Adrenal Fatigue and Nervous Exhaustion

I spent the last 2 months staying at my sister’s holiday house at Hawks Nest, about 3 hours drive north of where I normally live in Sydney. The plan was to get away and relax. I ended up working quite a lot, and having a lot of headaches. When I rested for long enough, the headaches went away. Hardly surprising really. But then my restlessness would kick in and I’d just want to go and do something. I got a lot done but I realize that as a writer, the more you write the more you realize that you have more to say. It never ends. On the plus side the income from my websites is slowly increasing, which lessens my sense of financial stress. It’s still not nearly enough to live on and only growing slowly. Some days I feel depressed about this but there’s not much else I can really do right now.

Anyway, I spent much of my time either relaxing at the house, writing content for my blogs, or working down at the local library which had free internet access and was open Monday, Wednesday and Friday. I don’t work Saturdays. They dolled out the internet access in 2 hour blocks, and eventually I realized that if I only worked 2 hours maximum per day, I didn’t get headaches but did have a sense of moving forward. After work each day I went and either lay on the beach or sat by the lake and just relaxed. It was beautifully peaceful and quiet up there, far away from the crazy city life I normally live. I didn’t really feel very lonely. A few friends came and visited which was great, and I had heaps of books to read and DVDs to watch to occupy my time. I was a mixed blessing that the wireless internet adaptor I’d bought didn’t work well enough at the house for me to work from home; kinda forced me to take a bit of a break on Tuesday and Thursdays when the library was closed.

While I was away I finally got around to doing some Internet research into Adrenal Fatigue. A girl in my acting class last year said she suffered from it, and it immediately sounded very familiar. I stumbled upon the Wikipedia article on Neurasthenia, a.k.a. Nervous Exhaustion, which also matches my symptoms very closely. Sounds pretty consistent with Ashok Gupta’s hypothesis and many of the suggestions in the Gupta program match the advice given in Dr Lam’s article on Adrenal Fatigue. I’m going to be following this advice more closely; especially the bits about diet, going to bed earlier, and taking B-group vitamin supplements. I feel nervous a lot of the time, find it hard to relax and always feel like there’s a lot of stuff to do, which all fits the pattern.

I’ve also been continuing my morning Yoga, breathwork and meditation almost every day; except a few times when I’ve woken up with a really bad headache or just felt too cranky to bother. But they’re in the minority. It seems to be gradually calming my nervous system and I’m not feeling so resistant to doing it. I feel a little less jumpy and shaky. The weather at home is warmer now, so I do it out in the backyard behind my block of units in the sun. I start off with Surya Namaskara (salute to the sun) which is a bit silly to do it in my living room where there is no sun. First time I ventured into the backyard to do it, I worried about the neighbours in the other units thinking I looked ridiculous… downward facing dog and all; but I’m getting over my fear of what other people think.

The other obvious thing about nervous exhaustion is that the cure involves large amounts of rest. That means doing nothing, which I struggle with so I’ve borrowed a heap of guided meditation CDs from the local library to help with that. Meditainment Stress Relief and The Stress First Aid Kit are my favourites so far.

My other exciting news is I’ve won two Toastmasters humorous speech contests lately, meaning I progress to the next level. I’d love to be a comedian one day when my health is back, and I’ve been studying everything I can get my hands on about comedy. Besides, laughter is a great stress relief. I hope you’ve had a laugh today!

Author: Graham

I’m a guy in his late 40’s, recovering from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome since May 2009. I now offer coaching and support to other people with CFS/ME.

10 thoughts on “Adrenal Fatigue and Nervous Exhaustion”

  1. Still love this blog. I know this is an old post but sometimes when you write it is as if you’re typing the words that I would utter!

  2. I’ve bee n sick for 8 years. Every time I get up a little I go down hard REALLY HARD as in bed ridden. I’ve done allot of nutritional therapy & used western meds. It helps get me up a little (very little) then I crash again. Missing link. relaxation. I can’t calm myself inside!! HELP

    1. Hi Lisa. I feel for you; I find relaxation difficult too and I think finding that place of calm is key. Being ill is stressful, and stress makes us ill. You might find this article I wrote on another site about How to Handle Stress helpful. That’s about all I can do since I’m taking the rest of the weekend to relax myself… Cheers, Graham

  3. Hi Graham, I have found the anxiety is nearly always from past trauma and the meditation helps greatly with this and with improving energy. I also find that closely monitoring adrenal function helps dramatically with energy and function. I do believe that lifestyle factors play a huge role in controlling CFS and have set about to help more people with this energy draining condition.

  4. It seems like I go through this every few months. I don’t even realize the symptoms until one day it kind of all hits me. I know then that its going to be a week of relaxation and really doing nothing just to calm down a bit. The thing is, when that week is over, I’m right back writing content, working blah blah. I’ve tried cutting out caffeine etc, but you have to have some fun haha.

      1. BTW, does that morning meditation help you? I have not yet tried it. I’ve been meaning too, but I’ve tried something like that in the past(not an honest attempt) and It seemed like I was too excited or “on edge” for it to work. I couldn’t get in that “zone”. Also, with the emotional stress etc, I’m actually getting to the breaking point again. I can always tell, because I start getting light breathing, minor chest pains etc. I need to find something new to try, Maybe I’ll try to find a relaxation cd and actually TRY to relax. Great blog btw, lots of goodies here.

        1. Yes, the meditation/breathwork/yoga/relaxation has made me feel less anxious and edgy. It just takes practice. All those people who said the effect was cumulative and you need to practice every day were right. It took me a long time to take it seriously. Getting over the initial resistance is the tricky thing, because initially when you sit still you’ll feel the anxiety that you normally avoid by busyness. After a few weeks/months the relaxation exercises become quite enjoyable. Inner peace is wonderful when you can connect with it. Thanks for the feedback Rob.

  5. Glad to hear you are feeling better, Graham, and that you are making progress. Congratulations on the Toastmaster’s successes! I was thinking about you yesterday when I saw this article in the NYTimes on the viral theory of Chronic Fatigue. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/23/health/research/23fatigue.html

    While more studies are ongoing, it looks like XMRV is not the cause of CFS. I think you are right that is it a cascade of effects that includes overactive amygdala triggering a flood of reactions from the hypothalamus, pituitary and adrenal glands. Rest, meditation and yoga soothe the reaction and help regain a stable state. Is that what you are thinking these days?

    1. Yes, pretty much. I’m skeptical about the XMRV connection. Even if I’m wrong though and it is viral, stress management to reduce the anxiety symptoms is the only effective treatment available at the moment anyway.

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