Running on Empty: Adrenal exhaustion and chronic fatigue

A mindfulness teacher recently asked me about this widely spread malaise in our hectic world. There are many signs and symptoms, listed below, that I see in my clinic that indicate the problem, but don’t get too hung up about them: In the holistic world, if you have any it doesn’t mean your body is faulty, they act as reminders that we have not aligned ourselves correctly towards life. Once this is remedied, your can run on all cylinders again:

To get an understanding of why we have these symptoms, we need to know that the adrenal glands are part of our fight and flight mechanism, as well as influencing our metabolism. Adrenalin should only be used, when there are extraneous problems in our life, to give a boost when we need to run away from the tiger. The problem occurs when this acute become a chronic. ie it’s relied upon for day-to-day life. This then puts the body into permanent survival mode, which can result in any number of the following symptoms.

MENTAL/EMOTIONAL

  • Non-linear thinking, that feel like popping corn in your brain, giving rise to unfounded anxious thoughts
  • Negative, self-reproachful thoughts, because the mind is constantly trying to find reasons why “things aren’t working out”
  • Similarly giving rise to uncharacteristic aggressive, impatient or defensive reactions
  • Or, a defeated, low feeling

PHYSICAL

  • Weight gain around the stomach, survival mode trying to protect the vital organs with fat
  • Weight loss thighs and bottom, depleted collagen in the skin, making it slack,  because the metabolism  is then burning up proteins instead of fats.
  • Sudden sugar/carb/stimulant cravings.
  • Sleeplessness: Frequent waking in the night,  lack of adequate deep sleep.
  • Frequent urination at night (the adrenals sit on top of the kidneys).
  • High cholesterol in blood
  • Inadequate calcium assimilation, depleting bones and teeth instead laying calcium on top of them leading to tartar on teeth, tooth decay, osteoarthritis, and osteoporosis. (there is a link between the metabolic systems of adrenals, para-thyroid and thyroid glands)
  • Autoimmune conditions due to an over active fight of flight mechanism
  • Chronic fatigue.

The overall effect is DEPLETION of basic resources. In other words, too much going out of the system, not enough coming into the system to replenish it.

The Solution is to balance out how you replenish your system to match your output: realise your vital force

When we are running on empty, we are by definition, using up resources that we don’t really have in the first place. In holistic medicine, healing happens through re balancing our functionality. And the way I suggest is through our perception, because Perception is Everything. First of all, we need to understand why we get out of balance: in the western world we tend to do a lot of ‘Doing’ rather than Being (one could argue the opposites true in the eastern world). Doing is active, Being is passive. So when something seems to be a problem, whatever the problem is, we are fundamentally conditioned to ‘do’ something about it. An example would be, if we feel we do not have something that we need, we go and ‘get’ it – which is an action.

Now here is my secret behind resolving this issue: we have to learn to receive:

by standing still in our lives and noticing that our vital energy is already supporting us through our lives. It’s the perception of this that changes our experience. What I notice is that when I do it I feel a physical tingling in my body, starting with the hands and feet, traveling towards the centre. I automatically start to feel grateful because I realise that so much benevolent energy is healing and nurturing me – this is what we call the vital force. I then start to feel already whole and complete inside, where poverty is no longer my experience. From this inner feeling place, we can look out on the world and start to feel more secure and ‘at home’, merely because now we can see the complete picture. From this secure and sustainable place, we know we an endless supply of energy. What we can then discover is that because this is the case, we can choose the kind of activities and goals we wish to do, because we no longer have to do things to get things – which is all the treadmill stuff that makes our heart sink. Instead, we can do the stuff that makes us feel excited and alive – and guess what? We end up only doing the things that energizes us, so it’s a win-win scenario.

In this way we start to feel whole and  complete, but we haven’t done a thing, we’ve just shifted perception. And our bodies, that reflect our inner feeling state will follow suit. It no longer feels depleted, but rather more alive and at the same time replete. Our bodies ultimately therefore reflect how we are seeing life – and the good news is that you can change that!

One condition that is a good example of an acute version of this problem is post-natal depression. This condition is due to a combination of two factors: exhaustion from the marathon of giving birth and a system ‘spiked’ with oestrogen which affects the adrenals and thyroid in particular (which happens in pregnancy). So, again anti-depressant drugs will not address the underlying problem of this situation, as this is a physical not psychological cause. For immediate action I would always recommend strict bed-rest and possibly a homeopathic remedy most indicated in the symptoms, one of which being considered would be folliculinum to counteract the estrogen levels. This remedy is very good for people who give too much, against their will, but according to others needs, thereby deputing themselves a) because they are doing actions that don’t inspire them and b) they stop receiving, because they are always ‘the givers’ and feel guilty or unworthy to receive.

To illustrate my point of intention: Everyone knows a ‘needy’ friend, colleague or acquaintance, who you try to avoid, because they are always draining. It’s not that you begrudge giving them your time or help, it’s that they are sucking it out of you, because they feel ‘in need’, but have to get it rather than receiving it from you.  When another friend in need comes along, but only receives what you have to offer, you feel your giving to them is very energising to you, because the energy dynamic is correct. So it not the lack or the doing that is the problem, but the intention behind the giving and taking.

When we live a life of balance, we perform actions when we are inspired and when at rest, receive the energy that is already prevalent. This way, whatever you do in life will never deplete you. My analysis of the situation is likening it to putting a battery into an appliance the wrong way round, wherebv the poles are reversed. The energy is flowing in the wrong direction and therefore our appliance (lives/bodies) do not work properly, until we’ve shifted perspective. This is how we become conscious creators: we receive the inspiration that comes from inside of us and then act perform the action that has been inspired out of joy, which is supported by our benevolent vital Force that is unfailingly there for us no matter what!

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