The truth? You can’t handle the truth.
That’s what I feel like saying when someone asks “So how are you?” I know it’s an innocent question, maybe the asker really DOES want to know, but really, MOST of the time, the asker is just being polite.
I’ve been suffering with, through, and because of adrenal fatigue for too long. I have been to too many doctors. I have tried too many supplements. I have read too many books. I’ve listened to too much advice. I’m fed up.
Recently, one of my care providers asked “how are you?” and when I told him the truth, with what seemed to be a lack empathy, he basically tried to sell me yet another supplement. Want to know the truth? In my head I wanted to say something rude to him. Does that make me an awful person? I don’t know. Does that make him an insensitive person? I don’t know. That is partly because I only know him on a professional level, and partly because Adrenal Fatigue does something to your head that is really hard to explain.
I know there are things that must work. I know there are lifestyle changes that can improve this very unacknowledged malfunction of the body. I have had periods of improvement. They are almost always followed by intense crashes.
Don’t get me wrong, I do not want sympathy. I really don’t. My guess is the other folks out there suffering with this drain on life probably don’t want sympathy either. I mean, most people don’t even talk about it. The majority of doctors won’t acknowledge it. I just want to fix it. I just want it to go away so I can live my life and be myself.
The truth is most people don’t want to know the truth. What happens after you have suffered from adrenal fatigue for a few years, without improvement, and the symptoms are piling up and you are becoming more anti-social, more depressed, more tired is that people begin to distance themselves. I don’t blame them, I really don’t. It’s hard to be around someone who is constantly down. Which is why I stopped telling most people the truth.
It’s not only that the other person can’t handle the truth, but the awkwardness of telling the truth to someone is also very tiring. Explaining what it is or how many symptoms can be attributed to it is tiring. Understanding that you are not just lazy, you are not imagining things or crazy is tiring. Adrenal fatigue makes everything tiring. Just dealing with you own emotions is overwhelming, but then having to deal with other people's emotions is literally the most exhausting thing.
It’s hard to explain, but you know when someone doesn’t know what to say and they just say, “sorry you are going through that” it is probably the only thing they CAN say… but it still just makes me feel even worse. Like, I’m hopeless, wow, I just sucked the joy out of their life, too. Which kinda just makes depression even worse. I know what it feels like to be the other person too. I have friends who tell me their woes and I don’t know what to say, so I totally get that. Yet, on the other hand, suffering from adrenal fatigue, when someone else tells me their problems, I basically take them on my shoulders as my own burden.
Adrenal fatigue basically shuts me down after a certain time of day. In the beginning I would need to try to get everything done by dinner time because doing anything after dinner was pretty much hopeless. Not getting things done makes me feel bad about myself which lead to more depression. Depression keeps me from doing what needs to be done and I get anxiety about things that aren’t done and the vicious cycle continues…
More than once I have paid good money for tickets to an event that started at 6 or 7 p.m. and had to leave halfway through the event simply because I was painfully tired. PAINFULLY. Tired. I don’t mean I was just sleepy or I wanted to go to bed. I mean every fiber of my body hurt, my eyelashes hurt. It honestly feels like if I don’t lay down right that minute I might just die right there. I stopped doing evening events.
Gradually, over the years I have been dealing with this junk, I get less and less done. I’m a Type A person… I’m a hard worker. In the past, I never went to bed without doing the dishes or tidying things. Lately, I have gone to bed without even turning the lights off … I fall asleep before my kids. Staying up late is virtually impossible.
Life with adrenal fatigue is like constantly looking out a blurry window. It's hard to see things clearly, hard to read other peoples intentions. Brain fog, lack of focus, lack of concentration? Sometimes I can’t even remember how to spell the simplest words. I recently was reading a book and my bookmark fell out. The next morning I picked up the book and read an entire chapter before I realized I had already read it the day before.
Waking up in the middle of the night and not being able to go back to sleep is another thing that makes me want to say bad words. Yeah, like Hi 2:30 a.m. it’s me again. The truth is, I am SO sleepy at noon and 7 pm that it hurts, but at 3 am I am wide awake. I know I need to sleep but I’m wide awake.
Social media is the worst. The truth is every time I get on social media I see memes about not giving up, never giving in, going stronger even when you want to give up, I see “normal” people post motivational half-truths about how if you don’t go to the gym you are a loser, if you can’t lose weight you aren’t trying hard enough. To be honest, there’s a lot of thoughtless stuff out there.
The truth is adrenal fatigue really sucks the life out of you. I’ll have a day when I muster every last ounce of energy I have to follow my routines and go through the steps to have a “normal day” and accomplish things. I go to bed exhausted and wake up feeling like I was used as a punching bag in a crossfit class the day before. The beat up feeling lasts for days. No, it’s not like when a normal person works out and has sore muscles later. This is an extreme intolerance for exercise.
The truth is I WANT to work, I WANT to go to the gym and some days I do, but the truth is, I pay dearly for it. With adrenal fatigue getting your heart rate up is actually NOT good for your body. Exercise CAN cause more harm than good, but when you feel bad and you read articles about how exercising can create energy you forget that for a minute. You’ll grasp on to anything that might help you feel better.
The frustrating truth is that AF causes a ton of other problems that, get this, when treated actually make AF worsen! How’s that for making you wanna say bad words?
The truth is the entire post may be an overreaction. Yeah, that’s because adrenal fatigue actually makes something little feel major. The truth is adrenal fatigue makes you feel like the entire world is out to get you. Adrenal Fatigue basically makes you into a welcome mat for anxiety, mood swings, loss of interest in things you used to love, so you don’t even know who you are anymore. Most of the time, people who suffer from Adrenal Fatigue don’t even know they have it or that it is what is causing them to feel this way.
Anxiety sucks by the way… if you have never experienced clinical level panic attacks then you cannot even begin to imagine the degree of awfulness I am describing. It’s so stupid too. For example recently I went to the movie theater alone to watch a Bollywood film. I was so paranoid for the entire time I was in the theater, I kept thinking I had left my trunk open and someone might break into my car that I could hardly enjoy the movie. I kept telling myself how irrational it was and that I would not leave my trunk open but the thought just kept gripping my mind. I prayed about it, but the feeling never left me until I went outside and found that I in fact did NOT leave my trunk open and I had indeed locked my car.
Another time anxiety and heart palpitations or some crazy combo of adrenal fatigue symptoms caused me to truly believe I was having a heart attack. I literally believed I was about to die. I had ALL the symptoms of a heart attack. My husband even took me to the ER where I was diagnosed with NOTHING. Can you imagine how embarrassing, annoying and frustrating it is to go to the ER and have a doctor tell you that it’s all in your head? I am not the kind of person who goes to the doctor. I just avoid them as much as possible. I have a strong dislike for hospitals, nursing homes and other environments like that and the truth is, my husband knew that and is part of why he took me to the ER!
Add to all this fun, (yes sarcasm increases when I feel bad) always being tired and being depressed and knowing that most people look at you and other than maybe having bags under your eyes, dry skin and being overweight, you LOOK normal. Looking normal but being sick is really frustrating. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to look sick. It’s just that when you have an illness that people don't recognize or understand, you just appear like a frumpy, lazy, antisocial person with an anger problem.
The truth is the cure is also part of the problem. Finding a doctor who will acknowledge that Adrenal Fatigue is a REAL thing is hard. If and when you finally find one, you must hope and pray that they actually know what they are doing so that it CAN be treated successfully. Next, you find out that your insurance won’t even cover your health problem or your doctor isn’t in the network and your insurance company calls him a quack. Ah, but guess what? There’s Care Credit! You can take out a giant loan to pay for any expensive tests or treatments that your doctor wants to try on you.
Did I mention that stress is a major factor in Adrenal Fatigue? As in stress can cause it and stress definitely worsens it. So don’t get stressed out about that debt that’s piling up for your treatment. That would be counterintuitive. The truth is this happens to people every day. People who WANT to repair their body, people who want to get to the bottom of their health challenge, but these things take time and money.
Yes, there are many lifestyle changes that are recommended to help recover from adrenal fatigue but the TRUTH is that my kids still need to be fed, clothes still need to be washed, meals need to be made, work needs to be done. Yes, a relaxing lifestyle WOULD help recovery, but I have yet to figure out how to accomplish that while life is still going on around me! Even making a healthy breakfast smoothie or recovery drink sucks when you wake up in all over body pain even though you did nothing to create body pain!
You might think I want to talk about it since I am posting this rant. Well, I really don't, and most of the time I just keep to myself. Sometimes I fantasize about just recovering on the beach for several months! I'm sure I'm not alone in that little fantasy! The truth is, I know I am not alone in my suffering. In Hopelively, a group my friend Jami and I created for those who suffer from chronic illness, I hear from others and I acknowledge their suffering. I pray for them, I pray with them, they pray for me too!
The truth is I won’t give up, I can’t give up. No matter how hard it is, no matter how many people around me think I’m antisocial, or how many people think I’m a total slacker. No matter how much my neighbors think I don’t take care of the weeds in my flower bed, no matter how many people get annoyed because I can’t bring my kids to a playdate because I simply can’t muster the energy.
Maybe you can’t handle the truth. I don’t know. Maybe you want to say bad words too, because you’ve been suffering with adrenal fatigue or another chronic illness too. Maybe people tell you to pray harder. Maybe people are constantly giving you well-meaning advice on the thing you should be trying next. Maybe your tired of life, maybe you're mad at the world. The truth is, it’s ok to be mad. The truth is THAT is normal. The truth is, no matter what you just try to keep moving forward when you can.
The truth is I will keep trying to find whatever it is that will make me feel like the person I used to be. The truth is if I find it, whatever it may be, I will tell you all about it.