July 26, 2014

5 Ways That Having Adrenal Fatigue Improved My Life. ~ Jennifer Allyson

woman in bed

“Don’t compromise yourself. You are all you’ve got. There is no yesterday, no tomorrow, it’s all the same day.”  ~ Janis Joplin

I was given many different labels for the “possible” explanations for the symptoms related to my health concerns.

I knew something was seriously wrong. I’ve spent my life as a healthy, active person. Yet, the symptoms I had experienced related to my health were very different to anything I had ever encountered: 14-hour sleeps followed by extreme sleepy-ness during the day, body aches (the thought of walking to the supermarket to buy milk was daunting), irregular menstrual periods, acne (my 33- ear-old skin broke out like a young teenager), depression (I felt miserable and could see little joy in life), and 20-pound weight gain (which seemed to appear very suddenly, and of which the majority accumulated around my stomach area).

So I exercised. I tried the latest workouts. Yet, the number on the scale continued to increase, as did my tiredness and other symptoms.

I was very fortunate to eventually find great doctors and healers who provided the right advice: three healthy meals a day, three or four small snacks between each of the meals, a jam packed regime of vitamins, early bed times and a regular sleep schedule, reduced caffeine, meditation, low impact exercise, and a general reduction in my working hours.

I eventually got my life back.

I am not a medical doctor, thus, this article does not aim to provide any health advice related to my former medical problems. Rather, I would like to discuss what my health problems taught me about my personal relationships. I believe that some of these lessons contributed to a healthier mental state and a stronger ability to undertake the medical recommendations prescribed to me.

1. I learned to respect my boundaries

Being emotionally and physically exhausted taught me quickly about personal boundaries. With nothing left to give, I learned to say no. I stopped committing to every social invitation. I stopped spending all my free time volunteering. I learned that my time was valuable and that by taking on too many things, I was spreading myself thin. By giving myself permission to respect my own boundaries, I was able to refocus on a few of the most important things and give them the energy they deserved to do them well.

2. I learned that my role was not to fix people’s problems

I stopped being the friend who was a counselor and daily psychologist, who aimed to give every ounce of her being to try to help others solve their problems. I realize now that when I had acted as a “fixer”, I was not looking at my own problems and I was not giving the people in my life the freedom to grow as well as learn from their problems. I eventually realized that the best friend I could be was not that of a fixer, but a listener.

3. I learned the art of receiving

I had been spending so much time giving to others; I had forgotten what it was like to receive. With nothing left to give, I had to learn to receive: guilt-free. Some wonderful people in my life taught me this lesson, and they felt like godsends at the time. They gave freely, listened and supported me: all without expectation of anything in return.

4. I learned to slow down

I learned to take quiet moments for myself. I learned to spend a day wandering aimlessly around the city taking photographs. I learned to turn my phone off to enjoy the taste of my meals. I learned to take an extra half hour at the gym to sit in the steam shower without worrying about my to do list waiting for me at home. I learned to stop and smell the flowers again and to read books quietly with a hot cup of tea.

Most importantly, I learned that as I loved me and gave more time to myself—my body, health, and spirit responded back to me with gratefulness.

5. Most importantly, I learned to love myself

I now see that working long hours, eating on the go, not getting any exercise, and constantly ridiculing my type A personality for not being “enough” was never self-love. Whether it was eventually responsible for my own health problems, I am uncertain. However, what chronic fatigue has taught me is to venture into new territory. I began to love myself: my new womanly figure, my achievements, my time and my energy.

I was “enough” and always had been. In fact, I was powerful beyond measure.


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Editor: Renée Picard

Photo: by whatmegsaid at Flickr 


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Valarie Jul 28, 2014 8:20am

I would like to know what vitamins you're taking that may be aimed toward helping your adrenal fatigue. I am sure that adrenal fatigue is part of my every day existence. I am caring for my ill mother and overwhelmed with the mountain of stuff that is before me. I have gained weight, as well, and this compounds existing things – the vicious circle. I am trying to learn how to take care of me through all of this so that I can be on top of things along with being an energetic, loving care giver for my mother.

myriamsofialluria Jul 27, 2014 5:52pm

Thank you for sharing your experience which may help others identify what they have as traditional Western Medicine doesn't even acknowledge adrenal fatigue until it's too late and turns into a crisis or something like Addison's Disease. Over the years and in my studies I learned enough to confirm that I also had adrenal fatigue, for many years, when there was no diagnosis for it. Your lessons are valuable to anyone struggle with an autoimmune issue as well. Hope you are feeling much better now!

Patty Jul 27, 2014 1:47pm

Well said. I had severe adrenal fatigue and learned these same lessons. Still working on some of them… thanks for a great article!

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Jennifer Allyson

Jennifer Allyson is an artist and social change activist. In addition to a cause marketing company she runs, she is also founder of an arts organization focused on connected artists internationally, (Art House – All of Us Together), produces her own fine art photography and recently started advocating for sustainable fashion. You can follow the Inspiring Femininity fine art print series and stories on Facebook.