INFJ and Adrenal Fatigue

Wednesday, January 29, 2014 11 Comments A+ a-



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Hello from the Cafe. Today's special? Anything warm...

The deep-freeze continues, and being confined to the house has taken its toll on all of us. I've been battling cabin fever for days.

More than that, however, I'm battling something else, and that's the subject of today's post. I'd like to suspend the relationship series for a moment to address a topic others may (or may not) be aware exists: adrenal fatigue.

Ever heard of it? Unless you run in holistic circles, you might be scratching your head. Adrenal fatigue happens when your adrenal glands (those walnut-shaped thingies that sit on your kidneys) start functioning improperly.

The adrenals handle quite a few tasks for your body, including the production of adrenaline and cortisol. If you're ever in a fight-or-flight situation, it's the adrenals that go to bat for you by flooding your system with adrenaline. They're also in charge of releasing cortisol throughout the day. A little bit to get you up in the morning, occasional hits during the day to keep you going, and then leveling off at night so you can sleep.

These little babies are meant for occasional use. Meaning, in a perfect world, fight-or-flight wouldn't happen very often. But living with chronic stress can send adrenals into overdrive. When they become exhausted, they do what every other exhausted organ does...malfunction.

From waking us up with a little burst of energy in the morning, to keeping us awake, alert, and focused throughout the rest of the day, our adrenals are crucial to our health. When our adrenal glands are constantly required to sustain high cortisol levels, they eventually become impaired in their ability to respond appropriately. (womentowomen.com)
Mr. Furious

I suffered from adrenal fatigue about five years ago and can tell you from experience that it is completely debilitating. Wacky adrenals can cause all kinds of health problems, and they'll play around with your personality until you resemble a cross between Monk and that really angry dude from Mystery Men.

Womentowomen gives a detailed list of some of the symptoms. They look like this:

  • Blood pressure: High or low blood pressure, low blood pressure can often have the symptom of light headedness that is associated with it.
  • Food cravings and weight changes: Abnormal weight gain in the abdomen and thighs. Do you have cravings for salty or sugary foods, sometimes feeling uncontrollable?
  • Energy: Unable to stop, always on speed forward, ongoing fatigue, lack of stamina, feeling tired and wired much of the time. Lack of get up and go.
  • Emotions and coping ability: Inability to deal with day to day stress, feeling overwhelmed much of the time, struggling to get through the day, driven, very short fuse, anxiety attacks Unable to reframe ones thinking.
  • Thinking: Mentally foggy, fuzzy thinking, inability to stay focused on one task, chronic racing thoughts.
  • Immune response: Frequent infections, longer time than others to recover from illness or infections or trauma.
  • Sleep: Inability to fall asleep or fall asleep well but wake up nightly, Sleep soundly but wake up exhausted.
  • Hormones/Libido: Worsening of perimenopausal symptoms, low libido, severe PMS.

According to their website, the above symptoms can contribute to some pretty severe medical conditions, including arthritis, chronic fatigue syndrome, depression, digestive problems, hypotension, hypothyroidism, weight fluctuation, insomnia...and my personal favorite, rage attacks.

I haven't quite evolved to rage attacks, but I've been having some serious meltdowns. The unsuspecting victims of my pent-up stress don't deserve it, and it's usually over something that wouldn't normally have bothered me. Should've seen this coming, folks. For months, I've been putting on a good front while dealing with enormous stressors behind the scenes. My social media sites are filled with fluffiness and mostly portray the fact that everything's fine.

And everything isn't. Which makes me want to write another post on how the pressure of social media affects the population. But I digress.

Seriously, I'm trying to keep this light so it won't depress anyone. The symptoms, however, are pretty much hell to live with. When I had it before, I'd often break down in tears with my wellness coach (who was also a friend), admitting the internal fear that I might just be a terrible person. She assured me I wasn't and that the imbalances were driving my emotions, shortening my fuse, and inducing panic attacks. This isn't who you are, she'd say. You've got to take better care of yourself.

You can see how well I listened, right? The last time I felt normal was right before starting Gambit. That was back when it had no formal title and writing was just a hobby meant for fun. As months went by, I spent less time sleeping and more time writing (and drinking espresso). Looking back, I should have taken a break after finishing the manuscript.

But no...the INFJ in me just had to keep pushing forward. Now I'm to the point where writing is work instead of a joy, coffee is a requirement for getting through the day, and sleep only comes when induced by melatonin and a magnesium/calcium cocktail. In between those, I'm constantly cold and experience uncontrollable fits of crying and anxiety. My blood pressure is really low, and I get head rushes whenever I stand up. Oh, and I can't gain weight. The last time I looked this small was in Junior High. :(
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Do I have a point here? Yes, several, actually. One is that living with chronic stress is a very, very bad thing. Personally, I can't get away from mine, so I must endure. If you're dealing with it, you should probably consider ways to reduce stress before it depletes your adrenals and causes more harm.

Another point is that the INFJ habit of putting on masks isn't always helpful. Wearing the happy mask to obscure sadness and stress might work for a little while, but it's not a fix for an unhealthy lifestyle. Eventually the real issues will work their way to the forefront.

The last point is that, thankfully, adrenal fatigue can be treated.

The great news is, when addressed early and with proper support, you can heal adrenal imbalances and reverse the toxic effects of chronic stress. (womentowomen.com)
Healing isn't going to be easy. There's no quick fix. This will take time as I make better food choices, ease up on my personal writing schedule, and find the right supplements to support the healing process. But I'm hoping it will leader to a healthier future.

Disclaimer: I'm not a doctor. So if you believe you're suffering from chronic stress or adrenal fatigue, I urge you to find and contact a medical or holistic practice that specializes in diagnosing and treating these conditions. 

If any INFJs out there have experience with adrenal fatigue and would like to share, please don't hesitate to leave a comment. Take care!

11 comments

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Colin Machan
AUTHOR
January 29, 2014 at 1:18 PM delete

Sending you hugs, prayers and lots of love. Impressive that, even in your current situation, you can craft a blog post that is informative and uplifting. Take care of yourself. C

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Meridian
AUTHOR
January 29, 2014 at 1:20 PM delete

Thanks, Colin. Hope you're doing well. :)

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Alex
AUTHOR
January 30, 2014 at 11:54 PM delete

Hi, I'm an INFJ and subscribe to your blog. I also have adrenal fatigue and I'm close to have tried almost everything there is for it. Western medicine has nothing to help AF, to western medicine it is not even a valid disease state because it cannot be threated with pills. What is important is your mind set, what you eat and exercise. Without improving these three things you can never heal.

Chinese medicine and Ayurveda have a bunch of treatments for AF and general health which really improve symptoms of AF without side effects.

The ones that worked really well for me, I use daily and would recommend you read up about is: Theanine, Liquorice root, Ashwagandha, Rhodiola Rosea, Schisandra berries.

If you have frequent infections because of AD you should take some immune boosting like medicinal mushrooms (reishi, chaga, cordyceps etc) and Guduchi can also be helpful for immune system and allergies.

If you haven't tried any of it for AD I promise you it will be the best thing you ever tried. Best of luck!

Alex

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Meridian
AUTHOR
January 31, 2014 at 8:32 PM delete

Alex, thanks so much for your response. I recognize almost every single one of those ingredients from an herbal blend I took the last time. I'm getting ready to order it again. You wrote that you take them daily, so I assume they're safe to use all the time and not just when you start feeling icky?

I agree that Western medicine doesn't seem to consider adrenal problems an issue unless they're extremely serious (like Addison's disease). That's why I was so grateful last time to have a friend around with holistic knowledge. She's left the area, so I'm trying to all I can on my own. Relaxing mentally is a big one. It's amazing how we just go and go, forgetting to stop and listen to what our minds/bodies need.

Thanks again for your insights - many blessings to you! :)

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sonia
AUTHOR
February 2, 2014 at 10:35 AM delete

I'd never heard of adrenal gland problems... quite interesting. I've always had low to average blood pressure and I have a slightly overactive thyroid (unmedicated) but I've always attributed my speediness to caffeine since I sleep well (thank heavens). My husband has fibromyalgia and these symptoms also correlate with that, especially the brain fog. Oh, and I completely relate about the happy mask INFJs wear. It can be quite exhausting.

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Bree
AUTHOR
February 4, 2014 at 11:41 AM delete

As always, you peg exactly what I am dealing with personally!

I seem to struggle chronically with adrenal fatigue and so I can empathize with everything you are going through. The symptoms are not fun and they tend to sneak up on you before you know it. The most frustrating (for me anyways) is sleeping like a rock and waking up exhausted. (I have been wondering lately if INFJ's just tend to be susceptible to adrenal fatigue since most of the ones I have known seem to struggle with it chronically.)

While the root of the fatigue is what has to be addressed before healing can fully occur, I have (grudgingly and slowly) come to realize that sometimes you just have to eliminate as many sources of stress as possible. Like you said, some of them can't be done away with, but less stressors means more time and energy to deal with the ones that stay. In the grand scheme of things, some things just aren't worth the toll.

I am also curious about the supplements Alex mentioned above. I've taken a natural adrenal support supplement before, but didn't know if it was ok to take it regularly.

Sending prayers your way, Meridian! I hope to hear that you are feeling 100% better soon.

Bree

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Meridian
AUTHOR
February 4, 2014 at 9:10 PM delete

Hi, Bree! You know, I'm beginning to wonder myself if the INFJ personality type is susceptible to this. I've had several tell me they suffer from it, too. Maybe our tendency to internalize stress and strive for perfection makes us easy victims for adrenal fatigue?

I'm so sorry that you deal with this on a chronic basis. Your complaint about sleeping well and still waking up tired is one I can relate to. It's so frustrating when our bodies don't work the way they should!!

The last time around, I took herbal supplements and also desiccated adrenal. Yeah, that sounds nasty, but it helped. This time I ordered Gaia Herbs Adrenal Health Liquid Phytocapsules. When I get them, I'll look through the packaging and see if they're okay for long-term use. Will let you know what I find out.

Thanks for the prayers and support. You take care, too, and keep in touch.

M.

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Anonymous
AUTHOR
February 11, 2014 at 8:59 AM delete

I feel that spending more time in places where the stressors cannot find me, and lots of meditation about not thinking so much ((kind of an oxymoron I know) focusing on not thinking and just doing may be a better way of putting it (which is seemingly impossible for INFJs)) in the places where the stressors can find me has helped my adrenal fatigue.

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Marie
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January 18, 2017 at 6:23 PM delete

I am also an INFJ. Several years ago I contracted Lyme disease and started seeing a Naturopath. He happens to do ARL hair mineral analysis and some other things that showed I am an extremely slow oxidizer with adrenal fatigue, impaired digestion, liver, and thyroid dysfunction! Yeah, adrenal fatigue is a doozy and affects so many processes in the body. Anyhow, I was looking over my past tests (I test every 3-6 months) and did some internet searching and found some really interesting mineral patterns that can have impact on emotions. My mineral test patterns showed copper toxicity and also something called a calcium shell aka the "trying too hard pattern" (very INFJish)and also a "stress from within and without pattern", which thankfully improved. Occasionally have had anxiety attacks when I was at my worst. And also have what I had termed "Lyme Rage", but perhaps "AF Rage" would be more appropriate, lol. Going to try a diet specific to slow oxidizers, my ND had me doing something similar at the beginning, but I've had an up in symptoms this month, so back to mono meals. Had wondered if INFJs have similar health problems and a google search landed me here. So yeah, I think people with this personality definitely are more prone to this. Prayers for rest, peace, and healing. I so get it!

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Unknown
AUTHOR
March 1, 2017 at 5:30 AM delete

I have found adrenalift helps. There are some vitamin companies that have adrenal support vitamins containing different types of ginseng. Also a combination vitamin b supplement does wonders.

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Meridian
AUTHOR
March 1, 2017 at 9:52 AM delete

Thanks for the recommendations! I've been taking a B complex and drinking tea with ginseng, so it's good to know that I'm on the right track. :)

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