One year and five months ago I was diagnosed with Adrenal Fatigue. If you want to know more about it, this is a great article, but the short answer is adrenal fatigue happens when you operate at a high level of stress for a long period of time, and then your adrenal glands sort of “burn out.” This results in your body not having enough cortisol, which is what gives you the energy you need to function.
My diagnosis provided a much needed answer to why I had been feeling so bad physically, emotionally, and mentally for so long. I cried in my naturopaths office when we saw the blood work. I wasn’t crazy. There really was something wrong with me.
I had to change my diet (something I am still struggling with), I had to start taking about thirty thousand supplements (just kidding, it was really four), and I had to start RESTING! In fact, my naturopath ordered me to cut anything out of my schedule that wasn’t absolutely necessary. I had to go to work. I had to take care of my family. But almost everything else went bye-bye. I slept a lot. I sat around and did nothing a lot. I started to feel slowly better.
One year after my diagnosis, I was feeling better but not as good as I should have been feeling. We did another round of blood work, and found that another one of my hormones had tanked over the past year. (When I asked her why that had happened, she said, “Well, you’re no spring chicken.” Thanks. Thanks a lot.) We added one more medication, and suddenly it was like the sun was shining, birds were chirping, and all was right with the world!
Well, at least I started to feel a lot better. Having normal levels of energy again suddenly felt like having super hero levels of energy again. I jumped back into life!!
And then a month ago I started to feel the crippling fatigue creep back in. Yep, I had pushed it too much. The very kind of schedule that led me here in the first place was pushing me back the one place I didn’t want to be.
I was talking to one of my clients a few weeks ago, and she said that she can tell when she’s too stressed, and not taking care of herself when she goes to bed without brushing her teeth. That got me thinking: What’s my indicator? What tells me I’m pushing it too hard? Because you know what? I don’t want to end up back in the throws of adrenal fatigue. It’s not fun for me, but it’s not fun or fair for my family either!
I realized that my indicator is that I start going to bed without washing my face. Washing my face takes about one minute tops, so if I can’t muster up the energy to do that, then something is wrong. I love being aware of this, because it is such a simple test of how I’m doing.
This week I went to bed three nights in a row without washing my face. (I know! Yuck!). I took the time to notice it, and ask myself, “Okay, what does my soul and body right now?” Do you know what they needed? They needed me to go to bed last night instead of write this week’s blog post. That meant it didn’t get posted first thing Tuesday morning like it normally does. At first I felt bad about that, but then I thought, “Did anyone die?” Nope! “Did I get good rest last night?” Yep!
I wasn’t even going to write one this week, because giving myself grace is one of the new self-care techniques that has helped me climb out of the adrenal fatigue pit I was in. But then I got my kids settled after school, and decided I wanted to write this. That’s also part of my new self-care: listening to myself, and actually following through on the things that will bring me life.
So ask yourself: What is my indicator that I’m running on fumes, and then what do I need to do to refill my tank? Believe me, filling the tank before it gets empty is way easier than letting it run dry!