Adrenal Fatigue/Insomnia - 10+ Years extreme, first sign of hope
by Paul Z
I've been dealing with severe insomnia/adrenal fatigue pretty much whole life (about 15 years) and can definitely relate to the chaos and darkness it can bring. My insomnia got to the point I could stay up 3-4 days and not sleep (I would literally hallucinate) and for about 3-4 years I was only getting on average 3 hours of sleep a night. Because of this I haven't been able to hold a job properly, when before I was always a top employee (have had about 30 because I burn out, can't concentrate, memory issues, too many sick days, ect). Mind you I'm not lazy, have a low IQ, or hate life in general. I run a goals support group with friends, started my own video games company and have about 15 apps, compete in martial arts, produce music, read a lot of self help books and am highly social with a lot of friends.
Recently my adrenals burnout got so bad I gave up, said f* everything and had a complete meltdown. I had mini episodes of this over 10 years, but this time I was 100% done with life and couldn't go on. My energy levels were that low I figured before I neck myself, I’d rather be homeless and rest than continue how I was. I had no more fight left in me to keep going through life the normal way. I had fought damn hard for 10-15 years but I was completely done and truly didn’t care about my jobs, paying bills, credit cards, my house, nothing. I actually called my job (which I actually enjoyed) and quit and started planning on selling my stuff so I could live homeless so I could live on my clock and let my body rest and recover. I was going to live in a tent, buy a macbook so I could make apps using free wifi, use the gym to shower daily and help exercise, use my money until it ran out then deal with things however necessary (beg, borrow, steal...who knows). Not the greatest plan, but there was no way I could continue draining my body, it was too painful and physically impossible.
Thankfully a friend recommended a Dr. who listened to my fatigue issues (have seen a heap over the years and they were all pretty much useless. Drs really are bullshit when it comes to adrenal fatigue). Anyways, Dr. arranged for me to be off work and to get some sickness allowance from the government. It's not much, but better than my original plan.
During this period I spent a about 2-3 weeks doing very little, I was pretty much bed ridden. My place (I live alone) was a mess and my dishes were stacked up. I had no energy to do anything except go on the computer and kill time. I felt nothing improve for a while but slowly started recharging and got enough energy to slowly clean my place and do small tasks (my dishes alone took like 5-10 attempts). This was the first time I had ever completely stopped everything by the way.
Shortly after I was starting to feel a bit more energised and normal I guess, and was performing at a low, but functional level. Things kept improving and it wasn't long before I could function fully and was even smashing out more personal goals like reading books, teaching myself 3D, working on apps, etc. and was the most happiest, optimistic and most full of energy I had ever been. My memory and concentration were starting to come back and I felt so zen with everything. Even when bad things that were happening I was dealing with things perfectly. I'd never felt anything like this in my life. It felt like a strong drug every day.
Everything was going so well and I decided to reintroduce exercise back with a 40 minute workout DVD which had bodyweight exercises like pushups, sit-ups, ect (mind you i'm still fit, currently still have a visible 6 pack). Anyways that 40 minutes I pushed through and felt a bit light headed after and I think the cortisol/adrenaline rush was too much. It kept me up a bit but I did sleep for a few hours. The next day I woke up sore, but more noticeably my moods had dropped. It got worse through the day. By night it felt like acid running through my body, I was feeling really upset, lethargic and feeling those suicidal thoughts again. Physically and mentally I felt like I had come off a 3 day drug bender with 0 sleep. I can't believe a simple workout wiped me like that.
So here I am at current 4 days after this has happened and can slowly myself recharging back up again. Obviously I won't do any intense workout again for some time (will need to find some light exercises as I want to keep healthy and looking good). Mentally I'm still down, but slowly improving. The thing that’s keeping me going is I know what I felt the last 2 weeks and it was amazing.
People don't understand how good just being semi-normal feels and they certainly have no clue what we're going through. Adrenal fatigue sufferers can often be perceived as weak, but they would crumble dealing with the shit we have to deal with on a daily basis. But for me, that glimmer of hope was enough. I just needed to see it was possible. It took 10+ years for me to just see this moment. It's all I needed to give me the push to keep going.
One thing to keep in mind are some of the positives of dealing with Adrenal Fatigue. For me it forced me to learn proper diet, controlling my emotions and reframing bad thoughts to positives (last thing I want is a cortisol release to make my body feel like acid, especially before sleep). I've got proper plants and a dust sucking air purifier to help with air quality. I understand sleeping and fitness more and how to listen to my body. I have an appreciation of things that others take for granted, I'm pushing for a business so I can work under my own terms and clock rather then just going along with things or being in the stressful rat race. The list goes on.
It's kind of like having a personal life coach who beats you hard to stay in line. The method feels shit, but it sure is effective. In a messed up way it's a gift. But like a lot of you, I'm still a mess, but that little bit of hope I felt was enough. I took some extreme actions to get there which I hope you don't have to do, but remember I didn't see any sign of hope for 10+ years and when I finally did it was enough to show me it's possible when all I had was doubt and little hope. I recommend you guys keep doing what you can to recover, research about adrenal fatigue from as many sources as you can and do whatever’s possible to recover so you get your sign of hope soon too.
Remember this is your fight, only you can get through it, other people just simply don't understand, but when you you do finally overcome AF, you'll come out 100x stronger, more full of life and appreciative of everything. Just give it your all and remember that little sign of recovery will snap you out feeling hopeless/weak and will awaken the killer instinct in you to battle through it. Don't accept defeat, hang in there. I know what you're going through. It's a lonely battle, but you're not alone.