I didn’t see the adrenal fatigue coming, because it was accumulative. Stress over issues out of my control was wearing my body down. Decisions made that were wounding people I cared deeply for had begun to take its toll on my physical and emotional health.I admit I’ve perfected the “art” of carrying other peoples’ problems. It is hard for my mercy heart to do otherwise, which creates a ripe environment for codependency. My working definition of codependency is this: I care about your problems more than you do.
It is impossible to give the exact day I hit my wall. But over a year ago, I began to see the signs of the adrenal fatigue. Almost zero stress filter, meaning I had to eliminate any activity that promoted anxiety. No evening news, which is filled with war and tragedy. Prayer requests burdened me. These are just a couple of examples. My antennae was up and I was making a bee-line for the door, so to speak, if I saw stress approaching me. Increasing pain in my abdominal area paralyzed me with dread, because I had lost a good friend to stomach cancer the previous year. At times I’d tremble uncontrollably when something felt stressful. I felt powerless to stop my reactions when triggered. Feeling guilty before the Lord, I wondered where my faith had gone. The role of the adrenal glands is to manage stress in our bodies and when one hits adrenal fatigue it is a real thing. Insomnia, fatigue, and even symptoms of depression (which I now understand is adrenal related) reduced my life to a fraction of what I desired.
I had nothing to give for many months. Moody and edgy, I missed the old me that loves to laugh and connect with others. I felt like I didn’t even know who I was anymore. Shame and failure taunted me, causing me to hide from most what I was walking through.
My passion is for others to come into their true identity as sons and daughters and I couldn’t even find Father’s love. It was a dark place and I didn’t know how to get out. And yet…There is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. Proverbs 18:24,b (NIV)
Through all of this, the One who knows and loves me most showed me His faithfulness. I believe He held me many times, though I was unaware. Hindsight shows me many ways He was “ever present”. Trusted friends encouraged me and held onto hope when I couldn’t. They saw firsthand what was happening and their deep compassion and loyalty was a lifeline on a stormy sea. Family prayed me through it and extended great patience when I was all but pleasant to be around.
Father has been kindly showing me over the past couple of years that shouldering false responsibility produces no good thing. Playing the role of the Holy Spirit in trying to fix people, cripples my ability to walk in peace and trust. And in his loving way, He let me see the effects that stress has on the human body. He carried the burdens of the world on the cross. Only one savior was needed, so I could step down from that position.
Father’s steady love in my lowest place demonstrated that I am still lovable and worth the air I breathe. My comfort was that my Father promised never to leave me; this sustained me giving me courage to make steps toward health. I didn’t need to prove or promise anything to him. He would bring me out of this fog and I would learn much through it.
Sometimes the darkest places in our lives hold the greatest revelations. I treat myself much more kindly these days. If I feel stress coming on, I recognize it. On this road to health (not just physically, but emotionally and spiritually), I listen to myself more. I pay attention to the warning signs. Sometimes I wish I could wave the wand and never struggle, but I’m oh so human. Desperately in need of my Father’s strength. But what a Father! And what a friend He has been to me.