One thing that I have learned after over 10 years of practicing alternative medicine and working with thousands of clients all over the world, stress and burnout are pervasive and powerfully destructive to many people all over the planet.
Another thing is that the majority of these people feel completely isolated and alone in their suffering.
Maybe they surf some “Adrenal fatigue” blogs, searching for community and others going through similar experiences.
It has been really rough sometimes, working to help so may of these people, suffering from sleepless nights, and exhaustion all day, literally crippling their ability to lead happy and functional lives.
So what did I do?…… I joined them!!
I didn’t mean to.
It started out slowly…working long hours…working on the weekends…getting up before my body was fully rested…depending on coffee and caffeine….along with my high-quality nutritional supplements and organic mostly Paleo diet.
I was doing my best, but I was trying to give and help those in need, while neglecting my own internal affairs.
I was telling my clients to rest more, do deep breathing, take breaks, go for relaxing walks, learn to spend time unwinding and relaxing, while I myself never gave myself the time to do the same things.
Well…it caught up with me!
I feel silly in divulging all of this, since I knew I was in a deceived state, thinking I was stronger and tougher, and I would be fine.
Unfortunately, I had to come to terms with the fact that I too was also “human”, and now I walk what I preach. I strive to lead by example, not just by my word.
You see, I knew what was good for my clients, and what was probably good for me too.
But there was a definite disconnect.
I literally felt like the rules didn’t apply to me the way the applied to my patients.
I mean, these people were sick!!
And I was…I was doing okay. I can handle this amount of stress…lack of sleep…caffeine…
Having gone through this last battle with “Burnout” on a scale at least 10 x greater than any burnout I had previously experienced in my life, I now have a richer understanding of what my past clients were really dealing with all of those years that I was doing functional lab-testing and prescribing medical-grade nutritional supplements, trying to offer any relief that I could.
Praise the lord for all of these modern Nutritional studies, Ancient herbal formulas and dietary practices that literally saved my life and helped me to recover from my own “kiss with death” as it were.
This burnout thing…is no joke.
You see, I had been explaining to my clients for the past decade how stress works!
It is actually very simple and I do not see how my own patients would leave their doctor’s office without knowing this very simple information about the Nervous system and the Endocrine system (that’s your hormones).
So, your nervous system is divided into 2…that’s 2 branches:
The…..sympathetic branch. Also known as the “Fight-or-Flight” nervous system.
And the….Para-sympathetic branch of the nervous system.
Sorry, I have explained this little diagram so many times, I could build a bridge to China with all of the pieces of paper I have scribbled this on to explain this important phenomenon that occurs when we work too hard or for too long, and without enough of a break or time to recuperate.
This is a recipe for Burnout….and this is why:
When you keep your nervous system semi-permanently stuck in the Sympathetic branch of the nervous system; by staying up late, feeling stressed out too often, moving too many times, raising young children, working too many long hours, commuting through Los Angeles traffic……
Well…your body and your mind get tired. Why?
Well because your Sympathetic “fight-or-flight” stress response turns on your HPA axis. HPA axis stands for Hypothalamus-Pituitary-Adrenal axis.
This is where your Amygdala and Hippocampus in your brain stem, also known as your limbic system, tells your Hypothalamus that you are in danger (fight-or-flight) and so your Hypothalamus makes CRH (corticotropin-releasing-hormone) which goes to the pituitary gland (the master endocrine gland) which manufactures ACTH (adreno-corticotropin-releasing hormone) which travels through the blood down to the adrenal glands that sit on top of your two kidneys and tells them to:
Make Cortisol !!
Yes….stress and the sympathetic nervous system will tell your Adrenal glands to make more…Cortisol!!
See, I told this was simple.
You probably already know all of this already, right?
Well, here is the clincher:
Your adrenal glands make Cortisol out of “Progesterone “, and so every time your HPA axis turns on, your body “uses up your reserves of Progesterone” in order to satisfy your body’s insatiable hunger for Cortisol.
By producing more Cortisol, your body is using up all of your Progesterone.
This is very simple, yet people leave their doctor’s offices all over the world, complaining of feeling exhausted, and they are told simply :
“You are depressed. Here, take an SSRI or antidepressant…or go see a psychiatrist. You need therapy!”
I have heard this story hundreds and hundreds of times!! It boggles my mind!!
What universe are these doctor’s from?
Don’t they know that you can test, not only for Cortisol levels, but also Progesterone, Pregnenolone, DHEA, Testosterone, Estrogen, and these levels can correlate to how a person is feeling? ! ?
Now, this is still an oversimplification!!
Your body needs more than just more hormones to feel better. You need your Thyroid, Mitochondria, Cellular metabolism, circulation, oxygen….you need lots of things to feel better sometimes. Sometimes, when you have REAL Burnout….your body needs everything!!
But it also needs hormones!
I don’t mean that you should go out and start getting HRT Hormonal Replacement Therapy. I’m sorry integrative doctors…this is just a band aid, and it doesn’t really fix anything.
And….taking these hormones can really increase your chances of getting cancer, strokes, and cerebrovascular incidents to rise dramatically.
So…let’s just talk. Before rushing out to fix something. Let’s just see that this is an issue and a part of “Burnout”.
If your Adrenal glands have overproduced Cortisol for years and years and years……well, it is highly likely that your levels of Progesterone in somewhere in the gutter.
There is a lot more to this story…along with the simple, yet effective method that you….and I mean you …..can really start to take control of your life, and your health…and really recover your energy, focus, motivation, and actually repair the damage that Chronic Stress has ravaged on your body, mind, nervous system…and don’t forget…your hormones.
Yes, you will need to repair your hormones if you are to ever truly recover from BURNOUT.
And you can…one day at a time.
Take it from one guy who literally burned completely out …and had to recover….one day at a time.
One day feels better….then the rest of the week just feels horrible ( must…have…coffee…)
This can get better, but not…and I mean NOT…by “stimulating your HPA axis”.
Heck, that is what got you into this mess in the first place.
You are gonna have to get deep…and really feel what your Adrenal glands, and your Kidneys, and your intestinal lining, and brain tissues….really need to do to do real recovery and healing at the cellular level.
All of these things can and do get better. But not the old way. Not with medications or even simplistic “Functional Medicine” stimulants or HRT.
You need to understand the nature of your nervous system’s EFFECT on your endocrine system. Once you master your nervous system….and support your endocrine system…..and everything else in between…well, you are on your way to recovery.
Just know that while your body was in burnout….
- your liver shut down, so now you have heavy metals and toxic chemicals bio-accumulating in your tissues.
You should also know that, while you were in burnout:
- your immune system was weakened so many pathogens, bacteria, viruses, parasites, and stealth organisms have taken up living inside your body.
- Your Pancreas and Stomach stopped making digestive enzymes and HCL so your gut has become overgrown with bacteria and Candida, fermenting on undigested food particles…
Yes, there are messes and fires all over the place….but that’s okay.
Because we know that it is there. Because we know what burnout really does to the body.
It will take a little persistence to fully recover from Burnout, but your life will never be the same if you do not simply take one step at a time to recover, “the right way”, and yes there is a wrong way.
If you would like to know more, please join the discussion at the Regenerative Brain Society. I would love to hear your story and feedback.