From watching inspirational videos online to focusing on healthier eating, Pasquale DeSavino has learned to manage his diagnoses of epilepsy and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder that he has had since he was a preteen.
Recently, the 22-year-old from Peckville published a book to help other young people struggling with their own challenges, whatever they may be.
“It’s a book about how my childhood was filled with mental and physical health issues, which really lowered my self-esteem and my happiness in life,” he said. “These conditions have unfortunately made life a daily struggle.”
DeSavino had his first seizure at age 11 and was diagnosed with ADHD at age 12. He and his parents immediately started researching topics online, looking for solutions, doctors and ways to stay positive. As his epilepsy worsened, he was often taken from Valley View High School by ambulance. He tried a number of medications to control the symptoms of his epilepsy and ADHD, but the side effects sometimes compounded his difficulties at school and at home.
To cope, DeSavino started watching motivational videos he found on YouTube. He credits in particular to former college athlete turned motivational speaker Inky Johnson, whose story of overcoming a life obstacle helped DeSavino put his own disability into perspective and maintain faith in a better future.
These videos also sparked a desire to be an inspiration to others, he said. He started working on a book during the COVID-19 lockdown when he had plenty of free time. The 273 pages take readers through his experiences overcoming his troubles and his belief that having the right mindset in the midst of adversity will help overcome any obstacle. He self-published the book in January.
“I discuss tactics and methods for overcoming life’s problems, as well as improving mental and physical health through improved diet and self-help techniques,” he said.
DeSavino hopes his book will serve as motivation, inspiration, and hope for other teens who struggle with barriers and disabilities in their own lives, just as he has also found hope in sources in line. He’s managed to go through the last four years crisis-free, which he says is proof that the future is looking up.
“Don’t despair, nothing stays bad forever,” he said.
A big part of what helped him avoid seizures for so long, he says, was the strict diet he started around the time of his last seizure. Eliminating processed foods and focusing on healthy fats and protein-rich foods, along with the proper medications, helped him be healthier and less prone to seizures.
DeSavino is a junior at Marywood University, majoring in exercise science. He works at the NEPA Fit Club in Scranton and in the future hopes to open his own gym as a fitness coach. Although he has no intention of writing another book, he said he would be open to it again one day. He also wants to get more involved in making motivational videos and speeches to post online to help teens struggling with their own obstacles, just like those who have helped him.
“Pat had been very knowledgeable, a good student with a strict diet,” said his father, Pat DeSavino. “Pat always surprises us and (we) didn’t expect him to do so much already.”
Young DeSavino’s advice to aspiring writers is to explore the use of Amazon’s direct publishing programs, which help independent authors publish their work and retain full rights to the book. He said this method is less difficult than conventional publishing methods, which involve working with a publishing house, having an agent or risking your own income by printing yourself. Amazon also has a massive consumer base and offers Kindle downloads and print-on-demand options at checkout.
But above all, “put your thoughts on paper,” he said. “Start somewhere and start writing down your ideas.”