Monday, July 27, 2020

Which Is Worse? Isolation or COVID-19?

To tell you the truth, I have yet to figure this one out. As New York's numbers in cases and mortality declines, the south is seeing a huge spike unfortunately. We've had a couple here and a couple there get tested positive, but less than seven people died in our state...sad, but better than thousands. As I continue to 'shelter-in-place,' along with the occasional trip here 'n there, perhaps to a park or the farm market, I'm seeing so many people having pool parties in large numbers, going out to bars and restaurants without wearing masks and having a great time. I'm also seeing thousands protesting in NYC. But we're "good"---right? No one is getting infected really. And if they are, it's super mild. Did New York conquer the bug? Has it weakened? Or, will it catch up to us eventually? Are we in the "February" where we saw a few cases and then BAM---March had us locked down-throw-away-the-key kinda quarantining.

I'm so sick and tired of people fighting over everything, between the masks, and if the corona virus is real or not real, or mild or strong or deadly---it's getting ridiculous. So let's just say nobody knows what the hell is going on. Some rely on science and some say that the scientists are evil and corrupted liars trying to push a communistic agenda, and on and on and on.

So do we still 'shelter in place' or can we go out, with the risk of the virus being out there and live our lives again? Do we sacrifice our physical health for our mental health or our mental health for our physical health? Because from what I'm seeing and experiencing, being 'sheltered in place' is truly wreaking havoc on everyone's mental health. For me, I get anything from horrible panic attacks, insomnia, myoclonic seizures, racing heart, bouts of crying---when is this going to end? I've never felt so lonely as I have now. Top that off with a sprinkle of hypochondria and you got yourself a complete meltdown palooza.

Even though I work from home mainly in the morning till mid-afternoon, my routine has come to a dead stop. No more light shopping (cause I get my groceries delivered usually) or going out to the farm market to get fresh produce. No more nights out to our favorite restaurants or visiting our friends and family. And since I'm at high risk, I'm nervous to be around other people, who have exposed themselves to many people. That doesn't mean I am judging them at all, but I refuse to be around those who feel that the virus won't affect them. Maybe it won't, but I went through it in March and it was awful. I'm not sure if this bug can reinfect, because frankly, nobody knows a damn thing about this virus yet. Get the vaccine when it comes out---don't get the vaccine---the vaccine will kill you---the vaccine is the only cure. My head is literally spinning with so much misinformation. I don't know who or what to trust in regards to getting the right information about this virus.

I've been told so many things lately:

  • "If you don't go out, you'll develop really bad agoraphobia." (Too late.) 
  • "If you don't go out and face this, you'll lose all your friends." (FaceTime works for me, my friends are still there thankfully.) 
  • "If you don't face your fear, you'll end up really depressed." (But if I get COVID-19, where will I end up being since I'm at high risk? Isn't this a legit fear?)
  • "You have to live your life, Deb! You can't just stay home all the time." (Why, where will I go? To a BBQ that consists of 30+ guests?) 
  • "You're doing exactly what the government wants you to do. They're watching our behavior to test communism on us." (How do we know this? What happened in 1918 with the Spanish Flu--was that a test too?)

These are the things that drive me nuts, besides the lack of face-to-face human interaction. It's true, we are social creatures and need to be around other people if that's what makes us happy. Sometimes, if I'm around too many people, I get over sensitized---sending my energy into a downward spiral of fatigue. But too little sends my reserved energy into a panic type of energy.

So which is worse?

Isolation or contracting the virus?

What do you think and what are your thoughts and opinions regarding the virus itself, and how you live (or want to) live your life?

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, July 10, 2020

Public Shaming People Over Masks

Lately, I've been noticing how people are twisting this pandemic into something political. They're also using this pandemic to fight it out because some people have an axe to grind for whatever reason.  There are a whole lotta' "Karens" in our world, as we have to just take it in with a grain of salt. I've seen most fights and debates over social media, and some that were in a flower and garden shop that absolutely took me by surprise. Why are we fighting with one another? I remember when we all came together after the tragic day of 9-11, so why are we trying to kill one another? You have people who think they're an expert with the virus itself and apparently, they've all been to the labs and factories while workers made masks to protect others from getting ill...or, the question is, do they protect?

Nobody really knows. That's why you get mixed messages.

People who take the time and effort to publicly shame others for wearing a mask or not wearing a mask are doing it out of fear. Here's my ~opinionated~ reasons why:

  • Fear. Fear makes people do things they wouldn't normally do, like shaming someone for their beliefs or personal views. 
  • Unresolved anger. It can put people over the edge if they have pent up anger, making the mask situation an excellent opportunity to rip someone a new one. 
  • Entitlement. Some people think they're entitled to bully complete strangers for whatever they're doing. Their arguments are weak and their approach is child-like. You can scroll through a ton of YouTube videos to see every 'Karen' out there. 
  • Socially awkward folks who need attention. They're the ones you don't invite to a restaurant or a gathering because they say the most inappropriate things imaginable. They're also the ones you would never put on speakerphone. 
"Sheeple" Callouts

The other day I was watching a video where this woman literally hid behind a pile of carts at a Target, "baaa-ing" at people, calling them "sheep" for wearing masks. What would provoke someone to take their time and do something like this? I actually believe there are people out there going crazy at home and they're bored out of their minds. Get a hobby for the love God! It doesn't even make sense why this woman did this. It just shows me people have lost touch with their ability to remain somewhat sane throughout this 4 month lockdown. I get it, even though I love staying home and work from home, I was forced to stay home and not visit my friends or family or even go out to my favorite restaurants. It gets to you. We all know. Even if you're an essential worker, that doesn't even qualify for "socializing" because they're out there working in fear, braving it and helping those who cannot work.

Onto the next...

The Whiney Karens

I will never forget the video I saw based in Staten Island. I used to stay with my cousins over in Staten Island and they ain't playin' around. Those are some tough folks, especially the women! Staten Island is close to my heart, but what happened at this grocery store was absolutely shameful. They saw a woman in the aisle not wearing a mask, so a bunch of women, including a couple of men starting yelling and pushing her around, saying, "Get the f*** out of here!" I have never seen people act this way---only with the toilet paper issue, which is a whole other can-o-beans. But the overall barbaric behavior from grown adults is really scary. It feels like our society has truly broken down and not only has this virus destroyed lives physically, but it's destroyed the very core of our existence---to come together as a community, as a civilization and not kill each other over something so 'fixable.' Personally, I always wear my mask when I enter a store. That's for you, that's for your son's compromised immunity and it's for your grandparents. I see it as a shield that "may" protect others. I can't say if they protect 100% because I'm not a scientist, nor a virologist, as others seem to think they are. 

Isolation/Social Distance Shaming

There seems to be a trend of poking fun at people who still want to social distance, especially if it's with your family and friends who do not live in the same household. For me personally, just because New York has had a major decline of infections and mortality rates, I will still isolate and social distance until I know for sure that this virus is gone, gone gone. If you're upset that someone in your family or one of your friends are shying away from invites, you have to excuse them. FaceTime them, or give them a call to chat with them. They're not okay with this either. Even though I never judge anyone who chooses to be around a lot of people without masks, I have the right to choose whether or not to see them. If I see on your social media that you're in a huge group without a mask, you're not going to see me for a very long time. I don't like it either, but I'm just not as lax as some people are. I don't get it---I see people hugging in groups and having these big parties, and then they ask, "Why don't you come by?" I can't! I won't! There's a pandemic out there and as much as I'd love to spend time with my loved ones---I have to be sure that this thing is over and done with. My better half is the same way. She even went back to work, and although she doesn't feel the masks are effective, she wears one anyway because she is not sure, and she wants her customers to know that she cares about their feelings. When she gets home, she takes off her shoes in the garage and enters the home that way. She throws her clothes in the wash down in the basement and washes her hands before seeing me. Even though she's very cautious, I get a little anxiety about being in an office for 8 hours a day around people---even if it's limited capacity. 

It all boils down to respect. Everything I wrote above---it's all about respecting people. I know you have your set beliefs, and you think others should have the same as you, but that's not possible. If someone in a store isn't wearing a mask, I don't publicly shame them. I simply walk away. You can do the same thing as well. If someone is wearing a mask, and you have the urge to make a "baaaaaa" sound, then obviously, you're not socially equip to handle society right now. 

It doesn't hurt to be kind. Whether you think this virus is a "plandemic" or a "pandemic"---treat people the way you want to be treated, usually left alone. I mean, your freedom of speech is your right, but when does it get to the point where you're just indirectly throwing your anger at those who have no clue what you're angry over? It's not even about the masks, is it? 

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, July 03, 2020

FEAR: False Evidence Appearing Real

There's a lot to be said about be afraid--about having a constant fear gnawing at you day after day. Fear literally shrinks your mind...it also shrinks your entire world. I know it shrunk mine for a very long time, and it still manages to keep it there ever since this pandemic took center stage. People who normally didn't suffer with debilitating fear are now experiencing it for the first time ever. This world is full of illness, rage, injustice and grief. For a while, I sunk back into my small world---into that fearful corner of anxiety and hypochondria. I had to stop thinking that every little tickle in my throat was the corona virus and that each sniffle would bring me closer to a ventilator. Back in the day (like last year) I would've just blown it off, popped a Claritin and be done with it. Today, I question every sensation in my body, monitoring it like a prison guard. My heart would start racing, but there was nobody to really help me. I couldn't just go to a doctor or check into the ER. No. Those places are now out of the question. I had to literally face my fear head on. At the brink of going insane, I finally gave it all to God. Each morning's racing heart was met with a prayer before my feet hit the ground. Enough is enough. When it seemed as though nothing would help, I just kept saying under my breath, "I trust you...I trust you.

Being Brave in the Midst of the Storm

Remember what happened to Peter in Matthew 8?

The storm was barreling down on them, and Peter asked, “Lord, is it You?” Peter asked. “If it is, tell me to come to you on the water.”

“Come,” Jesus said.

So Peter got out of the boat. He walked on the water toward Jesus. - Matthew 14:28-29

When Peter looked at the wind and waves, he began to doubt if Jesus was more powerful than the storm that surrounded him (Matthew 14:31).

He cried out, “Lord! Save me!” Right away Jesus reached out His hand and caught him. “Your faith is so small!” He said. “Why did you doubt Me?” - Matthew 14:30-31

When Peter looked at the wind and waves, he began to doubt if Jesus was more powerful than the storm that surrounded him (Matthew 14:31).

Do you know what the Bible says about doubt? “People who doubt are like waves of the sea. The wind blows and tosses them around.” (James 1:6) What an interesting word picture! Peter’s doubt literally caused him to be tossed around in the wind and waves. He began to sink. We look at the scary situation around us. We doubt whether God actually has power over that situation, or if He cares enough to help us. We may stop doing what God wants us to do. Or we may be overwhelmed with fear. You know the kind of fear I’m talking about---the kind that makes you feel like there’s a whirlwind in the pit of your stomach. But here is the truth: Lots of situations are too big or too scary for you to handle, but nothing is too big for Jesus. Don’t focus on the situation you are in. Focus on the One who has power over every situation. He WANTS to do what is best for you, and He is ABLE to do what is best for you. Focusing on that truth should give you peace. That truth should give you the confidence to step out of your boat and do what it is He wants you to do without any fear.---read more like this.

Each morning after, the first thing I did was look to Jesus. I thanked Him for another day. Every morning after that, my anxiety lessened little by little. My fear lessened as well. I still have a lot of work ahead of me, but I 'stepped out of the boat' at least, I 'walked on water' and if I sink, it's because doubt starts filling my mind again, but if I keep my eyes on Jesus, I won't sink. If you keep your faith strong and don't let it sink, you will see you can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens you.

FEAR is a liar. FEAR is False Evidence Appearing Real. The devil is a liar. He's just waiting for you to sink into the water. It's funny how many people are a little shy to admit that they are Christians or that they pray to Jesus. They think they'll be seen as a "holy roller" or that they're one of those judgmental bigots holding signs demeaning other people. The fact is, your relationship with God is your own. People--those who worship God but their behavior shows differently are lost or hurting. Some even have a warped view on what God is. God is LOVE. God doesn't represent hatred or insults. He represents YOU. We are all "sinners" and we all fall short sometimes. That's OKAY. That's the perfect time to go to God and talk with Him. Did you know that fear is spoken about 365 times in the Bible? So each day, for an entire year, you can read something that'll help you with your fear. It's one of the most talked about things in the Bible.

False Evidence Appearing Real

Have you ever noticed a time when you had anxiety about something you had to do or somewhere you had to go? You thought the worse case scenario and it may have filled your mind with doubt. But when you went through it in fear, you realized that none of those things that you were thinking about actually happened. We seem to forget them when everything pans out. Especially for agoraphobic people like myself, I will drum up a scenario like, "But what if I break down," "But what if I get stuck in traffic," "But what if I pass out in the middle of the grocery store?" Those "what ifs" will drive you into a smaller world, as it did for myself. It's okay to make a plan. So for instance, if I break down on the road somewhere, I have a phone plus a service my car has where you push a button and an operator comes on to assist you. If I get stuck in traffic (and hopefully I'm in the slow lane) I can simply pull over, do some breathing exercises or call someone. If I pass out in the grocery store (which never happened to me)---then someone would definitely help me, I'm sure. If I rationalize my irrational fears, it makes me braver, like, "I can do this!"

Fear is a Normal Fight or Flight Response

Without a doubt, I still get those late night panic attacks where I sometimes call my sister for help. She then puts my mind at ease and I start thinking, "Why am I so out of control?" But it's okay. Sometimes it happens and it's good to have a trusted person to be available when they can. And when nobody is there to help, talk to God about it. Go in another room and just pray as if you were talking to a trusted friend. This is what's been keeping me sane lately. Now, when I wake up in the morning, my heart isn't racing as much as it usually does. I can get all my work done, make coffee and enjoy my mornings again. Fear will ruin your life if you don't get a grip on it.

Yes it's normal to "fear" the virus.
Yes it's normal to "fear" our world being so incredibly different.
Yes it's normal to "fear" not being able to see our friends and family again.
Yes it's normal to "fear" unemployment and the collapse of our economy.

But guess who is stronger than all of those scenarios above? The earth recycles events and even plagues. In 1918, they were plagued with the Spanish Flu. (Which has now become politically incorrect to say these days.) There were earthquakes, locusts, tornadoes, tsunamis and wars. We have been through much of it, maybe not in our lifetime, but this world has seen it all. Is it a sign of Jesus coming back? Nobody truly knows the day nor hour. But it's good to be ready and excited for it, nonetheless.

All of it is so very frightening. So I've come to the conclusion that we should never fear death. Yep--I said it. It's such a primitive and natural fear, isn't it? So how do you overcome fearing death? By believing that God is there to take you when you leave this world. Faith will let you overcome that fear. But faith is like a muscle, you have to keep at it for it to become stronger. You can't just say, "Well, I believe in God, so...." It's gotta be more than that. I do believe that we are living the end times, but that's neither here nor there. We are all going to perish one way or another, some day or another, so we might as well face it fearlessly, and keep our eyes on Jesus. Walk on the water and don't fall---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!

Thursday, July 02, 2020

Understanding People With Anxiety Disorder

Sometimes things aren't what they appear to be. Most of the time, nobody knows a person well enough to understand exactly what's going on with them. For instance, when I talk about my struggle with anxiety disorder, I always get the same answer, especially from therapists: "But you don't strike me as someone who would have anxiety or panic attacks." They would mention my personality and how "happy" I seem to be. I'm genuinely a very happy person---I'd rather be happy, but when I get these panic attacks, it can leave me totally exasperated for a day or two. My personality becomes introverted---I almost want to say, silent. At that point, I'm living inside of my head. The only thing I can contribute these remarks, when people say I don't "look the part" is that I come from a very friendly, intelligent and extremely talkative family. I'm Italian, whaddya' gonna do? We're animated, funny, loving, caring, and we love to laugh. I grew up with three amazing, beautiful sisters. When we're all together, especially in a restaurant, sometimes we're asked to 'tone it down.' I was hysterical on my 40th birthday. It was one of the best birthdays of my life. We knew the owner of the restaurant, and he came up to us and said, "The bar area said that this table is having way too much fun," as they heard roars of laughter from our family.

Growing up, I started developing anxiety at the age sixteen. Sometimes I would cry right in the middle of the living room, and my mom would come running in saying, "Don't cry, don't cry mama!" It's not that she didn't want me to feel emotions, but it made her cry to see me cry. My dad did the same thing. So I tried not expressing my feelings so outwardly anymore, because I didn't want other people to cry or feel bad. When I started working, I was in an environment where everyone had to "smile when you talk" and "make the customer know you're smiling through the phone." Sure, no problem. I went to so many seminars and business trips to tell me how to behave, how to talk, and how to sell sell sell! They also trained me on what not to say, which is sometimes more important. I actually really loved it.

One morning, I had to attend an important department meeting in one of the smaller conference rooms of our company. I had to give a presentation---my first presentation ever! As everyone was listing off their numbers for the month, I sat there, watching their lips move, but I couldn't hear them. I could feel my heart pounding in my throat, and the palms of my hands were drenched. (Good to flip through papers I thought---didn't have to do the ol' lickaroony trick.) As my turn approached, I walked up to the front of the room---"the stage" if you will, and went up to my point board with all of my numbers. Behind me, they had a coffee station set up with a water cooler. Five minute into my spiel, the water cooler bubbled up making a less than pleasant sound. Everyone's eyes widened, so I had to think fast...and I then said, "Excuse me, lunch isn't sitting well today." Everyone was hysterically laughing and became instant "friends." It lightened up the room so much, that I was no longer uncomfortable---as if I knew every single person. They had a sense of humor. They needed something to make them laugh. Let's face it, nobody wanted to be there. My anxiety disappeared. And so, my presentation (besides the water cooler bubble) went better than I had expected. It was then I realized, that people are drawn to people who can make them laugh, or at least smile. I know that's the case for me. If you can make me laugh, I'm your friend forever. My mom always said, "If you marry someone who can make you laugh, it'll last forever."  And I did.

There's also something called, "smiling depression." Now, I can't tell you that this is my case, because I don't suffer with depression so much as I do with anxiety. My anxiety can tire me out, where I do become depressed, but it's extremely short-lived. Some people are so incredibly depressed---clinically depressed---where their only defense in hiding their sadness is by smiling. One good example are comedians. Most have a deep sadness from within, and in order to survive, they make other people laugh. I used to work for comedians, filming and editing their one hour segment into a two minute preview, which was quite challenging, because you have to pick out the best parts. I've seen so many of these people outside the comedy club, and their personalities were the total opposite of what they appeared to be on stage. Sadly, some of them committed suicide. Look at Robin Williams. Would you ever, in a million years, think he would ever take his own life? He suffered in silence. Most of us do. Some of us are told to not cry, or 'shake it off,' and we are supposed to make people laugh and smile, not drag them down into a pit of depression. Who wants that? But also, who wants to fake it?

So I embraced all aspects of 'me'---the sad, the melancholy, the moody and the happy-go-lucky Deb. I'm okay with who I am, every facet of my being. I'm not okay with how I can sometimes lash out in anger, or become cranky because I'm having an anxiety-ridden day. Many people who suffer with anxiety can seem 'touchy.' (My advice: let it go.) Sometimes, we'll snap at you with a snide remark, or challenge you in an argument about something less than significant, because we have to let off a little steam. This is why I bought a 40 lb punching bag. In case that happens, I just go in the other room and punch it out. We all have our moments, and when you can find a friend or partner in life who loves you for you, accepts all particles of your existence, then you know they're a keeper. This is not to say you should mistreat anyone. I'm saying, sometimes we get moody, and sometimes we say things we can regret later on. I think that's just the humanness in us. Whenever I get in one of my salty moods, Madelene usually tries to make me laugh, and it always works.

My point to this long-winded post, is to never judge anyone for their struggles. Try to understand behavioral flaws, especially if it's a friend or loved one. Sometimes, our actions do not match how we are feeling on the inside. The best thing someone can say to me is, "Hey Deb, what can do for you? Are you okay?" I usually don't need anything, just a calming voice full of understanding and patience. You're gonna need a ton of it with people like us. That's not a bad thing, it's just how we are wired.

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!

Which Is Worse? Isolation or COVID-19?

To tell you the truth, I have yet to figure this one out. As New York's numbers in cases and mortality declines, the south is seeing a...