Adrenal fatigue – the invisible disease (part 1)

My name is Tamara, I’m 22 years old and suffering from adrenal fatigue since May 2014. Yes, you’re right, over one year now. But that’s nothing compared to other people, which suffer from chronic illness for decades. But let me start at the beginning of my “new life with adrenal fatigue”. I was a happy 21- year old girl, studying international hotel management in the Netherlands. Everything seemed perfect for the first time in my life. I had amazing people around me and I did pretty good at my studies. To be honest, I was very good! ! One day, I was busy learning for my exams. By that, I mean really really busy. Nothing else mattered besides my exams. Again, I freaked myself out. I wanted to be perfectly prepared, in order to pass these tests and to be proud of myself. I bacame a victim of my own bad and unhealthy habits. I kept drinking 7 to 8 cups of coffee a day (or rather a night). I did not even left the house, so that I don’t loose any time for my learning process. I ate sugar 24/7. I bought a huge box of candies and kept eating them and drinking my coffee, while learning. I didn’t think about it, I just thought that my brain needed sugar and energy. Hours later I went down to the kitchen to cook some food. I started cutting my capsicum while talking to my flatmate and boom!! A weird and scary feeling started to take control of me. All of a sudden, I felt very dizzy, saw black stars everywhere and the most scarring, I did not hear my flatmate talking anymore. I saw her mouth moving but I just couldn’t hear her anymore. My heart beat was racing and in this moment I thought that I will get a heart attack and die on my kitchen floor, while my mum is in our home country in Germany. But, after some chocolate and some water I felt a little better. The dizziness was still there, so I decided to stop learning and go straight to bed, to be ready and energised for my exam the next day. Unfortunately, I didn’t feel better the next day. I couldn’t really read the questions on my paper. I had a blurred vision. My brain wasn’t working correctly and I didn’t know what the hell was wrong with me. I felt as if I was on drugs or drank way too much alcohol (which I wasn’t). What was wrong with me? I left the exam hall, scared, full of anger and disappointed of my own failure. I thought I was perfectly prepared and again, this turned into a rather perfect disaster. The next days I didn’t feel better. I was exhausted and felt dizzy. By exhausted I don’t mean tired, I mean really really exhausted. As if I have a hangover which doesn’t go away. I couldn’t ride my bike to university, because I was to exhausted. I couldn’t cook, beauce I was to exhausted. And yes, I couldn’t even take a shower, because I was to exhausted. Every little movement became a challenge. Going to the toilet was never harder in my life. The people around me couldn’t understand. They told me

you need to sleep, you’ll get better.

But that’s the tricky part, I was completely exhausted, but I couldn’t sleep. Even the small amount I slept was not energizing. I new, I needed to do something. I called my mum and told her that I’m coming home and that I’m taking a small break from university. She picked me up and we drove to Germany. I went to my Doctor and that’s where the real struggle started. Several tests were made. The checkup didn’t show anything harmful. My doctor told me

you’re tired, go home, drink water and sleep, you’ll get better soon.

Weeks later I felt worse. Every single day I really thought I will die. Severe panic attacks which increased my symptoms, made me feel the worst. I had the constant feeling of passing out. My heart was constantly racing and I couldn’t sleep at all. This is the moment where my mum decided to bring me to the hospital. After 5 days and several tests I left, without any diagnosios.

You probably have anxiety and depression, you should go to a psychologist!

Was the only sentence I was left with. Sitting in my mum’s car, on our way back home, I was crying as loud as I could. What was wrong with me? Why is no one able to help me? Why is there no magical pill to simply treat my symptoms? Do I have depression? Do I have a tumor somewhere and the doctors didn’t see it? Why is this bullshit happening to me? That’s all the questions I was left with and my mum couldn’t help me either. I saw the frustration and sadness in her face. I saw her worries. I was thankful to have her, because she was the only one who stood by my side, during that time. However, I was mad. I started insulting her.

You need to do something mum! You need to help me! You have to find a solution! I hate you! You’re not helping me at all! You’re such a bad mother! Do something, so that I get better and that I can return to university and live a normal life!

At that point, I didn’t realise that the solution to my wellbeing was inside of me. I kept blaming others for my current state of health and I was still looking for someone who could tell me what was wrong with me…

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