Saturday, August 29, 2020

Mental Health & God: It's Okay to Talk About It

It's strange how someone like myself can suffer with anxiety and panic attacks, yet be of help to someone else who is suffering from the same struggle. Sometimes, even the most college educated licensed therapist or psychiatrist can do very little for someone. It's all about who you click with--not what kind of degree is hanging up on their walls. They're probably still paying off student loans and wishing they went into another line of work, and of course, there are some who are purposely there with passion, and a heart for those suffering. But in my opinion, you don't need a degree to help somebody else suffering. Sometimes all you need is experience with exactly what they are suffering with. I'm not saying schooling is bad---I am only trying to reiterate that experience goes a long way when someone is trying to explain to you what they are feeling. If you've experienced it, then you can relate and then tell them what worked for you. I will say this: when I was suffering with debilitating panic attacks, the people who've helped me the most were the ones who suffered themselves. It goes beyond psychiatry or licensed therapists who can give you 'smart and logical' answers, but the people who work as peer counselors, like NAMI, who are there to help you when you call a crisis line are the ones who truly make a difference.

Recently, I was on a Zoom meeting for a wellness program with a quite a few ladies who attended. The program teaches you about mindfulness, and sharing your experiences with one another and also, a solution or remedy that you found helpful. So it's not just a whine fest---it's to figure out what works best for you. I was asked what works best for me in my time of suffering. I didn't think twice about it (and totally forgot that this is kinda politically incorrect to do in a wellness program)----but I said, "Praying to God, and turning up worship music when I feel anxious. It changes the atmosphere and motivates me, instead of leaving me in a pit of despair."  One of the directors started to clap and shake her head and said, "Girl! That's exactly what I do! I turn up my gospel and I start to remember the promises of God and to not fear." Then she reminded me of the scripture, "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."---Philippians 4:6-7

Then I explained to her that every single morning, I verbalize aloud Psalm 91. It encompasses all that is happening in the world right at this very moment.

Psalm 91 
Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
This I declare about the Lord: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I trust him.
For he will rescue you from every trap and protect you from deadly plague.
He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection.
Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night, nor the arrow that flies in the day.
Do not dread the disease that stalks in darkness, nor the disaster that strikes at midday.
Though a thousand fall at your side, though ten thousand are dying around you, these evils will not touch you.
Just open your eyes, and see how the wicked are punished.
If you make the Lord your refuge, if you make the Most High your shelter,
no evil will conquer you; no plague will come near your home.
For he will order his angels to protect you wherever you go.
They will hold you up with their hands so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.
You will trample upon lions and cobras; you will crush fierce lions and serpents under your feet! The Lord says, “I will rescue those who love me. I will protect those who trust in my name.
When they call on me, I will answer; I will be with them in trouble. I will rescue and honor them.
I will reward them with a long life and give them my salvation.

I also reminded them, since we all suffer with anxiety, that the word "fear" is listed in the Bible 365 times. That isn't a coincidence. It's there for us to read for each day of our lives. I truly have not found  such intense help as I have when I sit, pray and meditate on the Word---miracles start happening. Miracles do not have to be "winning the lotto" or coming into a windfall of some sort. Miracles are the little things we sometimes miss during our day---little reminders that God is always with us. Not only is God with us, but he is IN all of us, which is why we have to remember, when you hurt somebody else, you're also hurting God. When you help somebody else, you're also helping God. Always treat it that way, and you'll see how beautiful that concept is and how God blesses you along your journey. It's not to do something for someone else to get something----it's doing it as "God's employee," or as I prefer, "God's child helping out their siblings" ---in any way you can, big or small. God knows what you can give, and what you cannot give.

In the world of mental health awareness and psychiatry---we're forbidden to talk about religion. Well, I don't have a religion. I have a relationship with Jesus. It's different. But for them, that's even worse. Even if your therapist or psychiatrist is the same faith as you---they are not allowed to talk about a certain faith or claim it. I would never want to be in that line of work only because I can't share the word of God. Now they have Christian coaching and therapists who are of the same faith, which is good, but as you would expect, they get less clients. "You will be persecuted just as I was." --Jesus

And that's why I do what I do. Those of you who have followed me on all social medias, especially Instagram, know that I suffer terribly with anxiety. I write it all out on there. If I'm having a bad day, and sometimes those days feel like they may be my last---I write it all out only to monitor the help I receive days, or even weeks later. You can see the spiritual attacks I go through, and then you can see the spiritual help I get. I'm not ashamed of what I go through, because millions---billions go through mental health struggles, and it's okay to not be okay sometimes. I believe that God has put me here for a purpose, and gave me this cross to bear for the sole purpose to help others who are suffering. I'm starting to 'get it' now and I am so grateful for all that has taken place recently.

I also have to say that I have some amazing friends who have been there for me recently and reminded me of my worth. Some gave me tough love, while others just listened with zero judgment. With all that's going on in the world, it's nice to know that we are not alone in this struggle and it's okay to reach out for help when you need it.

Sometimes when I'm having a bad day full of anxiety, I look up scriptures that are relevant to my situation. You can do a concordance study and look up the word "fear" and find amazing passages that can relate to your situation.

"Why am I discouraged? Why so sad? I will put my hoops in God! I will praise Him again--my Savior and my God! Now I am deeply discouraged, but I will remember your kindness--from Mount Hermon, the source of the Jordan, from the land of Mount Mizar." --Psalm 42:5-6

"God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love and self-discipline." --2 Timothy 1-7

"I am leaving you with a gift---peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give isn't like the peace the world gives. So don't be trouble or afraid." ---John 14:27

"We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know 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

One thing about is, I will never be politically correct or hide my love for God. I may talk and write about other topics, but that doesn't mean that my faith as watered down. It only gets stronger. Sometimes, I will refrain from writing, only because I may be suffering myself, and needing to hear these scriptures and encouraging words from somebody else. And that's okay too. It pushes me back to where I have to be.

Never be afraid to help someone else who is struggling with similar issues as  you. You may be the best help they ever receive. And that....is how God works.

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!

Saturday, August 22, 2020

Surviving 2020


 "Go out, get out of the house, it'll be fun," they said. I miss going out, visiting my favorite restaurants, driving over to the local farms and seeing what's going on in our local fish market. I miss getting a mani/pedi at my local nail salon and getting my hair done. I miss just being around other people, but yesterday I thought it was time to get my feet wet. I didn't want to go out. I wanted to protect myself from seeing the world post-COVID. But yesterday, something inside me said, "Just do it." And I did. I went to a few farms and bought some fresh produce, cut a few sunflowers and made my way into the local fish market like I always did. I finally drove my car! I truly thought that I had forgotten how to drive---it's been that long. The sun was shining, but the weather was a little hotter than I expected.

Questions through text were like, "So how was it? You got out, huh?"

It sucked.

I will tell you why. First let me say that the only pleasurable part about our trip was indeed, the trip. The drive to the farms and the drive back was my favorite part. As we got out of the car to head over to buy some fresh produce from the farm, we still had to wear masks in an outdoor area. I'm fine with that, because I'm all about protecting other people, including myself. Thing is, it was so hot and humid out, that no matter how much I maneuvered my mask, my glasses were so steamy, that I couldn't see out of them at all. My breath inside my mask alone was making me hot. So I literally rushed through everything and got the heck out of there so I could go out into the field and take the mask, and then wrap it around my chin. I saw people cutting the sunflowers with their masks on and I'm just like, "What are you doing? You're outside next to NOBODY!" But I never judge. I just wonder about the level of fear we have been subjected to.

The produce was questionable. Sadly, most of the produce was spoiled and basically rotten. The only good thing I bought were small red potatoes, a bag of peaches and four corns. Everything else looked bruised and beaten up. Usually, this farm is my favorite, but sadly, the harvest in many areas are dwindling. It wasn't the same place I once knew. Nothing is the same place I once knew. While we were trying to pay for our stuff, we had to wait in a hot hut for the longest time, sweating and unable to breathe through these fricken masks.

And then of course, establishments will try to make you feel safer letting you know their methods of cleaning their business. But what ends up happening to some people like myself is---this is serious! They're wearing HAZMAT suits. They have fire extinguishing cleansers! This is.....WEIRD.

Everywhere you go, from small shops, to coffee shops, to any type of shop---it looks like a complete shit show. Our favorite coffee shop now has cleaners come in with what looks like HAZMAT suits to disinfect. While this should be comforting, this is also very troubling. I always tell Madelene, "I want the world I complained about last year!" They're disinfecting with tanks that have some sort of cleaning agent in it---looks like a fire distinguisher. Even the nail salons are making people literally wear protective PPE gear---an all body plastic suit. I can't. I can't anymore. These photos are straight from my coffee house's Instagram.

The only thing I kept thinking?

"I wanna go home, I wanna go home."

I understand that people need to get on with their lives and try to live some sort of "new normal"----but for me personally, it is not worth it. I will gladly get groceries delivered, and stay within the confines of my own home. I will cook my own food and cherish my balcony and porch area. Nothing about this is "healthy" in any way---not mentally, and certainly, not physically. Come fall and winter, this bitch of a virus is going to rear its ugly head once again, and we will see ourselves in a mandatory lockdown again. I just know it. After the elections, and if Trump gets re-elected, there will be a civil war. Trust that. Also, in my little 'tinfoil hat' of a mind---the virus will never go away....until Trump goes away. If Biden wins, I bet you 100% that the virus mysteriously disappears like magic.

Get ready for the civil war. It's already happening in some states. In Portland, ANTIFA and BLM are marching down the streets, in residential areas, shining bright lights into families' homes chanting, "Get out of your house and into the streets!" Right now, it's just. marching around in their streets, but soon, they'll be breaking and entering, if Trump gets re-elected. Read all about it HERE. They even have videos of crowds of people marching through terrorizing suburban neighborhoods in this website---CLICK HERE.

I don't want any part of this world any longer. I'm trying to be positive, but it's very hard to be positive with such a negative world. I put all my trust in God right now because that is the only way I will survive this. That's the only way anyone is going to survive this.

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, August 20, 2020

Respect In the Midst of the Pandemic

The effects of this pandemic has hit an all time high. Here in New York, the mortality rate is below 1%--and I don't know one person who is sick right now, other than a bad case of seasonal allergies. But what I mean by "effects" -- is that the world still looks like a huge Dexter murder setup---plastic wrapped around every wall, counter and credit card processors in the stores. Plexiglass is put up as borders and sneeze guards, and of course, people wearing masks and big face shields walking around everywhere. Companies, like the one my better half works for has a policy---no mask, no service. All employees must wear a mask at all times. No ifs, ands or buts about it. It's not the law, only a mandate, but businesses are allowed to make their own rules, rightfully so. "No shirt, no shoes, no service," --- same thing. So while the virus has simmered down a tad, we are headed into flu season. With the flu on its way and COVID still lurking in the darkness, it's the perfect storm for PANIC. 

Respect

I'm going to personally give you an example of what people need to stop doing. Stop making your friends and family feel guilty for not wanting to venture out to BBQs or come visit you right now. Stop making them feel guilty for wearing a mask. For me, it's about the 'what if' because I don't believe anything the media tells us. So instead, I prefer to err on the side of caution and wear a mask, stay home more, and not attend parties right now. Call me "sheep" all you want, but that's my personal preference. That's my right. And let me tell you---it has definitely wreaked havoc on my mental health like never before. I don't know what's worse really, because back in 2017, I almost died of the flu and was hospitalized. I had pneumonia, pleurisy and had to be on breathing treatments, like albuterol nebulizers, prednisone drips, and oxygen. When I came home, I had a slew of regimens to follow as well, with a bunch of inhalers and nebulizers to last me a lifetime. I never want to go through that again if I can help it, so I can only imagine what it's like having COVID. And then you have some people saying it's like a cold. I believe we all had it this winter through March, so given that thought, the second whirlwind of it would be mild, due to the antibodies...or would it? Nobody knows. 

You can only do what's best for you. Just because you're "so sick and tired" of not socializing anymore, does not mean you should make your loved ones feel bad for not showing up, especially if they have relatives who are immune compromised and elderly. It's selfish and pretty much rude to the point of not giving a rat's behind about anyone else other than your ability to satisfy your need for human interaction. And trust me, I know how hard it is to not interact with people. I've been so depressed these last four months, and sometimes, it can bring me to a low that I've never even seen before, but I get back up and I try again. I know that someday, this virus will be gone, or it will be a virus that we can coexist with, just as we do with the flu. 

You Do You

Recently, I had a friend tell me how she was partying last night and got to hug all of her friends she hasn't seen before. I didn't say anything other than, "I'm glad you got out. I'm happy for you." And then she said, "Well, you should try it sometime." With that, I reminded her of how her son had COVID with a 105 fever earlier this year. So I reminded her of when her son was sick with COVID.

"If I had kids, especially one who almost died of COVID, I guess I wouldn't be so 'brave' especially knowing how sick your baby boy was. I'm just trying to wait it out." 

Her response: "I choose life over fear is all. This shit crap is over...people are not sick...people are realizing they've been hornswoggled and we've been lied to on a mass scale. It's a flu and sadly people die from the flu. This flu has less than 1% mortality rate. Fuck Hell if I'm hiding anymore. My mental health is at stake. I do respect your feelings and decision though." 

My response: "I respect your decision to do that. But please respect mine because I miss my mother-in-law and my grandmother. I need to be ok and not be asymtomatic. We definitely will get together soon and I can't wait!" 

Her response: "Asymptomatic has an extremely low rate of transmission...it means you have no symptoms. Unless you're making out with that person, you won't get it. I just use reasonable common sense. I do respect your decision and I'll always support you." 

The funny part about her skewed info on asymptomatic people is that they're more likely to cause the virus without even knowing it. See, nobody knows anything. People want to play the role of "virologist" and make like they have some sort of secret info we never got. Well Karen, I never got that memo. The denial and the ability to pretend like you know more than a scientist or doctor just baffles me to no end. I love my friend, but sometimes, it's just like---you need to do you and let others live their lives the way they want. It's not that I don't want to hang out with my friend, it's just because I want to be able to see my relatives without the possibility of being contagious. And you know---I would probably have spent time with her if she wasn't partying or hugging everyone in sight. I wish I could hug my friends and family right now, but I don't have enough credible information that lets me know that it's safe. 

It all boils down to respect. Whether you think the government is lying to you or whether you think the virus is or isn't real, just know that your family and loved ones may feel and live differently than you do, and that's okay. 

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 14, 2020

Cog In the Wheel

Everyone has a cross to bear or some kind of issue that may not be visible at first glance. I know many people who prefer not to share their problems or physical ailments with the world, and I happen to be one of them. Of course, my blog is literally an open book, but in a general conversation, I tend to keep a lot of personal things to myself. Nobody wants to hear a whiner or someone possibly seeking a pity party. I remember when I was a young girl around four or five years old, we had these older next-door neighbors, a husband a wife who seemed to be very nice. When the wife got to know my mom, she stopped by more often, usually with a homemade baked pie or something she cooked herself. It was either feast or famine with her---either she came too much or she wasn't to be seen at all. Sometimes, my mom would worry and call her up to see if she was okay. As time went on and mom figured that her friend wasn't up to socializing anymore, but then she received a phone call from her husband. She was found dead in her home---literally had her head in the oven and gassed herself. It was a tragic incident nobody saw coming, because nobody knew anything. The stigma of mental illness was much worse than it was today. If someone found out you were seeing a psychiatrist, you'd be automatically listed as "crazy." 


Fast forward 2020, mental health is still an issue, even more so with our world in completely chaos. Social distancing and isolation doesn't help the already existing sufferers of anxiety, depression, agoraphobia, etc. It has now attacked those who never truly experienced mental health problems before. People who never experienced anxiety are now feeling the horrible affects of what our minds can do to our physical bodies. And I'm not talking about "fear of speaking in front of large crowds"---that's a very common thing---in fact, I'm even going to say that it's safe to say that it shouldn't be on the list of "phobias." That's just the norm. I'm not being insensitive---I'm just trying to say, the fear of walking out of your own house as opposed to the fear of speaking in front of a large crowd does not compare at all. 

Other silent ailments, that I personally experience besides anxiety is fibromyalgia. It comes and goes, and when it hits me, it hits me hard to where I can barely get out of bed, or even walk down the stairs. The pain radiates from the top of my head all the way down to my toes. Every bone 'crackles' and many nights, I can only sleep on only one side. So besides my periodic episodes of agoraphobia, which is mainly walking into a large supermarket or being around a lot of people, if I have a flare up, you probably won't see me very often. I've gotten a lot of "unsolicited advice" from various people. "You should get out more, it's not healthy to stay inside all day." And there are days where I will go to the park with my dog or take a drive to the store to pick up something---but especially during the pandemic, this has made a huge impact on how I live. Even just to sit outside can be unbearable, and I don't want anyone to think I don't want to talk or socialize with them, because the pain makes me literally cringe in one spot, making it hard to have a decent conversation with whoever stops by my porch. Sometimes, you have to let people know what you go through. And other times, there's no need to tell anyone. So if you notice the absence of somebody who used to trek out more often than not, be kind and less judgmental. Maybe call and see how they're doing, instead of gossiping about how they've become a "shut-in." 

Sometimes I look at this world we're living in now and wonder if I ever want to get back into it. I've set up my home to where I can do everything and anything at any given time. I have my office all set up for work which I love. In the morning, I make time to sit, pray, and meditate. I write out a list of things I am grateful for. I have about 5 books/journals filled to the brim with more waiting to be filled. I always think to myself, if I were to ever leave this world, my family would have something to read with all my little sketches and basically, my heart written out on paper. I also have many entries in this blog, as well as posts on social media. Since I don't rely on technology to be there forever, I write in composition notebooks with more rawness. So if someone was trying to get to know me for real, it's all there uninhibited. Many of my journals include my relationship with God and how He has helped me through the death of my parents and now this pandemic. I see the world killing one another and then think to myself, "I kinda like my isolated world." But people insist that isolation will kill me. I'm not sure about that. The last time I went out, I was thinking one thing: I cannot wait to get back home. To see the world covering their faces and people fighting because someone wasn't wearing a mask---it was ugly. I don't like this world anymore and if I choose to limit how much I see, through shopping or even through the mainstream media, then let me have my peace. 

Never make apologies for how you want to live, or how you have to live. If they're not paying your bills---they have no say whatsoever. I'm lucky enough to have an essential job working in the mental health field, helping those suffering with anxiety and depression, because I've been there and still struggle from time to time. And that's okay. It's okay not to be okay sometimes. This world has forever changed, and I have a feeling that there's something coming down the pike...something that'll make it even worse. They're predicting the worst health crisis this fall, and I can only imagine how much stress and anxiety that's going to put upon everyone. My only saving grace is staying close to God and making sure that even before my feet hit the ground in the morning, to say "Thank you for another day!" Because another day means an opportunity to either help somebody else, or learn something new, so that you can teach somebody else. Everything has a purpose. We're an important cog in the wheel. 

“Whatever you do will be insignificant, but it is very important that you do it.”― Mahatma Gandhi

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!

Helping Others While On Your Own Journey to Recovery

Many people pray without the expectation of an answer. Maybe it's because they need a little more faith, or that they're used to not...