About 9 months ago, my whole world started to unravel. My husband wanted a divorce. I’d been a stay-at-home mom for 4 years, and spent my days caring for our two young kids (3 and 11 months at the time). Sure, our marriage had lots of problems, but so does everyone else’s during this hard season of life of raising young kids and building careers. After a quick trial separation, an even quicker few sessions in couples’ therapy, and a disastrous final family vacation, it was over.
During those first early days as a single mom, I thought I was doing well enough, all things considered (“well” is a relative term, I gave myself a lot of grace while i grieved). Then one day it hit me like a freight train, all the tell-tale signs of adrenal fatigue. While I was trying to keep my little family afloat, Cortisol was in the background pumping out at full force, wreaking havoc on my body, until one day, a couple of months into this whole mess, my adrenal gland was officially exhausted.
Headaches…oh, the headaches. And the CHRONIC fatigue, only to be followed by sleepless nights. My normally clear complexion was constantly breaking out. I realized my immune system was shot when, night after night one week in the summer, I broke out in fever (which is even less fun when you still have little ones to care for 24/7 alone). During the worst of it, my appetite was mostly gone and I lost 5 lbs. in one week, and I had an unquenchable thirst (which is indicative of extremely low blood pressure linked to stress). My brain was in a constant fog and my short-term memory was basically gone.
The first thing I wondered was, “is this what depression feels like?” Emotionally and mentally I was able to work through a lot of things, but none of this reconciled with my physical state. I’m extremely fortunate to be part of the huge online health and wellness community, so I was familiar with adrenal fatigue. I looked at my symptoms, did some research, and decided to try a more holistic and natural approach to healing myself.
The first thing I did was add in some adaptogenic supplements. Within 48 hours, my face stopped breaking out. The next thing I did was cut out coffee. Since coffee stimulates the production of adrenaline and cortisol, it’s further taxing an already fatigued system. After the first few foggy days, I felt better. Like, a lot better. And I started sleeping better too.
Since I already ate a very clean diet, I didn’t have any processed foods to cut out, so I focused on adding foods that would heal me. The three areas I focused on were 1) my adrenal gland 2) my immune system and 3) my digestive health. You see, when our body pumps out cortisol, we are essentially in “fight or flight” mode, which redirects our body’s energy to survival, and slows down less essential functions, like immunity and digestion.
While I am still on the road to recovery, I feel that I have been able to bounce back from the lowest lows much quicker than I would have had I not taken deliberate steps to heal my body with a combination of food, yoga, counseling, and a strong support system. If you suffer from any of these symptoms, I hope my story will inspire you to take your health into your own hands. It’s incredibly empowering because not only are YOU able to strongly influence the way you feel by what you put into your body, but you will also realize just how resilient your body (and spirit) can be.