I experienced moving from Stage 2 to Stage 3 adrenal fatigue very quickly. When our family was living in Maui several years ago I was working in a high-stress job, and was putting in many long hours. I had a wonderful boss and was grateful for the job, but many parts of it were unsatisfying to me, and I felt trapped financially. Our family was experiencing some financial uncertainties and it really had me stressed out. I wasn’t investing time or money in eating the way that I knew I needed to… and this had been going on for a few years. I was very anemic and generally exhausted all the time. My coping mechanisms were lots of coffee and trying to manage my schedule and physical exertion. I didn’t exercise or do anything physically demanding. I was living live firmly in Stage 2.
One day my husband and I got caught in some very high surf. We knew that there was a high surf warning (15′ waves that day), and were at a beach without any lifeguards. We went for a quick dip in the water after the last giant set of waves had left, we thought we could get in and cool down by staying close to the shore. We entered the water up to our waists and suddenly a huge wave was coming towards us. In order to avoid being pummeled on the shore we both did our best “duck dive” and dove into the wave, coming out behind the break. Long story short, we found ourselves on the back-side of two large sets that came in back to back. We were trapped for about 35 minutes swimming over huge swells that were coming in and drifting farther and farther away from the shore. I quickly got exhausted, but knew that I had no choice but to keep swimming and wait for a break in the waves. When it finally came we both swam back in as fast as we could. We knew it was only a matter of time before the next giant set would come in and if we didn’t beat it in we could be in a very dangerous situation. Thankfully we made it safely to shore, but by the time I go there I had used up physical reserves that I didn’t have. I was so exhausted and out of breath that my hubby had to drag me the last 20′ out of the water. I literally collapsed on the sand and couldn’t even lift my head for several minutes.
Eventually I caught my breath and regained my normal heart rate (I measured my heart rate about 45 minutes after we got out of the water, and it was still at 150BMP). I fully expected to be extra tired the following week, but the scare and physical exertion pushed me from Stage 2 into Stage 3. Instead of recovering after a week or two, I just started to get worse and worse. I was exhausted but not sleepy. I was still making it through my days at the office, but could barely get dinner on the table for my family at night before collapsing onto the touch. Many nights I was so exhausted I couldn’t eat and went straight to bed. Usually I couldn’t fall asleep for hours, I just lay there. Exhausted and feeling very hopeless.
Summer was approaching and it was the slow season for accounting, the field I was in. My boss agreed to let me to go part-time hours during the summer, and I had high hopes of recovering my physical stamina and enjoying summer days at the beach with my 3 children. Instead, I continued to become incapacitated. On days that I wasn’t at the office, I struggled to do anything, spending hours on the couch.
We decided that we needed to make significant life changes so that I could heal. I’ll write more about my healing in a future post, but I am so thankful that I have healed and can honestly say that I now feel better than I ever have.