Thursday, October 10, 2019

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 suffer with mental health one way or another. You may be independent and highly functioning, or you can be debilitated with agoraphobia due to your panic attacks. Bereavement also goes down as part of mental health issues and so does behavioral issues, like uncontrolled anger. We all share this common human element that we feel ashamed to share publicly. Fear of abandonment, depression, manic depression (bipolar disorder) and even hormonal imbalances, which can contribute to mental health issues. Chronic pain can put you in quite a depression as well. Pain is the most common factor for debilitating depression. Whether it is circumstantial, inherited or developed over time, we can all admit that we had or still have suffered from a mental health situation. And there's nothing to be ashamed of.

Myths and Phony Boloney Statements Made

"They're just lazy." Fear and anxiety can sometimes limit what a person is willing to do. Many people refuse to exercise due to their heart rate increasing, leaving them to panic and then have their heart palpitate, thinking it's a heart attack. They develop what's called PVCs (Premature ventricular contractions, are extra heartbeats that begin in one of your heart's two lower pumping chambers (ventricles). These extra beats disrupt your regular heart rhythm, sometimes causing you to feel a fluttering or a skipped beat in your chest. With more exposure to exercise and knowing what is triggering them can put relief onto the person so they'll continue to exercise without the fear behind it. But one of the myths told when someone with anxiety doesn't exercise is, "Oh, they're just lazy."

"They don't like me because they never hang out anymore." Social anxiety is another common thing people go through. Even the most independent of all people can develop social anxiety. So whenever you invite your friend over who has social anxiety, remember that it doesn't mean that they don't like you, it just means that they may feel a bit more anxious that day. Do not take someone's isolation personally. For real, it's not you---it's them. And the more you start understanding social anxiety, the more comfortable your friend will be and more opt to take you up on your invites.

"It's all in your head."  Well, yeah. But that's even more reason to take this seriously. Our minds are convoluted with fear and unraveling thoughts of 'what ifs.' It's interesting to see someone tell another person who is suffering with anxiety or depression to just "cheer up" or "you can change your entire mindset!" It's not that easy. It's possible, but it takes a lot of time and hard work with a professional, and sometimes medication if need be. You're dealing with a mind that's unlike your own. If you know somebody with anxiety, depression, PTSD or bipolar disorder---take it easy on them. Our mental health can sometimes determine our physical health as well. Many of us develop psychosomatic symptoms, which can feel just like a heart attack. It can cause back pain and cause fibromyalgia flare ups.

A Blessing or a Burden? 

From personal experience, I've witnessed how people react once I'm in a crisis mode. When I first lost my mother, everyone was so kind and generous, offering anything they could do for me, and if I needed to reach out to just call or come over anytime. But after the funeral, you won't hear from those people....possibly ever. When I lost my home and moved into our new house---I started getting rebound anxiety attacks. The adjustment was huge for me. Whenever I would reach out, I would always get abrupt answers, sometimes harsh, telling me to "calm down" or "you need medication" and worst of all, complete silence from some. Here's my theory on this as of now: find resources so that you never have to make that call to a friend or relative who resents you for having these mental health crises. Let's face it---people have enough on their plates, so taking on our issues would possibly be too overwhelming for them. And many times, people don't know how to say "No, I can't help you." And that's okay. For me, I have 1 psychiatrist, 1 psychologist, 1 mental health peer (in case I need assistance at home or if I need to run errands but too anxious.) I have a crisis patient advocate who will evaluate me over the phone or come to my location to see if I need to go to the ER or simply need to calm down. I can call these people during the day or 2am when I'm shaking like a leaf in the corner of my room. They're professionals, my friends and family are not. This is what they do for a living, so instead of reaching out to someone close, try gaining the resources so the "burden" is less for all of you. Remember, you ARE a blessing to many. You are NEVER a burden. Some people just have too many burdens of their own to take on new ones. I respect that.


It's OK Not To Be OK!

You are NOT weak for asking for help.
You are NOT crazy for having mental health issues.
You are NOT a burden.
You are NOT faulty.

You're simply a human being living in a faulty world. Sometimes it's all you can do to not self-medicate and throw in the towel. Your life has purpose. You're entire reason for being here is greater than you even realize. And when you have that 'ah-ha' moment of why you're here, you're going to feel calmer, more confident in who you are and why you are here at this very moment. Sometimes things just don't make any sense whatsoever. Ooooh, life's one big mystery. Yeah kinda-sorta, but when you sit back and look at the bigger picture, you have a bigger plan for your life. You have a much bigger purpose waiting for you. Self-love is important. Positive self-dialogues are imperative for your mental health. We listen to our minds more than we ought to. If you have negative thought patterns, you'll end up believing that "you're ugly" or "too fat" or "too skinny." You'll believe the lies your mind conjures up. By instilling positive self imagery on yourself, on the way you look and who you are inside--watch how you start feeling better little by little.

Be good to yourself, kinder to yourself. Forgive yourself more. Learn to adapt a whole new respect for who you are and what you do for others. Find purpose before you find out your real purpose. Do things ON purpose. Don't let anyone tell you that you 'need this' or that you 'need that,' unless it's from a health provider.

Have faith!

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, October 09, 2019

Get Behind Me Satan! I'm Jumping Out of My Comfort Zone!

The waves of grief are strange and unpredictable. It's like, one day you're doing great and feeling like you're somewhat healed, and then one night, you wake up in a puddle of tears because you dreamt of your lost loved one. That's what happened to me this morning. I was doing okay. I thought I was "fine." It was 2am when I gasped for air, trying to hold onto mom, half sleeping and half awake. Was it a visit? Was it just a dream? Was it my subconscious telling me I need to purge more in order to heal? I don't know. All I know is, I woke up incredibly sad. My heart was racing a mile a minute. I took a deep breath and praised God. "Get behind me Satan---not today, not today." Even though it was somewhat of a late start to the day, I got up, showered up and showed up. The devil wants us to live small lives---lives full of fear and dread. The power behind pushing through that heaviness, the dread that nearly consumes you is not easy. But if you're getting help by praying to God every single day, I promise you---it does get better and you will do things out of your comfort zone. I am not in my comfort zone just yet. I cannot tell you how hard it was to leave my home---the home my wife and I had dreams about renovating. It was the home we both took care of my parents in. It was the home that we made ours. Of course there were other factors that made me want to leave as well. Those things weighed out more, like the horrific winters being stuck up on a mountain with no electric for days at a time or the expenses of keeping up with an old house that needed a lot of TLC. New roofing, new pipes (that was costly) and keeping up with the landscaping. It was worth it because it was just an amazing, beautiful place. It was exciting to see the place look so nice, until winter came.

Instead of fighting for the house, I jumped out of my comfort zone and into a new townhouse. It wasn't like I moved from New York straight into Texas---that's one hell of an adjustment. My new life took some getting use to. A change like that: deaths in the family and a major move are all apart of what they call "major life changes." I wasn't really surprised when I started getting panic attacks for the first few weeks. I learned a few things from these panic attacks, that sometimes had me worrying that it was my heart.

You're Not Going to Die

When you realize what it is, anxiety (the devil's attacks) will start leaving you alone. I finally got fed up with my rapid heart rate one morning. It was 4am, and my heart was out of control. Instead of checking my pulse---I started breathing in and out, and with each exhale, I muttered, "Praise Jesus." I did that five times, and all of the sudden, my heart calmed down and I fell asleep in a second. Later on, I woke up calm, hopeful, and full of excitement that it really worked. And then it happened again. I started breathing in and out, with the exhalation of "Praise Jesus." Gone. Poof. Just like that. There's power in His name. When you praise Him in the storms, in the midst of chaos, you are instilling faith. You're telling God that you trust Him to take care of you. Resist the devil and he will flee. You will not die from a panic attack. And if you do die----what's the worst thing that can happen if you're a believer? You go straight to God. I'm igniting my faith in order to help with the anxious feelings of this new change. So when you feel anxious and your heart is fluttering, always remember that you are not going to die. That's number one. Number two is---God has your back in case you do. But usually, when we think something is going to happen, it never does. Just breathe in and out slowly with the exhalation of praising Him. It works.

Therapy Is Good, But It's Not Enough

Talk therapy is an excellent way to get an outsider's help, instead of complaining to your friends and family. I want to be a blessing, not a burden, so I have a wonderful therapist who helps me with coping mechanisms and listens to me---really listens to me where she can even remind me of something I forgot about. It's hard to find a good therapist. Trust me on that one. I went through dozens before I found someone who really heard me. As helpful as therapy is, it can be quite expensive. Most insurances don't cover mental health for some reason. Many centers will have a sliding scale system, going by your income. But it's always near $100 or more. I really needed the help, so I opted for once a week, but it was more than my car payment. Moving into our new home became a bit of a financial strain for now, until we catch up again. I need the therapy, but I can't seem to scrounge up enough pennies to make that happen right now.

What helps me the most is giving it all to God. Telling God all of my issues and struggles. Most of all, thanking God for everything He has provided. Trusting God, leaning on God and making God number one in my life---all of these things really work. Every single coping mechanism I used didn't work long enough. But if I used the breathing technique with praising God at the same time---it took the anxiety away almost immediately and for a longer period of time. There is something so powerful about casting your cares to God and trusting Him to help you in times of trouble. And sometimes, it feels as though God isn't there. But the teacher is usually quiet during a test. And yes, God does test our faith to see where we're at. Once He knows how much you trust Him, just call out His name and miraculous things will start to happen in your life. I know that some of my friends tell me, "What's with this God stuff you write about all the time?" It's about living a quality life while I wait for God to take me back to my real home. You can have heaven on earth if you have enough faith. Even when you're going through the most stressful time, call on His name and watch how the situation changes.

But I Don't Feel Anything When I Pray - Why Doesn't God Answer My Prayers? 

Pray without ceasing! 
Faith is like a muscle. You have to keep exercising it in order for it to become stronger. And if your faith is strong enough and you are not getting your prayers answered, sometimes there's a blessing in unanswered prayers. Have you ever prayed for something in the past and have it turn out to be a really bad situation? I have. I wish that prayer wasn't answered. Sometimes, God may be protecting you from something He can see down the road. God sees the bigger picture, while we only see a small scope of things. Trust it when God doesn't answer. I remember my prayers weren't being answered last year, and God kept saying in different ways, "Just endure a little while longer." I wrote it down in my "prayer and answer book." He kept telling me to wait. I was praying for a place to live since we needed to get out of the home we were in. So I waited, and waited, and He gave me more than I even expected. If I would've taken things into my own hands and didn't wait on God, I would've been living in a weird efficiency apartment that was way too expensive. This is 100% true---I will never forget that. I almost settled into a home that would've caused so much grief. And now, I'm in a home that I fell in love with the moment I walked into it. That was God working in my life. Sometimes God says, "Yes," sometimes He says, "No, that's not good for you, and sometimes He says, "Just wait a little while longer."

When you feel that things are just too overwhelming and everything is going to crap---just say, "Get behind me, Satan! Not today, not today!"

"So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you." ---James 4:7

Whether you know this or not, there is a spiritual war going on, and you're apart of it. It's all up to you how you want to handle it. Do you want God on your side, or do you want the devil to keep on winning? God has already overcome the world, so have some faith! Get outta' your boat and walk on water. Push through the anxiety, the sadness, the temptation to have a huge pity party---get excited about what God has in store for you.

"Each time he said, 'My gracious favor is all you need. My power works best in your weakness.' So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may work through me." ---2 Corinthians 12:9

When you are weak, He is strong. It doesn't mean that "you" are weak, but the power of God is stronger than what we are capable of handling.

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, October 08, 2019

Complicated Grief: Is It Ever Truly Uncomplicated?

Having struggled with mental health most of my life, and then running into circumstantial challenges and major losses have all been a real eye opener. You get to see what your limitations are and how your body, mentally and physically responds to it all. And sometimes, you'll feel God's subtle hedge of protection, guarding you from things that you just cannot do alone. It's that type of inner strength you never knew you had. It's actually the inner strength you never had, because it was God's strength while in the midst of our weakest moments. That strength didn't belong to us.

“My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” --2 Corinthians 12:7-10.

People Will Try & Comfort You

Any time someone would say, "Well, it does get easier with time," while referring to the loss of my mom, I just nod my head (without arguing) and mentally say, "But it doesn't." Another one of my favorites: "Take it day by day," yeah yeah yeah. This is not AA, this is not some sort of recovery group for addicts---this is the loss of a loved one you're talking about. I get that people mean well and they try to say comforting words the best to their ability, but sometimes, it comes off as these lame clich├ęs and platitudes that everybody else uses. Sometimes, the best thing is to just be silent and listen to them, even if they're doing one of those ugly cries. Comfort them with silence and a hug. That's it.

Death of a Loved One Can Cause PTSD

As I was watching a Facebook video on my phone about this young child having this rare disease that left her hospitalized all the time, I found myself in another world---in my own archives stashed behind my mind that I never really noticed was there. I heard the sounds of her machines that were supplying her with medication as well as keeping her vitals. It was a constant 5 second low beeping sound. My mind automatically took me back to when I was sitting with mom. Her face drooping on one side from an apparent stroke we had no clue about. Her body looked so uncomfortable, as they kept trying to prop her up as if she was alive and well. But that beeping noise. As the video finished, my flashback to that day wasn't done. Telling Mom my goodbyes, and how I loved her so much....I wasn't done. Playing with her hair and holding her lifeless hand...I wasn't done. Hoping she'd open up her eyes and miraculously, telling me that she feels better for some reason...I wasn't done. Flashbacks, and more flashbacks came rushing into my mind, until I was paralyzed with anxiety and debilitating grief.

As I went to sleep, I dreamt about my mother and I being together again. When I woke up 10 hours later in the guest bedroom, I realized it was 7am and I had to get up. She was fresh on my mind. I only intended to sit in the guest bedroom to grieve for a little while, not to sleep there all night. But something took over, where God comforted me in a way no other person could do. If you know me at all, you know that my sleeping habits are terrible. I either go to bed at 4 am or I wake up every hour. This was a straight through nonstop sleep---the type of sleep I used to get when I was a child.

You Got This

The one thing I never want to do is to burden others with my ongoing bereavement. God is truly the only one I go to when I'm grieving or need to talk. He either gives me messages of clarity or simply just comforts me in ways the human mind cannot even fathom. When I write about my grief, it's not to complain or whine or to vent---it's so that maybe someone out there who is grieving as well may find some relief in what I've found. And the one thing I've found that is the most consistent thing in my life is God's continual comfort and love. It's so true---He won't give you anything you can't handle.

"No testing has overtaken you that is not common to everyone. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but with the testing he will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it." --1 Corinthians 10:13

The 'weak' moments seem unbearable, as well as developing the patience for God to protect you from the overwhelming sadness, but it's something you have to go through. It's a process of purging and healing, purging and healing...and little by little, with more purging, there is more healing. Once you feel that sense that something within you had died exactly when your loved one died, you'll start to feel this sense of aliveness---this raw and unadulterated energy surging through your entire being. Perhaps it's more of a connectedness, or a spiritual awakening that lets you know that your loved one isn't too far away. Sometimes, people develop spiritual gifts that can help them through their journey with bereavement. Some may dream of their loved ones, while others can actually hear and sometimes feel their presence. This is something to be careful about, because remember, there are such things as "familiar spirits" ---demons trying to mimic your loved ones so that you'll keep returning back again and again. You'll know the difference---you'll feel the difference. In the Bible, it tells you to "test the spirits" to see if they're from God. Once you do---the familiar spirits will vanish. You didn't entertain them by noticing or engaging them.

Relying On Mediums to Contact Your Loved Ones? 

Stop trying to contact your loved ones through mediums and other sources, especially Ouija boards. That's a phone call to hell. I fell into these traps a long time ago when my Dad passed away back in 2012. I went to this psychic in Provincetown, MA. It was a tiny little basement shop that he had going on, where some man in an Elvis-like suit came out to greet me. He took me behind the beaded curtain to a table that had little candles and a bunch of Tarot cards placed in the corner. This man told me things he couldn't have possibly known. He was spot on and I even felt this sensation of hope! I started to tear up with happiness, but to only realize, that the only messages I was receiving were all from familiar spirits. The devil is extremely intelligent and knows every single detail about your life, even the little locket you have tucked away in your left pocket. They reel you in by telling you things that will amaze you---but it's all magic---literally magic. Black magic. It's all used to lure you into a world that you may not be able to get out of. It can open portals that may not be able to close again, so you want to be more cautious in your weakest moments.

Grief Support Groups Can Do More Harm

In my experience, grief support groups can do more harm, because it's triggering most of the time. By hearing other people's stories, you can develop the same level of sadness, or "think" you "should" be at their level of sadness, when in fact, grieving is a personal and individual journey. The one thing I really noticed about being apart of a grief support group was that I was absorbing so much sadness in one spot. There's something to be said for being around people who are carrying heavy burdens. It's good to reach out and help others while they're suffering, but while you are suffering, it would be more beneficial to surround yourself with those who are veterans of grief, or at least, more positive about their outlook on everything. The best source of help besides going to God, is to see a grief counselor, or a therapist who can get you through your worst days. They can show you coping mechanisms that'll help you with your process. I always felt this heaviness every time I walked out of a grief support group. Call me an empath or maybe I just absorb too much---it was all too consuming. The negative energy had rubbed off of me and I became more depressed walking out of there than I did walking into the group. This is just my experience. Some people have had positive ones, so take this with a grain of salt.

Stages of Grief

Boloney! There is no such thing as the "stages of grief." There is no levels to which a person goes through the same thing as someone else. Yes, we will feel denial at some point, and even anger, but to tell people that level 1 is this...and level 2 is that....is utter b.s. in my personal opinion. I didn't reach the "set" stages of grief. I felt some of them, while others I felt nothing at all. I was never in denial---ever. I saw my mom die and yes it happened. There was no thoughts of, "She didn't die!" If they're talking about 'denial of grief'---utter b.s. as well. I'm so sick and tired of hearing about the "stages of grief." It's like the 12 step program for alcoholics. I don't believe in it, while many do. It's convoluted with "should bes" and "never should bes" ----it's a messy and complicated way to try and help you recover. My suggestion is: feel every emotion you can. Purge it out. Cry it out. Talk it out with a professional and most of all, go to God with everything! I mean, every single little inkling or feeling you may be experiencing.



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!

Thursday, October 03, 2019

Words Are More Powerful Than You Think

Every single day is a gift. Some of us realize it, while others just can't see past the fog. Depending on what you're going through, that "gift" can feel more like a burden, so we start resenting it---leaving a sense of ungratefulness. We may not even notice that we woke up with air in our lungs, a roof over our heads, a bed to sleep in, and food in the fridge. We forget to even thank God for waking up at all. We trudge through the day in this mundane shuffle of everyday routines, and think to ourselves, "What is it all for?" Sometimes, if I'm in a real bad funk, I'll ask, "What's my purpose? Why am I even here?" There are some days when I can't even move due to my fibromyalgia. I had really bad flare ups these past two days or so. It usually happens when cold air meets the warm air, or if a weather system like rain is moving in. In other words---I'm old. Even though I sometimes get depressed about it, because I know it's not going to be a very productive day, I try my hardest to stay in the present moment and to enjoy whatever it is I'm doing. I don't want to be in this constant state of  'waiting.' As Eckhart Tolle stated, whenever you're waiting for something, or just getting impatient with the time it takes to get from point A. to point B., just saying, "I'm OK, I'm just 'in' joy' in' 'myself.'" I'm trying to adapt this attitude myself. I find myself impatient with how long it's been taking me to finally adjust to my new home, and to be temporarily without an office right now. But instead of complaining about it---because to complain is to remain---I list a bunch of things for which I'm grateful for. I write out only the pros. Get rid of the cons. It won't do you any good to go over those.

You're Somebody's Answer

Although I tend to ask God, "What's my purpose here," I always find another example of why I should be where I am at this very moment. As soon as I start asking those questions, I'll either get an email or a direct message on one of my social media platforms telling me how much my articles have helped them. I never know who's reading my stuff, so I'm grateful when I get an email stating, "Hey, I know I never comment, but I've been reading your blog for years, and today it really hit home for me. This really helped, thank you." That to me, is the best feeling in the world. Knowing that through my own past and current struggles, that it may be of help to somebody else---that's golden. Think about what you do on a daily basis. In what way do you feel you may be helping somebody? Even just sharing your struggle with someone is helping. It shows that the person who is also struggling feels less alone in their daily battles. The reason why I'm so open about my 'issues' on this blog, is because there is such a stigma when it comes to mental health issues. I love to share what I'm going through, but to also tell them what may have helped me during that time. And sometimes, just sharing it alone is help enough. Your testimony can be somebody's inspiration and motivation. Never think that what you go through is not good enough to share, or perhaps you feel it's too embarrassing to share. People want to hear that kind of stuff because we all share some kind of embarrassing struggle from time to time. Please remember, that you are NOT weak for having anxiety or depression. You are NOT weak if all you can do is just get out of bed and shower. Be kind to yourself. Forgive yourself. Because as you continue to move through your own journey, you'll be able to relate more to people and tell them how you succeeded.

Watch Your Mouth

Words have power. Whatever you say can manifest in many ways. Things like, "I just can't do this anymore," (one that I am guilty of saying) or "This is killing me," and "My anxiety--my pain--my depression," ---they're not yours to own. Just as if someone says, "I'm fat." No. You're not fat. You may have fat, but you are not fat. Don't label yourself with these tags. Don't claim your anxiety or depression. Don't say "my"---just say, "I feel anxious," or "the anxiety is overwhelming." Claiming an illness of any kind sets a tone for owning it. I'm learning that self-dialogue is just as important as how someone else speaks to you. You'd want someone to respect you when they communicate with you, so why not expect the same for yourself? I listen to a lot of Joyce Meyer when I'm getting ready in the morning. One of the things I heard her suggest was telling yourself, "Something good is going to happen to me today! And something good is going to happen through me today!" Another one of my favorites is, "I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me!" I say that about three times when I'm feeling overwhelmed.

“Words can strengthen the weak, words can rejuvenate the meek - words can breathe life into the dead, words can unite the divided - words can bring smile on the face of the unfortunate, words can encourage the hearts of the desperate – words can alleviate the anguish of humanity, words can sow the seeds of serenity.” ― Abhijit Naskar

Proverbs 15: 1 “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but hard words stir up anger.”

Proverbs 15:4 “Gentle words bring life and health; a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit.”

Proverbs 16:24 “Kind words are like honey–sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.”

So whaddya say? How will you speak to yourself today? How will you speak to others around you today?  You can uplift and edify someone, as well as tear them down into tiny shards of broken glass. It's all up to 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!

Wednesday, October 02, 2019

Undeserved Forgiveness: Does It Exist?

Many people are diagnosed with PTSD. But some people have also been misdiagnosed with it. I know I was to an extent. When I learned what PTSD actually was by a series of questions my therapist asked, we both realized that I wasn't the one with PTSD--my parents were. One of the questions were, "Do you constantly have flashbacks of the day when your parents were arrested in your home when you were sixteen years old?"

No.

I mean, I think about it from time to time, but what I think about most is how all of us became closer and supported one another during the process. We stuck together through it all like a true family. There was forgiveness and healing after everything was said and done. If you click here, you can read up on the details of that dreaded day. In short, my parents home was raided by the FBI for a number of reasons, which is listed in that article.  Was I upset? Of course. But this was my parents' trauma---not mine. I mean, thinking that you're going to lose your parents because they're going to a federal pen is pretty traumatic. Seeing a ton of FBI agents with assault rifles pointed at your home is pretty scary---but I wouldn't call it as traumatic as someone living in an abusive household. I looked at the bigger picture. It could have been much much worse. I could've been in a real shady household, being physically and verbally beaten or sexually abused. I wasn't. When I think back on my childhood, all I can ever remember is all of the happiness, comfort and safety. I think about the togetherness, having three amazing siblings to spend my life with.

On that same day our home was getting raided, and my property was being dug up 30 ft deep for "missing bodies" (which turned out to be a lie) I thought to myself, "All these years my parents' punished me, and yet they're doing something 100 x's worse!" But I loved them. They were my everything. So, I forgave them. I realized how human they were. All of my siblings forgave my parents too. We were truly all best friends. Nobody could do any wrong in our eyes. We can 'see' the wrong, but we can also move past it.

By not forgiving someone, you are possibly enabling your own PTSD by keeping a record of wrongs. Depending on what took place in your life, if it is something that you can pardon, it'll not only benefit the person who needs forgiveness, but it will relieve your heart and after some time, your mind will start to erase the memories more and more, to where you no longer have "flashbacks." When they say to "forgive and forget"---I believe that once you forgive first, your mind and heart starts to think less of it, which leads to forgetting. We may keep an archive file in the back of our minds, and take it out from time to time, but that file won't jump out unexpectedly. You have to literally pick it out of that folder you have tucked away.

I've heard that in order to forgive, you must always remember the offense so that it doesn't happen again. I disagree with this. I mean, yes we can all learn from something that has happened to us, but why aren't we giving ourselves permission to move on from it? I know quite a few people (writers/authors) who talk about PTSD and dealing with people who have hurt you in the past. They even give detailed descriptions of certain traits of people to stay away from. I think each person is so individual---how can you peg them for doing something another person did? That's why many people don't trust anyone anymore. They were hurt by someone they loved, whether a spouse, an ex, or a family member, and they use that very experience and purge it all on the next person to come into their lives. It becomes more about misplaced anger.

Here's my motto. Give the benefit of the doubt, until the day you can't anymore. Then if need be, walk away from that person. See, forgiveness doesn't necessarily mean reconciliation. It means moving forward, for both parties involved. One of my favorite sayings is, "Bitterness is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die." That person probably doesn't even know that you're still seething over past arguments, and most likely, enjoying their lives while you're home complaining about them. You're letting them stay in your head rent-free.

"Well that's just too big of a thing to forgive."

In a schoolhouse shooting years ago in the Amish community of Pennsylvania, the people had forgiven the killer and his family. News of the instant forgiveness stunned the outside world–-almost as much as the incident itself did. Many pundits lauded the Amish, but others worried that hasty forgiveness was emotionally unhealthy. As a father who lost a daughter in the schoolhouse said, "Forgiveness means giving up the right to revenge." --you can read more about that story here.

Forgiveness is purging your hurt and pain. It's not "bottling up your emotions" ---bitterness will do that. Everything can be forgivable whether you believe that or not.

“Peter came to Jesus and asked, ‘Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?’ ‘No, not seven times,’ Jesus replied, ‘but seventy times seven!’” (Matthew 18:21-22 NLT).

Forgiveness can be very difficult for some people to do. It puts the seed of revenge in your heart. When you don't forgive someone for their faults or actions, you start to imagine revengeful things, even if it's as small as snubbing that person at work. You're harboring resentment. You're the one suffering with this heaviness, while the other person may not even know what's going on. I remember talking to my friend last year about this. She wasn't able to forgive her ex, (now friend) for moving on and dating again. She explained to me that she can figuratively kill someone with her words. She literally said, "I don't use violence, I can destroy someone with mere words. I can point their weaknesses out and use it against them." For me, it sounded like a whole lot of emotional work and a heavy burden to bear. Wouldn't it be easier to realize the situation for what it is, and forgive it and then move on?

When someone is insecure about themselves, it usually shows up in other ways. When you hurt or wrong them in whatever way, it validates why they are insecure in the first place, leaving them to feel too vulnerable and betrayed beyond belief. We all get betrayed from time to time, but many people fall upon playing the victim. For me, when I see the character of a person (including myself here) I look for how they (or I) respond. Do they tend to get violent and revengeful or are they more understanding and forgiving? When I hear someone say how they can easily rip someone a new fanny, I kinda start wondering how much hurt they have stored up in their heart. Maybe it's time to release it all and give it to God. I used to do the same thing, and I know how painful it was. This doesn't mean that you need to be a 'pushover' with zero backbone---it means that you can put yourself into someone else's shoes and see the situation from the outside.

How do you think I made it to 26 years with my wife? She forgave me a million and one times, ha... On both parts, we both forgave each other for whatever it was we were upset over. Back in the olden days, forgiveness was used a whole lot more, which is why so many couples stayed together. Today? You're lucky if you made it past 6 months. With all of these 'pseudo gurus' writing books on narcissism and how to "fight back" are going against what God even said in the first place. It's stating to not forgive the offender. Again, you do not have to reconcile, but forgiveness works in both parts: for you and for the offender. And if you don't want to wish someone well who has hurt you, then you are 'of this world' according to the Bible. But it works! I wouldn't be writing this if it doesn't work. Jesus said to LOVE YOUR ENEMIES.

"Forgiveness does not change the past, but it does enlarge the future." --Lewis Boese

If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins. --Matthew 6:14-15

If you're holding resentment or bitterness for someone, try letting it go and forgive them. Envision what it's like to live their lives and to experience all of their struggles. We all have a cross to bear, which is why we should be more forgiving, more understanding, more compassionate---everything that 1 Corinthians 13:4-8

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