Friday, February 05, 2021

Your Weakness & Vulnerability Is Your Strength

Once in a while, I get some people asking me, "Why do you write such personal things up on your blog and on social media?" Some people, and even some family members are embarrassed by my 'oversharing' of personal struggles with anxiety, depression and grief. I always tell them, "It's my purpose. I am here to help people feel less alone." As God once impressed on me, that I am supposed to "Do it for the One"----do it even if only one person reads what I write, as well as do it for "The One" --- God Himself. Because God is in each and every once of us. So by sharing my weaknesses, God's strength is made even that much stronger, especially for the other person seeking help. If someone lost a parent, I can share my experience and how I still cope through it. If someone suffers with anxiety attacks, I can tell them about my coping skills and hopefully assist them and prevent them going straight into crisis mode. I truly believe that's my purpose here.

It's Okay To Be Vulnerable 

Becoming more vulnerable makes you more relatable. Showing your weaknesses actually makes you stronger. Paul quotes Jesus who said, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” It’s ok if we don’t have it ‘all together.’ It shows our humanness. If you prefer keeping your personal issues to yourself, then you probably have another purpose in life. That's okay. But it's also okay to relate to people and let them se the humanness in you. Some people I know are so insecure, they can't let anyone see that a day of weakness. 

I remember a heated argument I had with someone a while back. I remember them saying to me, "You need to take your meds and see a psychiatrist. Check and check. Meanwhile, this person self medicates by drinking a fifth of whiskey every night along with whatever beer to chase it down. During one of his drunken rages, he tore someone apart and never apologized to them or even considered being held accountable for his poor choices and behavior. Without judgment, I said, "There's nothing wrong with seeking professional help or taking the needed medication for whatever you're suffering with." Immediately he went into self-defense mode and said, "I don't need that!" And I reminded him that I was only speaking for myself. It was as if he had forgotten what he said to me. The psychological projection was explosive at that point. He knew he needed help. 

A Strong Person Admits Their Fears and Feelings

"Oh I could never be that open." Why? Isn't there a possibility that someone out there in the world needs your kind of help because it's exactly what they're going through right now? There's still so much stigma when it comes to mental health issues. People don't want to be seen as "crazy" or that they're having a nervous breakdown. Well, maybe if you show them your "weakness" they may see the strength in you by admitting to it---by admitting that you are human. It's like an AA director who has never touched a drink in his/her life. How could they possibly relate to the people in the AA group? They can't. They can do all the studying they want in the Big Book and read up on the Twelve Steps, but they truly can't be of genuine help if they hadn't gone through it themselves. That's why I can't stand 'textbook psychology.' I want someone who has been in the muck of it all---someone who has been there and overcome their struggles, with a few slip and falls here 'n there. That's what makes them real---that's what makes them helpful. 

2 Corinthians 12:8-10 

Paul's Thorn and God's Grace …Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is perfected in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly in my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest on me. That is why, for the sake of Christ, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Sharing your struggles not only makes you approachable, but it even enables you to reach out to those who need your kind of help. Even just sharing your story, your testimony or explain to people the struggles you've gone through will make people feel less alone and alienated. I once listened to someone's testimony and thought to myself, "I can't believe they went through the same thing I did!" I truly thought I was the only one. It gives you a feeling of oneness with those who open up and share their hardships. It's not that 'misery loves company,' but it's more about, 'I need your kind of strength right now.' Because usually, that person has either overcome it, or still trying to get through it. Both are admirable, because it's the goal of getting better, getting healthier in mind and spirit. 

So when you start to hesitate sharing a post, even as small as, "Having a bad day today," --- watch how many people say, "Me too!" Or they'll tell you about their day. You'll also want to tell them how that day turned out to be a beautiful 'tomorrow.'

Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.” --Psalm 30:5. 

We're Only Here For a Short While 

Get rid of the bitterness, resentments and unforgiveness. When we go back home to see Jesus, none of these trivial problems will matter anymore. Why not get along here on earth, while we're still alive? I love that quote where it says, bitterness is like drinking poison, but expecting the other person to die. The only person we hurt by not forgiving someone is ourselves. The mental anguish and inner anxiety that comes upon us when we are still fuming over what someone did, can and will affect us physically. I know for myself, when I use to harbor resentment, my heart rate would go up for a long while, until it was time to go to sleep. My stomach would be in knots and I wasn't happy. Meanwhile, the person I was angry with, had no clue I was harboring these negative feelings. So they were living their happy lives 'as is' and here I was, suffering from my own internal conflict, playing the same event over and over inside my mind. Never let anyone rent space inside your mind. 

Grief & Booze

We are going to lose people in our lives. That's just inevitable. I remember when my mom was dying of cancer, I struggled with anticipatory grief. I remember one afternoon, she heard me sobbing in the other room upstairs. I didn't know anyone could hear me. I didn't even think I was being loud. She called me and said, "Debbie, come downstairs and lay next to me." I cried even harder. I couldn't help it. She knew I was grieving over her already. I had to lie to her --- make someone up like, "Oh, it's okay, I'm just having bad pain." I wasn't. I was crying over the mere thought of losing her. Mothers know these things. 

I self-medicated. I didn't want to feel the grief. I wanted the temporary fix of feeling numb, happy, forgetting 'what was' instead of dealing with 'what is.' But once the alcohol wore off, the sadness and anxiety came creeping in like a thief in the night, stealing all my joy for the next day. So, I'd do it again that same night. It was like this torturous and vicious cycle of self-torment, just to get a few hours of numbing happiness---a faux kinda joy.  So now, I save my wine time only on one day of the week with a nice dinner, and no more than one or two drinks. I stopped "self-medicating" and now, I have eight hours of sleep under my belt most nights, and beautiful hangover-free mornings to enjoy my coffee and a beautiful sunrise. Is life prefect? Hell no! But when those problems come barreling down on me, I deal with them much differently, with less stress. When I drank a lot, my heart rate would skyrocket up to 200 bpm, especially if a problem came up. And now, no adrenaline rush---just a sober mind dealing with it in a healthier way. I'm not telling anyone not to drink---I'm suggesting to evaluate how you feel after the alcohol as worn off, and especially how you handle stressful situations while under the influence. Compare it to where you are sober. It's quite an eye-opener. 

Masking Your Pain & Anxiety 

I've been masking my pain and anxiety since I was twelve years old. Yep, I have been drinking since I was twelve, and I didn't quite stop the madness until my mid-forties. (It's never too late right?) I never knew what it was like to deal with life situations sober. I held a lot in and self-medicated my way through life, through alcohol and marijuana. After being hospitalized for marijuana at the age of sixteen -- yes, for good ol' weed -- it made my heart rate go over 200 bpm. I never touched that stuff again. I went through some traumatic events in my younger years, and tried to drown them all out by drinking it away. And now, I'm finally dealing with all of these past issues in my mid-forties. Ok, ok, ok, my late forties. But still, why did I wait so long? It took other traumatic events to make me realize, "Hey, maybe this coping mechanism isn't so healthy after all?" 

Pray It Into Existence 

Every single morning, before my feet hit the floor, I say something positive---a prayer of gratitude to God Himself. "Thank you for letting me rest and wake up this morning. Today is the day the Lord has made, I will be glad and rejoice in it!" And that alone, will usually set the tone for the day. A positive affirmation and prayer before even getting out of bed is the most powerful thing you can do to kickstart your day. You thought it, spoke it, and it will manifest. Speak it to God---not "the universe." Listen, believe what you want to believe, but praying to the universe for things to manifest is like praying to the street to bring you to your destination. Who made the street? Humans. Thank the humans who made the street, just as you would thank God for making the universe. 

No doubt, there's going to be unanswered prayers, but for good reason. If it's in God's will, it will be given. But sometimes, we go after things that are not in our best interest. If we were to get everything we wanted, we may end up in a worse-off mindset and place. God protects us and asks us to trust His will. Even Jesus asked His father to take this cup away from Him---to not go through with the dreaded and planned death of his sacrifice. Jesus was so scared, that he sweated out blood. So He knows as a human what it's like to be fearful, and to not get what you wanted. But God knows what was needed. Big difference. 

Even when you find yourself in the worst kind of emotional or physical "life storm" --- thank God for the storm, for it'll make you that much stronger. Resisting it will only cause you pain. Just say, "I trust you God," when you find yourself in the most uncomfortable or painful situation. Watch what happens. I had to learn this the hard way. By trusting Him and accepting 'what is' -- you change the atmosphere around you. You literally kick the devil right in his face. 

Don't ever feel "less than" by your weaknesses. This is the ingredient that gives you strength! 

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, January 29, 2021

Kicking Anxiety In the Face During the Pandemic

If it's not one thing, it's another, right? One problem goes away, and another one takes its place. It's life's little "bully" tugging at your backpack straps. Two steps forward, and then next thing you know, you're down on the ground struggling to get back up again. What I'm learning through my own faith, is to trust God in every situation in your life. One of my purposes here is to struggle through certain things, and find out what works best to eliminate it, or to lessen the blows at least. I try to figure out the best solution, and then to share it with others when I have either overcome it, or have gotten better coping with whatever it is. So today I want to share what helped me survive the entire year of 2020. 

My struggles actually started way before 2020, but my heightened sense of fear, as well as other ailments that followed it, like a racing heart and palpitations, which started after my mom died back in 2017. I also suffered from loneliness, because I shut many people out of my life. Who would wanna deal with someone grieving so deeply anyway? Without missing a beat (no pun) --- every morning my heart would race so incredibly fast. Sometimes it actually would hit the 200 bpm mark. That's when I couldn't take it anymore and had to be seen either by my cardiologist or be taken to the ER. And yes, I've had a cardiologist ever since I have experienced anxiety.

I thought my life would end. As a child, the worst fear of my life was to lose my mother. What would I do? Who would I laugh with? Who would I talk to? Who would totally "get me?" 

Anxiety During the Pandemic 

When the pandemic hit, every little sniffle, cough or tickle in my throat was COVID. And then one day, I finally came down with it, realizing my other worst fear came to pass: a pandemic. My mom would always make fun of me whenever we heard stories of the bird flu in other countries or when Ebola struck Africa, eventually hitting the states. My mom would tell me to get my HAZMAT suit on, or to invest in a bubble for myself. As a kid, I wouldn't dare take a sip out of anyone's glass, nor would I share anything with anyone. I don't know where this behavior came from, but I even had a special fork just for me---even if it was sterilized in the dishwasher. I couldn't use anyone else's fork. So the thought of germs, or getting sick freaked me out.

As an adult, it lessened, but I still held onto my germaphobic behaviors. When people speak about the 'man cold' ---- they're speaking about me. I even have an intercom just in case my vocal cords fail to work. When I get the flu, my vocal cords actually give out due to ending up with pleurisy and asthma attacks. So even that in itself is scary to me, especially being alone, so if I need to call for help, I have no voice. Another "phobia." 

With all that in mind, you can imagine where my little noggin took me, when the only thing the news had on was "THE CORONA VIRUS UPDATE" --- and of course, watching Gov. Cuomo's daily briefings. 

Pray Without Ceasing

For whatever reason, at night, I would wake up gasping for air, heart racing, feeling nauseous. I would try to do meditation videos on YouTube, or splash my face with cold water, but nothing helped. My last resort which should've been my first resort was to pray. It's funny how sometimes we tend to forget God when we are experiencing problems. We want to do it on our own, we want to control the situation and fix it ourselves, but realistically, and I can only speak for myself, I can do nothing apart from God. 

So I started to pray more.

I would hear certain songs, or I would read in the Bible similar messages that said, "Look up to me." And so, when I would wake up with that racing heart once again, it resonated in my mind, "Look up to me." I literally would look up, see God (visualizing Him) and automatically, my heart rate lowered. Sometimes, I'd go into the spare bedroom and talk to Him---telling Him everything that's going on in my busy little brain. I'd check my heart rate and from a 130 bpm episode, it would go down to a 77 bpm --- odd that it would always fall at 77, but it made me feel even that much calmer. 

So, my reliance on God taught me another thing in recovering from this anxiety. It taught me to also pray without ceasing. I don't pray just when I'm experiencing anxiety, but I pray even before my feet hit the floor in the morning. I thank Him for another day. I talk to Him throughout the day. I keep getting messages of "I am always with you." Again, as I said in a previous post, "Emmanuel" means, "God is with us." He never leaves us alone. We leave Him alone. So to say that I'm lonely today wouldn't be quite accurate. I am not lonely, I am eager to see my family and friends again on a regular basis again. 

Meditation Isn't Only For Spiritual Gurus

With the practice of praying without ceasing, comes meditating, even when you are feeling calm. I only meditated when I felt anxiety. Since I was suffering with anxiety attacks every single day, my adrenaline was at an all time high. So the slightest upset would bring my heart rate skyrocketing. By meditating every single day for at least 30 minutes, you develop a calmness about you, just like building a muscle---you are building up your peace. 

For instance, since I pray and meditate every single day (even when calm) -- I had an unexpected emergency here at home that would've put me in such a state of panic, that I probably would've needed the medics. But as I calmly responded to the emergency happening, I realized that my "emergency" was just a minor inconvenience. I blew things out of proportion most of the time. When I came back into my house, my heart was calm. There was no spike in my heart rate, no shortness of breath, I was just peaceful. My adrenaline didn't flood me out, nor did my thoughts turn into explosive "what ifs." This stuff really works.

Listen, I ain't no 'zen master' or spiritual guru, but this stuff really works. Whether or not you believe in this or believe in that or don't believe at all, there truly is something to this. No therapist, medication or a sip of wine could do what praying and meditating did for me. And most people think of meditation as some strange practice that you have to be bent in the shape of the pretzel chanting "ommmmmmmm" on a mountain top somewhere. Meditating can be just focusing in on your breath, and how your body feels at that moment----to be in the 'now' and even do some grounding techniques. It can be listening to a guided meditation on Youtube with some visualization techniques to get your stress levels lower. My heart rate is usually around 75-80 bpm, but when I meditate, it goes down to 55 bpm---I trust me---I'm no athlete. Sometimes it gets so low that I scare myself for being too calm. But it has improved my sleeping habits, as well as my everyday routines. 

I figured I'd share that with you, in case you're struggling with panic attacks and not knowing what to do or where to go. With practice, you'll notice that even at your most chaotic upheavals will be dealt with in a calmer way. I couldn't believe it. I still struggle with anxiety, but I am coping with it much better. Remember, courage isn't then absence of fear, but the triumph over it. And with God, all things are possible. 

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, January 13, 2021

Be At Peace With One Another, and Yourself


It's been a tragic ride this past year. The truth is, nobody knows the truth. Whether you're on the left, or on the right, or somewhere in between those thin lines of political entanglement, it's still disheartening to see our world, our government, our own people, crumble into pieces, shattered like a broken mirror, giving us painful shards of bad luck. Whether you are disappointed that our president is no longer in power, or disappointed that our Capitol got raided by protesters, they're all valid feelings. It's okay to feel what you feel. 

I read this quote from Lori Deschene that says, "You don't have to be positive all the time. It's perfectly okay to feel sad, angry, frustrated, scared and anxious. Having feelings doesn't make you a negative person. It makes you human." 

It Is All Out of Our Control

I've learned to stop internalizing circumstances outside of my being. This is something I cannot control. I can only control my reactions to it. Some would say that by not acting out in anger, is being part of the problem. I only have control over myself. I will not try to "fix the votes" or to try to "censor anyone's freedom of speech." I can only do me. How much truth do we really know to anything that's happening out there? This is where people start grasping for theories, hoping it'll be true. This is also when people start lying in order to get their way. For myself, I don't rely on anything but God. God is still on the throne and whatever people want to do with their power, or lack thereof, have a go at it, because I refuse to be apart of something that's so vile, so disgusting and evil. 

I don't mean to be vague, but I'm trying to make a point. I hear a lot of my friends saying that they're stressed out and they can't sleep or that their heart is racing all the time. Their endless hours of watching the news has made them a walking nerve. I can relate. In recent times, I learned one thing: GOD IS WITH US. "Emmanuel" also stands for, "God is with us." It’s a word written on countless Christmas cards throughout the centuries and sung in some of our most-loved carols. In Scripture, it first appears in Isaiah 7:14, which says, “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign; The virgin will conceive, and give birth to a Son, and will call Him Emmanuel” (NIV). 

I can only tell you what worked for me.

Releasing the FEAR

Most of my life, I struggled with anxiety disorder. Dis-order and dis-ease ---it's all relative. Whatever you want to call it, the truth remains that anxiety and panic is based on fear. False Evidence Appearing Real. I finally got sick and tired of feeling sick and tired from the stress and anxiety. Not to say I don't get anxiety from time to time, but I sat with God for great lengths of time and learned a lot through prayer and meditating on the Word. Through words of others, as well as the Bible and even through dreams, I keep being reminded that I am not alone. Even through isolated times, when I haven't seen a soul besides my better half in weeks, I know that I am not alone. "Fear not,"---why? Because "God is with you." The thought of an isolated day (even if I have work to do) will set my panic off the night before. I was mocked a few weeks back on a duel live stream by an atheist, who told me that I'm pretending to have an imaginary friend. The "imaginary sky daddy," they call God. Well, all I can say is, eternity is a long time to risk being wrong. And my faith at this point is more of a, "I know that I know that I know," kinda faith. Nothing can shake it. Ever. 

The End Times

I talk about this a lot because I sincerely believe this with all of my heart. I kept receiving these dreams around 4am. I would hear trumpets blowing and a beautiful, androgynous angelic voice screaming out, "Wake up! Wake up!!!" And on the second "wake up" --- I heard the voice loud and clear while being awake. In Luke 21:11 it tells us, "There will be great earthquakes, famines and pestilences in various places, and fearful events and great signs from heaven." Haven't we seen enough to know that these are huge signs from above? And whether or not this will happen one hour, weeks, months, years or decades from now, no one will ever know the hour or day. But the Bible is clear on the events itself. Way before this pandemic, and even before I lost my mom, I had given my life to Christ. I was still on the milk, but as I progressed, I have never felt so strongly about my faith as I do today. I can truly say that I am 100% ready for the end of times----this does not mean that I want to end my life. This means, that without a doubt, I am not afraid of Jesus' second coming. Many Christians are. Every knee will bow, as it says. 

Are you ready?

Suffering to Help Others

Through my own suffering, grief, anxiety and depression, I am now able to help those dealing with similar issues. Again, I still suffer from time to time, but it wasn't like it used to be. My panic attacks would send me right into the ER, fearful of death. I was scared of simple things, like being home alone, thinking, "What happens if I have a heart attack and drop dead and nobody knows for hours?" What if?? And if that happened to any of us, we should still not fear that. What's the worse thing that could happen? You enter another world where God brings you back home? My point is, I am (still) in the process of being unafraid of death itself. If I'm not afraid of death itself and know that God is with me all the time, then I won't be afraid of anything else in this world. So that in itself, keeps me calmer, more peaceful and the little things that used to annoy me have absolutely no affect on me. With that being said, I like to share my experiences to others who are having similar struggles. Our struggles are meant to help and not harm. Sometimes if I'm having an off day, those little annoyances can creep in, and that's when it's time to reel it in and pray. Don't leet the devil get a foothold.

Soul Wounds 

Our mental health has much to do with our minds, but it also has a lot to do with our souls as well. When you're hurt and you refuse to forgive anyone in your life, you end up hurting yourself and possibly others. As they say, hurt people hurt people. Through your own pain, you can end up hurting somebody else, due to the pent up resentment and bitterness.  "He heals the brokenhearted, binding up their wounds"---this scripture means that those soul wounds that you are carrying around can be lifted, if you release them. I've stopped caring about the small stuff---not to be mistaken with not undermining other people's feelings, but not sweating the small stuff. And by small stuff: engaging in any drama, or fueling somebody else's anger against another person just because things didn't go my way. I stopped caring about what people thought of me or if they judged me for spending time with so 'n so----what other people think of me and what I do is none of my business. That's on them. I accept it. 

Our world is crumbling before our very eyes. There's more division than ever before. A friend told me, "I have eliminated so many people out of my life, even my own family," due to different political views. How incredibly sad is that? And you wanna know something? Politics don't care about you. Politics doesn't love you. Your family loves you, and most of all, God loves you. What's more important than that? So while you're literally deleting people out of your life, keep in mind that we are all in this tragic movie together....together, yet alone. And maybe it doesn't have to be alone. Maybe, you can actually connect with your loved ones, be fearless and reach out to those you think may reject you. Keep politics out of your conversations and talk about what you used to chat about. Stop letting the government destroy your family. Stop letting the media crush every good thing you once known to be good. Stop letting the media and the government try to instill fear in you. 

Fear not....and you know why.

"Be at peace with one another” – Mark 9:50

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!

Your Weakness & Vulnerability Is Your Strength

Once in a while, I get some people asking me, "Why do you write such personal things up on your blog and on social media?" Some pe...