Just over 3 years ago I had a visit to my Integrative GP. She informed me I was suffering from Adrenal Fatigue and that I would probably reach menopause before the year was up. I left there feeling a bit gob smacked.
I went from this go getting woman, working as a Pharmacist, starting a health coaching business and network marketing business and teaching 10 yoga classes a week, cooking every nutritious meal for my family, baking healthy snacks to needing a 2 hour sleep during the day, just to cope. It was a good day if I managed to cook anything. Feeling like the my family might be better off without me. Curious by nature with a science background and a very keen interest in health so I went on the research mode. What had caused this? But most importantly how to heal myself.
The purpose of your adrenal glands is to help your body cope with stresses and survive, they are known as the glands of stress. They deal with every possible source of stress, from injury and disease, work and relationship problems. Your resiliency, energy, endurance and your very life all depend on their proper functioning.
There's stages of adrenal fatigue from high cortisol and adrenaline to hypoadrenia. In the western world the later is the one that seems to recognised, but there are millions of people suffering from the earlier stages but they go undiagnosed as its not recognised in the "western medicine model". Its known as a syndrome with symptoms of fatigue, I'm talking bone tired fatigue, PMT, difficulty during menopause, depression, confusion (almost like a foggy brain), less memory recall and difficulty concentrating. Often people say they are tired but wired. If you stay up late then sleep is erratic.
So stress accumulates in your body, they add up. for me add in the beginning of a network marketing business, studying to become a yoga teacher, a bad respiratory infection, moving house twice, managing a friendship breakdown and normal day to day stuff. Whilst this isn't why I went to see my GP afterwards I really noticed these symptoms. I think if I'd just gone to my normal GP, I might've been told I had depression and given antidepressants.
So lots of fantastic supplements later, I will do a separate blog about what helped me.
Lots of sleep, bed before 9pm (yes 9pm).
No Blue light screens after 8pm.
Sleeping in until 9am as much as was possible. Even a daytime sleep. Some days I would sleep 2 hours during the day and still go to bed at 8.30pm exhausted.
Pulling back from things that drained my energy. Yep that included some people too! I call them energy robbers.
Good nutrition. Eat breakfast before 10am, include protein with each meal/snack.
Adding in some pleasurable things each day. Music, dance, reading, laugh, movies.
Cutting coffee. I now have time without it, and sometimes its back in. This one for me is the toughest.
No negative self talk, yes even I was feeling like my family would be better off without me. Some days just being around people in a cafe was enough for me. I think these dark days are also related to low progesterone, and perhaps oestrogen dominance.
Practising yoga and meditation as much as I could. Sometimes this was one pose. I still find inversions give me a lift. Yes thats one of the reasons I love doing handstands. No its not my ego, its me looking after my health. Don't judge others for what you see, you possibly have no idea what someone is going through.
I was still teaching over 10 classes a week and working towards opening my wellness studio. My biggest fear was taking on too much. Just the thought of being busy (perceived stress) causes exhaustion. I kept a lot of these feelings to myself. It's hard even sharing this today, my husband and boys were amazing.
Three years on and a successful Yoga studio, I can say I'm through the worst but I still have days where I over do it, and just need to breathe, slow down. Did you realise the only way science knows is to activate our calming down nervous system (known as your Para-sympathetic nervous system PNS) is to extend your exhalation. That is gold! Its free. Thats why yoga and meditation are amazing for you.
I'm much quicker to cut things out of my life that aren't working as it drains your energy. I still take some regular supplements, and I'm even cooking healthy meals most days! I had an amazing conversation with a friend the other day about ambition and it being a gift of mine. This was so freeing for me. Yet another piece in the jigsaw puzzle of understanding yourself.
Its important to find friends that support your gifts and not knock you down. Get to know yourself and get curious why we react the way we do. More on that in my blog on limiting beliefs.
Thanks for reading.