My journey through adrenal fatigue, leaky gut, and hashimoto’s hypothyroidism
It’s embarrassing to admit now, but before the words adrenal fatigue and hypothyroidism meant anything to me, and while my body was in crisis, I was criticizing it for being a little bit fluffier than usual. Why couldn’t I lose the extra few pounds? I’d always been able to with some diet modifications and exercise. So I downloaded a visualization meditation to lose weight, which makes me gag even writing that given what I know now.
Of course there were other signs that something was off…my heart would randomly race at night for no reason. I’d wake up exhausted, have no energy during the day, and be wired late at night. My nails were brittle and cracking, which they never had in my life. A chunk of hair in the back of my head became extremely curly. I developed food sensitivities.
Exercise, which I normally love, felt like torture. Running two miles (which in the past would be a warm up) was impossible. But when I met with two different PCPs, I was told I was the specimen of health. All of my tests looked great. Nothing wrong with me!
Deep down I knew something was wrong, but what do you do when your doctors and a health coach praise you for your good habits and health? A turning point came in the most unexpected way. Randomly while at a conference I spoke to a hairstylist during lunch. When I told her about the random patch of curly hair I’d recently developed, she told me I should look into whether or not I had a thyroid issue.
Having lost faith in my doctors at that point, I went to my acupuncturist and asked her to do some blood work. Sure enough, it came back indicating hypothyroidism. (As opposed to the blood work done by my PCP, this blood work included a breakdown of T3, T4, TSH.) Prior to this I had no health issues, so if I didn’t have a PCP to help me, I didn’t know there was help to be had.
I continued focusing on my weight over my health, rationalizing I could visualize myself to health. Thinking that maybe the exercise thing was a motivation issue, I hired a personal trainer. She also happened to be a Functional Diagnostic Nutritionist (divine intervention). As she did my intake, it became clear that she’d be helping me with much more than lifting weights. As an FDN, she was certified to order tests for me that might explain some of my symptoms, which were worse by that point.
For example, I couldn’t remember what I said or thought five seconds earlier. And I’m not taking occasionally. I’m talking every minute of every day. I’d look at someone and not be able to remember his or her name. Again, I’m not talking the person you met five minutes earlier. I’m talking about my dog who is glued to my side all day long. I’d look into his face wondering what his name was. I gradually adapted and realized that if I was patient, and waited 10-15 seconds, which feels like an eternity, by the way (especially for someone quick by nature and impatient), a name or a thought would eventually come. I admitted this to no one. I was afraid something was wrong with my brain or that I had early stage Alzheimer’s. At the time I had no idea that is a symptom of brain fog, commonly associated with adrenal fatigue and thyroid issues like hypothyroidism.
After a series of testing, and over a course of time with a Naturopath and my FDN, I was diagnosed with highest stage adrenal fatigue, leaky guy (including candida, h-pylori, and two parasites), and Hashimoto’s hypothyroiditis. The moment of relief I felt when I realized so many of the symptoms I felt were common symptoms of adrenal fatigue and hypothyroidism quickly passed when I heard this would take a minimum of a six to eighteen months to heal. There was no magic pill. It was an extremely gray area requiring finding a treatment plan that worked specific to my body.
There’s so much to share about the ups and the downs of this journey, which I am going to over the next couple of months. But one of my biggest breakthroughs came when I realized how my behavioral patterns, habits, mindset and emotions contributed to my health condition. This came after months of reflection and learning how to connect with and respect my body in a whole new way. Let’s just say that the inflammation (what I thought was the weight gain) was the last thing on my mind during the healing journey. I had a lot of making up to do with my body.
Today when I coach clients who also have these health issues, I ask them to describe their relationship with their body. Because I realized I was a world class a-hole to my body. I criticized it. I ignored it. I ate to reward myself and punished my body through criticism when it didn’t look perfect. I took it for granted. I did intense workouts, which, given the health issues that had been building within me for years, created even more stress for my body. I realized if I had treated a friend the way I treated my body, they most certainly would have stopped talking to me years before. And guess what? Most of my clients come to the same realization.
Because think about it. Most of the conditions I had were about my body feeling attacked. I’ll talk much more about this in future blogs, but for now I’ll use the example of adrenal fatigue. Adrenal fatigue comes from cortisol depletion, which means your body has been in fight-or-flight mode for an extended period of time. I didn’t have a bear chasing after me every day. I wasn’t literally fearing survival. I was creating struggles everywhere though. Leaving late for a meeting, stressing out the whole ride there. Struggling to pull together an outfit in the morning because my closets were so jam packed and unorganized. Waiting to the last minute to pack for a vacation. I could go on and on! But…
The key to healing my adrenal fatigue, hypothyroidism (hasmimotos hypothryroiditis) and leaky gut was to heal the behavioral patterns, mindset and habits that had contributed to it in the first place, in combination with some awesome supplements and health care professionals (yep, I eventually found the right ones! They are out there!).
And the key to losing the weight? The weight – or truly inflammation – disappeared when I made peace with my body and made choices that promoted healing my body. It became a non-issue when I understood the root of the real issues.
If you want to learn more about how I did that….
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