Emotions, Lifestyle

Hypertension gene insertion/deletion: the journey towards empathy as a permanent way of life

Pieces of genes in a human population can get inserted or deleted. Images credit: Pixabay

This is a peculiar ordeal which I shared with very few people in my life. Most of my friends in my inner circle are unaware of such an incident taking place. Moreover even at the time of this incident my classmates were oblivious to the enormous impact this event would have on my life and how it would completely re-transform me forever. The year must have been 2007, and I was studying bachelor’s in double major molecular genetics and microbiology. For that semester in Genetics class we had a decent, passive but knowledgeable teacher who was doing his doctorate in human genetic diseases. His thesis topic was hypertension. He was a soft-spoken gentle teacher, firm, but also welcoming towards interactions and queries from students.

One scorching summer afternoon it was the genetics lab class and we were supposed to look for a hypertension gene indel. Indel in genetics means an insertion/deletion, in plain words something which caused the mutated form of a gene to cause a disease effect. Four groups were made for the practical class. Only four blood samples were taken from a class of 30 people. As it was to be after a long long session and hours of DNA isolation and PCR reactions finally after 2 weeks we lazily managed to get our results. When the DNA gel was ran and the moment of truth came to analyze the results we sat in the class as the teacher placed the slide on the projector for everyone to analyze.

So he started with sample one empty, no bands there, then sample 2, 3 and finally to sample 4. He said this sample shows a positive indel for the hypertension gene we are examining. This genotype is putatively associated with hypertension disease in adults later in life. And this sample was mine. My heart sank, as if down to the dark depths of the sea…

I was horrified to see myself as a positive for hypertension. The reason was not the embarrassment in front of my peers or knowing that I would be ill later in life.. The truth was hurtful and tormenting… I knew what hypertension was from home, I had seen family members rage in uncontrollable anger and destroy the peace inside a home. I had experienced first hand as a child how a person with high blood pressure reacts in the slightest stressful issue. We had spoken about it in a group with my classmates of being children and dealing regularly with adults having high blood pressure and raging tempers…. We had shared our experiences and learnt lessons from it..

But seeing my DNA having that indel…… Was it my destiny to become a raging monster I always abhorred? I was a scientist in the training and if genetics taught me one thing then what it definitely taught was that genes PLUS your environment affect who you turn out to be. Seeing what my future had in store for me , looking at that band of DNA staring at me from the projector I promised myslef I would never ever let that gene overpower me. I would never give in to rage, i would not let anger win, never, never, NEVER , ever..

I promised myself to let go of anger, to let go of temper tantrums, to devour and subdue the rage, never flare up.. I started controlling my anger. The previous post i wrote on controlling anger  was not a random post  https://empathycorner.org/2019/04/18/how-to-control-your-temper/.  This post was a result of my years and years of effort in subduing my anger and not letting anger in me. I hate anger, I hate men who are angry, I hate this emotion, it destroys. As I let go of anger out of sheer fear of developing high blood pressure, i received a gift which I was completely unaware of : empathy. I had no idea that by  extinguishing my anger I was reprogramming my personality and becoming more kind and calm. I did not become a happy kind person overnight. I took 12 years of hard strenuous struggle against my personality, and habits to undergo metamorphosis to be who I am today. And the struggle was difficult, slow and tedious but completely worth it. So my journey towards empathy started without me realizing it and it brought me to a much better place.

Genes don’t control everything, your environment contributes too. You have to give yourself that environment.

I don’t care what scientists tell me about the interaction of hypertension and anger correlated or not, statistically significant R value or not. I don’t care what the books tell me. This is not a scientific journal article. This is my real life experience and it is more raw and genuine and emotionally distressing than my lab experiments. I am here to relate my life as an empath, not as a my daily job as a geneticist. This is the truth and I present it as it is.

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