Tuesday, April 9, 2013

You are Not Alone– Why Don’t My Adrenals Work?

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Ahhh, the million dollar question that I have been asking for over 18 years!

Yesterday, I began to share my story of how embarrassing it has been for me to deal with complete adrenal shut down. 

I’m not sure why I was so surprised by the comments and emails coming in throughout the day.   But I was. 

Why?  Because it has been such a lonely journey.  Partly because I have only let a select few into my healing journey and trials.   I have learned that most people are too quick to judge and offer their opinions when they truly have no clue what I have been dealing with on a day to day basis.   Not to mention for years every doctor I went to see simply wanted me to take this drug or that drug and to stop asking so many questions about my adrenal glands and endocrine system.   It took me almost 8 years to get up the confidence to tell them NO more and that what my gut is telling me has to be explored.   It took another three years to find a cardiologist who would listen to me and conduct the testing I needed to prove my theory all along, that my heart was fine and so was my mind…it was my adrenal glands that were causing all of my health challenges.   When he shared the results with me, I literally sat down on the floor and cried.   For the first time, I was being validated with what I had thought for years and could stop believing maybe I was just crazy.    I was far from it.  I still am.   My mind and body still don’t always work the way they were designed, but I am in the best place I have ever been to reclaim my health!

Over the years many wanted to simply pass off how I felt by suggesting several of the following:  “not having enough faith”, or “you need to learn how to relax”, or “you are just made this way and will have to deal with this for the rest of your life, so embrace it”, or “you are just too sensitive”, or “just ask your doctor for an anxiety pill and you will be fine”, or the dreaded look that I am losing my mind for how I feel on a day to day basis and that I actually want to live this way.   Not to mention you become hopeless after trying to find the right answers to all of your questions and constantly come up empty handed year after year.   For me it has been almost 11 years of seeking the right combination of things to give my adrenals the rest they desperately need.  

I don’t need anyone to help the negative self talk in my head over this.  I do a mighty fine job all by myself.   So please keep that to yourself.  Thank you.

What I and all those suffering with adrenal fatigue/stress/shutdown need is compassion and support as we continue to seek the best healthy lifestyle options for our bodies.  Please do me and everyone you know dealing with a chronic illness a favor – don’t try to comfort us by saying the following even if they are true – “God only gives us what we can handle.”  Or “God is using this to keep you humble.”   Neither have ever given me an ounce of comfort.   Yes, I do believe with God all things are possible.  I also believe God will heal me in His perfect way and timing (which might not be until I meet him face to face), and not a minute before then.  However, that doesn’t change how hard it has been and continues to be to feel like this day in and day out.

Surprisingly I function really well for someone living with their fight or flight turned on 24/7.   My body has gotten used to living this way now for almost 19 years.   It doesn’t know how to do life any other way.   When my body and mind have had enough there is no way for me to put on the breaks and slow it all down.  I often end up feeling like I drank 5 cups of coffee and then completely exhausted after the fast and furious rush of cortisol storming through my body dissipates.  Unfortunately for me, my body doesn’t react any differently whether the situation I am in is good or rightfully one I should be getting away from.   Happy, sad, annoyed, angry, frustrated, joyful, passionate, praising God, and loving others all produces the same signals within my brain and body.   Thus, my researching and seeking out a licensed counselor this year to begin working on me with EMDR.  (I will share how that is going in a few more weeks once I have more experience with it.  So far it has been very comforting and I do believe I will finally heal from my PTSD!)

A few months before my 45 birthday, I decided this was going to be my year to find true healing from the inside out.   Two months in and I am onto a great start to reach that goal.   I am determined to do everything I can to help my body finally heal and learn how to deal with day to day stress in a way that doesn’t have a negative effect on my over-all health.  
Where to begin?

Let’s look at what affects our adrenals to begin with…
Which lead me to begin our family on a month long journey of grain free living.   It has been one of the best natural healing choices I have made for us in years.  We did the raw thing (for over two years), the vegan thing (for almost nine years), we did juice fasting and cleansing, we did gluten free (for almost two years), and have been dairy free for almost 10 years.   Like I shared yesterday, none of them helped to truly heal my adrenals or how my body handled stress.  I also mentioned that doing several of these things hurt my adrenals even more.  Which is why over the last two years I noticed my health challenges increasing and my inner calm feeling slipping away more and more each day.  

It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to figure out that I deal with a ton of stress on a daily basis raising six children (four of them internationally adopted in a five year span) and all that life has brought us over the last seven years together as a family.   We have moved three times since we began adopting.   Our last move from PA to VA was a HUGE challenge for me on so many levels.  And here we are two years later facing another move.  But this time I can’t wait to end up where God is leading us.  We will be moving to my favorite place on earth – the beach.   (I will share that story either tomorrow or Thursday).    Yet, no matter how excited I am to move and begin this new chapter in our lives, the reality of moving eleven people, is stressful.  Getting a home ready to go on the market and keep it clean for showings with this many people living in a home, is stressful.   Taking care of the children’s emotional needs during this process and transition, is stressful. 

So I ask the million dollar question once again, “how can I possibly ever heal my adrenals with my life always being so, stressful?”

The quick answer is, it is possible.  I simply must be diligent to do the right things to care for myself every single day.   I shared the importance of building up your immune system last year and I can assure you that is integral to my healing success and yours.

I was diagnosed with severe PTSD several years ago (caused by my childhood and many life experiences over a 15 year time period) and as you will soon learn, constant stress on the body can cause very traumatic health challenges.   The good news is that I am slowly healing and understanding exactly what my body needs every single day to reach my personal goals of what optimal health looks like for me. 

Knowing how tough it has been for me to navigate my way through the many health challenges I have faced over the years, and that there are are literally thousands of women (and men) who suffer with adrenal fatigue or shut down just like me; I decided to share many of my findings with you to help encourage each of you to never give up hope.   If you are willing to make the changes your body is desperately in need of, healing can be yours!  
You can click on the book cover below and check out Dr. Wilson’s findings and research for yourself.

Yesterday, I shared the following graphic.  It is important enough that I believe we should all be taking a good look at it again.   I use Spark Naturals oils – but love this graphic. 

One of the first things I began to do upon trying out Camp Wander essential oils was to take two drops of Frankincense under my tongue twice a day.   I wanted to jump start my body’s healing response as I began to experience many uncomfortable female issues during last summer.   Everything I have tried to manage or heal with EO’s has been nothing short of a miracle.  Truly, nothing has helped me quite like these oils have.  Our children have experienced the same success as well. 

Here are seven posts that you might find helpful and comforting as you begin/continue on your healing journey:
  1. Understanding Adrenal Function
  2. System Failure:  Adrenal Fatigue
  3. The Real Deal on Adrenal Fatigue
  4. Adrenal Fatigue and How it Affects Your Life
  5. Why Stress Can Kill You:  A Cardiologist Explains
  6. 9 Tips to Help Balance Your Hormones
  7. 7 Natural Ways to Cure Adrenal Fatigue
  8. 10 Signs You Have a Thyroid Problem and 10 Solutions on How to Fix it
  10. The Doctors Failed to Diagnosis My Adrenal Problems
  11. This is a must read for all mom’s of boys.   Please watch the video.
Remember no one knows your body like you do.  Please do not simply believe everything your doctor says until you have done enough research yourself to have total faith in the suggestions being given to you.   When in doubt get a second opinion and look for a naturopath in your area to consult with.   Do everything you can naturally before you resort to taking a drug for everything that bothers you.   The side effects can be more dangerous than what you are actually dealing with.  

That is why I will only use natural herbs, supplements, and essential oils to aide my body in healing.   I am so thankful for the many brave women who have gone before me and have shared their success stories (tips and advice) to help me navigate my way through my ever changing body as I embrace being 45 years old!

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