I. am. exhausted. Second cup of coffee in the morning, and I’m barely able to drag myself around doing my everyday activities. (Regular fatigue? Or adrenal fatigue? That is the question.)
Why? Well, here’s the thing: there’s no big reason in particular. I didn’t run a marathon yesterday. I didn’t exert myself in physical labour, and I didn’t stay up all night with a newborn. I’m just always tired. Always dragging. Never energetic.
I actually don’t remember a time in recent past that I have felt refreshed and full of energy like I have in years past. I now feel like a half-deflated birthday balloon most of the time. And it’s just tiredness. Every mama of young children is tired, right?
Nope. It’s more than that. I have been experiencing other symptoms as well, like extreme salt cravings, brain fog, decreased immune system, cortisol spikes in the evening, irregular periods, low blood pressure, and more.
Lately I’ve been reading up on adrenal fatigue, and it fits so perfectly that it’s a bit scary. I didn’t actually put the pieces together until this past fall when I was feeling quite unlike myself with “blah/gray” feelings – almost to the point where I wondered if I was depressed.
Thinking back on the months prior led me to realize that there was an event that kickstarted the adrenal fatigue for me.
In the spring of 2014, our family went through a personal crisis. I alluded to it a time or two here on the blog but never really talked about it much because there were potential legal implications. I’m still not sure how much I should say about it, but I can’t avoid the fact that it’s a big part of this story.
The living situation (we rented a house) that we were in became unsafe for our family. With serious concerns for our safety, we packed up and vacated the premises within 48 hours of “the last straw” with police involvement, and placed most of our belongings in storage. We took our suitcases and a few boxes and stayed with family while looking for a new place to live. Thankfully, we were able to purchase our first home and moved in two and a half months later, but the stress of those months took an immeasurable toll on our family.
Adrenal fatigue is a hugely under-diagnosed syndrome that occurs when the body’s ability to compensate and recover from stress is overextended (it’s not surprising that it’s termed “the 21st century stress syndrome”.)
The adrenal glands are located on each kidney. They secrete cortisol, the hormone responsible for regulating the effects of stress on our bodies (all kinds – physical, emotional, psychological, environmental, and/or infectious).
When these glands are overworked, they cease to function optimally, which effects all of the major physiological systems in the body.
This includes how your body handles nutrition, weight gain/loss, immune system response, moods, sex drive, cardiovascular and gastrointestinal function, blood sugar regulation, energy levels, and sleep patterns, and tons more.
There are a number of factors that can lead to adrenal fatigue, but it is often one stressful event that can function as the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back. The adrenals simply get “burnt out” after too much.
In my case, I can trace a stressful lifestyle pattern all the way back about fifteen years, but it was definitely the crisis of last spring that changed everything.
I have not felt the same since then.
Next Steps: Planning for Recovery
I will be writing more about adrenal fatigue as my journey with it continues on. I plan to elaborate further on the signs and symptoms, as well as the road to recovery, and some resources for further research. It’s way too big of a topic to tackle in one post, and I still have more to learn myself.
I do want to note, however, that the conclusions I’ve come to are not widely accepted by the medical community. Adrenal fatigue is not a recognized condition – many say it doesn’t exist, that it’s “all in your head”. I will be writing a post to address these dissenting views.
I am reading Dr. Wilson’s book now, and am enjoying it immensely. It makes so much sense. I haven’t yet started the other book, and I have some reservations from things I’ve heard about it… but I’ll elaborate on that after I’ve read it and can hold a firm opinion.
UPDATE 2/2016: My favorite book on adrenal fatigue is this one, by Fawne Hanson & Dr. Eric Wood.
Get your instant digital copy here. It’s excellently researched and written, thorough, and super helpful!
Soon I will be sharing my full plan for recovery, including diet, supplements, lifestyle changes (goodbye, caffeine… goodbye, staying up late. Eek!)
Sleep Update (2/2016)
I kicked my stay-up-too-late habit to the curb (you can read about that here), and created a FREE 21-day Go-to-Bed Challenge, with daily emails to help you create a new habit of going to bed on time and getting the rest you deserve! It has been completely life-changing for me.
Sign up for the free email series here: 21-Day Go-to-Bed Challenge.
Gut Health Update (2016)
I’ve been learning a ton about the root causes behind adrenal fatigue, and while I know it’s still a factor, there’s a bigger picture that’s important to talk about too. This post dives into that: Why I Stopped Treating My Adrenal Fatigue.
My friend Erin and I have experienced similar health journeys with adrenal fatigue, and have been supporting one another as we’ve discovered the diagnosis, and what all it means. We’ll be keeping each other accountable as we work toward health and wellness this year! She also wrote a post today about her journey to adrenal fatigue over on her blog.
Adrenalfatigue.org – this is Dr. Wilson’s site (the author of one of the books I listed above). The information is excellent, and there is a questionnaire you can go through to determine if adrenal fatigue may be at play for you.
Adrenalfatiguesolution.com – I’m not as familiar with this site, but it has tons of articles, and what I’ve read has been super helpful. (UPDATE 2/2016: this site is now the one I’d recommend most highly.)