Veteran’s Day | Guest Post

Veteran’s Day.

This day means a lot to so many people. It is a day to honor those who served this country, both in the past and present. It is a day that we feel immense pride in being American, in living in a place known for its freedoms—freedoms that have been fought for and earned time and time again, thanks to veterans.

For me, it’s always been a day in which I can commemorate my grandfather, Mar Arradaza—or shall I say Captain Mar Arradaza—who served in the US Army during World War II. I grew up hearing stories of my grandfather, of how he fought bravely in the Philippines in one of the bloodiest, most pivotal conflicts this world has ever seen. Of how he’d escaped from being a POW three times (I’ve endearingly started joking that if there was one thing my grandpa was good at, it was escaping), one of those times being from the Bataan Death March where up to 18,000 Filipinos were estimated to have died.

He’d been face to face with death several times, and yet each time he managed to escape its grasp. He ended up living a long life and died at the age of eighty-nine in his home with a legacy of ten children and twenty-four grand-children left behind him.

When I honor my Grandpa Mar, I tend to think mostly of the glory of his achievements. To me, he was almost larger than life. He was a war hero.

However, oftentimes I forget that these achievements didn’t come without great sacrifice. He might have escaped death during the war, but that doesn’t mean he escaped fully intact. Most who come back from war rarely ever do.

You see, my grandfather suffered from PTSD.

It wasn’t until decades after he retired that they’d finally diagnosed him. Most of my memories of my grandfather were good, peaceful memories, and most of his grandchildren could likely say the same. However, my mother, my grandmother, and many of my aunts and uncles had far different experiences.

They say he was excessively strict growing up, bordering on cruel. He was easily irate and would punish his children far too easily and perhaps far too much. For much of their lives, many of them feared him; some even grew to resent him. This is not to mention his treatment of my grandmother—his wife—who would often experience his wrath in full force. Hardly any of his family would have described him as a kind man in the past.

No one really thought that his behavior was a result of his time in the war until he had a psychiatric evaluation as an elderly man. When they diagnosed him as suffering from PTSD, it suddenly clicked for my mother, the why for his behavior: the war had scarred him far more permanently than anyone had ever imagined. By this point, however, the resulting collateral damage to his family had been done. His children and his wife had perhaps been able to forgive him in time, but the scars would forever remain.

 

Though he had always been the most memorable veteran in my family, my Grandpa Mar was not the only one. In fact, on both sides, I have aunts, uncles, cousins, and even my brother who have served or are currently serving in the military. Often, I tend to forget my other grandfather, Grandpa Jesus (pronounced the Spanish way, “hay-soos”) had also served.

Growing up, though I’d still been proud, my younger self-hadn’t been quite as impressed hearing about Grandpa Jesus’s time serving. He’d been a cook in the US Navy during the 50’s. Unlike Grandpa Mar, he hadn’t served in WWII, hadn’t seen combat, and had been medically discharged within years of him joining the navy. He also never really had any stories that I remember him telling us about his time serving.

I’d always heard that he’d become schizophrenic while in the navy which had ultimately led to his discharge, that it had something to do with government experimentation, but I’d always brushed off these stories as conspiracies. After all, every memory I have of my grandfather was him sitting in his wooden chair in the corner of the kitchen, smoking and listening to the radio.

There was nothing to me that indicated that he was “crazy”, and I figured if this experimentation was true, surely I would have heard about it in my history class, or there would be some kind of letter from some politician lying around reading something along the lines of, “Hey, sorry we made you take some weird drugs that would mess up your mind for the rest of your life, that was absolutely inhumane of us to do and was totally our bad.”

It wasn’t until much later that I realized that these “conspiracies” were actually way more substantiated than I thought. There are plenty of instances between the 50’s and 60’s in which soldiers were experimented on by the government, oftentimes without the soldiers’ consent. In the 60’s, Project SHAD (Shipboard Hazard and Defense) was specifically conducted on U.S. warships, where biological and chemical warfare agents were sprayed over these ships in order to “determine how well service members aboard military ships could detect and respond to chemical and biological attacks.”

While it’s too late to prove whether my grandfather’s schizophrenia was truly a result of whatever the government did to him, regardless they took responsibility for it. Well, what responsibility they could while still being classified at the time. When he was medically discharged, he received full medical benefits for the rest of his life, as has been given to many other victims of human experimentation by the US government since. Unfortunately, he would very much be in need of those medical benefits for most of his retirement.

This was something I did not find out until recently, along with many other things about my grandfather during his lifelong recuperation.

I had not known about the voices my grandfather would hear, urging him to do violent things to his family. I had not known about how there were several instances where he almost did act on these thoughts, resulting in him being hospitalized for months at a time. I had not known that it wasn’t until they started injecting him with his medication that he finally seemed to get better, which is why most of my memories of him seem so much saner. Normal.

Grandpa Jesus died in 2007, on Independence Day to be exact, and like my Grandpa Mar, left behind a large family that loved him. And yet, the impact my grandfather’s mental illness had on his family was lasting. My father, as well as supposedly many of his siblings, are still traumatized. Like with my mother’s family, he may be forgiven, but the wounds still run deep.

I may have different memories of my grandfathers, but their impacts on both me and their families run parallel. I am glad that I was able to experience much brighter times with them, to be able to see them at peace, without the demons in their heads. However, now that I know what they each were dealing with, it breaks my heart to see how their personal suffering affected their families in the long run. I am proud to say that both of my grandfathers were veterans, but unfortunately, I cannot do so without acknowledging that they paid a heavy price.

When men and women serve our country, we sometimes don’t realize the extent of which they give themselves to do so. Mental illness is not something we tend to immediately think about when we think of what our soldiers and veterans go through to do their duties and keep us safe, yet it is most prevalent among them. Studies have shown that at least a quarter of non-deployed military members suffer from at least one mental health disorder, while suicide remains one of the leading causes of death among veterans and active duty military. The numbers only continue to grow, and people are only finally trying to understand why this is occurring.

It is for this reason that this Veteran’s Day I would like to honor these men and women for continuously putting not only their bodies but their sanity on the line for us. I also encourage you all to thank a veteran as well as anyone currently still in the military for all that they sacrifice of themselves to complete their duty. I can only hope we will continue to educate ourselves about this and make an effort to improve the mental health and wellness of our veterans, because they deserve to live a life of peace after all that they endure.

By Veronica Valera AKA @lifeofnicah

 

 

 

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Poetry | I’m Trying

Trying.

That’s all I ever do.

To please,

To live,

To survive,

To not cry.

Trying.

It makes my soul ache.

Who am I?

Whatever I decide that day.

Maybe the truth,

Maybe a lie.

Who are you to judge?

Can’t you see the thorn in your own eye?

Let he without sin cast the first stone.

That’s what I thought;

You know you are wrong.

But let me not trickle down because

What I think is we’re all doing the best we can.

Trying.

So tiresome,

Frustrating.

But you have to try before it’s too late.

Before you enter the Kingdom or the gate of Hades.

You have to decide.

Trying.

For love in all the wrong places.

Finding love in the right place,

But the wrong time.

For comfort,

No drug can cure,

No abuse can stop me from

Trying.

To make things right.

To make peace before sunlight.

Trying.

To get up every day with a smile on my face.

It’s HARD.

I’m in PAIN.

Emotionally,

Mentally,

Let me rot away.

I’m NO addict and have NEVER abused in my life.

Trying.

All you can see is nappy hair,

Wrinkled clothing,

A deathly stare.

Trying.

What you don’t know is

There’s more to me than what you THINK you see.

Your eyes will never meet because your self-absorption is way too deep;

Don’t get paralyzed by your own deceit.

It’s mental health,

It’s me

Trying.

Stop the JUDGMENT.

Stop the HATE.

Before trying turns into tried.

Just appreciate,

Empathize,

Again, there is so much more to me than what meets the eye.

I’m trying.

Every day.

The only thing I have is joy.

And I sure as HELL won’t let ANY OF YOU take that away.

TRYING.

@turningthepagebypaigeredwine

Reflection | 4 Signs You Need to Change Jobs

    I hope changing jobs is the least of your concerns right now, but if it is a concern then don’t feel bad at all. There are so many people out in the world that are not happy with their jobs and need a change. They stay out of obligations either in or out of their control.
    The point I’m trying to make with all this is you’re NOT ALONE! If you are finding yourself having the itch to make a career or job change, but are having trouble finding the courage to do it; then I hope this helps you out:

Morale is Dead

    There is nothing worse than coming to a job and not believing in the companies values or feeling like you’re not making a difference. If it goes against your morals or you don’t believe in the values then move along there is nothing for you there. You will likely resent going and participating in a corrupt culture every day.
 
    In return will start affecting the way you see yourself. We definitely don’t want that!

Burn Out/Mental Health

    This is a serious issue and concern for America today and I’m guessing other countries as well. Please take care of yourself! There is no amount of money that can replace your life. So if you find yourself mentally and emotionally drained to where a vacation can’t fix the burnout – that means you need to go!
 
    Trust me on this one. They will replace you in a heartbeat not even long enough for your casket to have weeds grow out of it. To them, you’re a number, and if you’re not seen as a number then lucky you, you should stay.
    But for most of us, the reality is we are only a number and they care about us making them money. You can die at a miserable job if you want to, or you can take care of yourself. Why not do something you love so it won’t feel like you’re working?
    I know this isn’t usually a realistic route. But, if it can be a reality for you go get that dream job and make it happen. I promise you from experience it is worth it in the end.

You Aren’t Enjoying it

    There’s no better buzzkill like going day after day to a job you don’t enjoy. I kind of referenced to this in my last statement, but I’ll say it again. You want to work somewhere that you are at least content with.
    It doesn’t have to be rays of sunshine and unicorns, but it does have to be tolerable to where you don’t hate life. It’s worth the investment if you’re going to spend 40 plus hours there. Like the job’s time is important, yours is too and don’t let anyone tell you different!

Not Paying the Bills

    If this job is doing all the above and not making ends meet, oh honey, you need to get out of there faster than a New York second! The stress from the job and not being able to pay bills like you want will absolutely drive you crazy. There is no reason to stay.
    Get your all your ducks in a row to find that better paying job and put your two weeks in yesterday. This is pretty self-explanatory on why you shouldn’t stay.
    Finances are one of the leading causes of depression. As we discussed before, your mental health is important and part of what sustains you. If your brain isn’t functioning you won’t either!
 

Are You Convinced?

    If you relate to any of two out of the four, I suggest you start to consider changing jobs or even career paths. In my opinion, it would be beneficial for you. If you were looking for a sign – here it is! I’m tired of people thinking that work is equivalent to unhappiness because it truly doesn’t have to be.
    You have control of your life and choose what makes you happy. You also choose what you’ll put up with. Stop the complaining, look for that new career, and start living the life you imagined for yourself on a job that doesn’t make you or your life miserable.

Book Review |The Bipolar Disorder Survival Guide: What You and Your Family Need to Know (2nd Edition) by David Miklowitz

A little behind the reason I listened to this audiobook is that I recently have been diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder, but have been struggling with it for years. “The Bipolar Survival Guide: What You and Your Family Need to Know” by David Miklowitz, the 2nd edition, has been so helpful to me and I’m sure it will be for you regardless if you’re the patient or not.

Why I Love It

I have to say this is the ultimate guide to all things Bipolar. I highly recommend you reading the physical book or listening to the audiobook like I did. It sets up what Bipolar is, its symptoms, medications, how to function, how to react to situations and more! I couldn’t have listened to a better book in this transition to stabilization.

Relatable

One of the other things I really l enjoyed about this book is that it had realistic examples and testimonies throughout. It built rapport without trying too hard and just made me feel like I could trust the doctor who wrote it. I found myself throughout the book thinking I relate to these stories and symptoms.

The people said similar things that most families and patients dealing with the disorder say. I personally have said and heard my family members tell me the same exact things in a variety of ways.

Real Guide

Just like the name suggests, I truly believe it stands true to being a survival guide. It gives you ideas that you may not have thought of and logical reasons to back up what he is saying. I have already started implementing some of the tips such as keeping a mood diary and exercising as often as possible.

Not only is it cool to get an accurate depiction of any mood swings I may be experiencing, but it is also good to have useful tools that fit into my everyday life without causing too much of a disruption. It also is very detailed about the different treatment options and medications. It goes into what they do, the side effects, and real concerns like what to do if I want to have kids.

I’m telling you this book is money well spent, and I will listen to it over again just in case I need to reference anything later on that I don’t need right at this minute.

Verdict: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Poetry | Dear Little Girl

Dear little girl

Dry your eyes

Dear little girl

Everything will be alright

Dear little girl

You are loved and cared for

Dear little girl

Believe in yourself more

Dear little girl

You have nothing to prove

Dear little girl

Continue to be uniquely you

Health & Fitness | The Chronicles of Anxiety Part 1

Y’all, I’m going to be super honest. My anxiety has been through the roof & the worst part is I can’t seem to find my medicine so what is there for me to do? Today I’m going to share some simple yet effective tips on how I’m making due without my old friend Klonopin (that is prescribed and not misused).

1. Watch what I eat

I have noticed that when I eat right or at least less processed foods my anxiety starts to decrease. I feel more energized and more comfortable. Yay! So eat your fruits and vegetables and whatever else is on the food pyramid that balance is good for you or at least it is for me! This doesn’t mean I don’t eat junk food, but it means I can tell when I’m eating a little too much of it. Also, drink plenty of water!

2. Exercise

I love to take out in a sprint when I have anxiety it raises your heart rate to where I forget I was anxious and of course releases endorphins that help me feel good and turn the anxiousness down. You can do any exercise you want though. At times I just take a walk or maybe a brisk walk if I don’t feel like running and guess what; it still works!

3. Deep breathing

My Apple Watch (series 3) is a champ at reminding me to do this. Breathing deeply helps you focus on something else and allows you to catch a breath. It also helps that my apple watch will show me what my heart rate is and keep track of my breathing throughout the day and I can turn this off when I want too. (Promise this is not sponsored)

4. Write

You don’t have to post it anywhere, but just writing your thoughts and feelings down can really help you get more in touch with yourself and ease your pain I mean anxiety. I always have a pen and paper or my notes open on hand so I can quickly jot down whatever and wherever I’m at, at that very moment. Use your tools! It doesn’t have to be a perfect moleskin, it can be anything! Just write!

5. Spend time doing fun things with those closest to me

This does the trick most of the time! Spending time with my best friends and family gets my mind off of myself and into the moment. For instance, this past Saturday Nicah and I bartended at a house party and the whole time I was in the moment just hanging out with her and making drinks for the party goers it didn’t dawn on me that I didn’t have my anxiety medicine or feel anxious. Get outside of yourself because sometimes being alone and getting deep in thought can make it worse if you haven’t gotten the tools down to handle it just yet. I haven’t so I know I need to have some social time, some deep breathing and all the other good things I’ve listed above. Please don’t isolate yourself!

6. Rest

Now this tip here is a major key! I don’t mean just sitting down I mean getting that sleep in Y’all! You need to really go to sleep and if you can’t try a natural substance like melatonin to help. I’ve added a link to it so you can read more about the great benefits and even side effects, but don’t let it freak you out that defeats the purpose. I take it only at times my anxiety is super high and I know I didn’t sleep well the night before because too much of a good thing is a bad thing. If you can get to sleep and a deep sleep at that without it then that is great! Keep up whatever you are doing and sleep, sleep, sleep!

Okay, rant is over and I hope these tips help you ease your anxiety like it does for me! Let me know if you try any of these tips or have in the past. Did it work? Did it not? I want to know 🙂 (Also this post is not sponsored I just put in links in case you want to check them out)

Poetry | Fear.

Fear.
It’s an old friend
Fear.
Calls me again
Fear.
I try to block you out
Fear.
Has control over me
Fear.
I try to let you out
Fear.
My knees on the ground
Fear.
Hands clasp as I speak to the utmost high
Fear.
Get away from me and hide
Fear.
I’ve let you go
Fear.
I now have peace in my soul

@foodforthoughtbypaigeredwine

Reflection | Perfectionism Issues | How Not to Let the Pressure to Be Perfect Get You Down

Perfectionism. This is a real struggle for me and I’m sure it is for someone else whether you’re a woman like me or even a man. It started out so innocently as a child wanting to please my parents, especially my mom. She has always been my toughest critic right underneath myself, but there are some days where I feel she has me beat. Really, now that I’m starting to find inner peace it is more like most days she has me beat and that’s okay. Trust me she means well, but the delivery isn’t always the best, but I digress. The pressure to be perfect lead to low self-esteem, anger issues, anxiety, and unnecessary stress because when it comes down to it unless it is a life or death situation most likely nothing that bad will happen if you don’t get everything right. Heck, even your doctor makes mistakes! The only person I know that has never and will never make a mistake in his life is Jesus Christ himself, but even he shows grace to you and me by understanding we will never be on that level and why die trying to be on an unobtainable level that he already died for and had God raise him from the dead so that we don’t have to be perfect. Don’t get me wrong it is perfectly okay to take pride in your work and want to make as little mistakes as possible, but honestly, as long as you do your best that should always be enough for you even if mama or the haters to the left don’t think so. How I found inner peace personally was:

1. Getting closer to God who is my refuge because “He is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit (Psalm 34:18).”

2. Getting Confident by focusing on what I do well instead of dwelling in the negative of things I do terribly that of course, I’m still working on.

3. Surrounding myself with positivity whether that be things or people and distancing myself from those things and people, even if they happen to be family members, that constantly bring negativity in my life. Heck, I just got fired for throwing my shoe at a window at work (anger issues) after already putting in my two weeks a week and a half ago so I know about a negative environment lol.

4. Finally accepting that there was no way I could be perfect and that my flaws are what make me unique and most of all make me, me and I wouldn’t trade that for the world.

5. Becoming freaking fearless and living my best life whatever that means to me! Because you know what? God hasn’t given any of us the spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7) so for me, that meant getting a tattoo and signing a lease to an apartment in a poppin’ city and standing up to some family members who I’m not really sure love me still, but who cares because I love me and God loves me so I’m doing pretty great!

I know a lot of this is easier said than done, but trust me y’all just try by taking baby steps and I promise it will get easier and you will start to see the progress. It feels freaking amazing when you can start to feel the change on the inside even if it doesn’t seem that everything on the outside is changing. Just keep praying and keep being what you were created to be the best YOU that YOU can be! My pastor encouraged me to start reading Philippians so I want to pass that challenge along to you. That way no matter the situation, just like Paul, you will learn how to be content amidst the storm. Hope this helped!