Recovering from adrenal depletion

I’m in bed, mid-afternoon on a Wednesday, listening to the sound of rain on my metal trailer and the rumble of thunder in the background.

When you live in central Texas, and you get several days of thunderstorms and drenching rains in the middle of July, you count your blessings. Last summer was the worst drought on record. There were cracks in the ground an inch across and as deep as two feet where I live. Those cracks began to reappear after a luscious wet spring turned until a dry summer.

Until this week. The rain sounds and feels like a blessing. Even the hot humidity, in between rains, is welcome. It’s been so long since we’ve had it.

I went out earlier today to meet with a recruiter about a job. Yes, I’m looking for a technical writing/editing contract job. I’ve been heavily recruited for multiple jobs in the past week. I have some financial goals that I’d like to achieve before I’ll be ready to settle into a full-time bodywork and changework practice. Need a newer car, insulation and a deck for my trailer, a much desired trip to Peru in February, and some advanced NLP training next summer. I cannot do all that on massage wages.

I feel a bit incongruent about it. I’d love to just do bodywork and change work full time now (plus more writing), but I’m too broke. So, sigh, hi ho. Even though corporate work takes a toll on my health, I was able to earn and save a nice chunk of change that I’ve been living on since that last job ended nearly two months ago.

I’m still recovering from adrenal depletion (according to my acupuncturist, who told me to take OTC rhodiola and eleuthero) from shocks and stress earlier this year, and I am really feeling it today. Naps are good! Avoiding stress is good. So is really cherishing myself and only hanging out with people who are nurturing and fun to be around and trustworthy.

Laughter is good.

In order to work in the corporate world and stay as healthy as I can, I need to:

  • get a massage twice a week
  • get acupuncture twice a month
  • do yoga daily
  • eat impeccably healthily
  • work from home as much as possible
  • work standing up as much as possible
  • take frequent breaks to move my body
  • dance and shake it out every day
  • meditate

I’m feeling grateful for this downtime in between jobs to start my private massage practice, to experience doors opening (chair massage, anyone? stretching, trigger points? marketing?).

Meanwhile, I’m learning about the mechanics of trauma/chronic stress recovery first hand, and that will be quite useful in my own life and in my healing practice.

Wish me well!

The price of busy-ness. If you need a massage, call me. I’m good.

I just encountered this great article, an opinion piece from the New York Times, about busy-ness and thought I’d share my thoughts.

Not only am I a recovering serious person, I’m also a recovering busy person. For several years, I worked full-time and went to graduate school while raising a child as a single mother. In hindsight, that was insane.

This downtime after my last contract job in the technology world ended about six weeks ago has been lovely. I’m recovering from adrenal exhaustion, and then, just when I was starting a running practice that I felt joyful about and ready for, I pulled a calf muscle and have had to lay low for longer while it heals. (It’s healing very nicely, with self-care and other healing hands working on it. Thanks, Brigitte and Pauline!)

The universe is telling me to slow down, and I’m listening. I’ve been letting a lot of stuff slide, trusting that the important things will rise to the top of the list and the rest will get done when and if they get to the top. One day at a time. I’m loving my daily Tarot readings, the cards that influence my awareness and development and trust in the universe. My favorite deck is the Osho Zen deck.

During this period I’ve also attended several trainings in Somatic Experiencing, which is based on the truly great trauma recovery research and writing of Peter Levine. (I’m currently reading In An Unspoken Voice: How the Body Releases Trauma and Restores Goodness.) I fell in love with it. The main premise is that trauma deregulates the nervous system (into freeze or fight or flight), and that the body can heal itself, with loving attention and guidance.

I’ve been practicing body awareness as well as writing about grounding, centering, and having boundaries. You can expect more posts along those lines.

I also seem to be developing an organic vision for my bodywork and changework practice that involves more teaching and writing. And—I am available now! Call me if you need a massage. I am really good, my rate is reasonable ($1 per minute), and I give discounts for regular customers and referrals.

Who knew that all this time, throughout the history of the human species with all of its atrocities and traumas, that the secret to trauma recovery was right there all along, being ignored by the mind, which in order to “be civilized” began to believe itself superior to the body?

How cut off are we from our own lives? Have you ever had something like this happen to you?

I recently wrote a friend to ask if he wanted to do something this week, and he answered that he didn’t have a lot of time but if something was going on to let him know and maybe he could ditch work for a few hours. I wanted to clarify that my question had not been a preliminary heads-up to some future invitation; this was the invitation. But his busyness was like some vast churning noise through which he was shouting out at me, and I gave up trying to shout back over it.

Self-importance is a joy killer, and that’s all most busy-ness is, when you get right down to it. If you are swept away in a current of busy-ness, why, then you must be somebody important! Or at least somebody.

It’s the opposite of being here now, of being present and grounded/centered/boundaried/etc. in your own body. It’s dissociation.

Here’s more, about a New York artist who moved to a village in the south of France:

What she had mistakenly assumed was her personality — driven, cranky, anxious and sad — turned out to be a deformative effect of her environment. It’s not as if any of us wants to live like this, any more than any one person wants to be part of a traffic jam or stadium trampling or the hierarchy of cruelty in high school — it’s something we collectively force one another to do.

How do we collectively force one another to be too busy to be real? It’s as I suspected:

Busyness serves as a kind of existential reassurance, a hedge against emptiness; obviously your life cannot possibly be silly or trivial or meaningless if you are so busy, completely booked, in demand every hour of the day.

I’m listening, feeling, and letting each day unfold while not losing myself in breathless busy-ness. Isn’t that what summer is for?

The space and quiet that idleness provides is a necessary condition for standing back from life and seeing it whole, for making unexpected connections and waiting for the wild summer lightning strikes of inspiration — it is, paradoxically, necessary to getting any work done.

Well, it’s almost noon, and I’m still in bed on this Monday morning, in bed with my laptop, tarot cards, book. Actually, my butt is getting numb, and I feel thirsty. I believe I’ll get up, stretch, drink some green tea, and mosey over to the yoga mat. I hear a down-ward facing dog calling my name.

Recovering from a virus, recovering from adrenal exhaustion

I awoke sick Saturday morning with a sore throat. I thought maybe it was strep throat. Drank lemon echinacea Throat Coat tea, sprayed a throat numbing liquid, and took two Alleves. Ate breakfast.

As the day progressed, I began to feel achy and chilled. Not much nasal congestion, and my throat became less sore, so it was probably not a cold. Pretty sure this was some type of influenza. The first battle of an invader with the immune system takes place in the tonsils, right? They fought hard, thank you very much, but were overpowered by a virus.

Sigh. Who knows how long this will last?

I did whatever I could think of to boost my immune system. I drank Tulsi tea, then made tea from fresh ginger steeped in hot filtered water and drank that. I ate a clove of garlic. (Slice thinly and swallow quickly, don’t chew.)

I did EFT three times. I did the thymus thump several times. I took three long naps. I had no appetite at all but stayed hydrated with the teas and water.

I finally remembered I owned a thermometer and took my temperature Saturday night. It was 102.2 degrees F.

That evening was the worst of it. I couldn’t lie still. Kept needing to flex and point my feet and circle my ankles, changing position often. Weird, huh? All I can figure out is that these movements were activating meridians (several of which begin or end at the feet) and moving lymph.

(Lymph is a fluid that contains infection-fighting white blood cells. The lymphatic system clears the toxins, waste, and other stuff  your body no longer needs. It’s a key part of the body’s immune system. Since the lymphatic system doesn’t have a pump, it works better when you take measures to help it circulate: by moving the body, dry-brushing, and lymphatic drainage, a type of light massage.)

I’ve learned in my studies of trauma recovery to allow the body to move as it needs to, unless it’s dangerous. So on with the foot movements.

Sunday morning I felt a bit better. Took my temperature twice that day, 99 in a.m., 100 in p.m. Aches and chills were gone, and my appetite came back somewhat later in the day, but my energy was low. I decided to stay home yesterday (Monday), believing that resting would speed my full recovery.

It seems I had a mini-virus, a two-day bout of illness. I have no idea if what I did shortened the duration of it, or if it would have been a 48-hour bug no matter what. You’d need a scientific experiment with a control group to determine that, and there could still be variables unaccounted for.

Still, it just feels better to know that I did what I could to strengthen my immune system.

Today (Tuesday) my temperature was normal. I went out and did a few things that couldn’t be postponed (I’m moving on Friday, after all), but I still feel weak and not quite back to myself.  I’m accustomed to feeling well and having a nice level of energy.

I have so much to do this week, it’s imperative that I recover quickly. I need to clean out my shed, get boxes, pack, and work three days this week. I need to get well. I made an acupuncture appointment because it helps.

~~~

Postscript, July 9, 2012. Hindsight is such a great teacher, bringing the gifts of perspective and insight.

When I look back on the time when I originally wrote this post a year and a half ago, I can see that I was stressed. I was selling my house, moving, and starting a new contract job. That’s when I got sick.

Stress weakens the immune system. If it goes on too long, you can suffer from adrenal depletion or exhaustion.

That happened to me this spring. I had just just studied for and passed the national certification exam for massage and bodywork, not exercising or resting enough, and I was stressing about money and work. A friend suddenly showed distinct signs of mental illness, which freaked me out. I experienced a fight-or-flight reaction, which means the adrenals are producing copious amounts of stress hormones that keep the sympathetic nervous system dominant.

I took different contract job at a technology company, working in a group that was experiencing a lot of chaos, with an hour-long commute. Much more stress and misery.

No wonder, when I saw my acupuncturist after the job ended, she told me I was suffering from adrenal exhaustion.

She advised me to take over-the-counter high quality rhodiola and eleuthero as directed on the bottles to recover from the adrenal exhaustion. I’ve been doing that for about a month now, and I feel much better. (These are also listed on my Products I Recommend page.)

As a massage therapist, I recommend frequent massage to help the body release stress and tension. A relaxing massage helps the nervous system begin to regulate itself again instead of being stuck in sympathetic mode, which helps you recover from stress more quickly and experience the deep relaxation (and strong immune system, better digestion, better sleep, stronger sex drive, more playful attitude) that occur when the parasympathetic nervous system comes back online. I also recommend Epsom salt baths for stress relief.

Related: See my post about preventing illness and recovering quickly.