Editor’s note: The Lovefraud reader who posts as “Shocknawe” posted information in a comment about the physical condition of adrenal fatigue. I invited him to write a full blog post on the topic. Please remember that Lovefraud is not a medical resource, and if you are suffering from symptoms like those discussed below you should consult a doctor.
How to recover from adrenal fatigue
As victims of psycho/sociopaths, we know all too well the damage inflicted upon us. But I discovered that the toll taken has an additional component one that, left untreated, can set our progress towards recovery back by months and even years. The good news, however, is that we can take some simple steps to speed our recovery and take control of our lives again.
First, some background on my situation. I married a sociopath. It hurts even to write those words. Among her many deceits, one was that she was an expert on holistic health specifically diet. Since I’d revealed early on that I was into an organic lifestyle, she created her “expertise” on the spot and sold me as an authority on the subject. Her form of gas-lighting took the form of convincing me that everything I thought I knew about the body was wrong and that she and only she was capable of bringing about a state of perfect health.
So no surprise that by the time she was done with me, my health had already suffered to a visible extent (friends were commenting on how ghastly I looked). The shock of discovery triggered in me a cascading series of health-related problems that incapacitated me for some time.
The following list of symptoms of victims of sociopathic predation is not mine, but rather an outline of behaviors generally regarded as common:
- Emotional paralysis
- PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder)
- Suicidal thoughts or actions
- Loss of interest in life
- Loss of energy
- Depression or severe depression
- Numbing of feelings
- Disinterest in having a relationship (platonic or sexual)
- Panic attacks
- Increased anxiety from being alone
- Increased anxiety from being in crowds
- Mood swings
I experienced all the above symptoms. I ate one half teaspoon of peanut butter, and barely kept that down. I drank copious amounts of water and hardly slept for five weeks. That led to a collapse of my immune system and I was hospitalized for pneumonia, had three surgeries on my eye for a fully detached retina brought on, the doctors said, by stress. I lost 25 pounds and I was lean to begin with. I was prescribed antidepressants.
Once I started climbing out of the acute depression stage I set about trying to diagnose my symptoms and begin building my strength back. My first stop was to my old Chinese acupuncturist, whom I’d stopped seeing when I put myself in the sure hands of my ”˜loving’ wife. After examination he said, “You need to go immediately to the grocery store and buy a steak; you’re in the first stages of renal failure and could experience a heart attack at any hour.”
Renal failure, or kidney failure, is defined as a medical condition in which the kidneys fail to adequately filter toxins and waste products from the blood. I had become anemic (low red blood cell count) in large part because I hadn’t touched red meat in three years and had entrusted my dietary regimen to the ”˜expert’ over my better judgment.
Now I had something productive to focus on and I began looking into both Western and Eastern approaches to the morphology of kidney disease and “disharmony.” I soon discovered that many of the symptoms I experienced were a result of the huge amounts of cortisol and adrenaline I’d expended in the first weeks of my “shock and awe.”
Meanwhile, as I was reading up on PTSD, depression, and of course, sociopathy, I found that I’d begun craving pasta and sweets of all sorts. Given my depressed state, I gave in to anything that provided even a temporary respite from my pain, and I’d indulged my cravings as often as I cared to which became daily. I don’t drink or take drugs, but I’ve always had a sweet tooth, so I figured, “What’s the harm?” I soon found out.
My research revealed that my adrenal glands, which sit atop our kidneys, were exhausted, and had undoubtedly been struggling for years under the (unconscious) stress of living with a sociopath. Adrenal fatigue, or Non-Addison’s hypoadrenia, is caused by prolonged or severe stress or trauma. The adrenal glands produce the glucocorticoid hormones cortisone, cortisol, aldosterone, androstenedione, adrenaline, norepinephrine and dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA). Adrenaline, DHEA, cortisol and norepinephrine are the body’s four major stress hormones. Imbalances in their production can cause or worsen carbohydrate intolerance. Repeated stresses, no matter what their cause, make a person more prone to adrenal fatigue. The effects of stress are cumulative, even when the stressors are quite different. Here are some of the examples of life events that can lead to adrenal fatigue:
- Unrelieved pressure or frequent crises at work and/ or home
- Any severe emotional trauma
- Death of a close friend or family member
- Major surgery with incomplete recovery or subsequent persistent fatigue
- Prolonged or repeated respiratory infections
- Serious burns including severe sunburn
- Prolonged lack of sleep
- Head trauma
- Job loss
- Sudden change in financial status
- Relocation without support of friends or family
- Repeated or overwhelming chemical exposure (including alcohol and drug abuse)
In addition to the emotional and physical traumas that can produce hypoadrenia, there are chronic conditions or lifestyles that continually drain the adrenals or prevent them from recuperating properly after a trauma. One of the most common chronic factors is poor diet. For example, 62% of North Americans don’t eat even one vegetable per day. Fast foods don’t have the necessary nutrients we need, and if you’re eating mostly processed foods you can be sure your adrenal glands are not getting the nutrients they need to function optimally under normal circumstances, never mind responding sufficiently in a crisis. Adrenal fatigue is becoming much more common as our society assumes long work hours and high stress levels as a normal part of life. Over-eating carbohydrates, especially simple sugars and refined starches, is itself a cause of adrenal stress and fatigue and can only exacerbate the condition.
Since I was anemic and needed to eat red meat, I chose to start with the Atkins diet. The Atkins diet begins with a radical departure from the normal balanced meal: total elimination of all carbohydrates for two weeks — including even complex carbs like vegetables. This gives the adrenals a ”˜breather’, taking pressure off them so they can begin the process of recovery. I also recommend Adrenal Fatigue The 21st Century Stress Syndrome, by James L. Wilson, ND, DC, PhD., which outlines the causes, types and symptoms of adrenal fatigue and offers comprehensive approaches to functional restoration.
An adrenal fatigue diet of lower carbs and the elimination of all other stimulants is critical in order to allow the adrenal glands to rest and recover. The extreme demands placed on the body during times of stress require nothing less than total dedication to healthy nutrition. The following is a list of recommended nutrients to assist in adrenal support and recovery:
- High quality (preferably a whole food) multivitamin/ mineral complex
- Vitamin B Complex — 100 mg with additional Pantothenic acid (B5) twice daily
- Vitamin C — 4,000 – 10,000 mg daily
- Raw liver extract
- Coenzyme A
- Coenzyme Q10
- Magnesium — at bedtime
- L-Tyrosine — at bedtime
- Vitamin B12 — sublingual at bedtime
- Zinc lozenges
- Astragalus — if taking tincture, use a non-alcohol base brand
- Aswaganda — if taking tincture, use a non-alcohol base brand
- Milk thistle
- Siberian ginseng
Here are more tips:
- Get adequate protein in your diet. If possible, red meat should be grass fed, antibiotic and hormone-free your adrenals don’t need to be battling those substances while trying to regain their health. Fried foods should be avoided. Consume plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables especially leafy greens.
- Stay away from sweets, alcohol and tobacco, which put tremendous stress on the adrenals and are addictive. Avoid coffee even decaffeinated coffee as it’s toxic to the adrenal glands.
- If your blood pressure is low, increase your intake of salt Himalayan or sea salt is best.
- Exercise as much as possible, in whatever form will get you active the most.
- And finally, remove as many stressful people and situations from your life as you can; yoga and meditation can greatly help mitigate the stresses you are forced to cope with and add to your peace of mind.
As the body goes, so goes the mind; or: garbage in, garbage out. If you want to give yourself the best chance of recovery from the awful ravages of sociopathic abuse, you owe it to yourself to restore your adrenals and nurture your health as best you can.
I think my adrenals may be just about on total burnout. In addition to the usual PTSD I have almost every single day, which is a leftover from severe Adult Child issues, my current life is extremely stressful. Just yesterday, I was super stressed from the anxiety attacks I have when training for a new job.
On the way home, it was totally dark, there were virtually no street lights, heavy traffic, and was driving on a road w/a 30 mph speed limit. A cop car passed me and as soon as it did he turned on his flashers, drove a bit farther (there was heavy traffic) and I saw his car make an incomplete uturn. I think the configuration of the road prevented him from turning around. Feeling so desperately stressed, I think I exhibited paranoia and thought he was coming after me. I was driving 34 mph in a 30. Because of the extreme job stress I had had that day, my body did some kind of weird stress thing, and I immediately turned off the road (remember it was dark and not much llight on road) and hid from cop for 10 minutes on the next street over, which was also extremely dark.
I’d already had one ticket for an incomplete stop at a red light during a late night non-busy time and the cops here are blood thirsty. If i’d had the energy, would have gone to court on that one, but stress wise it was easier to pay it and move on. My body felt so weird during all of this…and it had already felt over the top weird while I was trying to figure out my new job that day, being panic stricken (and being worried that I wouldn’t “pass the test” so to speak). Because I am “aging”, and at retirement age and still need to work, my body – and brain – aren’t behaving the way I wish they would. Although, due to my early onset PTSD with extreme anxiety, my life has always been a roller coaster (compared to the normal I see around me) with how I am able to deal with stress and life changes. Last night, I knew I was having some kind of adrenalin rush/overload…my body kept going in and out of it after the cop’s lights flashed, hiding out on the street below, and then once I got home. I did the stress test just now and scored 220 with only the minor stressors included. If this had been done 3 yrs ago, it would have been between 3-400 because more of the major items would be listed. Problem is, given my set of circumstance, on which I won’t elaborate here, I don’t see how my life is going to ease up. I have to do as I’ve always done, keep plugging along, doing the very best I can with it all, and trying to stay as positive as possible no matter what life tosses at me.
Geesh! I’ve never “hidden” from a cop before. Now I’m wondering if that was an extreme overreaction coupled with so much guilt I’m carrying about how everything in my life is not where I expected it would be at my age. My body is starting to feel weird again. I have extreme anxiety that has been very noticeable especially in the past 3 years, since my life took an extreme dump. I’ve wondered what is causing this anxiety and if there is something I can do, OTHER THAN taking meds. Having worked in healthcare off and on, I know all about meds and am not eager to get on them AT ALL.
Have been doing a lot of positive affirmations lately and that does help TREMENDOUSLY…however, that horrific anxiety still can creep in and just literally destroy me. Now that I think about it, the anxiety activates adrenaline…fight or flight. I can FEEL it. My body has probably produced enough adrenalin for an army in the past 3 years. Sometimes, it just leaves me feeling deadened and unable to act. Like in the parking garage.
Yesterday after work, I entered the parking garage, and had a meltdown because I “thought” I couldn’t find my car. Then I reasoned my way through it and did find my car. But I had a near panic attack because I was being so hard on myself and also because I had just had a silent meltdown at work caused by fear of not being able to perform a simple job. By the time I reached the parking garage, I had zero reserves left. It felt like my body shut down and I became an amoeba, just a quiverly mass of jelly standing in a parking garage…and suddenly, from somewhere benevolent, my senses returned enough to find my car. When I first got off the elevator and the fear of not seeing my car where I thought it should be hit me, I thought “My God, I HAVE totally lost it. This is the end for me.”
The good news is: today I had an excellent day at work. Because I did my affirmations. I am feeling much better, but inside, my body is saying “enough is enough…please don’t keep putting your body through this every single day….I don’t know how much longer I can keep supporting you when you react like this.”
Coping, when I read about your dream my gut instinct was that you were at a crossroads and that your Higher Self was sending you a msg that it was time for you to honor your gifts of intuitive knowing and your ‘voice’. Throat Chakra issue. “My child, with my guidance and protection, you can now move forward and out of the storm.”
In my opinion, this kind of dream/ vision – which I, too, have had – is a way for us to embrace the snapshot of our ‘problem’, compartmentalize it, seal it up/closure, and then jump out of that snapshot frame into a new awakened life.
I’m sorry you are having adrenal fatigue. Have you cut back on coffee and caffeine? Have you tried a moderate carb and high protein diet?
I’ve found that magnesium and CoQ10 are supplements that really help the adrenals. Also b-6 and b-5.
That is great news that your affirmations are helping. To keep working after retirement age can be a blessing. It can keep you involved in the community and healthier.
I noted your herbal recommendation, above.
I think I’d like to know more about what’s out there. Herbs don’t advertise. Pharmacutical companies do. So of course we know about manufactured drugs more so than herbal stuff.
What books do you recommend?
hi everyone, still here, struggling but tryng to keep myself safe by being boring!
I have a great drink/pick me up! It is quite an aquired taste but does work and was recommended from a book- “treating arthritis the drug free way”.I look on it as an elixir-
organic cyder vinegar
organic black strap mollasses
1 tsp of each mixed with a splash of hot/boiling water.
It helps you lose weight and generally feel better.
Christmas blessings to all!
I have a book called “The Amino Acid Revolution”. It’s from the 90’s, and it’s my reference bible for changing the way the body works. Amino acids are the bases for protein. Often times, especially when under stress or from bad diet, we don’t digest properly and proteins are not broken down as well as they should be. By supplementing with free-form amino acids we can nourish our bodies without using resources to digest proteins. This book discusses the role that each amino acid has in the metabolic pathways. It’s an awesome book.
As some of you know, I have been battling a serious heart condition since last October. I have become very active and involved with the American Heart Association and we are in the process of petitioning the White House to “GO RED” for the month of February, 2012, to help bring awareness to this silent killer of so many women. Please, take a moment to click on the following link, if you are in the United States, and add your name to the growing list of people asking the White House to become involved with promoting awareness of the number one killer in the United States.
I thank you ahead of time for your caring and participation.
Much love with best of wishes for a wonderful Holiday season,
i overcome stress through eating plenty of fruits and vegetables and see to eat to also have plenty of sleep. the tips in this article is really helpful thanks a lot