I want to preface this post by saying that I am not a medical professional and I do not dispense medical advice. All I’m doing in this post is sharing my own experiences. If you suffer from high blood pressure, please consult your doctor. Once again, I’m not trying to cure anybody because I’m not qualified to do so. I’m simply recording my experiences in my personal diary which is what this blog is.
I had my first spike in blood pressure when I was 24. I had no idea what was happening to me but it was really bad. It felt like I had an elephant sitting on the nape of my neck. Blood was pounding in my ears, I had trouble breathing, and my vision got impaired. My sister took me to the emergency room. This was in Montreal, so, as you can imagine, I had to wait in line for 6 hours to be attended, after which a sleepy nurse told me to go home and take a Tylenol.
Since then, I have, of course, figured out what the problem was. High blood pressure is hereditary in my family. Both of my grandparents on my mother’s side died from it at an early age. Both of my parents suffer from it right now. If you’ve read my recent post on salo, you probably realize how our traditional Ukrainian diet contributes to the high rates of BP problems in our country.
My BP was high all the time but not to the point where it would interfere with my life. Several times a year, however, there would be a spike in my BP and then I’d be rendered useless for as long as it stayed high. A moment came when I was practically immobilized by high BP for almost six weeks. It was a full-blown and protracted hypertensive episode. That was when I realized that if I didn’t want to become an invalid at such a young age, I needed to do something.
As you probably know, I’m very anti-drug. (Again, I, me, myself. Not other people, just me). I refuse to be on any kind of medication that I’d have to take on a permanent basis. So I used the non-medicinal means at my disposal and am happy to report that my BP has been at around 120/80 for over a year now. (I have a monitor at home and recommend that every BP sufferer get one.)
The most basic things you can do are changing your diet and lifestyle. Here is just a small list of what one can do (feel free to add your own suggestions):
1. The best forms of exercise for a BP sufferer are walking and swimming. Running and cardio can be very dangerous. People have had strokes while running, so this is something that should be approached very carefully and in consultation with a doctor. I recommend walking 10,000 steps a day. Buy a pedometer. I recommend this one because it is the most precise of all I have ever tried. Create a table and record how many steps you walked every day. Here is a random excerpt from my steps log, for example:
2. For breakfast, it is a great idea to eat steel-cut oatmeal. I mean the one you cook for 40 minutes, not the one that you get from a package and make by pouring hot water on top of it. I add flax seed, wheat germ and raisins to my oatmeal. It tastes horrible but I feel a lot better after every portion. Even a small portion of this oatmeal a few times a week makes a huge difference.
3. A small piece of very dark chocolate should always be at hand because it lowers high BP. Sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds (unsalted, of course) are also great. So is pomegranate juice. Fish, nuts, a lot of fresh fruit and vegetables. Drink as much water as you can.
All of these measures, however, are purely cosmetic. They will work for a while but then your body will get used to them and the BP will start rising once again. I believe that there is no way you can deal with high BP productively and long-term if you don’t address the psychological cause of it. If you disagree with this statement, that’s fine. Go pop some beta-blockers, or whatever. This post is written for those who are interested in how I reduced my BP dramatically without taking any kind of medication even once.
The psychological cause of high BP is repressed anger (aggression, rage). In order to lower the BP, you need to learn to stop repressing and let the anger out in a way that will not, of course, harm anybody. Here are several suggestions on how to do that:
1. Create a phrase that expresses your anger and is meaningful to you. For example, “I hate you, you vile jerks and nasty pedophiles.” The goal is to yell it at the top of your lungs for as long as you need to feel exhausted. (This is not to be done in public, of course.) It will be hard because, remember, you are repressing the rage. So if yelling doesn’t just happen, start slow. Say this phrase in your mind. Then, whisper it. Then try to say it in a regular conversational voice. Then go louder, etc.
2. You’ll need to find a punching object. I recommend a pillow. Beat it until you are completely exhausted. Beat it and yell your phrase about the vile jerks or whatever. N. had his first and only spike in BP a while ago. He was under extreme stress because of something related to his visa and unemployment. I taught him this strategy of beating objects and yelling. He destroyed his keyboard, just trashed it completely. And his BP dropped immediately to a normal level.
3. Blogging does wonders for high BP. You have to write passionately, though. Writing many sincere, passionate, angry posts will help you with your BP and will also attract many readers. I should know, I’ve been doing that for 2,5 years.
4. Profanity is very good and helpful, too. (Once again, this is not to be done in public.) I’m lucky in that I can swear very inventively in a variety of languages, so when I do that in my office during times of stress, nobody understands what I’m saying and nobody has to suffer as a result.
5. Remember, this is something you are doing for your health, so there should be no shame attached to these practices. If you need to wriggle on the floor in a paroxysm of anger, yelling and beating your punching pillow (while being alone, of course), then just do it. Of course, if you feel like doing it around other people, this means you are not trying to solve your health issues but, rather, are being manipulative and abusive to others.
The most important strategy, of course, is to identify the source of your rage. This kind of anger takes years and decades to accumulate. Why do you repress anger so much? When and where did you learn to keep it inside instead of releasing it in legitimate ways? What pushed you to control your aggression so much?
Answering these questions is crucial for anybody who wants to lower their BP permanently.
I’m sorry that the post is so long. I just wanted to have all this information in one place so that people who need it can find it easily.