Living with Adrenal Fatigue

Not me asleep but I've been know to do this!

A few months ago I was diagnosed with Adrenal Fatigue.  When I think about it, it all makes sense.  I have been living an extremely stressful life over the last few years so my body has called quits to that!  I'm not really into sharing my worries but I thought that this could be a topic that others would be interested in.

What is Adrenal Fatigue?

Basically, adrenal fatigue means that you have overstressed your adrenal glands and they are no longer able to function properly.  It doesn't happen quickly - you have to have experienced prolonged episodes of consistent stress - and who doesn't experience that these days?  You can also get adrenal fatigue if your body has been through an acute or chronic illness.

Your adrenal glands produce hormones, in particular cortisol, that help your body react to stressful situations - your fight or flight response.  Basically, my body thinks I've been running from a tiger for some time so it's been producing lots of these hormones. It can't keep up so it's now not producing enough.  

Your stress hormones play an important role in your immune system. If your cortisol levels are either too low or too high, you can get sick quite easily.

What are the symptom?

The symptoms for me are (the obvious one) I'm tired a lot.  I have times where I have some energy but then I get, what I call, a wave of fatigue.  I can be feeling great then, all of a sudden, I feel an overwhelming tiredness and I get dizzy.  This is like nothing I've ever felt before.  I have to sit down.  You just can't work through it.

I also have difficulty sleeping - you'd think that being tired all the time would make you sleep more.  Not in my case.  I am tired in the evenings and sleep until about 2am most nights.  Then I'm up, wide awake but physically too tired to get out of bed.  Some people experience a burst of energy in the evenings too.

Also, I ache all over.  My feet especially ache. Most days I feel like I have walked a marathon in high heels - you know those days when you were young and stupid and would dance all night in heels then not be able to walk the next day - that's what it feels like.  I'm also a bit of a slow starter, when I get up off the chair, because my body doesn't always want to move.  

My brain function is decreased when I'm tired.  You've heard of "brain fog".  Well, that's me.

What to do About it?

Reduce or remove stress - that's a given but extremely hard to do with our busy lifestyles.

You'd think that sleep, and lots of it, would help.  Perhaps a holiday?  While these things help, Adrenal Fatigue is much more long term.  The prognosis is that it can take up to two years to heal.  Great!  

What I do need to do is listen to my body.  When it tells me to rest I need to listen. 

I have always been one of those people who "gets off on stress".  You know - leaves things until the last minute so that the adrenaline gets you going.  Well that just has to stop and, to be honest, I'm finding that really hard.  I have to be a better planner and be realistic about what I can achieve.  

Good nutrition is also a big part of recovery.  Unfortunately, though for me it has increased my cravings for junk food - in particular sugar and salty foods - bring out the potato chips!  This is hard - I often feel that if I could just have that piece of chocolate it will give me just enough energy to let me complete whatever I'm doing.  I'm fooling myself but often eat it anyway.

My doctors have prescribed some herbs and supplements.  Dr Wilson (one of the World's leaders in Adrenal Fatigue) has his own range of supplements specifically for Adrenal Fatigue but they are very expensive so I'm not taking them.  I'll let you know how it all goes.

If you think you may be suffering from Adrenal Fatigue Dr Wilson has created an online quiz you can take.  My scores were off the chart!  If you think you may be suffering from Adrenal Fatigue then I suggest you take the test - it doesn't take long.