Motherhood will do a number on your adrenal glands. Especially if you're a working mum. Guaranteed.
My journey to healthful living started in 2008 after I suffered severe anxiety attacks. After being put on a short stint of clonazepam I decided drugs weren’t for me and I grabbed a copy of Dr. Joshi’s Holistic Detox. I started cooking from scratch (after seldom cooking in my life before!), and exercising regularly (Bikram yoga was my exercise of choice). I consumed myself in all things health and wellness and began a freelance writing career in the field. I began learning all about healthy living and nutrition and I never looked back. However, there was another hiccup to come…
In 2015 I came face to face with HPA axis dysfunction (also known as “adrenal fatigue”). I wasn’t really all that surprised. I had just come out of two years of various emotional and physical traumas. On top of this I was working for myself, finishing up school, working on building up my new business, all whilst being a mummy to a 3 year old and a not-even-one-year-old.
Don’t wait until you have adrenal dysfunction to nurture yourself. If you burn the candle at both ends, it will catch up to you. And when it does it isn’t an easy journey back to good health.
I knew something was up because my brain was foggy, my memory was all but non-existent, I would cry at the drop of a hat, the morning person I once was, was no longer, I needed coffee to get my brain into gear and – worst of all – I was snapping and losing my temper at my husband and my kids far too often. I was irritable, edgy – sometimes I even felt out of control. But it wasn’t until I suffered a miscarriage that I woke up to what I already knew: my hormones were desperately out of whack. (Please note: I’m not saying miscarriages are always due to hormonal imbalances, but for me I am sure this was the culprit and it’s definitely what opened my eyes to the reality of my health issues). I’d been pushing myself too hard for too long and finally my body – the body I’d never had any issues with in the past – was failing me. My joy for life was slowly fading as I struggled to get through another hectic day. I had a beautiful house, an amazing husband, two wonderful kids and a successful business. I was going to school for something I absolutely loved and achieving A+ grades. But none of these things mattered because my stress levels were through the roof and I was depressed.
Naturally I took myself off to my GP and, (naturally) she prescribed antidepressants. This is a story all-too-often relayed to me also by my clients who have been in similar situations. You see, GPs don’t often assess for, nor know how to treat adrenal dysfunction. They don't know what a DUTCH test is. They don't understand the importance of testing the diurnal pattern of cortisol (not their fault – it's the outdated curriculum they're taught). They often only know how to treat the more severe late-stage adrenal diseases such as Addisons and Cushings Syndrome. But I took the antidepressants in shear desperation. After about two months the effects of the drugs wore off as my body became accustomed to the dose. So I went up a very small amount, as per my doctor's suggestion. However, it didn't make a difference. That's when I decided to get off the drugs completely and look for another solution. I wasn’t about to go down the rabbit hole of increasing my dose to higher and higher levels, ignoring the underlying root cause of my problem. And besides, I had always had an aversion to these types of drugs because I knew they weren't a “cure” but instead a bandaid solution.
Being a Type A personality puts you at higher risk of getting adrenal dysfunction
Because my dose of antidepressants was so low I was off the pills in a couple of weeks and that's when I went to see a Naturopath and consumed myself in all-things-adrenal-dysfunction. I read books, searched reputable sties online and talked to Professors and Naturopaths throughout Toronto about their recommendations for someone in my situation. I came out the other end with a very clear understanding about adrenal dysfunction and what I needed to do to resolve it.
Can one get HPA dysfunction if they eat healthfully?
When I told a couple of my friends that I had adrenal dysfunction they questioned how this could be possible for someone who ate so healthfully. Here’s the thing: adrenal dysfunction is a lifestyle syndrome. It doesn’t matter how healthfully you eat, if you don’t have your lifestyle in check it will catch up to you. By “lifestyle” I ultimately mean “stress”. I was burning the candle at both ends with work and school, but I was also dealing with emotional stress. Never underestimate the impact your emotions have on your health. It doesn’t matter how much kale or chia you put in your gob; you can’t have one without the other. Lifestyle and diet go hand in hand if you want to maintain your health. I learnt this the hard way.
Do not underestimate the stress on your body from a mental and emotional perspective. If you’re not happy – for whatever reason – this will affect your physical health
Motherhood will do a number on your adrenal glands – guaranteed
I'm a work in progress. I'm still working on my adrenal health and I may be for some time. That's because I let it go too far. However, I now know what I have to do to keep my adrenals healthy, and I can really feel it if I don't take that time for me and do those things that make a big difference.
Don't wait until you have adrenal dysfunction to seek help. It's much harder to dig yourself out of a hole than to avoid it in the first place (but not impossible if you wake up one day and realize you're at the bottom of said hole, like I did). You need to make you a priority for the sake of your family. After all, what would they do without you? 😉
I’d love to hear your story. Please, get in touch.
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