“Both abundance and lack [of abundance] exist simultaneously in our lives, as parallel realities. It is always our conscious choice which secret garden we will tend." - Sarah Ban Breathnach

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Adrenaline Junkie

I think I thrive on stress. Not the normal background soundtrack to my life kind of stress, but the in the moment kind of stress. Like when I speak in front of a large group of people, or I race to complete a deadline, or I handle a crisis fairly well. It's almost like I feel high for an hour or two after!

And then I crash. Muscle fatigue, extreme exhaustion, brain fog, headaches -- you're all familiar with it.

I think I've been cycling in and out of it for weeks now. I wake up in the morning, and I'm hit with the worries of the day, sending a rush of adrenaline through me that won't let me doze anymore. I scurry around getting the kids off to school, and then when it quiets, I rest. The rest brings on a crash, and I can barely get out of it! Yesterday, I actually had to sit down in the shower (I'm usually higher functioning than that). I called my husband and started crying before he even said hello. Not good.

Then it's time to pick up the kids and shuttle them to various activities, and I'm living on adrenaline again. We get home in the evening, and I have to ask one of my teens to put chicken nuggets in the oven for me. I try to interact and help the kids get their homework done or get ready for the next day, but all I can manage is a little half-hearted nagging. By the time bed comes, I collapse.

It is finally dawning on me that perhaps adrenal fatigue is a part of my CFS! (Duh.) Does anyone have a way of breaking out of the stress cycle? Is there a way to "talk yourself down" from an adrenaline high? I'm interested in opinions and ideas!


Renee said...

I can share my 3 cents worth of info from classes I have taken and my own experiences. I know I used to thrive on fed me so to speak and made me feel more active and alive...until it didn't. Until I burned out my adrenal glands in the push and crash cycle so often that now it takes very little to put me into an adrenaline surge. I stay there a long time once it happens. From what I have learned , the key is to avoid getting to that point and tipping over into it. With structure, planning, pacing activities, and avoiding stresses as much as possible. Everyone needs to help you with this. Quiet time is essential as is rest periods. Meditation CDs help as you know. With CFS everything feels like an emergency and I try to tell myself that as a reminder when I get stressed. AND I keep in front of my mind these words our online support email group say.....FEELING BETTER IS DANGEROUS! Why? because when we feel better we go right back to charging into our lives and not saving or pacing our energy.
It must be awfully hard with kids at home. I know it was for me. We need to become people who are SELF-centered so we can become healthier and maintain the level we are at.
I may think of more later, Shelli...
Here is what I TRY to do...sometimes I succeed sometimes I don't.
Meditation relaxation cds 2x a day.
Two or more rest periods each and every day without fail.
Stay alert to what I watch on tv or even the news...avoid anything that causes overstimulation ~ visual audio touch too for me.
I journal or blog to get rid of emotions....
Force myself to relax with a book, a puzzle, a slow tv show, etc. when in a surge.
Figure out my warning signals and obey them! Stop and Drop!!!
Gosh, I hope this helps. I know many others will have good advice too.
Wishing you peace and healing stillness, Shelli.

Sue Jackson said...

Proactive rest really helped change things for me - to rest before you feel like you need it. For me, an afternoon nap does the trick - every day after lunch, no matter what else is going on. I know that others do well with multiple smaller rests throughout the day. "Rest" means REAL rest - lying down in a quiet room with eyes closed, not reading or watching tv. It can really help smooth out the ups and downs.

I hope you find some solutions that work for you soon!


Dusty Bogwrangler said...

I'm with Renee and Sue and can't add much to their sensible words. The aim is to not surge in the first place. Resting resets your adrenalin 'thermostat'.

You must act or else you will just get worse. Sorry to be the bearer of bad tidings. Oh, and lay off the coffee. (a message to myself as much to you).

Well done for recognising what was happening. That's the hard part over.

Hugs from across the sea.

me/cfs warrior said...

Everyone has been so thorough in their replies all I can add is that I agree with what others have said.

I downloaded relaxation exercises from itunes and listen to them when my body revs up (although really I should be doing them everyday to retrain my body).

Jacqueline said...

Hi Shelli,

Found my way here from Google. Just wanted to add that in my own attempts to get my adrenals back in good health, I have stumbled the idea of timing meals and snacks throughout the day to coincide with natural circadian rhythm and cortisol production. Also, spreading out meals and snacks prevent low blood sugar which can also tax adrenals. Maybe you already do this, but here is the article I read. The meal chart is about halfway down. Good luck!
Signs and symptoms of adrenal fatigue

alyson said...

Hi Shelli,

I can completely relate to your post. When I first got sick about ten years ago (and before I was diagnosed), I fell into a cycle of being active and then crashing, being active and then crashing. It was exhausting!

What has helped me the most is reminding myself that I have physical limitations (whether I like them or not, and whether others recognize them or not). This reminder helps me (most of the time) to prevent major crashes because I force myself to "take it easy" all the time.

Though this sounds like a simple concept, I have struggled with this acceptance of my limitations for the past ten years. It's an ongoing battle.

Renee wrote a great post recently about this topic ( It includes some of the things she put in her comment here, but I found it to be a great read.

Best wishes!