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The Hidden Blessing of Being in 'Adrenal Fatigue'

I heard about the term ‘adrenal fatigue’ in 2009 after reading one of the most popular books (at the time), on the subject. I realized that all the symptoms of adrenal fatigue described my current health and life to a TEE.

I did not get any functional testing done for years to come. I began to learn the ‘hard way' it was my reality.

When I finally did get my first Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis (HTMA) test back, I was both sobered and grateful. After having felt so out of control, emotionally volatile, constantly in a crash and burn mode, I was deeply upset to learn I was truly in burnout or 'adrenal exhaustion'. Even though, intuitively, I already knew.

Seeing my HTMA lab results made me face my health and life,  in a whole new way. Adrenal fatigue is a lifestyle condition, not just a health and nutrition condition. You can’t pull out of deep exhaustion (not to mention a level of trauma and PTSD) just by getting more sleep and eating clean.

Sorry, I wish it was that easy. It’s not. But nothing ever worth having ever is, is it?

Seeing my first hair test results made me accept this reality and it caused me to grieve. I had not yet grieved this aspect of my life.

After I had been trying so hard to ‘fix my health’, only to learn I was still in a state of burnout was not only frustrating, but depressing. It took me a bit of processing and letting it all sink in before I became incredibly relieved. Relieved to finally have hard data, proof I wasn’t crazy. Grateful because the results were what I needed to finally give myself permission to chill the eff out, slow down, stop hustling, struggling and rest.

I realized I needed to nourish myself deeply and shut out as much distraction or anything extra I could. I had to learn to create stronger boundaries to protect my energy.

Seeing my results also made me mad.  It made me feel like I had such an incredibly high bar to rise up to that I didn’t feel was possible. As a single mom, recovering from a traumatic split, I felt like I had no choice to be strong. No choice to rise above and beyond the call of duty.

I had to not only carry my own weight but still carry the extra burden of responsibility of my children’s very ill father. He did not seem to comprehend that he needed to share an equal role in raising his own children. His illness on top of my burnout, on top of kids who were struggling, on top of trying to start a business was more than anyone in their right mind could handle.

And somehow I was beating myself up because I couldn’t figure it out. I was also mad at the whole world, mad at the  ‘church’ for not being one bit supportive of my plight, mad at the sucky court system that perpetuated his victimhood and abuse. I finally gave into it all. I let myself feel. I let myself rage, I let myself grieve and I realized NO ONE could possibly understand because there just weren’t many women in my situation (or so I believed).

I had to 'suck it' up, because most people couldn’t even handle hearing the half of what I was dealing with. Most people were uncomfortable with hearing me need to vent. Most people dismissed me. There were so few people that reached out to offer help. So few people saw it because I didn’t ask for help as much as I needed to. I was just so damn tired of rejection. I was done with people feeling the need to justify helping me because they didn’t approve of or understand my life circumstances.

That was something I had to learn. I had to learn that I needed to understand myself, my own health and find the right help. I had to do what I needed without feeling a sense of co-dependency. Inter-dependency was what my heart truly craved but it took me a long time to learn how to create that.

There was not much real help for a woman like me to receive a hand up. I looked. I didn’t want to ask for handouts. I hated feeling so desperate. But I also hated that I was the one who was left to pick up all the pieces and fix the mess left behind by the path of the tornado which was my ex.

So many times I just wanted someone to swoop in and rescue me just for a little tiny reprieve even. It never happened. I was left to figure out my plight all on my own. All by myself. I wasn’t satisfied with feeling like a victim. I wrestled with it. I didn’t want to use the ‘I’m a single’ mom so have pity on me line.

In time, I began to see that most people just saw me as strong. Like I was fine and handling my shit. And the truth is, I was handling it the best I possibly could but it was fucking hard in every way.

And what I learned in time, was no one was coming to save me. I was not a victim. I had to take radical, personal responsibility for my own life even though shitty situations happened to me and life was incredibly unfair in a million ways. I had no time for any of that if I was going to recover from burnout, trauma and be a present and loving mom to my kids.

The blessing in disguise was that my burnout was a gift, a hidden blessing. It literally forced me to look at life in a whole new way. It helped me transition from a very superficial, stressful, frantic life to a calmer more satisfying one. Even though that transition didn’t happen overnight it created the need for a very positive lifestyle transition.

Healing comes in layers, my friends. You can dig in and feel like once you’ve uncovered and possibly overcome the first one thinking you're totally better and carry on. Don’t be surprised once you unravel that first layer if more layers show the need to be investigated. Trust me there are always deeper and deeper layers still yet to uncover.

If you want to, not only, recover your health but to transform your life, you can’t go back to the way life once was.

What got you into burnout, won’t get you back out of it. You will need to adopt an entire new way of life. Until I did that, my health kept crashing. It remained volatile until I was no longer trying to keep doing life the same. I had to accept that. I had to be okay with not fitting in to how most people think and ‘do’ life.

I still have to constantly say no to things that could drain me, so I can say yes to what is most important for myself and my kids.  I am continuously learning how to create new boundaries and protect my energy to this day.

Where Functional Testing Came In To Lend A Hand

For the first entire 2 years of using HTMA to support my health, I was in QUADRUPLE burnout.

That concept, quadruple burnout, is based on 4 key markers the results show where there are essentially 'energy leaks' in the body.
I'll spare you all the lingo, but suffice it to say I needed to SEE that. It was very affirming to what I was experiencing in my overall health.

My first DUTCH hormone panel confirmed a very low, but in range/rhythm cortisol, with a  below normal cortisone. That explained a lot as well.

My first hair test was done October 2014. My first hormone panel was done August 2016. I felt immensely better and much more stable in 2016 than I did in 2014, but my body was still clearly recovering. Thankfully, I was no longer having health crashes.

As a single mom, I had to keep shifting and growing and learning to meet the demands of my kids and barely scraping by was about all I could muster. I had to give up so many ideas of what I thought success looked like. I had to give up striving to be a successful entrepreneur the way I thought and others thought. I had to stop the hustle. And just when I thought I wasn’t hustling, I realized another area I still was and shut that down too. I finally quit trying to push. To effort. To prove my worth.

I began to do the deeper inner work that was necessary to heal and clear past trauma.

Trying to heal from burnout as a single mom with 4 kids (sole caretaker literally) AND start to create, as well as run, a business from scratch on your own with no prior experience is not an easy feat. I honestly can’t say I recommend this path to anyone else, BUT I wouldn’t change my experience for the world.

My herbalist was right to emphasize my need for adaptogenic herbs when she did and I'm still so grateful.  That was 2 years before I ever saw a hormone panel and just before I did my first hair test (HTMA). I still need nourishing herbs to this day, especially any time life ‘picks up’ a bit.

When you are in adrenal fatigue it can feel daunting knowing it can be a long road to more fully recover. However, there are so many simple things you can do to support your health along the way.

I honestly have chosen to keep life much more simple these days on purpose. I no longer set unrealistic expectations for myself for the most part. 2018 has been the year of truly slowing down and the most deep inner healing I have had yet to date.

What I have learned is, in order to recover from burnout you have to be willing to transition your whole way of life.

This, my friends, is actually an incredible gift. Burnout can be a blessing if you allow it to be. Our modern day way of life perpetuates a vicious cycle that leads to burn out, and chronic exhaustion; mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually.

I've shared more on the blog in past posts as well, and I work with clients 1:1 to help them overcome their lifestyle that led to burnout or even through traumatic life events (using nutritional therapy with functional testing such as Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis and/or my mind-body coaching program). It truly is possible to go from stressed to thriving, and to regain your energy and life.

In sharing my story, my hope is that you may connect the dots and recognize where adrenal fatigue stressors may be contributing to your health symptoms. Since adrenal fatigue is a broad term, one that is not recognized by your regular allopathic doctor, I am going to reframe it and call it 'adrenal dysfunction'.

Since your adrenal glands are one of your two many energy glands in the body, learning to recognize when they are not fully functioning is really important. Chronic stress creates adrenal dysfunction, which in turn affects every one of the body's systems.

Statistics also currently show, that 80 percent of adults will experience adrenal fatigue or burnout (aka: adrenal dysfunction) during their lifetime.

This level of chronic stress isn't just uncomfortable and inconvenient, it can actually be quite hazardous. There are many studies available that have linked chronic stress (adrenal fatigue/burnout) to more serious health conditions, such as; cancer, diabetes, heart disease and even thyroid issues, digestive disorders, backache (I have some stories about that for sure). Stress is also linked to many autoimmune disorders and it can either set them off (activate them) or make an already existing autoimmune issue much worse.

None of your body's systems operate in isolation. So when I say the term 'adrenal fatigue', I'm really talking about a collection of symptoms that affect your entire body and well being. Not just the two glands or their hormone production solely.

If you resonated with my story and think you might be struggling with adrenal exhaustion, here is a list of the most common symptoms/Issues you can experience:

→ tired in the morning even if you got a good night’s sleep
→ can’t stay awake in the evenings
→ trouble falling or staying asleep
→ fall asleep in the afternoon
→ often feel both wired and tired
→ any time you sit to relax you drift off to sleep
→ stand up suddenly and feel dizzy or light headed
→ low blood pressure / OR varies between high and low
→ frequent indigestion or digestive problems

→ heart palpitations
→ feel weak all over regularly
→ tendency to gain weight around the middle
→ loss of muscle mass with Fat Gain
→ you can’t tolerate intense exercise or too much cardio
→ always cold
→ dark circles under your eyes
→ hypoglycemia
→ intense symptoms of PMS, perimenopause or menopause
→ crave salty or sweet foods frequently
→ frequent colds, flus, infections
→ irritable quick to lose your temper, on the edge or verge of losing it often
→ road rage, or easily angered over little things
→ listless, depressed or emotionally numb
→ low sex drive or non-existent
→ nightmares
→ trouble concentrating or brain fog
→ free floating anxiety
→ easily startled, constantly stressed
→ Everything even the most simple tasks seem like a huge chore

Some of these seem contradictory to each other, that’s because there are stages. Adrenal fatigue/exhaustion/dysfunction is progressive in that, the longer it is present without correction, the body eventually flat-lines and burns out.

Your adrenals produce so many of the biochemicals your body  needs to function. When you have adrenal problems you will have many physical and psychological signs and symptoms. You will experience blood sugar imbalances, possibly thyroid abnormalities, imbalances of your sex-hormones, mood related issues, cognitive problems.

Adrenal fatigue can stem from physical, mental or emotional stress. There are so many symptoms that it can be very hard to identify you have adrenal dysfunction. Once you know what the signs are you’ll be able to know what to look for and get to the root.

Prevention is the best cure in my opinion. This is why I share often about adrenal fatigue, because when you know ahead you can start to do something now. If you recognize any of the above symptoms increasing in your life, now is the time to make some changes in your life. You can turn this around.

If you’ve already been in a state of 'flatlined' (like I once was), you CAN get back up again. However, it will take some time and gentle support. Be patient and trust it will get better. You will have to make changes to your life, there is no way around that. You can’t heal in the same environment or lifestyle that got you sick and burned you out. What got you into adrenal exhaustion, won’t get you back out. Change is imperative, which truly is a blessing in disguise even if it feels like a mountain you have to climb at first.

Discovering my adrenal exhaustion gave me the gift of starting a whole new way of life, one that I now love immensely!

If you are ready to get clearer answers on how to support your own health and your body so you can make the right supplement and lifestyle changes: I invite you to sign up to work with me as a client through HTMA. You can get all the information as well as sign up on my Work With Me page HERE.

If you are a holistic health practitioner and would like to learn more about minerals and how to integrate HTMA into your holistic health practice - you can learn more about my program: The HTMA Practitioner Jumpstart right HERE.


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