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.