for me to walk around barefoot. This is also a grounding technique. They say to walk barefoot outside, but it hurts way too much! So I play it safe on my hard wood floors.

Self Dialogue is Important! 

"It's 'okay'----you know what this is, you've been through this before and know how to calm yourself. It's only anxiety and this too shall pass. You don't need to go to the emergency room or see a doctor, you just need to ground yourself, take a deep breath and know that this positive energy surging through you is a good thing!" By the time Alexa and Siri hear you, the men in the white coats will come to get you. Ha. Sometimes, you're the only comforter you have. I also pray to God, because for me, He is my comforter. I always reiterate to myself, "You're not alone, God is here and it's okay." Pretend you're talking to your 8 year old self having a meltdown. "Don't worry, just calm down and let's go out for ice-cream." Ok, that was my selfishness slipping in there, and yes, sometimes this does require ice cream! In all seriousness, self-dialogue is what helped me today. Be kind to yourself. Let yourself feel what it has to go through---all the emotions, good and bad. All the heartbeats that tell you, "Yes! You're alive!' Remind yourself that what you are experiencing is something signifiant. You're on the cusp of a wonderful breakthrough. Believe it.

Here's What I've Noticed About My Kind of Anxiety

I noticed the most important factor of my "panic attacks." Anytime I have something really good to look forward to, my heart races. In the past, this would be thought to be a bad thing---like maybe God is telling me not to do this, etc. My anticipation about this very important move in my life (which is sooooo healthy for me) is all good! Sometimes, I'll get so excited to see my sisters or my friends that my anxiety exasperates into a full blown panic attack. For instance, a few months ago, we made plans to meet all of my family at this restaurant on a Friday evening. I was so excited to see everyone. As the day went on, I felt a little anxious---nothing huge. I did some shopping, came home and got ready to see the girls. All of the sudden, I felt my heart racing a mile a minute. I'm like, "What now???" I was so frustrated because for me, this meant that I would have to tell everyone I couldn't go. But something told me to go against it---to do it in fear---to go with your heart racing and all. And I did. I had the best time and I was so glad I pushed through it. That was a huge feat for me, to go into a crowded restaurant on a Friday night and to sit at a big table and be social, all while my heart was going thumpity-thump-thump-thump!

Another thing I noticed, is when the anxiety is notable a negative kind, it seems to hold different feelings and symptoms. For instance, when I knew my mom was dying, I would go upstairs and cry my eyes out and stay up till 5am. Insomnia is a huge sign of my negative side----but it can also mean good as well depending on what's going on. So when I am going through something very negative, I won't sleep, and most likely will have more shortness of breath and random chest pains. There's hardly any racing heart with this type of anxiety.

For any anxiety, if I just take a brisk walk outside, or just be in the sun for 15 minutes, this helps me a lot. I'm not a huge fan of exercise either. It just means my heart will race more. But lately, I have noticed that if I am more active one day, my heart rate will go down, due to keeping it up intentionally. There's some science to being calmer after exercising.

One last thing, I know coffee is a known 'no-no' when someone has anxiety. I mean, if you're having an attack right there and then---do not drink coffee. But if you are calm, and your head is in the right place, grab your cup and enjoy. For me, if I skip my coffee, I get migraines and also a rapid heart rate from the withdrawal of coffee. This confuses so many people, because they've been taught to steer away from coffee while having a panicky day. I say, drink it with moderation. Coffee has so many benefits. There's a study they did where they found that people who drank coffee on a regular basis were less likely to become suicidal. It really does give you this 'feel good' vibe, which has an addicting quality. It's also proven to strengthen the heart and prevent cancer. So as someone who suffers with anxiety and the symptoms of it, I am a total advocate for the java bean,

I'm writing this to share what I experienced this morning. I woke up with a pounding heart and calmed myself down. I prayed and did my grounding work. It went from 130bpm down to 85bpm which is really good. As long as my mind is occupied, either by reading, writing, cleaning, cooking or walking the dog, I seem to incorporate grounding techniques just by the distractions of it all. Watching TV is a huge no-no, because it's not enough distraction. You're still. You're not moving and most likely, if the show is kinda on the boring side, you're going to notice every symptom that comes across your body. However, on the opposite of that, if you sit still and listen to quiet music while intentionally grounding yourself with breathing exercises, you can truly calm yourself down. You're in control. Your mind and heart need to coincide so they can both be calm. If your heart makes your mind race, then let your mind slow down your heart. Your "motherboard" needs to dictate all that happens in your system. Believe me---I'm STILL learning to practice these steps. I like to share what has helped me when I'm experiencing a rapid heart rate or anxiety in general.

Remember, if you can't think of something bad or negative happening in your life, and your heart is still racing---know that you're on the cusp of a major breakthrough. Use that energy---spend it! Make it work for you. Right now, I'm attempting to clean my house and make sure my garden is weeded. I will not be a victim of "good anxiety," because I'm supposed to use it, enjoy it, and maybe even have it inspire me to exercise....maybe.

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


Wednesday, August 14, 2019

It's OK Not to Be OK!

There's a ton of online gurus for every topic you can imagine. Some have degrees for studying their craft and knowledge, while others can only offer you their experience and research. I find both acceptable when it comes to reading content from either a qualified scholar or from someone who has experience of their own in whatever topic. Take for instance psychology. There are people like me who talk, write and live stream about mental health awareness, anxiety, depression and other related topics, only because I have struggled with it since I was sixteen years old. I cannot give you advice on medications or worse off, diagnose you. I can only tell you my story, and maybe relate to yours. I can tell you what worked for me, and leave it up to you to draw your own conclusions.

Qualifying Your Therapist


How do you know if someone can truly help you? Say for instance, a self-proclaimed "life coach" approaches you---do you ask for their qualifications and practice? What about qualifying your therapist? You might find a therapist with the LMSW or LCSW in their title of qualifications. Some are actually called, "psychotherapists", leaving patients to be confused with the word "psychiatrist." A psychiatrist can administer therapy, but more so are there for the medical side of it: medications and evaluations, etc. With all that being said, I guess it depends on what you're looking for. I know for myself, I see an awesome therapist who is listed under the LCSW label, who uses CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) and other relaxation techniques to help calm panic attacks. She also teaches me coping skills that have truly worked. I also have an MD who is listed as a "psychiatrist." It's talk therapy and a prescription for anti-anxiety meds for the month. In my own opinion, (and many professional opinions as well) it's important to have both therapist and psychiatrist.

How Do You Trust What You Read? 

In the meantime while you're waiting for your appointments, it's okay to read up on what other people go through, or to read a blog like mine about mental health. Generally the rule of thumb is, don't take everything to heart. Take what you can and throw the rest out. When I talk about God and my prayer time, it may not be for everyone. But that's the one thing that truly helps me overall. Some blogs are bias on one practice vs another. Some may suggest yoga, which goes against my faith. Others may suggest a different approach that may not be your cup of tea. Find the right author or online 'guru' and stick to it, only if they help!

I Was Recently Psychologically Evaluated

Yep. You read that correctly. For the first time in my life, I was recently psychologically evaluated by the hospital's psyche team for having a complete meltdown after experiencing a panic attack nonstop for over two weeks. Between still grieving over my sweet mama and moving out of my ancestral home, my heart rate was at a steady 130bpm. I couldn't take it anymore, and when I went to my doctor just for a check up (notice I didn't say ER,) they called for an ambulance because this time, I had passed out from the extreme fatigue my rapid heart rate was giving me. I also muttered out that I wish God would just take me home. That's code for: I wanna kill myself. But I would never kill myself. But you can't joke around or say things like that to medical professionals, because even if they know you're joking, and they discharge you, they'll be liable for what you do afterwards. When the psyche team came into my room, they closed the curtains and spoke softly.

"Hi Debra, do you know why we're here?" 

I sure did. They asked if I wanted to harm myself or others. I told them I was too much of a coward to do anything. I'd probably pass out before I even did the deed. One of them chuckled. They asked a series of other questions which would determine me fit or unfit to sit in a padded room for 72 hours. Then the head doctor said, "You don't belong here. Your grief and this change of moving to another home is exasperating your anxiety." I was ready to just say, "YES take me!" I was so done with all of this stress that I didn't give a rat's ass if they zombied me out on Lithium and fed me jello. I just wanted some peace! So the prognosis was, that I up my therapy sessions and take more magnesium. On top of that, they wanted to put me on a medication that conflicted with my doctor's opinion, called "Mirtazapine"---which is a medication used to amp up the appetites of anorexia patients. I'm already 'well rounded' and didn't need more weight gain in the process. Then the social worker came in to give me a final evaluation. She asked me to talk about my mom---I guess to see where my level of grief was. I was telling her funny things like, she was so lively and funny, a bit of a drinker, but enjoyed her life with her family. The social worker looked straight into my eyes and said, "You may wanna follow the footsteps of your mom and do what she did in life, wink wink." Then she said, "Go home and have a stiff drink." You can't make this stuff up! It's like the worst thing you can tell somebody who is being psychologically evaluated. But it was funny, nonetheless. And yes I had a glass of wine when I got back home.

Why Are You Sharing All of This On Social Media???

Because it's important. Because you're not alone. Because there are people out there made to feel too ashamed to speak about mental health issues. This is the number one issue we ALL share, whether you self-medicate to stifle the symptoms, or you deny it---it's the one thing we have in common! And one day, when it gets to be too much for you, and you find yourself in an ER cubical with a curtain being psychologically evaluated, you'll need other people like myself to understand and relate to what you're going through. There is nothing embarrassing about admitting you need help, or that you need someone to talk to, be it therapist or a friend. There's nothing wrong with having anxiety or depression. Especially in the world we live in today---it's important to know that you're not alone in this and that there are people out there who can help and share their own experiences with you. And when your therapist isn't available, isn't it a blessing you can hop onto Google and find some websites that teach you coping mechanisms? I mean, Google can also be a curse and amp up your health anxiety, but nonetheless, we have resources we can use if we use them intelligently.

Smiling Depression

That's actually a medical term, "Smiling Depression." It's exactly what it means: people who smile through their depression. Look at Robin Williams. He not only smiled and laughed, but he made millions of people smile and laugh right along with him. You'd never think in a million years that Robin Williams would be suicidal. The majority of people out there have it. Those who are seemingly catapulting their way through life laughing and joking with us are sometimes the saddest of all people. Mental illness has this awful stigma that many don't want to be associated with. It doesn't mean you're "crazy" or "unstable"---it simply means that you are HUMAN. I'd be more worried if you didn't feel anything in life.

In conclusion, I hope that as time goes on, we can be less afraid to admit to our struggles, and find help and support instead of hiding it at the bottom of a pill or wine bottle. And if you ever need a supportive ear, please message me. I'm a little unconventional about giving out the suicide crisis hotline, because if you're like me, all you want is somebody to HEAR you and that you truly don't want to die, that you just want to LIVE and be yourself again. Some of these psyche wards are like prisons. A cold bed with no sheets (for obvious reasons) and you won't care because they'll be pumping you up with the most sedating of all drugs. But sometimes, that's what some people need---some people---meaning dangerous to themselves or to others. From my psychiatrist's mouth---you'll come out ten times worse than you did going in. Trust me. Find someone to talk to. There's also a mental health mobile unit that will come to your home in a regular car, and just sit and talk with you until your panic attack or suicidal thoughts pass. They're there in cases of a crisis, where you feel like you need to go to the ER. Call the mental health mobile before a suicide hotline. This is my unprofessional advice of being an expert of having gone through this since I was sixteen years old.

My Advice?

  • Be good to yourself.
  • Forgive yourself.
  • Like yourself more---love yourself more.
  • Allow yourself to express your feelings.
  • Know that you are not alone.
  • Reach out.
  • Help someone else to get your mind off of yourself.
  • Always practice your coping mechanisms. 
  • Pray without ceasing.
  • Conjure up positive thoughts & plans for the day ahead every evening.
  • Visualize having the best day ever before going to bed.

And just 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 at DebsCucina.com
for some of her famous recipes!

Wednesday, August 07, 2019

When You're the Token Lesbian of Your Christian Friends

My walk with God is my own. It's my own personal relationship with God tells me I have my comforter, my friend, my Father and my great physician wherever I go and whenever I need Him. I don't need other people to assume or to tell me that when I finally get to meet God, that He'll say, "Depart from me, I never knew you." Trust me, God knows me very well. My time spent every single morning with Him is what I look forward to daily. Some mornings it can be 30 minutes, while most mornings, it exceeds an hour or two, especially if I'm studying the word. But putting a timer on your prayer time is not what's important: it's your faith and relationship. I don't just sit in church every Sunday, my relationship has nothing to do with the church itself. The church is there to fellowship with other believers and hear more about the Bible. But it doesn't end after Sunday service. It continues on a much deeper level. My communication with God is nonstop. He is within me---living in my mind and heart. So when someone tells me I don't know God or that God doesn't love me, I know that's a message from the devil. He wants us to feel like God doesn't love us. He wants us to think that God is going to say, "Depart from me! I never knew you!" He will speak through other people and have you feel horrible about who you are and what you do. Remember, the devil comes to steal, kill and destroy, whether that be through people or through our very own thoughts.

But isn't that what many Christians do to one another? They rebuke each other, or call it "righteous judgment." I do believe in trying to help someone who is struggling with something that threatens their salvation, but the nonsense of mocking fellow Christians for their imperfections or their 'thought-to-be' sin is pathetic. I joined church so that I can meet other believers, because it's kind of hard talking about Jesus with enthusiasm to an atheist or someone of another religion. We're all different, and I respect that. I'm not here trying to convert anyone over to my religion. I can be an example of my faith, but I'm not going to tell someone they're going to hell because they don't believe what I do. Those are big shoes to fill. But sadly, many Christians feel it's their job to rebuke and judge people, leaving them to feel bad about their own lives. Life and death are in the power of the tongue. You can either choose to uplift and edify people, or you can choose to scare the living bejeezus out of folks who are trying to just learn more about God.

Having said that, I have friends from all different kinds of faiths and religions, and some with little to no faith. Sadly, the ones who are Christian seem to be the ones who tear me down the most. Some like to take me in as their "token lesbian" to point out some kind of "YES GOD IS GOOD BECAUSE SHE IS HERE" type of ministry, hoping that my testimony will be that I am 100% converted into some heterosexual unhappy married broad with a few kids and 20 cats. I don't want to live that life. They want to take credit for turning you into one of them, without giving God the glory. They want to take all the credit---narcissistically twist you into their image, and not God's. I remember I had one Christian friend who admitted that she would pray every single night that my union with my wife, and best friend would fizzle out so that I could meet "a nice boy" at her church to marry and settle down with. She even offered me to live in her home while I 'transform.' And of course who would get that credit for turning me hetero? It's an egotistical agenda these Christians have---to get you to do what they want---to get you to live how they live. Characteristics: unhappily married people, single folks and of course...priests---these groups seem to want to pull you down with them. I always say, if you think I'm sinning, then just pray for me. Don't try to break up my relationship with someone I have been with for 25 years! Most heterosexual marriages don't even last that long. Some couples don't prefer to have children---and who does in this evil, crazy world anyway? But nonetheless, I'm done being the "token lesbian" for these fake Christians who spew nothing but egotistical messages that God doesn't love you because of "this" and "that." God loves ALL of us, messy lives and all. He will take us as is, as long as we have faith in Him.


And what is the greatest commandment in the Bible?

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”--Matthew 22:36

So with my strong and unwavering faith, I will choose to hang out with the sinners, for I am one as well....we all are sinners and fall short in the glory of God. I will spend time with the "common man" as the Bible says.

Roman 12:16 says, "Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all!"

I know some Christians who say to STAY AWAY from unbelievers. But if your faith can't be shaken, then what is there to fear? God says to fear not, for He is with you. Jesus spent time with the sinners, despite what religious people thought of Him. These people aren't truly reading what the Bible tells us to do. And when you point it out to them, you'll either get total silence, or cherry picked version of what they 'think' it means. It's all very black and white.

My final thought on this is to pray for people like this. These people are insecure and unsure of their own fate. They're not sure if they're "right" with God, or else they wouldn't tear you down or verbally attack you. Be quick to listen, and slow to anger----and if people disagree with you, just pray on it. That's all you can do.

Trust what God thinks of you, not what people say about you.

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

Tuesday, August 06, 2019

What Is "Health Anxiety?"

Many people think of generalized stress or panic attacks when hearing the word "anxiety." But there's a new definition of hypochondria, which is called, "health anxiety." It basically defines itself: anxiety over health issues. I'm no stranger when it comes to going to the ER because I'm experiencing chest pain. For me, it's a valid concern. For most people who don't have anxiety, they'd be in the ER right away. But for people like me, who are constantly aware of their health, it can become a pattern. Throughout my experience of having met my share of EMTs, nurses and doctors, there are specific types of pain that I can identify as anxiety now.

Here are things I do before it becomes an emergency:
  • If the pain is sharp---that means it's usually muscle/skeletal and can be relieved by taking Tylenol or ibuprofen. 
  • If you can somehow recreate the pain by moving your arms around, then it's also muscle/skeletal, or what's called, "costochondritis" --which is inflammation of the cartilage that connects a rib to the breastbone (sternum). Pain caused by costochondritis might mimic that of a heart attack or other heart conditions. 
  • Take a minute to sit, and breathe in 4 seconds, hold for 7 seconds, and exhale out for 8 seconds. Do this a few times. If the pain subsides, then it's not a heart attack. Heart attack pain does not stop. It's a dull and heavy feeling in the chest that does not go away.
There are other types of health anxiety that seem foreign to me, like automatically thinking you have cancer just because there's a blemish on your arm. I've seen quite a few support groups panic when they see an imperfection on their skin. Although I don't understand the automatic "I have cancer" assumption---I am in no way downgrading their concerns. All in all, when in doubt, check it out, but checking it out all the time can become pretty pricey. I'm paying off my medical visits as well speak. 

I'm not a huge fan of people making fun of those who suffer with anxiety. Let's face it---everybody has stress, but every kind of stressful sensation can be different for everyone. I know some people who self medicate to the point where they're walking zombies. And then I know some people who are so afraid to take medication or herbal remedies, that they're a walking nerve. So I don't know which is worse. What I do know is, we should never judge others for what they go through and experience. 

What I have found to be extremely helpful was delving into my faith and praying every single morning---even before I shower. Find time to reconnect with your source and let God work in His mysterious ways. I remember for the longest time, I could not find a therapist that could help me. And today, my therapist has gotten me to the point where when I walk out of her office, or end a video chat, I feel like I can do anything for the rest of the week. I found a therapist that knows different types of anxiety relieving techniques that truly help. She's also taught me how to stimulate the vagus nerve with a simple practice, which promotes a deep sigh or yawn when you are short of breath. There are other interesting techniques that have to deal with pressure points and CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.) A few weeks back, I was driving up to her. She's about 30 minutes out of my comfort zone. As I was sitting in traffic (which is one of my worst fears) -- I remembered her advice and turned up my radio and sang while everyone else was slamming their horns and cursing each other off. I remained calm. But that doesn't always happen. I have to keep going. And I have to pray without ceasing. So prayer and therapy has done wonders. When I walked into her office after waiting an hour in traffic, I ended up having a panic attack right in front of her. She smiled, then guided me into this meditative deep breathing exercise, and when I opened my eyes, my heart rate sunk from 150 to 75bpm. 

Is it worth $100 a week for therapy? YES. Without it, I'd pay even more for ER visits, cardiologist bills or perhaps even an ambulance ride for a mere $500 bucks. So yes, it is worth it! But you really have to find a therapist who you feel calm with---where there is no tension or negative energy. You have to find someone like my girl who actually has studied beyond her given duties in order to help others. She's constantly learning about new techniques to calm people with anxiety and depression. She doesn't just sit there and ask, "Well, how does that make you feel?" It's not "textbook psychology." She'll even do yoga with you if you're into that sort of thing. Due to my faith, I can't perform yoga. It goes against my religion. But for others, they find it helpful. 

One you figure out why your 'fight or flight' cap is a little flimsy, you'll start to incorporate your own favorite relaxation technique. And if for whatever reason it doesn't work, try and find something new that will. God says He will never give us more than we can handle. He also tells us to cast all of our anxieties to Him. And while it may be hard to stop and pray to God while your heart is in your throat, the best thing you can say is His name. There is power in the name of Jesus. Even if you just say, "Jesus" a few times, watch how you calm down, this is if you have complete faith in Him. 

Feel better, and just know that you an do ALL things in Jesus' name which will strengthen you! 

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

World Mental Health Day

It doesn't matter if you hide it well, or never tell a soul about your unraveled feelings you keep bottled up, the fact is, we all suf...