After many years of working solidly to rebuild my little man's immune system, I remember very distinctly the day I took a sigh of relieve thinking we were finally at a place with his health I could only dream about.
This was also the noticeable decline of my own health; although there were many earlier signs I chose to ignore.
Lesson 1 - Don’t ignore your body’s speech through physical dis-ease
Leading up to that that day, I was experiencing many symptoms of physical dis-ease, but I just brushed them under carpet until I could no longer ignore them. These symptoms were starting to impact my daily life and my ability to complete simple tasks. Some of these symptoms included things such as:
- Lack of energy
- Lack of enthusiasm
- Extreme exhaustion to the point of not being able to get out of bed after 10 hours of solid sleep
- Weight gain for no particular reason
- Brain fog, unbelievable brain fog
- Irregular cycle
- Angry and irritable for much of the time without obvious cause....think cranky pants mum CONSTANTLY...poor kids
- Inability to concentrate on a task for long periods of time
These symptoms were quite uncharacteristic for me, but I just put it down to the struggles of motherhood. With this in mind, my attitude was “ Pull up your big girl pants and get on with the job" whilst trying to keep the facade of a mother that had it all together (which clearly I didn’t)
I knew there was cause for concern when I woke up crying most mornings due to the sheer feeling of exhaustion and not knowing how I was going to get through the day, and quite often my husband would return home from work seeing a very similar picture.
After trying to implement a few self care strategies myself without any improvement, I consulted my qualified health care practitioner whom diagnosed me as having severe Adrenal Fatigue, stage 3 or 4 I believe. I thought she had lost her mind to be honest, especially when I was told recovery would take nothing less than 9 months but closer to 2 years because of the state I was in. My instant thought was, “I’ll show her, I’ll knock this over in 3 months, just tell me what I need to eat and what supplements I need to take”.....ha ha little did I know.
Lesson 2 - Surrender, accept the situation and ask for help
Having this diagnosis was almost like music to my ears as now I had an explanation for the symptoms I was experiencing. It also felt like someone gave me permission to just let it be. It was at this time my body then started adrenal crashing multiple times a week, which was quite scary initially as I did not understand what was happening. In simple terms this meant I was in an enforced horizontal position for most part of the day. I was physically unable to complete basic household functions or drive for periods longer than 10 minutes and virtually left me incapable of looking after my family. This killed me inside, but I now also knew that I had no choice but to surrender to the current situation rather than fight it nearly every minute of the day. I could no longer fight what my body needed, and instead, I gave in and showered it with whatever was required. I was unbelievably blessed that my mother was able to stay with me 3-4 days a week for 3 months whilst I rebuilt myself again. Initially I felt like such a failure having to accept this help, but this mentality was no longer serving me or my healing and once again practised the art of surrender.
My treatment plan as recommended by my health care practitioner included the following:
- A nourishing diet, excluding GLUTEN, minimal grains, focusing on quality proteins, fats and abundant vegetables. Plenty of daily broth and fermented food.
- Quality, broad spectrum probiotics
- Adaptogenic herbs – the tinctures changed as my needs changed.
- High doses of Vitamin C
- Antioxidant supplementation
- Rest as much as was needed, sometimes this was napping 4 hours in the day or multiple little naps until I became stronger and was able to sustain stable energy throughout the day.
Please note, I provide this purely for information purposes, seek guidance from a qualified health professional if you think you are suffering from Adrenal Fatigue. Treatment for each person is very unique. This is what worked for me over a period of time.
Lesson 3 - Healing had more to do with my mind, than my physical body
It soon became clear that eating and supplementing alone was not going to aid my recovery but my mental and emotional well being was big a part of that picture. Initially I resisted this if I’m perfectly honest and thought it was a load of crap. As a type ‘A” personality I’m results driven, not method driven. Liking the method was irrelevant. If I wanted the result of feeling abundantly healthy and energetic again, I needed to do whatever I had to, and once again practised the art of surrender. At this stage I was starting to get pretty good at recognising when I needed to do this. Therefore I listened to what was being recommended to me and reaped the benefits.
My daily emotional well being practices looked like something like this;
- Guided visualisations of being healthy and energetic- usually done whilst napping
- Deep breathing, usually 1-3 minutes multiple times a day
- EFT tapping
- Mantra’s affirming health & vitality
Lesson 4 - Forget being superwoman
Prior to being struck down with Adrenal Fatigue, I loved to idea of being able to do it ALL and run a million miles a minute, but going through this experience has been one of my darkest and challenging times and I never want to experience it again. So once again I realised that this thought pattern was no longer serving me or my family and I let it go. I do what I can with ease, rather than push myself beyond my limits.
I now intuitively listen to my body, and in fact, she is my queen and I honour it. If it says it’s tired and showing any signs of physical dis-ease, I immediately stop, re-focus, re-group and get back to basics. I then become the priority over ANYTHING else and I feel no guilt for doing this, as trying to be selfless and ignoring my needs got me into a lot of trouble. So far, this practise is serving me well:-)
Full recovery did take me closer to the 2 year mark, but after 7-8 months applying ALL of the above I had sufficient energy to at least get through the day without crashing. I can still be prone to bouts of fatigue if I’m not tuning in to my physical & emotional needs quickly enough, but this is very easily resolved these days.
I am so grateful to have experienced this condition (even though I did not think it at the time, in fact I remember cursing it) and the lesson’s it has taught me. In every challenge there is a seed of benefit.
As mother’s we are so hard on ourselves and it’s time to just give you a break. We are doing the most important job in the world if, but in order to do that well, we need to look after ourselves first and it’s totally OK to tend your needs before anyone else. This is setting up very healthy boundaries for you. We are doing the best we can with what we know and have available to us at the time, and when you know better, you can then do better.
This whole experience has really amplified my belief that optimal health is so much more than what we eat, albeit it is super important and foundational. Being healthy is a combination of pillars and they all need to be in balance to experience health & vitality.
Just know that you “ARE ENOUGH” and you deserve to feel “AMAZING”, because YOU are WORTH IT.
Chantal is a Certified Nutrition & Wellness Coach who specialises in working with stressed and overwhelmed mothers of immune & digestive challenged children to heal their child’ gut by implementing a wholistic personalised step by step plan.