I woke up exhausted. Not tired. Not late to bed from reading exhausted. 80 year old body exhausted. Unable to function exhausted. There is no way to explain it. It is the most debilitating feeling that I have ever experienced. Waves of tiredness just washing over me that no amount of sugar, caffeine, fresh air or sleep can cure. I know exactly what is bringing on the onslaught of the increased symptoms at the moment - Kyle is home for the holidays and already my stress levels are way past where they should be.
I've mentioned Adrenal Fatigue in a few other posts. A brief description of the 'condition' is the following -
How can I tell if my adrenals are fatigued?You may be experiencing adrenal fatigue if you regularly notice one or more of the following:*
- You feel tired for no reason.
- You have trouble getting up in the morning, even when you go to bed at a reasonable hour.
- You are feeling rundown or overwhelmed.
- You have difficulty bouncing back from stress or illness.
- You crave salty and sweet snacks.
- You feel more awake, alert and energetic after 6PM than you do all day.
Adrenal fatigue is not actually a disorder as such. It seems to be a catch all for a variety of symptoms which don't fit a disorder but which the sufferer certainly suffers from. After a particularly violent outburst from Kyle in the middle of the year my psychologist urged me to have my adrenals checked as she was convinced there was a problem - I simply didn't react to the outburst - in fact I was incapable of reaction. No fight or flight instinct. Various tests, a trip to a neurologist to rule out any tumours due to the headaches I was also suffering from, and for him to look at the tests, and both him and the GP concurred that it was the catch all AF brought on by years of excessive levels of stress due to dealing with Kyle's condition and unpredictable behaviour ..... by the middle of this year my body was simply saying enough. I couldn't anymore.
By the way the only real cure - less stress... I asked them both if they would like to adopt Kyle as that was the only way I was likely to have 'less' stress - pick yourself up off the floor now and quit laughing...
I'm sure a lot of people think I'm faking it or implying my condition is worse than it is so I'll speak about each of the above just briefly. I'm over being judged. I'm not one to be 'sick'. I don't like taking medication but circumstances beyond my control have put me where I am. So if I say I'm tired and I say no to an outing or a function or whatever please understand I'm not being rude - there are days I simply cannot function on any level and while I would like to keep myself alive, I also never want to put others lives at risk.
- Tired for no reason - I can be firing on all cylinders. In the middle of a project, outing and absolutely fine when bang I just literally wilt. I can feel my whole body just shut down. A few months ago it was so bad I fell asleep while driving - 3 times - in broad daylight. The worst is I was aware of it. I could feel my eyes closing. I knew I had to get off the road but I simply could not get my car off to the side of the road. I really do feel for my poor guardian angel - she truly has her work cut out for her.
- Tiredness in the morning - I think any parent or mother in particular can probably not remember the last time they woke up not tired but this is something worse. It doesn't matter whether I get a solid 8 hours or toss and turn. My body feels too heavy to get up. I'm learning to judge what kind of day I'll have by how I feel in the morning. This morning I knew today was going to be a 'match stick day'. I had not one bit of energy to try and get out of bed. And I've by nature been a morning person - not always a happy morning person - but a morning person nonetheless.
- Rundown and overwhelmed - I get overwhelmed the most ridiculous things. To the point of actually sitting down and crying over something which would in fact usually be so trivial it wouldn't register. And I'm not a crier. I've always been a proactive, get the job done, think on my feet person. Well over time I've discovered the slightest thing can really throw me. I am on a declutter mission... which has been on going for 12 months and the sole reason is because I'll start and then just suddenly I can't carry on. I look around me at all the stuff and it's just too much for me to deal with so I walk away. I'm completely overwhelmed by the 'sheer volume' of sometimes even the smallest tasks. I find myself silently coaching myself through difficult situations - I'm getting better but it's there.
- Bouncing back - I've had a couple of bouts of flu that I've struggled to shake. I bruise easier and take longer to heal - that also ties in with the diabetes. But my immune system is weaker. I simply guard against illness, make sure I'm warmly dressed when necessary and don't take stupid risks with my health. It's a no brainer for me mainly because of the diabetes. And I simply have no time to be sick.
- Salty and sweet - Here I'm neutral. For a diabetic as it is I'm a terrible eater. So no comment.
- 6pm Curse - I woke up this morning exhausted, I barely made it to 2pm and through my work day. Got home and within about an hour was lights out and woke up after 6pm. And now I am so wide awake it's pathetic. Even if I hadn't slept this would have happened - I've tried it. The problem is it takes hours for me to wind down again and yes I've tried the bubble baths, no electronics, reading, soft music etc etc... it doesn't work. The hormones in your body kick into their own cycle and don't give a crap about what you want. You just have to ride it out. It's usually at its worst on match stick days. Other days I can still get decent sleep and wind down normally.
All of my symptoms tie back into the immense stress I have dealt with as a result of Kyle and his Conduct Disorder. Never knowing when the school would call because of a meltdown. Not knowing how he would be on waking or getting back from school. Then the last 2 years when we couldn't get him to even attend school and we had almost daily meltdowns at home. And by meltdowns I'm talking about ripping doors off the hinges and attacking me meltdowns. This is my child but this was also my reality. And it took its toll on my body and mind. I held out for as long as I could before my body started collapsing - hell I lost my mind a long time ago. Had I not paid attention to the doctors earlier this year I'm not certain I'd even be here to write this blog. And no not because I would have harmed myself (another blog).
I've learnt my body can handle massive amounts of stress but I've come to understand that I too am only human and no matter how much I love my son I would never be any good to him if I wasn't around so my health has to come first. In order to do that I had to send him to Boys Town. That in itself was the single hardest and most stressful decision I had to make but more about that in another blog. I can now pinpoint when my stress levels increase. Kyle has been home 5 days and we've had one major meltdown and today I had my first match stick day... I know I'll have more over the next 35 days ... I just have to find de-stressing activities in between to try and minimise the affects on my health. Keep an eye on my health. Take note of how I'm feeling in the mornings and rest up as much as I possibly can.
I think if we subject our bodies to any kind of prolonged stressful activities or situations we run the risk of really harming ourselves over the long term. Our bodies are simply not geared for the constant flight or fight mode we put it through. I'm thinking here about people like base jumpers - it would be an interesting study for someone to conduct to see what the effects of adrenaline rushes they subject their bodies to has on their long term health. Also just the ordinary lives we live. Hours in traffic and resulting road rages. Long work hours and pressure of deadlines. Keeping up with Jones. Making time for work, family, friends, kids activities, hobbies, chores... the list is endless.
It's Christmas time - how many of you are putting pressure on yourselves to compete in the categories of decorations, lavish lunches, constant entertaining, best presents for the kids, hot holidays that the kids can brag about. Why? Are you really enjoying your break or simply creating stress. I'm doing as little as possible. Even if that means not putting up a single decoration. Whatever time I get off I want to actually enjoy. Limit my stress as much as possible.
It is hard to always heed the call to rest and not subject myself to stress. All I can do is try. As much as possible every day. Not only do I want my kids to have me around but I want to be around for myself. I still have a lot I would like to achieve in my life. I need my health for that. the first step is to listen to my body. Every day. It is yet to fail me.
Listen to yours. Do what you can to minimise the stress in your life. Really ask yourself if it would matter a year from now. If not then the stress you are subjecting yourself to is really not worth it. So just don't. Life is so short as it is.
Stress less. Live more.