Some of you might be saying, ‘what on earth is adrenal exhaustion?‘….. I’ll start with my story.
Without going into too many personal details, I will trace my failing health back to when I became pregnant with my first child. It was the most stressful year of my life, at the time, for many reasons that I won’t go into. I nearly went into a breakdown – no, actually, I did break down, again and again. This was also the time of my life I decided to become a vegetarian. My reasoning, I honestly didn’t see the need to eat meat, chew it, digest it, not to mention it seemed like something ‘trendy’ to do at the time. Plus I thought it was healthier and honestly knew that most meat available was garbage. So, in the midst of my very stressful pregnancy I became a vegetarian. Not the smartest move in the book based on what I know now, but more on that another time.
Towards the end of my pregnancy I started to have complications. My Dr. noticed, at 33-34 weeks gestation I was 3 cm dilated and somewhat effaced. Enough so to worry them. Plus when they hooked me up to a monitor they saw contractions (which I never felt), so needless to say I ended up on bed rest and drugs. I ended up in the hospital for 8 days, with a catheter and on a high dosage of procardia (which was given to me to slow down my uterine contractions and help me from going into early labor). Of course at the time I felt I did not really have a say in my own health care and was scared to death myself, but deep down I wasn’t cool with what was going on. The entire time I was in the hospital I was constipated, perhaps you can attest to how awful that can be. That is stressful enough even without all the other problems I was dealing with. Anyway, my Dr. sent me home on bedrest with this awful drug to take. My baby was in a breech position feet first as well and this was very concerning seeing as how I was dilating already. So for 3 weeks I had to lay low and I did not enjoy that.
One day I found I was having a really bad asthma attack and no way to deal with it, so I took myself into the hospital and ended up spending the night for observation. A few weeks later the Dr.’s wanted to try this procedure to turn my baby out of breech position by manipulating externally on my belly with their hands. They gave me some type of muscle relaxant and proceed to dig in and try and turn him. Think of it, two grown men’s hands on your fully preganant belly digging deep in around the baby’s head and butt to try and rotate him. It was likely the most painful experience of my life. Needless to say the procedure didn’t work. I was less than thrilled, rather distraught actually. I went home and that night woke in the middle of the night to a pop in my lower belly. My water had burst. And boy did it ever burst! Off to the hospital I went with the contractions coming on like a fast moving train. I got to the hospital and I was 8 cm dilated and almost fully thinned out. The nurses panicked and rushed to prep me for a c-section. I was heartbroken. I really had hoped to try and deliver naturally, and had not embraced the idea of a c-section. Since my baby was still breech there was no other option but for them to do a c-section. The surgery was quick, but my reaction was rather awful. I felt the most out of control that I had ever felt in my whole life just when I didn’t want to be. I couldn’t even hold my child until I came out of recovery. To me it was traumatic, namely because I did not want to go through it. I have now come to terms with it all, but at the time it rocked my world.
Fast forward to being a single mom and not knowing what my future held. That short period of my life was internally stressful and I never truly dealt with my own emotions and fears in regards to it all. By the time my son was close to 2, I was married. Not long into my marriage, I realized I was under some intense stress due to issues that came up. I was involved in a church that I now know sucked the very life out of me. Ultimately I allowed it to, but I won’t go into all of that here. My second child was born 4 1/2 years after my first, giving my body adequate time to recover had I not been under undo stress. Not to mention, I still, for the most part was a vegetarian. Though I did eat fish from time to time, I had spent several years consuming soy products, a very poor uneducated choice on my part. I can’t imagine the damage it did to my whole body’s ecosystem. I did return to eating meat fully while pregnant with my second child and had a normal vaginal birth. So seemingly things in my life were going better. Though deep down I knew I wasn’t truly happy and my true self was buried underneath a lot of heavy weights that were overtaking my life. The following year I had a miscarriage. I was devastated and never really embraced the why of it all. I now understand it and accept it, but it took me a long time. That same year we decided to move to another state. My husband was laid off from his job to take on a job with a start up company with no prospects. But something in me thought we needed to go. I now realize I was scrambling for something other than the hell I was living in, though I didn’t realize it was hell. Things got way worse when we moved, and I won’t go into details, but suffice it say, it was ugly. And now I was far away from home and everything I knew. Not to mention the new church we became a part of had a very oppressive atmosphere and only managed to make our life much worse. The very week we moved into our house I found out I was pregnant again. I suffered the worst sinus migraines and infections of my life during that pregnancy (with no health insurance). I spent most of my days depressed and in bed in excruciating pain from the sinus issues with chronic aching pain all down one side of my body.
During my pregnancy my husband’s father was emitted to the ICU and kept there for a month. All of his organs began to fail one by one and he eventually passed away. After his death and funeral, we began to question whether we should move back home. We began to look for houses, the whole time doing so I was very uneasy. We eventually decided to stay in NY, and a few months later bought a house there, and moved in one month before I was due with my 3rd child.
My son was born, the labor and delivery went smoothly. Going home from the hospital was not so great. Again, I won’t go into to details, but I was not in a healthy situation whatsoever. It was a very stressful next few years. I became pregnant again with my fourth child when my 3rd son was only a little over a year old. I eventually decided to pack up my kids and go back to Pa and stay with my parents for awhile. That next year was PURE hell. But, it also brought me to a place of getting free from a lot of the bondage in my mind and I began to stand up and fight for the first time. Something I should have done long before. I was so adrenally exhausted at that point, I literally stopped trying to do anything more than just survive. Spent lots of time reading and sleeping. It was really all I could do. Had I had my adrenals tested at that point I am sure the tests would have shown severe fatigue.
Less than two years later I filed for divorce. And the journey to my healing truly began. Adrenal fatigue plagues more and more people in these modern times. I mentioned all the things in my life that were deeply stressful on an emotional level, but didn’t even go very much into my dietary habits. For the most part I was a ‘health’ conscious person. I got into eating grass fed meats, sprouting my grains, soaking my nuts, growing my own sprouts, trying to lower my sugar, so on and so forth. But I still lived in a spiral of being addicted to sugar. Add that to the intense stress from my life and my body could not support itself. I lived with chronic pain, migraines, sinus issues, asthmatic bronchitis (a form of asthma), horrific debilitating PMS and ovulation pain that could have hospitalized me. My health was failing greatly, right alongside my overall failing life.
Thankfully, I decided to change all that and began to fight for myself in more ways than one. I knew enough to ditch processed foods altogether. I began to take magnesium supplements, purchase grass fed meats again, started eating good fats, started fermenting my vegetables and making kombucha, made sure I got good quality sleep, taught myself to only breath through my nose while I slept, began exercising and overall just embraced my health. I knew I needed to make drastic forward motion. I didn’t want to live in that hellish state of being anymore. And do you know what? Slowly but surely I began to regain my health. It wasn’t until the fall of 2009 that I ever read the book; ‘Adrenal Fatigue’. And boy, was it a slam dunk! I finally realized what my body was under and I began to implement more of the overall foundational dietary truths into my life that I had been learning through the Weston A. Price Foundation.
My next health malady to really kick in was a bout of hypoglycemia that caused me to almost pass out many times. I would get blurry vision, edgy and shakey. I finally realized I needed to get rid of sugars and carbs and that it was contributing to my issue with adrenal fatigue. I slowly but surely got out the sugars, though not ever completely, and kept eating good fats increasingly. The following spring I learned I had to go gluten free and even avoid grains because of the effect they had on my digestion. All this played into my adrenal fatigue as well. It’s all correlated. And from what I know now, it makes complete sense. Much of our overall health depends on our blood sugar being well regulated and our adrenal glands being in good function. Our adrenals will not get healthy or stay healthy if we don’t deal with blood sugar imbalances. And our endocrine system problems will not ever be addressed or balanced without first addressing our blood sugar imbalances. It can be an ongoing downward spiral, and as I talk to more and more people I see this occurring across the board.
I shared all that to show a real life story of how adrenal fatigue sets in. Stress causes our bodies to create cortisol, excess stress causes more cortisol, too much cortisol causes our bodies to go into overdrive and we get out of balance – REALLY out of balance! Chronic stress creates a chronic overproduction of cortisol. When this occurs our liver takes a hit as it is responsible to deal with these excess hormones, but in such a mass overload dose it’s effectiveness decreases. The pancreas also gets hammered. When cortisol levels are elevated, insulin receptors on cells do not respond adequately to insulin. This puts a strain on the pancreas to secrete more insulin in order to transport glucose into the cells. This leads to high insulin levels and all the adverse impacts that come along with it (think hypoglycemia and/or diabetes). Also the reproductive system may take a major hit as well since adrenal function is favored over reproduction, metabolic rate and other endocrine function. The adrenal glands are therefore allowed to “steal” nutrients and hormonal precursors from the rest of the endocrine system. A whole host of myriad ways could be further drawn out to show just how adrenal fatigue can effect the overall homeostasis of the human body. By now I am assuming I got your attention and helped you to consider this as a very real possibility in your own life.
The beautiful thing is, you can recover. You can even thrive again. The best thing you can do for yourself is acknowledge what is going on in your body, and then dive in to healing your own body. Take it one day at a time and before you know it you will be looking back at the ‘old suffering you’ through new rose colored glasses. I promise it’s possible!
I now no longer suffer to the extreme degree from the health maladies I described above in my testimony and am continuing to further my health day by day. My health is still not perfect (remember I am a single mother with a lot of stress in my life) but thankfully my adrenals have regained some strength since that time.
Do you suffer from fatigue, chronic fatigue, depression, lack of vitality, blood sugar issues, insomnia, sleep disorders, overall exhaustion or eat a highly refined diet? These could all be symptoms of adrenal fatigue. Don’t wait until your health gets worse -take action today – a simple hair analysis can tell you the current state of your adrenal glands.
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