“I promise you these storms are only trying to wash you clean” Jessica Katoff
At the age of 28 I was diagnosed with high blood pressure. I wasn’t severely overweight, my diet was OK, but I would have terrible headaches that were debilitating. I was unable to do anything except lay in bed. I remember one Sunday morning standing at the alter for prayer at church and my head hurt so bad all I could do was cry. I felt like my head was literally going to explode. I signaled to someone to get my father and I went down to the basement. He took Layla from me and I broke into uncontrollable tears and kept saying my head hurt so bad, so bad. Then Layla started to cry. She was upset because I was upset. The nurse came and took my blood pressure and it was through the roof. The next day I was in the hospital and then I was picking up my blood pressure medicine from the pharmacy. At 28 years of age.
I hear stories of women in their 40s and 50s with no known prior medical issues having strokes. I was well on my way to having a stroke and I knew it. I couldn’t imagine my daughter having an impaired mother of even worse leaving her motherless. I just couldn’t. I couldn’t. “I can’t. I can’t do this. I can’t”. That’s what I said over and over. It was at this point that I knew I had to take some serious action.
As I mentioned before, my health was normal. I didn’t have any known medical issues. So what could possibly be causing these headaches and high blood pressure? STRESS. The main cause of my stress was the volatile relationship I was in. It was toxic and unhealthy. It was just as toxic as the overly processed, fast food I try to avoid now. It’s hard to believe but some people and relationships are like eating an entire pan of brownies. Indulgent but dangerous.
There are some stressors in life that are unavoidable. There are always going to be situations and circumstances we can not avoid. Life is life and there are going to be constant ups and downs. But there are some stressors which we can and should avoid. Toxic, abusive, and controlling people and relationships we can remove from our lives and we should.
I was always on edge, anxious, nervous. And although I didn’t fully realize what was going on, my body did. What was going on in my mind was manifested in my body and health. I thought I was handling the situation but my body said, girl, we struggling and you have to do something.
There was only one thing I could do. I had to somehow cut ties, get away, break free. If I didn’t, the headaches would continue, my blood pressure would still be high and eventually things would escalate to a possible stroke or death. My decision was literally a life or death choice.
I started doing some research on how to reduce stress, reading articles, getting ideas. I started running again, I hired a personal trainer and started working out more. I stopped eating the weight watchers smart ones meals (watched my sodium intake). I started to feel a little better. I kept thinking of my daughter and how she needs me happy and whole. I said to myself, gotta start cutting ties, this toxic relationship has to end. This is the root. Slowly but surely, I started making my exit. I prayed daily for the strength to walk away and finally I did. I never refilled that prescription for blood pressure medicine. I still get headaches from time to time but it’s because everyday life gets to me, not because of a toxic relationship.
Our health is no joke. Our mental sanity and health literally means life or death. If I wasn’t faced with the possibility of stroke or death, chances are I would have stayed much longer than I did. We must pay close attention to to the signals our bodies gives us. Headaches, pains, aches, lethargy, loss of appetite and overactive appetite are signals that we must make some changes and some people need to go. Don’t ignore what your body tells you. Look for the stressor and make a plan to exit. Our children need us. We need us. My relationship was killing me, but I ended it before it ended me.