- Man! I look tired. I need to get more sleep.
- The shadows around my eyes look terrible. Maybe I should drink more water.
- I have a lot of sunspots. I need to wear more sunscreen.
(Never mind the negative self-talk. That’s another story for another day.)
Not wearing any makeup forced me to look at my face with brutal honesty and accept the truths my body was trying to tell me. One of my favorite quotes from Pheobe on Friends “It’s just like pulling off a Band-Aid. Just do it really fast and then the wound is exposed.”
Every day we are programmed to pop a pill to dull our headache. Chew a tablet to fix the heartburn creeping up in our esophagus. Apply some ointment to cover up a rash. Slap on some concealer over the dark circles under our eyes. Drink a cup of caffeine to get through the day. We hardly ever pull off the band aid and find out what are causing these things. We never ask the why!!
I feel like in the last 10 years every time my doctor asked me about my energy level I was at a complete loss how to answer. For one, I don’t know what’s normal. I know I wake up tired every morning and once I have my cup of coffee (or two) I feel fine. I make it until about 2:00 in the afternoon and when I feel my energy sink I grab a snack or take down an energy drink. Never mind the sugar and other little stimulants I have throughout the day that keep me roller coasting all over the energy scale. I'm tired, but nothing a cup of coffee or two can’t fix.
In the past several weeks, in addition to not wearing any makeup, I have eliminated all the foods that have been an irritant or allergen to my system. I’ve removed sugar entirely from my diet. I’ve cut back coffee to 3 times a week (instead of a couple times a day). By taking my nutrition down to the very basics it has forced me to fairly evaluate my energy level, my bloating, my weight loss/weight gain, my headaches, etc…etc. It reminds me of the family who shove issue after issue under the carpet, then someone comes along and lifts up the rug. All the dirty little secrets are exposed.
Without caffeine, without any stimulants, I am flat out exhausted. I’m sleeping plenty of hours during the right hours of the night. I’m not eating any processed foods, dairy, wheat, yeast, gluten, eggs, or SUGAR. I track all my calories and exercise 4-5x per week. You can imagine my utter disappointment when I stepped on the scale this week and it showed I had gained weight. I felt like telling her she was a lying bitch.
Shortly thereafter, I found myself tempted to give up. When the scale refuses to reflect my efforts I mull and mull over all the possible things I could have done differently. However, THIS TIME I can say with 99.9% confidence there is nothing I could have done differently to move that number closer to what I had anticipated.
Luckily I have a fantastic doctor and nutritionist who are devoted to helping me feel better. They have been very thorough running bloodwork panels, reviewing my nutrition and to listening to my concerns. We are now at a point we are considering that my issues could be contributed to Adrenal Fatigue.
Your adrenal glands are the size of walnuts and they sit right above your kidneys. They are responsible for managing your cortisol levels and other hormones in your body. Cortisol is released from the adrenal glands every time you are in a stressful situation. If you are walking in the woods, round a corner and standing in front of you is a big angry bear your adrenal glands will pump cortisol into your system issuing the fight or flight reaction. The cortisol will give you enough adrenaline to (hopefully) handle the situation appropriately. If you are continuously under stress from a job, family issues, physical ailments or any other chronically stressful situation your adrenal glands will pump and pump cortisol into your system over and over again until they become fatigued and stop operating the way they are supposed to.
This will result in a number of symptoms including exhaustion, weight gain, sleeplessness, depression, loss of hair, high or low blood pressure, mental fogginess, poor memory, loss of libido, poor immune system, increase in allergens and food cravings. With each and every one of these symptoms we have been programmed to pop a pill, drink a shot of caffeine or shove it under the rug and assume this is as good as life gets.
I’ve been reading and researching Adrenal Fatigue. In the process of discovery I needed to fill out a questionnaire of my symptoms and then list some past events which could be considered stressful.
- Stressful job for several years.
- Working full time and attending college in the evenings.
- Taking my finals for graduation in the Intensive Care Unit of the hospital.
- Father passes away.
- Start new consulting company.
- Mother diagnosed with terminal cancer.
- Leave consulting gig.
- Plan wedding.
- Hours upon hours in the oncology wing at the hospital.
- Weeks in the hospice unit.
- Daughter moves out.
- Mother passes away.
Just for kicks…throw in a couple medical surgeries here and there over the past few years.
I’m pretty sure if there was a candidate for Adrenal Fatigue I would be the poster child.
From what I understand there is a whole process to getting your adrenal glands back into a healthy state. Most of which involves honoring your body with the right nutrition and exercise. Sleeping. Laying your head on the pillow by 10:00 pm. Recognizing and honoring if your body if it is telling you are tired. Meditation. Yoga. Understanding your stressors and your energy robbers. No caffeine and stimulants to trick you. Taking natural supplements to kick start your adrenal glands back into gear.
I’m still fighting. I’m not shoving anything under the rug or giving up quite yet. I’m working on finding answers.... besides the scale being a lying wench who needs to let go of her grudge.