How learning I had adrenal fatigue changed my life

Some of you may remember my previous post about morning melancholy, fatigue and low progesterone. After my appointment with a hormone specialist, I went back to my conventional doctor to have my hormones checked through blood tests. My numbers came back low on both my Cortisol and DHEA. I have heard of adrenal fatigue with low Cortisol levels, but really didn’t know much about DHEA. I did some research, and realized that a lot of my DHEA issues may simply be arising from my low Cortisol levels. Instead of just taking a DHEA supplement, I really wanted to fix the underlying problem: adrenal stress and fatigue. I did say to Superman, “I’m not sure why I would have adrenal fatigue. That comes from being stressed, and I don’t feel stressed.” But then he reminded me of all my responsibilities and everything I’m involved with, and it made a bit more sense.

What are your adrenal glands for? Well, they are two small triangular glands that sit atop your kidneys. They are chiefly responsible for releasing hormones (like cortisol) in response to stress. In short, they help calm you down when you’re stressed. And when you are continually stressed, or you have chronic infections, your adrenal glands get tired, or fatigued. And then you have problems. You can read more about what exactly adrenal fatigue is HERE.

Back when Superman was doing really poorly, I read a book called “Adrenal Fatigue: The 21st Century Stress Syndrome” by James Wilson. I had just skimmed it before, desperately seeking answers to why Superman wasn’t improving. This time around, though, I read the book cover-to-cover, soaking in all the info that seemed so incredibly pertinent to me. The book also contains a pretty extensive “test” that I took (which you can take HERE), and all signs confirmed my prior thoughts.

So I decided it was time to make some positive changes to see if I could help my mild depression, fatigue, and heart palpitations that were plaguing me any time I sat down to relax. Here are the steps I’ve taken so far:

  • Completely eliminating caffeine (this may not be permanent–I may reintroduce it at some point, but caffeine is awful for those with adrenal fatigue, so for now it’s out)
  • Allowing myself (often forcing myself) to lay down for 15-20 minutes every day. When the kids go to room time in the afternoon, I lay down.
  • Drinking more water–I have a hard time remembering to hydrate myself. Now I carry around my big insulated cup of water all the time.
  • Doing a Whole30 (well, actually, it was a Whole25 since it was 25 days)
  • Taking 200 mg of magnesium every night
  • Allowing myself to “loosen up” sometimes, and not be so uptight about things
  • Getting a sitter to give me a 3-hour break each week so I can just go out by myself, meet a friend for lunch, or get work done that I wouldn’t be able to get to otherwise
  • At the advice of my doctor, I am also starting an adrenal support supplement that contains herbs and amino acids to help boost my adrenals

I have noticed a huge improvement this past month. I would probably have said it was the Whole30 before, but I have done 3 other Whole30′s, and I have never felt this good. So although I believe the Whole30 helped, it wasn’t the only reason I started to feel better. I’m not exactly sure what it is that has improved my situation. I’ll probably know more once I go back to eating my regular “80% Paleo” ways. If I begin to feel my symptoms creeping back, I’ll know that my diet has more to do with it than I thought. If I continue to do well, then I’ll know that whatever it is that I’m doing is working! One of the key things has been listening to my body. When I feel tired, I tell the kids I need to lay down for a few minutes, and after 15 minutes, I always feel a ton better. Before, I would fight through the fatigue and either drink some coffee or just figure I had to keep myself awake.

I feel like I’ve discovered this little nugget of truth that was so simple, but  never even occurred to me. Now, we’ll see if my changes last longterm or if my body begins to readjust. I still have moments of sadness that seem to come off and on, but nothing near like what it was before.

Oh, and if you’re wondering if YOU may have adrenal fatigue, check out this awesome chart and article to help break down your symptoms: Adrenal Fatigue vs. Hypothyroidism

Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional, this is purely my personal experience. If you are experiencing any symptoms, see your doctor or naturopath for advice.

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Comments

  1. says

    I knew I had very low cortisol about a year and a half ago, but no one suggested “hey, you may have adrenal fatigue!” I’ve struggled with about 80% or more of the symptoms for decades and, like you, have just pushed onward…doing more…MAKING things happen even when I was completely exhausted and overwhelmed. In June, my sister in law raised the idea. When I looked it up online, I cried. When I read your post, I cried. So frustrating to have something so debilitating that is TREATABLE! It feels so good to be responding to treatment, doesn’t it? :) Here’s to living fully with low stress…here’s to taking care of ourselves :)

  2. says

    HI!!

    I too, have adrenal fatigue. It’s been a journey and I feel a lot better but I know I am not 100% recovered yet. Dr. James Wilson’s book has helped me a lot too. I think I need to re-read it, actually. lol

    I should rest during the day but I don’t. I really need to start. I’m taking a slew of supplements off and on as I can afford them. In a couple of months, both me and the hubby are going to visit an ND. I can’t wait!

    I’m sure I have food sensitivities and/or an allergy but I don’t know to what. I can’t wait to get tested. So, you are on the Paleo Diet? You feel that that has helped you? I have digestion problems, I wonder if the Paleo diet would help me?

    • says

      Hi, Stephanie! I eat a Paleo diet about 80% of the time. Superman (my husband) eats a strict Paleo diet, but just recently started expanding a little bit. He has Celiac disease, and it wasn’t until he cut out all grains that he started to see a real improvement. For me, I just “feel” better when I eat Paleo…no joint pain, less mental fog, etc. However, I do enjoy me some treats sometimes, and I try not to allow myself to have a guilt trip if I do. I just enjoy the moment, and move on after I’ve enjoyed something. I always recommend doing a Whole30 for people with digestive problems. That’s how I realized what foods really aggravate me. Let me know if you have any more questions!
      Shanti

      • says

        Wow! That’s great. Right now, we do eat a lot of grain (it’s cheap) although I do always try to prepare them properly usually by soaking the grains first. I had sugar out of my house but it has crept back in. LOL I will definitely check out the Whole30. Sounds interesting. :)

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