Let me start by saying that I feel pretty good. I’m in very good spirits, and I feel better than I did five years ago, or even two years ago. My emotional and mental health is about 5000% better than it was in those days, and in fact, I feel like I’m at a positive turning point in my life. BUT… earlier this year, I hurt my back. At about the same time, I experienced a resurgence in a symptom set that has been with me since at least adolescence:
* social withdrawl
* blood sugar difficulties
* digestive weakness
When I switched over to raw foods, I experienced swift and dramatic reduction in all of these symptoms. Before going raw, I could barely work a 20 hour week at a desk job at the Interfaith, whereas after going raw I could work 30+ hours in a grocery stocking job that requires quite a bit of physical activity. BUT… the symptoms never went away entirely. They’ve been coming and going based on my stress level and how well-balanced I kept my diet. I’m rather stoic at times, and somewhat of a workaholic, so many of the people in my life may not have even noticed this set of symptoms. But it’s always been there, and the time has finally come for me to face it head-on.
For about two or three years now, my personal studies in health and healing have lead me to a definite conclusion about the "source" of these symptoms. Now, some testing through my new doctor has confirmed and clarified what I’ve known for quite some time.
Basically, I’m suffering from a serious case of adrenal burnout.
When the body first experiences stress, it goes into a heightened state of alertness — a "fight or flight" response that prepares the body physically to deal with an outside stressor. Adrenaline turns you into He-Man (or She-Ra) for just a few moments so that you can lift something heavy, jump over a big hole, fight off an attacker, etc. But if the stress continues, the body attempts to "adapt" to it by maintaining a frequent/constant state of adrenaline overdrive. Eventually, maintaining this constant adaptation to stress becomes too much work, and the adrenal glands (and other parts of the body) "burn out" like a light bulb that has been left on too long.
This is pretty much what happened to me. From early adolescence until after I graduated from college, I was in a state of incredible emotional stress that burnt up my adrenal glands and threw my whole body out of balance. Shortly after college, my introduction to the healing arts and my transition to a raw foods diet probably literally saved my life. The emotional roots of this condition are mostly healed, and I’m not usually actively aggravating the condition anymore with sustained stress of a physical, emotional, or mental nature. But so far, my healing efforts haven’t been enough to heal my adrenal glands fully. Tissue mineral tests have revealed that my whole body chemistry is out of whack, and my doctor left me with the impression that it’s a miracle that I’ve been walking around at all for these past few years.
And in case you’re not aware of this, it’s not really possible to survive without adrenal glands! It’s not like losing your appendix…
So, I’m starting a "program" to restore my adrenal health and other related health imbalances. This program includes supplements that run contrary to my long-standing practice as a raw vegan. I still advocate a 100% raw vegan diet, and I am still going to eat 100% raw. (Don’t worry, I’m still not going to eat raw kitty cats, no matter what Alf tries to tell me! Hah!) But since I obviously haven’t figured out yet how to heal adrenal exhaustion on this diet, I’m going to try out the "natural" supplements that my holistic doctor has recommended. In theory, this will only be temporary, and in theory, it will be quite effective. Hopefully, when combined with adequate rest, I will have healthier adrenals within a few months.
Why am I sharing all of this with the whole wide world?
First of all, I want to thank everyone for the concern that many of you have shown (or are about to show) about my health.
Second, I want everyone to know that I’m okay. Maybe not FULLY okay, but still quite functional, much more so than I used to be. I can still work and play; I just need to take extra time to rest and take care of myself so that my body will finally heal. My back and hips are stiff and sore, and I get tired sometimes like I have for the past 10+ years. But I don’t need any special assistance, and if I do need minor help at any point, I’ll be sure to ask for it.
Third, I am sharing this information because it’s going to change my involvement in the community. For at least the next three months, I’m going to be resting as much as possible. I may still attend some meetings, and I may still be involved in some groups. But in addition to the supplements, my doctor has prescribed for me the frequent use of a special magic word: "No." In other words… "No, I can’t come to that meeting. No, I can’t put up those flyers. No, I can’t internalize the stress and melodrama that you personally may be feeling right now. No, I can’t single-handledly defeat the forces of global fascism before naptime." (I can, however, still EXPLAIN how to defeat the forces of global fascism! Hah!)
Finally, I’m sharing this information in an effort to help others come to terms with their own varying degrees of adrenal burnout. We live in a stressful society, where even the people who have the height of physical and economic luxury often find their adrenal glands burning out and their bodies falling apart because of the demands placed on them by a heartless economy and lack of true community. If you are experiencing several of the symptoms mentioned above, I encourage you to study adrenal burnout and start treating it now before it gets any worse. I’ll be posting sporadic updates on my healing journey as it continues, so feel free to contact me and stay tuned for more information.
It’s quite a lesson in humility for me to say no to some of these opportunities for community service. I grew up watching Superman, and I’ve always wanted to fly around at a Kryptonian pace even though I have the flesh and bone of an Earthling. But above average effort in a below average body is no longer reasonable for me. Hopefully, in a few months, I will gradually increase my involvement again. Now that I’m doing some very focused healing work, I’ll probably become more active next spring or summer than I’ve ever been in my entire life. But in the meantime, I will focus my community involvement almost entirely on the Interfaith Center and on my own Revolution of One projects. Even if you see me looking and feeling great, I may turn down opportunities to be involved in a group, because for the next few months I need that good energy to stay in my body rather than spending it all on outside activity. Don’t hesitate to ask me to be involved in the community as you always have, because sometimes I’ll be eager to stay involved. But please don’t be surprised or offended if I say no or "not now." It’s not you… it’s me.
I’ve already seen improvement over the past two or three years with my own limited efforts to heal my adrenals. I probably wouldn’t be alive today if I hadn’t identified this condition for myself and used the tools I had available to support my own health. There’s still so much work to do, but I have every confidence that a few months of this healing program will finish the work that I’ve started. In the meantime, thank you for bearing with me, and I look forward to staying in touch and involved as much as I can during this time of special healing. I’ll let you know how it goes…