Recovering from adrenal exhaustion and hypothyroidism is a slow process. It takes 8 to 9 months to recover from minor adrenal exhaustion and 12 months for a moderate case. In severe cases, it requires 24 months.
What is Adrenal Exhaustion?
The adrenals are responsible for producing a whole lot of hormones that regulate bodily functions. For example, the adrenals produce cortisol that is important in regulating blood sugar. Don't ask me how okay... I am not a doctor. All I know is that one day, I ate a delicious bowl of white congee and within 30 minutes, was fast asleep. I slept for 2 hours. I thought I had diabetes. I went for a check. Nope!
Cortisol is also responsible for regulating sleep cycles. I was sleepy all day. I moved about in a brain fog and once, I fell asleep staring at bananas at the NTUC supermarket. I thought I needed exercise. So I went walking, swimming and cycling. After even moderate exertion, I came home and crashed out. In fact, once, I crashed after watching an action movie! The high adrenalin movie tired me out!! However, every night, at 3.30 am, I woke up, heart pounding and pyjamas drenched. I thought it was perimenopause and accepted my lot. However, things got worse. The premenstrual mood swings became a horror to control. The poor Husband bore the brunt of it. At one point, I sort of went outside myself and stared at me, the crazy woman yelling at The Best of Husbands accusing him of anything and everything. I went to do checks at the gynaecologist. Again, nothing.
I began to wonder if I had a psychological condition.
Now I know that the body's hormones interact with each other in complex ways. A lack of cortisol can set off other hormonal imbalances leading to a whole host of seemingly unrelated symptoms. I don't quite know how, but malfunctioning adrenals have an effect on the thyroid too... which I think contributed to my sensitivity to gluten (i.e., bread and pasta).
Going off gluten was a breakthrough. Thank you Mommy P.
Thank heavens for the internet. I came across websites where people described symptoms exactly like mine. From these sources, I learnt how to help myself recover... and so far, it has been an effective therapy.
From Beth Dreyer, I learnt to...
- Sleep a lot. I force myself to sleep till 9am every day. In stressful moments, my cortisol levels still go crazy and I cannot sleep at night. However, even if I cannot sleep, I lie in bed till 9am. Also, whenever I feel sleepy, I sleep. I don't fight the urge to sleep like I used to. Sleep heals.
- Eat a certain way. No gluten. No simple carbs. High protein and plenty fibre.
- Say no. I wasn't good at that last year. Not doing enough for other people made me feel guilty. An overactive professional conscience did not help. Last year, I would suck up a lot of things, wanting to please others, needing their approval. This year, I have forced myself to say "No" to things and people. I wasn't good at it at first. However, with the help of Mommy A, I am getting better at it.
- Take negative people out of my life. Zero tolerance for people who are negative or who disempower themselves. Sometimes, there is a thin line between "I dunno how" and "I won't". I can give dispassionate and logical advice or diagnoses to address the Dunno How, but the moment I discern any hint of "I won't", I disengage. Your won't is your cross to bear, not mine. When push comes to shove, I value my health more than your problems.
- Prayer. Oh yes... every single step towards recovery is covered by prayer. I have had the benefit of strong Prayer Warriors in Mommy T, Mommy ML, Mommy Y, Mommy P and Mommy D. Knowledge and wisdom come from God. He is the one that manages everything. So, without prayer, I don't think I could have come so far.
Guess what... it works. I think my adrenals have recovered enough that I no longer fall asleep 30 minutes after taking rice congee. As long as I don't take any gluten, I don't experience brain fog. I can cycle 9km without crashing out. Slowly I will expand the envelope of what I can do without crashing out. Hopefully, by then, I will lose weight too. The hormonal imbalances have padded me up quite a bit.
Maybe... just maybe... I don't need 24 months to get well after all. **Fingers crossed**