Saturday, 25 August 2012

Adrenal Fatigue

     Having a relationship with narcissists will drain your adrenals. It's as simple as that. When at last I realised that my adrenals weren't functioning as they should, I blamed  it on the stress I had had for the three years before (I had moved three times) but now I don't think it was that at all. I think the stress was from being surrounded by people who just took and took and took, and eventually I had no (emotional) resources left. I was emotionally bankrupt and I didn't even know it. Having grown up in an Nfamily I didn't know any different. I didn't expect to have anything from other people but I always felt obligated to give to them. I can see now how this was a recipe for disaster. So in 1995 I had a really bad cold that wouldn't go away and after that I lost all the energy I had had before. In a book about adrenal fatigue it says that the cold or flu is what kind of catapults the adrenals to exhaustion but I think is the other way round: you get the really bad cold because your immune system and the adrenals are already exhausted and your defences are down.
      Back then there was no information on tiredness, no internet, nowhere to find why I was feeling the way I did. So I kind of plodded along, trying to keep head above water as much as I could, met a guy and got married. Then I really crashed. While going out with my husband we had had a lot of grief from the people around us and I just didn't have the energy or the insight to deal with it all. It was all so stressful and in a way it felt like somebody else had the remote control of my life and I could see it being fast forwarded without being able to do anything about it. After we got married we seemed to have a whole lot of people come and stay with us: parents, siblings, relatives, friends, friends of friends. It never occurred to me at the time to say no, sorry, it's not convenient or I'm not feeling so great or whatever. This went on for some years, but one thing I had started to pick on is that some people seemed to drain me completely while others made me feel better and have more energy. I couldn't make head or tail of why this was happening. Nobody I spoke to seemed to know the answer either. I would have to wait to 2003 to read in a book about Adrenal Fatigue (by James L. Wilson) that yes, people CAN rob us of our energy and it DOES have a physical effect on us. Unfortunately, even though I felt highly validated that the whole thing wasn't in my mind, I was disappointed that there was not a lot of information about why this is the case. The book called them Energy Robbing People and it said:

"It is not necessary at the moment to explore the reasons why they deplete you but just to become aware of who drains your energy."

I strongly disagree with this statement, I think the reasons why they deplete you are paramount to your recovery. Because I wasn't getting to the bottom of this, it took me a long time to feel better. I did try to follow the advice in the book, but I found that while I now knew what was wrong and I was taking all the vitamins and looking after myself I only felt marginally better, maybe one or two notches up, which isn't that great really. But when I got to the bottom of it (i.e. discovering that my FOO was narcissistic) and learned tools to deal with people differently, my health and energy levels improved considerably. Even in the last few months since I started my other blog I have felt a whole lot better. Yes, I still crash every now and then but I rest for a day and I pick up whereas before it might have taken me one or two weeks of rest to decompress and recover.

However, to give credit where credit is due, there were two ideas in the book that really helped me:

"Patients often tell me that they feel guilty for minimizing their contact with friends or family members even when that person is robbing them of their energy. But it is important for you to realise that nobody has a right to your energy. Your energy is your energy to use to stay alive and healthy."

To hear that nobody had a right to my energy really helped, it's almost like I needed permission to cut ties with some of the draining people in my life and that sentence just let me off the hook. The thing with draining people is that they're absolute masters of making you feel sorry for them and then they use your pity to keep you in a vortex of obligation and guilt. That creates a sort of double bind because if you spend time with them they'll exhaust you and if you don't, you'll feel guilty which is an exhausting emotion too, so either way you're stuffed. If you're stuck in that kind of dynamic with someone in your life, your adrenals don't stand a chance:

"researchers have found that rendering an animal helpless is one of the most rapid ways to deplete its adrenals".

No kidding. Being stuck in unhealthy relationships in which there seems to be no hope of improvement and no way out is the surest way to deplete your adrenals.


Wednesday, 15 August 2012

About This Blog

        During the last few years I have felt like I was looking at life through glass.  I had started to see that there was another reality going on with my FOO and some other people I knew but it seemed that I was the only one that did. I wasn't exactly sure of what was going on but I sensed, that there had to be some sort of explanation for my experience. After much research I found the ACoN community. Now I wonder why didn't I find them earlier, but I guess it's all about asking the right questions, or in this case about googling the right questions. You kind of "have to name it to claim it" and you all know, that if you have been brought up in a narcissistic family, this is no small feat.
        I already have another blog which I had to make it private just in case you-know-who found it. One of my blogger friends, Jessie, asked me recently if I would make it public again. I'm not sure I can, I want to be able to speak freely of some events that took place in my life which I am still trying to process and making it private gives me the freedom to give a lot more detail about it. However I do feel that once we know about narcissism we do have a sort of responsibility to share what we have learned  and what has helped or not. After all, I would not have come this far without having read the blogs of others that have been here before me and have taken the time to share their knowledge. So while I will continue to post the more detailed stuff on my other blog, I am going to post everything that I have found that helped on this one.

 I have chosen to name this blog after the Lewis Carroll book because of the chess analogy. I used to have a friend, a sort of mentor if you like, that I really admired at first: he looked like he had worked out what life was all about. He seemed to be a unusually emotionally healthy, no hang-ups, no depression, no guilt,  a highly functioning kind of person. In my ignorance I thought that was the way to go. For years I tried to imitate him and learn from him, but I never seemed to make any progress. While in theory it should have worked, in practice it left me feeling empty. Unbeknownst to me I was in a game of one-upmanship and  I was just a pawn in his chess board. I didn't know about narcissistic supply then. So I suppose you could say that between my FOO and some other "friends" I picked up along the way, I had built quite a catalog of narcissists. If you don't come from a dysfunctional family and have enough emotional resources I would imagine some of these people wouldn't have been a problem for you and you'd probably find them quite amusing if not entertaining, but when you're already carrying the burden of a narcissistic FOO the "extra" narcs in your life are no joke, because they take the last remaining bits of energy you may have for yourself that your FOO hadn't taken already. At one point I was "supplying" to so many narcs that no wonder I had no energy and felt ill most of the time. Not having a clue about the physical impact that people can have on you I used to blame it on stress, and it was only when I'd had enough of being tired all the time and started trying to find some answers that I found out about Adrenal Fatigue. Although the book I read about it did mention about "energy robbers" being a detriment to your health it never went into the reasons why that was so and rather focused on diet, exercise, etc. I suppose it would be a bit unfair to criticise the fact that it didn't go more into it and I understand that not everybody who suffers from adrenal fatigue may do so because of the people they hang out with, there might well be a number of reasons why other people get adrenal fatigue. I get that. It's just that, I believe now, that if I hadn't come to understand the impact of narcissism on my physical health, I would have spent the rest of my life in that vortex of blaming the symptoms and not the cause, and never really getting to the bottom of it and never really getting better. Around that time I saw a doctor who said to me: "If you don't change the way you live your life you're well on your way to get Chronic Fatigue or Fibromialgia." Actually, it wasn't the way I lived my life, it was the company I kept. I wish someone would have told me that.