A Very Dark Winter Ahead of Us

 "Do you need a hug?" Madelene asked, before she was heading off to work. I was crying into my coffee, reading a scripture that said something along the lines of, "God can giveth and God can taketh - and to be prepared for anything God takes from you." My heart felt incredibly heavy, thinking---"How could I possibly go through another loss? Not now, not ever, please." I kept thinking about the loss of my dad, my mama, the house, to the pandemic, the isolation, my freedom, and the ability to do everyday normal things. But, then Madelene pointed something out to me. She said, "You may be interpreting that incorrectly." I didn't understand. But she explained that it may just be God removing an obstacle--or even my anxiety or something that's unpleasant in my life---hopefully the pandemic itself. Then again she asked, "Do you need a hug?" I gave her a big ol' bear hug, possibly crushing her collarbone, but it's all good. It felt good to be hugged. 

The Predicted "Dark Winter"

Back in the late spring, when we were still in the midst of the pandemic, I remember a doctor on the news said something that always stuck with me. He said, "We are going to have a very dark winter." He didn't even elaborate on it, and perhaps he didn't have to, but for some reason, it stuck. If you think about it, it gets dark earlier, and the sun rises much later now. Between the shorter days, and longer nights, combined with a predicted "bad winter"---our mental health is going to be at stake. We need to do everything possible to help ease the pain of isolation and less human interaction. Some may fall into a dark pit of depression. We need to make our homes a "productive environment"---a place that has many things to do, whether it's setting up a particular room just for art, music, reading, writing, exercising or even just for playing games. I set up each room differently. I have our spare bedroom as my prayer & meditation room. I have the upstairs office as my broadcasting and Zoom meeting room, and the downstairs dining room area is the place I actually write my articles in, because it's nice and bright in there because I'm next to a huge window. I never go into the bedroom, unless it's to go to sleep. Entertainment, and all movies watched are to be downstairs in the living room. It's not great to set up your bedroom as the "entertainment room"---especially if it's gonna get darker soon. No matter if it's pitch black at 4pm, do not go to bed! 

Some people even buy a UV-free therapy lamp to help with the affects of (SAD) seasonal affective disorder, which many people can develop when not exposed to sunlight as much. I have one myself, but I honestly cannot tell you if it helps. I didn't notice a difference, but many people swear by them. I do load up on vitamin D3 with K2. Always make sure your vitamin D3 has K2 in it, because it's healthier for your heart. I normally take 5,000 IUs daily, and will now double my dosage, but please get a blood test to determine the exact amount that you need, otherwise, it may have some adverse health risks. The best way is to spend at least 15-20 minutes outdoors, along with your vitamin D supplements. This has helped me a great deal. 

Coffee Is Life 

I'm also a HUGE advocate for coffee. Now if you're reading this and you suffer from anxiety or panic attacks, you may want to opt for the half-caff coffee, but studies have proven that people who drink coffee on a daily basis are less likely to commit suicide. Yes, it sounds extreme, but there are actual studies on this. But if your heart races after a good cup o' Joe---you may want to opt for something lesser. Whenever my heart raced, I realized the mere thought of caffeine possibly raising my heart rate gave me anxiety--not the coffee. Sometimes it's a psychosomatic. There are many times when I drink coffee, where I can literally go right to sleep. But all in all, it's my 'happy juice.' 

Stop the 'Whining'

I did however, give up my other 'happy juice'---wine. That has eliminated a lot of my issues, like insomnia, tachycardia (rapid heart rate) and depression. When I had my daily glass of wine, for some reason, my mind would regress back to the past, when my parents were alive---the 'good ol' days' --- and not that it's bad to think back on memories, but I got stuck there. Now that I have limited my wine intake to once a week, I rarely get stuck. It's helped my moods, and my general well-being. So if you find that you're depressed, crying a lot, or having bouts of mood swings, try eliminating alcohol for a couple of weeks and notice the difference. 

Whether you believe that this virus is real, fake or political---it's here and it's affecting our lives in huge ways. For me, I was starting to think that it was more political, and that they 'made up the virus' because I was being fed that info. The theory made sense, but my friend who is now in the hospital with COVID didn't make sense. Then the numbers started to rise in our area, and hospitals once again are starting to fill up. I recently shared that my friend was in the hospital in ICU battling COVID (she is home now thank God!) --- she got combative saying, "I WILL NOT LIVE IN FEAR! She probably had some kind of health issue." I calmly told her, "No, she is only 35 years old with no underlining health issues. I wasn't saying it to scare her---I was sharing the info because I was generally upset and worried. 

So what's worse they say.... "they say"--- getting COVID or being isolated and social distancing? I guess that depends on if you have an underlining condition. For myself, back in October of 2017, I almost died of the flu. My temp went as high as 104, I had to be hospitalized, being pumped up with steroids and albuterol nebulizers. I had what's called, "pleurisy" ---which is an inflammation of the lining of your lungs. The pain was so bad, that I couldn't even cry out in pain, it hurt so much. I never....ever....ever....want to experience that kind of illness again. So if the flu rocked my world, I don't want to see what COVID has to offer this fall. I had a mild case back in March---but if it hits stronger this year, I don't know what I'd do.

No Absolute Truth = Division  

How sad is it that in this day of age, we cannot get TRUTH as news, or TRUTH regarding a virus that has reached pandemic levels? We are debating---we are DEBATING whether or not the virus is real, or whether or not we should "live our lives" and "not be controlled by the government." Some feel that we are headed straight into a communistic world, while others believe that this is, indeed a virus that we need to put at bay by complying with the government. How and where do you stand on this? Or, how do you share your thoughts on this pandemic without being bashed by an opposing view? How do you say, "No thank you" to an invite, especially if it's your family and close friends? And that's something I had to do today unfortunately, because their kids hang out with many other kids, and they come back home asymptomatic, not realizing they're spreading anything. But, "they have to live their lives, it's not fair." I totally get that. But I have to protect myself in the process. 

The Red Zoned Communities 

We have a religious community nearby, where most of them are not complying with government mandates. Many are unmasked and gathering by the thousands for religious holidays and funerals. They are considered "the red zone" because they have infected much of their own community, yet they are walking into ours as well. The other day, Madelene and I went to go to the farmer's market where all the venders from different surrounding towns come to sell their produce and other goods. I went to the entrance, where they had a table of gloves you can wear. As soon as I put them on and looked up to see the venders, the residents of the religious community were saturated inside, touching the fruits and vegetables, even sniffing it---I threw my gloves out and left. Some would call that being "prejudice"---I call it, social distancing. 

As our world grows strangely dim, we are seeing more people divided more than ever. We have false information spreading like wildfire, people fighting over the simplest of things because we are all so sick and tired of being restricted. Many of us are sick and tired of being "too cautious" going out. We just want our world back as it once was....yes, the one we used to complain about. 

So this winter, what is your game plan on tackling the shorter days along with this pandemic combined with the flu? What will you do for your mental wellness that'll help you cope through these dark days? 

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!