Let’s start with a definition:
1. A tendency to fear or imagine an illness that doesn’t exist.
2. An inaccurate perception of the state of health of the body or mind, despite the absence of an actual medical condition.
3. Someone who thinks they need medical attention for every cough, sniffle, or itch.
Does that sound familiar? We all know a hypochondriac. But how would you feel if the above definitions were used to describe YOU?
Keep Calm and Carry On
Unfortunately, the majority of people living with adrenal fatigue will have faced this situation at some point.
Here in the West, we like to make jokes about illness. We’ve all seen the “Keep Calm and Carry On” posters displayed in the office, or poked fun at the person who phoned in sick with “man-flu”. But actually living with a condition that isn’t widely recognized by conventional medicine is really tough.
How do you cope when your doctor, work colleagues, or even your own family has misgivings about your illness?
Where do you get support when the people around you are unsure what it is that’s making you ill?
Is it all in your head?
There are many examples of chronic illness that have not been well received by the medical profession which are now being validated by scientific research. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, ADHD, and even Fibromyalgia are all conditions that at one point were treated with scepticism.
Despite the fact that many such syndromes are now being taken more seriously by doctors and insurance companies, adrenal exhaustion is still a hotly debated issue. A lot of this has to do with the fact that lab tests for adrenal fatigue are often inconclusive, and the reasons for developing the condition are currently not well understood.
The outcome? People go for years without the help they need, simply because they fear they’ll be labelled as malingerers if they don’t “man up” and get on with it. This attitude is at best unhelpful, and at it’s very worst, damaging. If you’ve experienced adrenal fatigue, you’ll already know your symptoms are NOT in your head. Despite this, it can sometimes seem easier to carry on in denial, rather than risk losing a job or admitting you need help.
So what do you do when you find yourself in the unenviable position of coming clean about your health issues, but are worried about how your diagnosis will be received?
Find a supportive practitioner
Many alternative practitioners such as naturopaths, integrative doctors and nutritionists have a good understanding of the causes of adrenal fatigue. This is because they take a holistic approach to wellness, focusing your treatment around the underlying cause of your ill health.
When looking for a practitioner, do your homework. Any therapist worth their salt will aim to help you take charge of your diet, manage your stress levels and prescribe therapies that boost your energy and regulate your sleep patterns… all of the issues that relate directly to the management of your adrenal fatigue.
A supportive practitioner is worth their weight in gold as they will validate your concerns surrounding your health issues, and put to bed any ideas you may have about your illness not being a real problem. Most practitioners who work with functional medicine will already have experience treating adrenal fatigue and understand the issues around living with a condition that doesn’t respond well to orthodox treatment.
I should also mention that our book, The Adrenal Fatigue Solution, contains lots of the information that a qualified practitioner will be able to share. If you’re looking to get a jump on understanding adrenal fatigue, it’s a great place to start!
Knowledge is power when it comes to dealing with adrenal exhaustion. The internet is a vast resource for anyone dealing with the condition. The more you understand your symptoms, the more confidence you’ll have if you come under fire from your boss or peers about what it is you’re coping with.
By opening up about your ill health instead of hiding in the shadows, you can show those around you that you’re taking charge and doing something to help yourself. You may even be surprised to find others going through a similar experience (adrenal exhaustion is far more common than you may expect!)
Information is a powerful weapon for breaking down skeptical attitudes, and above all, it’s the most important tool in your kit for breaking out of the grip of adrenal fatigue.
The number one thing you can do for yourself is to realise that no-one with chronic tiredness is living a life of optimal health. Being constantly exhausted is your body’s way of telling you that something isn’t right, and ignoring the signs isn’t going to make it go away.
By owning your diagnosis you’ve already taken the first step towards recovery. There’s one thing that everyone, whether it’s your doctor, boss, friends or family, will all agree on.
Anyone who’s determined in their efforts to get healthy certainly doesn’t deserve the label of “hypochondriac.”
I’d call them a super-hero.