I’ve spent the last four months off work with what my doctor diagnosed as ‘adrenal fatigue’. My symptoms being: exhaustion, low blood pressure, fainting, anxiety, insomnia, night sweats, brain fog, reduced resilience, poor memory, extreme coldness and extremely low B12 levels.
These last four months have been a gift. My understanding now is that adrenal fatigue is an exercise in unconditional love; firstly for the self, then outwards to the world. Where chronic pain can be seen as a physical representation of [repressed] rage (I discuss this here), I think adrenal fatigue is the physical manifestation of self-neglect.
It was easy to push my body into this state. I worked in an environment that made me anxious and stressed, without any let-up; I rushed everywhere, oh so busy; I used foods that gave me a ‘hit’ to keep pushing on (chocolate and sugar being my biggest offenders, but coffee and alcohol are equally effective); I ignored how tired I was and stayed up late at night, too busy to go to bed; I never let my mind stop churning, even in my sleep; and I forced myself to go to a personal trainer, where I felt sick after every session.
What I see now is that none of this was an expression of love for my body or myself.
So I made a lot of changes. I stopped all sugar (including for a while, fruit) and became dairy and gluten-free. No coffee, no chocolate, no alcohol. I still eat meat and eggs, as my body asks for them. I started taking supplements: magnesium, vitamin C, Vitamin B complex, Vitamin B12, iodine, fish oil, evening primrose oil, probiotics and herbs. I did a parasite cleanse, a liver cleanse and a heavy metals cleanse. I bought a filter jug for our tap water and I grow my own organic veges. I start the day with lemon, salt and ginger in hot water, followed by a green smoothie. I have a carrot, ginger, celery and beetroot juice every afternoon. This is about feeding my body only foods that nourish it (not foods that my mind craves at my body’s expense). Listening to what it needs, and adjusting accordingly.
But it’s more than diet and supplements. I stopped work, I stopped a lot of other things, and I certainly stopped the personal trainer. I rested, I listened to what my body needed and I didn’t tire myself with social activities or obligations. I took a ’time-out’ from the world (I had to, I was burnt out) and I listened and meditated.
I monitored my thoughts, noticing how often I spoke unkindly to myself. I outlawed these hurtful thoughts and I stopped my mind from fixating on illness. I knew I had to or else it would scare me by telling me how sick I was, and then how could I get better?
I did yin yoga off YouTube – gentle and grounding and you don’t need to leave the house. I read inspiring books. I pottered in my garden, barefoot on the grass. I lay on the grass watching the clouds. I watched the birds and the insects and I breathed. I slowed down and gave thanks. I listened and listened. I waited.
The first answer I received was to start a blog. I wrote about that here and how important it’s been to me here. Self-expression – the opposite of self-neglect. The next big response I heard is coming up on my next blog post.
I learnt to ask for guidance in all things, not just the big ones. I found that by handing over decisions in this way, the brain fog cleared. I don’t have to know all the answers, I just have to ask and listen.
Over months, my old world faded away. The worries, anxieties, pressures and pace, the ambitions and insecurities, the striving and racing and speed, and the fears, especially the fears, all lost their hold over me.
My body sighed with relief and began to heal.