Published on June 24th, 2013 | by Evita Gahagan
When Your Body Falls Apart
The stress of living with an unhealthy mental condition can cause the rest of your body to shut down, even after the mental illness is addressed and taken care of. In my life, my body has taken a thrashing from the stress of the past few years, and this has changed the way I view my own mental and physical recovery process.
At first I didn’t realize my body was breaking down. I had taken so many practical steps to get back to a healthy mental state after the stressful season was over (admitting I was broken, journaling, informal counseling, frequent rest, doing things that I enjoyed regularly, etc.). Yet my new normal was migraines, weight gain/loss in very short periods of time, foggy mind/scatter-brained symptoms, lower back pain, general aches, random nausea, shortness of breath, heart racing/palpitations, and daily periods of exhaustion. My outlook on life was now cheerful and hopeful, but my body was falling apart.
With three little girls, I didn’t really have time to analyze it. “Aren’t all moms of small children scatter-brained and tired?” I thought. I just sucked it up and kept plowing through life.
But the migraines wouldn’t go away, and the nausea and constant low-grade pain in my body were distracting enough that I finally decided to do something about it.
I was surprised at how similar it was to recovering from postpartum depression. The most life-changing step, even in this process, was to admit I needed care for something that was broken.
My first trip to the doctor was disheartening. She was skeptical and guessed that I was simply a depressed and stressed-out mother. She prescribed a medium-strength antidepressant. While I absolutely would encourage medication in many cases of mental illness (depression included), I was sure that what I was dealing with was not depression but something else. My body was crying out for help. It was something I couldn’t put my finger on. Besides, one of the possible side effects of this medication was miscarriage, and my husband and I were trying to have another child—not a risk I wanted to take for a “guess.”
I left her office feeling like I was losing my mind. Maybe I did need to just accept that I was aging (I was only 32!) and/or exaggerating my symptoms.
I talked it out with a friend who is a nutritionist, and her jaw dropped. “Evita, you’ve just describe to me a bad case of adrenal fatigue. You can absolutely get better!” I can’t properly explain how wonderful her words sounded.
Adrenal Fatigue Treatment
She gave me websites to read, nutritional advice (very detailed and strict), an exercise routine, and peace of mind. I wasn’t making all this up. There was hope. Maybe one day I could have energy again. Maybe one day I wouldn’t put my cell phone in the freezer and the milk on a bookshelf!
It’s only been about four months since I’ve been implementing her advice. It was hard—especially the nutritional changes. But within two weeks, my moods and energy levels improved. PMS symptoms decreased to nearly none, and I lost about 26 stress-related pounds. I have never been one to enjoy challenging exercise regimens, but now, if I’ve gone longer than two days without serious sweating, I start to get jittery.
I’m not completely better yet, but the gradual improvements have been so encouraging.
If any of my symptoms sound similar to yours, I’d love to tell you directly a few things:
- You are NOT crazy
- You can feel better
- It is difficult but POSSIBLE
- It’s worth it. For yourself, your loved ones, and the dreams you have that are waiting to be fulfilled.
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Photo by Evita Gahagan