Blood Pressure

I have refrained from writing about the following because of anxiety and embarrassment. However, I realize that I have nothing to be embarrassed about. I have been struggling with my mental health and my physical health for a long time. I do not like to talk about it but, now that things are getting better, I feel strong enough to talk about it. I have long suffered from anxiety which often overlapped with depression. This led me to me binging on bad food and hiding in my room when I lived in New Jersey. I did not really take care of myself but anytime that I got a little sick, I panicked. Homesick and depressed, my mental state deteriorated. I gained weight. When I got bronchitis, I panicked and thought that the problems from when I was 12 had returned and I was dying.

When I returned back to Baltimore from New Jersey, my mood lightened and I worked at a job that was very physically demanding so I lost weight and got stronger. After that was over, I got a desk job where I was once again not getting exercise. This job started out alright and I was happy to have found work. However, it was social work for the government and my generalized anxiety and social anxiety made it very difficult. I did not know how to deal with the phone and piles of work. I felt stressed all the time and I had migraines all the time. One day, I had a full-on panic attack and I rushed from the office to the urgent care center half a block away. I could barely breathe and my blood pressure was so high that they called an ambulance.

After a hospital visit and during a period of time away from work, I visited a doctor and was told that I had high blood pressure and anxiety. Something got stuck in my head and I was afraid that I had developed diabetes and that I would be blamed. Worse, I would have to deal with needles every day of my life. I started going to the gym but stopped going to the doctor. I did not want to know what was wrong with me. The medications my doctor gave me ran out but I did not go back to renew. I did no further tests.

I lived more or less normally, my weight fluctuating as I gave up on the gym and then went back. After my family went through a particularly rough encounter with alcoholism, my brother pushed me to get therapy. I went but got little out of it. My therapist left town to attend to her granddaughter and I did not find another. However, eventually, my brother suggested I visit a psychiatric nurse practitioner. He pushed the issue and I eventually gave in. This was the first time in my life that I was diagnosed with generalized and social anxiety. She took me seriously and I took her seriously.

She prescribed me Xanax and, once I adjusted to it, it was like night and day. The fear and anxiety I felt every day lifted. I felt more confident and I felt happier. I went back to the gym, realizing that I would stop going because I was anxious in public places. I would go back because I had heard that you could work off diabetes. I was told by my new nurse that I had troublingly high blood pressure and that, although I felt fine, I was definitely not. I found another doctor and they started to do tests on me. They could not figure things out so they ordered bigger scarier tests. I quit and walked away.

Recently, I switched my insurance to Kaiser Permanente and went in for a visit again. I was finally ready to accept whatever was coming to me. I immediately fell in love with the new set up. I was not visiting with a doctor who was a resident in med school who cared but did not seem to have time for me. Instead, I now have a doctor who speaks plainly with me and is super approachable. I can message him through an app with questions and he answers the same day. The big thing is that the laboratory is inhouse so I can just walk over and do bloodwork or whatever. It makes it harder to make excuses and avoid things.

I am now also on blood pressure and cholesterol medications and I am working with my doctor and the nurses to get my numbers down. I am starting to see improvement and I am sticking to the gym. (Historical note: My gym was closed due to Covid-19 last week). I have a blood pressure monitor at home which automatically sends my numbers to the nurses. I am doing a lot better and I am feeling a lot better and clearer. Best of all, my doctor finally shot down my old fear that I had developed or was developing diabetes. No diabetes. I’m doing pretty great, actually. I am also doing a job that I love and that leaves me with a lot more energy at the end of most days. So that’s how I’m doing.

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4 Responses to “Blood Pressure”

  1. rolandclarke Says:

    I am glad you fought through those issues and you are now, “doing pretty great, actually.” May it continue in these strange days. Blessing and inspiration.

    Like

  2. Lucy Grove-Jones Says:

    Anxiety and depression are rough (I also have had generalised anxiety, social anxiety, the odd panic attack and on and off depression). They are extra rough when combined with health concerns. I also have felt a lot of anxiety about getting sick, particularly around blaming myself for getting sick. It can be really hard, and it’s super brave of you to face it. It’s wonderful to hear how you’re managing everything and doing so well.

    Like

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