Coping with high blood pressure

Causes of anxiety

We are all under extreme pressure at the moment whether we are aware of it or not. The need to juggle a demanding career with an even more demanding family is just one source of stress for working parents. Job security and financial stability is another worry in this prolonged economic downturn. The lamentable state of social care for the elderly and infirm adds to the level of concern amongst the ageing population of this country. The insidious nature of cyber space and how it permeates the lives of our teenagers and penetrates our living rooms is another fear for many of us struggling to come to terms with a rapidly changing society.

In dealing with the stresses and strains of all of the above I find myself, aged 48 and once famed for my ability to sleep anywhere and at anytime, an insomniac. I also find myself alarmed by palpitations that come out of nowhere and, seemingly, for no apparent reason, my heart races and performs back-flips when it should be at a steady 72 beats per minute. I also find myself struggling with bouts of dizziness when walking across the playground to drop off my youngest child at school. I am looking for something to hold onto, something sturdy to grab to stop the fall. I hope no-one will notice my wobble or my strange need to lean onto the wall by the Nursery entrance. Does anyone notice? No. Does anyone care? Not really.

All of the above symptoms have been outlined to my doctor on several occasions. I have been strapped up with monitors and put through my paces on the travellator, marching up hill for a good ten minutes. I have been injected with drugs to make my heart race whilst lying flat on my back in an operating theatre : most unnerving! I have had blood tests to check my cholesterol levels and given urine samples to comply with their requests. I don't smoke. I don't drink. Yes, I am overweight, even though I eat less now than I did in my twenties. Both parents suffered with hypertension. My father suffered a cerebral aneurism brought on by stress and had to retire on grounds of ill health by the time he was sixty.

I am told that I suffer from "White Coat Syndrome", in that the medical professionals believe the mere fact that I have entered a clinical setting surrounded by doctors and nurses is enough to send my blood pressure soaring. Yet at home, in the bliss of solitude, my readings on my hard bought blood monitor show above average again and again whatever the time and circumstances. I sit here listening to whale music, slow breathing and visualising lying on that Caribbean beach in the warm sun, whilst outside in June it continues to pour and the bank balance languishes around zero unable to put these dreams into a reality.

Where is the faith in the system that can cure my ills? Gone with the dreams and aspirations of youth. My beating heart that once thrilled to the sound of the congregation and wondered at the light through the stained glass window, thuds in my ears and clouds my brain forcing the blood through the arteries silted up with years of neglect...