Friday, September 17, 2010

Same Old, Same Old

I need help. I'm admitting it. There is too much stress in my life that has accumulated and gone on for too long. I can't do this alone anymore. I definitely need medication. My blood pressure is dangerously high. I know it has been high for a number of years now but I've resisted medication thinking I can control it because I eat such a low-fat diet, don't drink, exercise, etc. At this point, the doctor told me it has nothing to do with a healthy weight or exercise. My blood pressure is too high and I need to take action.

I wonder how much of the stress the past years have brought play into this. High blood pressure, strokes and heart attacks run on both sides of my family and it is how we end up dead. I still feel like a failure to some extent. That I'm unable to control this aspect of my health since I've tried for so long to keep it together emotionally. But as I started this post, I am finally at a point where I'm waving the white flag and crying out "Help me!" Since I don't have much of a support network in place, that ends up increasing the stress I try and manage on my own. It turns out to be an endless circle of frustration. The past few weeks many times during the day I can feel my heart racing inside my chest. When I have my blood pressure taken, I can feel and hear that racing.

I am going to become one of those people stopping at the blood pressure meter every time I go into the grocery store by the pharmacy counter!

Well, I have to take care of myself physically and if I need blood pressure medication so be it. I hope this is not a permanent thing. But the alternative is having a stroke which isn't an option here. I've helped the men and women stroke victims in the nursing home, some quite young. I can't do that to the boys. Or myself.

I came across another article on managing stress and decided to go through it and highlight the suggestions. They are always the same and we all know them. In fact, I'm sure I've posted about them a time or two previously. But they bear repeating.

1. Acknowledge the pain, stress, grief or loss. Feel the anger and sadness. It is okay to feel some self pity. But you can't let these feelings overpower you.

2. The painful feelings have to eventually give way to those of hope. To manage stress and crisis we need to be centered and calm and that won't be possible when in defeat and despair. So we need to harness abundance, gratitude, positivity and peace of mind as best we can. We can look to the future as holding opportunity, being an adventure and a new beginning instead of being fearful of what lies ahead.

3. We must take care of ourselves physically and emotionally. Eating well and exercising are essential.

4. Relying and connecting with others is also necessary.

5. Developing a strategy and plan for moving forward can help us focus on the learning opportunities available to us and allow us to grow.

6. It is a perfect time to become distracted with and explore a new project or goal. Sometimes it is far better to focus on an activity or learning something new than dwelling on our troubles.

7. Live one day at a time.

8. Maintaining a sense of order brings us a measure of control. Letting ourselves and our environments fall apart does not result in feeling calm or comfort us - more like tormenting and mocking us.

9. Come up with positives for the situation or in lieu of that, positives that can result in the future that may not have been considered before.

10. Maintaining the daily routine as much as possible is helpful. I know that my husband did this through all the years of his illness and I could not believe how he managed to do it. It was an amazing demonstration of strength and courage.

I look over this list and it is made up of the same old suggestions and ideas I've come across over and over. Does that mean they work or is it because no one else has come up with any better? I also know that this advice is common sense and easier said than done.

Yesterday, after my hopeful and inspiring post on optimism I ran into some snags during the day and felt let down and defeated. Some of that hope I'd harnessed before went by the wayside. I forced myself to take another nature walk and the best I could come up with as a coping mechanism was to keep my thoughts neutral rather than go off the deep end into the gloom and doom.

Sometimes, it seems as if this advice is so simplistic. We tend to look at life's problems as being singular - someone is coping with grief because of the death of a spouse; someone lost their job or home; another person is dealing with divorce or illness. I take a more complicated view of stress because I think where there is one problem, so lies another. And I think in addition to viewing problems singly, which makes them easier to solve, is that we don't put enough attention on the long-term effects of stress. We tend to view solving problems quickly and efficiently (usually within a year time frame). But I think the recession has shown us that problems and life complications can exist greater than a year and be harder to overcome.

So I find that there is a gap in acknowledging, understanding and coping with the long-term effects of stress. And what about set backs? Or having to manage the difficulty of climbing out of a very deep hole? All that one step forward, two step back progression.

Food for thought. In the meantime, we plow on as best we can. I look at the strategies I've set out and try to come up with some project that may help me focus less on all this loss and find more hope in the future. I try to exercise when I feel the walls of despair closing in on me. I do my best to change my mindset when I am aware of my negative thinking. More of the same old, same old with varying degrees of success depending on the day.


  1. I've been following your blog for a while, and I've wanted to help you in some small way.... but you have kept your anonymous identity quite anonymous, so there is no way for me to reach out to you and provide you with a small gesture. Is there an e-mail or something else you could share? I certainly get it...I'm anonymous too of course. --ARB

  2. Regardless of what you decide to do, you should probably go ahead and begin taking medication to lower your blood pressure. You're already doing all of the physical things that should keep your BP low and if it's still high, well, maybe it's time for meds and then hope that, if you can reduce your stress levels later on, you'll be able to discontinue the meds. I have a few friends who have had to take meds too even though they are the last people you would expect to have that kind of problem, but they're under intense pressure too.

    As for the rest, those are all good strategies. Some seem practical and as though they could be employed immediately Some seem a little less so to me as I know you don't have a lot of control over your time, current work, etc... One that I think I would focus on might be to try to get out occasionally with people who like the same things you do. It could be something simple and low cost like joining a book club through the local library, or if you like walking, or nature, maybe join a walking, or a field naturalist club as many have walks at nature areas. It would be good to make a few friends who share some similar interests. Might lighten up your mood to have something to look forward to. Hope comes in all forms and sometimes it's just knowing that you'll have a relaxing hour or two with nice people once every couple of weeks.

  3. I'm with anonymous -- I wish there was another way we could get in touch with you, to support you more, encourage you and for you to know there are those who care, even if we do not live close by. We do really care!

  4. Just a thought and I don't know if you'd want to do something like this, but some of my favourite bloggers have set up things like their Amazon wish lists and even paypal "tip jars" on their blogs. I don't believe you have to give up any anonymity to do so. I can't speak for other readers of your blog, but I sure wouldn't mind if you did something like that or similar so we could show a little appreciation.

  5. I agree - it would be good to know how to reach you. I've read your blog for awhile now, commented once or twice, and often thought that I wish I could send you some sort of "thinking of you" gift in the mail.


  6. I read the comments before leaving mine. Boy, aren't people wonderful?!?

    What I was going to say was hang in there and I will keep you in my prayers. But what I want to add now is this: these comments confirm what I find in writing my blog. When I am at my lowest, when I feel completely overwhelmed at the idea of even getting out of bed, I am confronted with the fact I am surrounded by good, caring people who hold me up when I can't do it myself. And my therapist adds a footnote to that, insisting that these people love me because I am worth loving. A double whammy!! lol

    She takes it even further, reminding me that people love to feel needed as well, so don't be too quick to decline offers of help.

    I will keep up with your blog, I'm so glad I found it! Please feel free to contact me (my e-mail address is on my blog) if you would like to chat. I was widowed at 39, a long 18 years ago.

    Hang in there! :)

  7. Take the blood pressure meds!!! I've had it for 20 years and keep it normal with the meds. I have been waking up each day and trying to find the positive too--you are right--it is a minute by minute thing. At noon I can be positive and by two o'clock, stuck in the doldrums. It's like my moods are on a slow moving roller coaster, up and down and up and down. Maybe there is a pill to keep them even? I WANT IT IF THERE IS, LOL

  8. Judy - I started the anti-anxiety med and for the first time in weeks don't feel my racing heart. I also feel more calm. I hate to be on this but I think the anxiety is contributing to the high blood pressure. Anyway, today is a better day but I plan on using the anti-anxiety pills only when necessary - I do not want to be taking them daily. I hate the roller coaster emotions too, but I figure I'm managing as well as I can. I try to divert myself with a walk or activity when I start to crash downward. As long as most of my days are up and I am functioning "normally," that beats the alternative of being in a depressive black hole, so I'm ahead.

  9. Marie - I checked out your blog and it is so pretty - I need to figure out how to add pictures and motivating artwork to mine - yours is an inspiration. I like your overall attitude of reaching for the positives but allowing a little bit of griping in your life too!

  10. Bev - Thank you for all of your ideas and sensible feedback. It is always reassuring and solid.

  11. ARB, Beth and Jen - You guys are lovely, thoughtful lifesavers. I don't know what to say or how to comment. I need to think about your kindness. My first response is that what I receive in terms from comments to this blog is more than enough and a gift in and of itself. Let me sit and reflect on your generosity - I have never been one of those people in favor of the tip jars at Starbuck's. Anyway, for now let me assure you that your kindness is already a great and treasured gift and I thank you.

  12. If you are up to it, do a trial and error exploration of dressing up your blog. There are lots of online tutorials. Once I started fooling around with it, I found it irresistible, it is so much fun to experiment with all the different elements. There is a ton of free stuff out there too.