Adrenal Fatigue Recovery Story – From Exhaustion to More Energy

I recovered from a severe adrenal fatigue and this is my success story.

In this adrenal fatigue recovery story I’ll give you some background info on my problems, a list of symptoms I had, and briefly list the treatments I did. I’ll also talk about the big turning point in my recovery.

Adrenal fatigue success story.

I’ll give more specific information about supplements and other treatments in other blog posts. Adrenal Fatigue Recovery Plan is a great place to start.

Is It All About Genetics

Endocrine system problems run in my family so genetics play a role in my health problems. But that is not the whole story.

I trace my adrenal fatigue starting point to my late teens when one spring I got sick with the flu. Before then my immune system was already weakened by poor sleeping and eating habits and stress of the teenage life.

The Recurring Infections Start

So I was sick with fever stuffiness, headache, body aches etc. It took me weeks to recover. It felt like I never got back to normal.

Few months later I went to see a doctor complaining about recurring colds and constant post nasal drip. He put me on antibiotics.

Throughout the college years I kept having colds; and I had my first ever ear infection. Then another.

The rounds of antibiotics further depleted my immune system. I had a few eye infections too.

Once I got several red blotches on my calf and was put on penicillin just in case. I ended up having an allergic reaction to it: rash all over my body.

I also started to experience spring allergies and had the first sign of developing chemical sensitivity.

In spite of the constant infections, I was still able to live my life.

The Emotional Stress of Moving to Another Country

I was born and raised in Finland.

When I was twenty-five I married my American fiancé and moved to the States (Hawaii to be exact).

Dealing with the twelve hour time difference, completely different climate, and the emotional stress of moving to another country was too much on my already weakened adrenals.

The Symptoms Escalated Quickly

Within a month my allergy symptoms got severe. My recurring cold symptoms got worse.

In six months I was so unwell that I always had tissue in my hand because I had a constant runny nose and sneeze attacks. My nose was always stuffy; I could not breathe out of my nose for eighteen months. Then thankfully one of the nostrils opened up.

I kept having ear infections and sinus infections which were always treated with antibiotics.

The climate was not good for me. Whenever I traveled back to Finland my allergy symptoms were less severe.

During the first year I became severely sensitive to chemicals and mold. I could not be around bleach, laundry detergents, air fresheners, fabric softeners, perfumes etc. It was a struggle to find products I could use.

Because of all the symptoms I had I could not sleep well. I forgot what it felt like to live without a headache. I was achy, stuffy, so ill…. and lonely.

Sorrow After Sorrow

Here I was, in a foreign country losing my health, grieving for the loss of everything familiar. Then on top of that came more sorrow.

I had a miscarriage, my husband’s brother died, his grandfather died, my dad had a stroke, I had another miscarriage, my grandmother died, and we also found out that my husband had a liver disease. All that happened within a ten month period.

I was broken down. My health totally collapsed.

Our First Child and Sleepless Nights

When I was expecting our firstborn child, I did my best to eat well, exercise and so on.

We had a beautiful baby girl who had a sleep problem. That is another story but it added so much to my stress.

Having a baby is hard on your body. Having a baby with insomnia problem, when the mom is struggling with a chronic illness, was horrible. I kept getting worse.

Another Big Move… Actually Two

When our daughter was six months we moved to Maryland. My seasonal allergy symptoms somewhat improved. I was still sick 24/7 but the allergy symptoms weren’t as severe.

I was not improving the way we had hoped. We had hoped that all it would take was to move away from Hawaii.

So after a year we decided to move to an even colder climate. We chose upstate New York, close enough to a major airport making travel to Finland little easier.

We had never been to New York, did not know anyone there. My husband did not have a job waiting there but we sold our house, packed our things and moved.

More Sorrow and Stress of House Building

Again my seasonal allergies got less severe but my other symptoms got worse.

I had my third miscarriage.

The stress of the move; the stress of having a house built by a builder who could not keep his word…I don’t want to bore you with the details but let’s say that after a few months when the house was supposed to be done we moved in… just in time… three days later I gave birth to another beautiful girl.

The stress destroyed my adrenals little by little. I had no idea what was ailing me. The doctors were no help.

Isolated from the World

So now I had two girls. One who still had unresolved insomnia problem. My health kept getting worse. I kept pushing through one day at a time.

Isolated from the world because everything made me sick: fabric softener scent in friends’ clothes, their hair products, carpets in their homes etc.

My home was my safe place. But I was so lonely.

I had a fourth miscarriage.

Upstate New York was great. Loved the mountains. But before our third daughter was born we started discussing moving again because of the ever-increasing property tax; and the possibility of tightening the already strict New York homeschooling laws.

We decided to move to Michigan because it was and still is a homeschool friendly state; it is convenient for international travel and the property tax is not too bad.

Another Move

So, once again we moved to a state we had never been before, knew nobody there, had no job etc. We rented a condo, had a house built with no major problems. Yay!

Ten years of marriage, four states, eight homes… And I’m a person who likes to have roots!

My health kept declining. I was so tired all the time. So tired. I could not go to places because of the chemical sensitivity. Always at home…I was super lonely.

I could have had friends come to my house but I never knew when would be the day I could stand up. When I did have friends over it took all my energy to cook. So with no energy left,  I had trouble enjoying the time with them.

I was exhausted, had heart palpitations and was in total brain fog. It was like in a Charlie Brown cartoon, you can hear the adults talking but can’t make up the words. Not fun life.

The emotional stress, the constant inflammation, and lack of sleep took a toll on my body. I also went weeks without having any time for myself. I was too exhausted to leave the house to have some alone time. If I was in the house, the kids found me.

My oldest slept so little that I was never awake and alone. It is hard for an introvert. I also felt guilty that my kids didn’t have grandparents nearby or anyone but us who would love them. So I tried to be everything and everyone to them.

My Adrenal Fatigue Symptoms

My Adrenal Fatigue Symptoms Multiplied Like Weeds

The symptoms I had included the following:

Sleep problems

  • Insomnia
  • Couldn’t stay asleep (usually was awake from 1-4am)
  • Fell asleep to wake up few moments later with a racing heart
  • Heart palpitations when lying down
  • Nightmares

Fatigue

  • Exhausted
  • Woke up feeling just as tired or worse than I did when I went to bed
  • Tired in the morning
  • Tired in the afternoons
  • Tired in the evenings
  • So exhausted all the time
  • Did not have energy to sit up in the afternoons
  • When standing I had to lean on things
  • Energy was even lower if I did not eat every couple of hours
  • I had to rest after every little thing I did

Sudden feelings of nausea

Not able to handle stress

  • Nervous stomach
  • Shaking when stressed
  • Had to lie down after a stressful situation
  • Irritable

Ringing ears

Brain fog

  • Felt like I was living in a bubble
  • The feeling like I was on an airplane and the sounds were just a big buzz around me
  • Everything around me appeared to be like a film I was watching

Sensitive to sounds and light

Gut problems

  • Indigestion
  • Food sensitivities (tomatoes, white potatoes, bell peppers, bananas, cucumber)
  • Had trouble digesting raw vegetables
  • H.pylori
  • Yeast
  • Parasites
  • Constipation followed by diarrhea
  • Recurring pain below left ribcage, it felt like somebody kicked me

Cravings

  • salt
  • sugar
  • fat

Constant upper back pain

Heart palpitations throughout the day

Lightheaded when rising up

  • Blood pressure went down when I stood up
  • Feeling of blacking out

High liver enzymes

Weak immune system

  • Recurring, long-lasting colds
  • Year-around allergies

Female Hormonal Problems

  • Painful periods and excessive bleeding
  • Low estrogen
  • Low progesterone

Skin problems

  • Thin, paper-like
  • Breakouts
  • Dry
  • Rashes
  • Red pumps on upper arms

Hair problems

  • Dry
  • Lusterless
  • Thinning

Low thyroid

Trouble with sugar levels

  • Had to have frequent meals
  • Woke up really hungry
  • Shaky after eating sweets

Multiple chemical sensitivity

Temperature intolerance

  • Was always cold
  • Could not stand heat either

Extremity Problems

  • Cold hands and feet
  • Numbness and tingling
  • Legs felt really heavy at times

Water retention

Weight gain

  • gained over 50lbs in three years

Bruised easily

That is not the complete list but you get the picture. I was a mess.

I ended up in the ER a couple of times for heart palpitations and feeling lightheaded. But I did not receive any real help from those visits. I was told though that I have low thyroid and need to get on medication. I did not want to start taking it.

Finally, I accepted the fact that my symptoms are not just allergies but there is something seriously wrong with me. I started looking for a doctor who does natural treatments.

Adrenal Fatigue Treatments Start

I found a doctor who did not only help me but my daughter as well. She diagnosed me with adrenal fatigue. As recommended by my doctor, I began taking supplements to support immune system, adrenals, and thyroid, to detox body, to support liver and heart, to heal my gut, etc.

And I  began to read about adrenal fatigue and searching for recovery stories. I wanted to know that there is hope.

Here is a chart of my cortisol levels. As you can see mine were way below the optimal.

Cortisol Chart. Morning cortisol 7.68 nmol/L. Adrenal Fatigue Recovery Story.
Please not that these are nmol/L

I started to notice signs of healing.

My seasonal allergies got less severe.

But the healing was a really slow process.

Finding the balance in supporting adrenals and thyroid was a challenge. Doing detox without overly stressing adrenals was a struggle. I had so many crashes and setbacks along the way.

At times I was really discouraged. I was so tired of being tired.

Weight Gain

As I mentioned in my symptoms, I had started to gain weight. I had never struggled with weight and now I just gained and gained weight, fifty pounds in three years. Most of it I gained when I was exercising five times a week. I was silly enough to use my little energy for exercise.

Exercise is good for you, right? My body could not handle the stress of exercise. I felt so awful after the exercising and finally had to give it up because it made me worse and I reached a point I was too tired to even attempt.

Exercise also made my heart to do flips. Not good. It is little more complicated when you have adrenal fatigue.

I was tired, frustrated and discouraged. But I kept pushing through. I did way more than I should have.

I was a frequent visitor at my doctor’s office. During the recovery, I had many setback and crashes because I was not dealing with the big cause of fatigue.

There were times when I would feel good for a day and hope that maybe it will last but I always crashed.

My cortisol level at one point went even below what it was in the beginning. The lowest morning cortisol I had was 4.97 nmol/L.

The Turning Point in My Adrenal Fatigue Recovery Story

I went to Finland by myself.

For the first time I was away from my girls. I stayed there for ten days.

I was tired but I realized I was way more relaxed. My stress level was down. I was able to mentally and physically rest. No cooking, no meal planning, no cleaning, no homeschooling… no need to push trough.

I love my children and would not trade being a mom to anything but during those ten days my mind rested, my body rested. I was not constantly focusing on everyone else’s need while completely ignoring mine.

Finally, I really realized what a negative effect stress had on my health. In order to heal from adrenal fatigue, I must take time to take care of myself. The supplements can’t do it alone if I keep fighting against them.

When I came back home I began to take time for myself.

I listened to my body and gave it the rest it needed. I rested whenever I could even if it was just for a couple of minutes. Laying down was really beneficial.

Stopped pushing myself to the point of collapsing.

I did as much as I could in the mornings because when afternoon came I was done for the day… and then I stayed in bed as much as I could. Actually, I should have been in twenty-four hour bed rest but life does happen so I did what I could.

I continued taking the supplements.  I also did lymph drainage massage, skin brushing, acupressure, EFT, breathing exercises, dietary changes, drank salted water and so on.

Additionally, I went through a parasite and yeast treatments and started to focus on healing my gut.

Slowly my energy level improved and I could stay up longer periods. What a joy it is when you can stand up and do dishes! I had good days followed by crashes but slowly the good times got longer and longer.

How Long Does It Take to Recover From Adrenal Fatigue

I read that it takes about two to three months of healing for each year of adrenal fatigue. When I started my treatments I had had some symptoms for twenty years. After five and half years of treatments I felt like I got my life back. Almost all the symptoms were gone!

It took me for a long time. But I was so messed up that it is no wonder. I also have the burden of genetics.

My symptoms disappeared or got less severe one by one. I had one good day after another. I never thought I’d ever feel this well again.

I’m so grateful to God for healing me and giving me the enjoyment of my life back. It is a wonderful feeling to be able to walk, shop, cook, and hang out with family and friends without crashing afterwards.

I’m a sensitive person also an empath; other’s moods and emotions affect me, being around people drain me after a while. I’m an introvert who loves people…so I have to constantly balance that for my health’s sake. But I have learned what works for me.

I still have hypothyroidism, I take supplements and do stress relieving breathing exercises, skin brushing etc. I still need to be careful not to overstress my adrenals. But even though I’m not 100% well, I consider these huge improvements in my health a success.

NOTE 2021: I wrote this post a long time ago. If you are interested in hearing another amazing recovery story, contact Jess Roe (facebook) at Study In Fitness (her website.) She is an awesome health coach and has lots of experience and information on adrenals.

I Hope You Are on Your Way to Recovery

I hope my adrenal fatigue recovery story has given you the encouragement that recovering from even a late stage adrenal fatigue is possible.

I pray that you too will be healed. You can find more information on the supplements I took and the treatments I did in my adrenal fatigue posts. It would be too much to put all that in one post.

My adrenal fatigue recovery plan is a good place to start.

If you have any questions, contact me. I’m not a doctor or any kind of health care professional, so I can’t diagnose or prescribe treatments, but I can tell you what I did.

Blessings,

Tuula

22 thoughts on “Adrenal Fatigue Recovery Story – From Exhaustion to More Energy”

    • Thank you, Rick, for stopping by and reading my story. You are right, in order to heal you need more than supplements.

  1. Wow this really hit home for me. I have low cortisol and know from having a saliva test done. I developed ringing of the ears. Did yours resolve with healing? My insomnia is the worst. I am working on many of the things you discussed. My family doc wanted to treat me for anxiety and depression. I am trying to keep at it but the days are sometimes tough to get thru. Thank you for sharing your story.

    • Hey Rebecca, thank you for stopping by and reading my story. I’m so sorry you are dealing with adrenal fatigue.

      Yes, the ringing ears problem went away…mostly. If I really concentrate I can still hear some ringing. AND if I overdo and wear myself out (and I still do… you’d think I’d know better not to) it comes back. I take it as a warning signal. It is time for me to slow down, give my body the rest it needs.

      It is hard to heal when you can’t just put your life on hold but every small step to right direction counts. Healing can be a slow process and you might experience crashes and setbacks but keep working towards your goal. All the efforts are so worth it.

      I wish you all the best in your recovery and I look forward to hearing your adrenal fatigue success story!

    • Thanks so much for replying! I am battling Lyme disease too. Ugh. I know this is an additional stressor. I have to review your products. How is your daughter’s sleep? And yours?

    • Oh, that adds another set of problems! I have a friend who has Lyme disease and it is a very difficult condition. I hope you have found a good herbalist or natural healthcare professional (and as a required disclaimer: you should contact a medical professional before starting any treatment).

      Thanks for asking, my daughter sleeps way better now. She rarely uses any sleep supplements. I also sleep well. I have not had to use any sleep aids for several months. I fall asleep, stay asleep and wake up feeling refreshed. If I’m wound up I do calming breathing exercises and that usually does the trick.

  2. This was such a great read! I was just diagnosed with adrenal fatigue. Out on 60 pounds in 2 years while eating healthy and exercising. I had no idea what was going on. Finally found a doctor that figured it out. (Two years ago I started recovering from anorexia and that caused the adrenal fatifue, 7 years of starvation and over exercise). I did have a question though. Did the weight ever start to come off? Did you still continue to gain? I just don’t feel like myself I’m so over weight now.

    • Hi Sara, it is great that you found a doctor who can help you to heal. It is not easy to deal with the extra pounds and what makes it worse is that people have hard time believing when you say that the weight gain happened in spite of exercise and eating well.

      About couple of years ago my weight gain stopped. I gained in total about 55 lbs.

      Year and half ago which was late 2016 I felt like I got my life back. I had more energy, did not need to lie down after everything I did. I was able to do stuff all day long. But I was afraid to start exercising. I did not want to wear myself out again and mess up what I had achieved so far.

      I was hoping that the weight would come off on its own but it didn’t. Maybe the fact that I’m in my mid forties and have thyroid issues prevented that. So three months ago I did little spring cleaning… meaning detox and began to do simple lymphatic exercises such as extending my arms to the side and circling them, squats, and marching. I also began to take a couple of supplements: chromium and RLA to help with glucose levels (mine weren’t super high but higher than I wanted them to be.) I take those two supplements with lunch.

      I avoid getting on the scale. Even though I can see in the mirror that I have way more weight than I want to it makes it worse when I see the numbers too… so I can’t say how much I lost but I noticed that my belly was getting little bit smaller. Just a tiny bit.

      Then about a month ago I came across an exercise program called T-Tapp. I was hesitant to buy another exercise program. So for a couple of weeks I tried out one set of moves (three times a day after breakfast, lunch and dinner) and to my surprise it made a big difference! My clothes began to fit better. So I went ahead and ordered one of the exercises programs called T-Tapp More Rehab that is actually made for people with health problems including adrenal fatigue. Today 5/30/18 is the first day I’m using the program (I did the four days of instructions but started the “bootcamp” today) So I can’t tell you whether it’s working for me yet… I’m so hoping that in few months I can say that I lost a significant amount weight and can step on the scale again…

  3. You moved me to tears and gave me hope that I will get better eventually. Thank you so much. Keep spreading the word of this success.

    • Hi Chris, I’m so glad to hear that my story gave you hope. But sad that you are struggling with all this too. Just know you are not alone and there truly is hope for recovery. It can take time and you might experience setbacks on the way but don’t let those discourage you. I hope that those moments when you notice improvements, no matter how tiny, will encourage you and keep you working towards your goal.

      Looking forward to hearing your success story!

  4. Tuula,
    Thank you for your information, I just crashed hard, couldn’t get out of bed to even go to the bathroom. So much of what you said hit home, I am on the way to recovery but it is slow and I have a few good days then a week of bad ones, was glad to hear that there is still hope for recovery. I too was stressed almost constantly for about 48 years before my body shut down, I believe I almost died. I have had allergy issues all my life and hypothyroidism and autoimmune disease of the connective tissue (collagen vascular disease) now, suffered from yeast and thrush and weight gain and thinning hair and heart palpitation’s sleeplessness, the whole gamut plus more. I have been doing a lot of research and so many things health wise are starting to make sense, it is very complicated to tell people how to fix this issue because you need to really understand the molecular level of how your body works and what it needs to maintain all its activity, I learn something new everyday that makes me go “another dot connected” but I am glad to hear that my efforts to get better are not a waste of time. It has been hard to find blogs from people going through the same thing, I appreciate your effort, I would start one but I am not too computer savvy. Thanks Tuula for donating your very precious time to this cause. I appreciate it.

    • Hi Debbie, thank you for your kind words. My main reason for starting this blog was to share my story and give hope to those who are struggling with this condition because it can be hard to find the recovery stories online. Even though every one’s treatments will be different I still wanted to know what others did to recover.

      48 years is a long time. I hope you have found a health care provider who is able to help you on your journey to recovery. It is definitely not a waste of time to work on your health. You’ll experience the times of frustration because one day you feel better and then next you crash but don’t give up. All the efforts are worth it. Hoping to hear your story someday.

  5. Thank you for sharing your story! I was looking on the internet for stories of hope, and this really did give me hope. God bless you and hope your family is doing really well. I’m hoping and praying that one day that I’ll be able to share my story of recovery too. x

    • Hi Wai, I’m glad you found my story! When I was diagnosed with adrenal fatigue I searched for recovery stories and they were hard to find. At least the ones that were similar to mine: struggling for years and years. There are more out now than there were before but still I decided to tell mine too and that is the main reason I started my blog: to give others hope. I know everyone’s circumstances are different and so are the treatments that work for each individual but it helps to know what others did.

      I wish you all the best in your recovery and I hope to read your story someday soon!

  6. Such a great read, thank you so much for sharing. My saliva test had shown my cortisol levels were almost completely opposite, i was high ALL day long. Daytime I could have dealt with, but man, trying to fall aslep was an uphill battle i thought that i would never find an end to. I finally learned how to do techniques as far as meditation, breathing, even yoga ended up being a very helpful tool for me. Not to mention, re thinking my whole diet and the supplements i was loading my body with. All these supplements that had been recommended for me, even though they were high graede A+ supplements, eventually did nothing but make me feel worse. I searched and searched for answers and finally had to seek help from this doctor onl8ine (since all my local doctors either wanted to force medication down my throat or just write me off as ADHD or hyper active.) https://www.drlam.com/articles/7mistakesofadrenalfatigue.asp – learning these types of things realyl helped me and eventually i was able to recover and get my life back on track. Kudos to you for pushing through and finding your way! and best of luck to anyone out there suffering <3

    • Hi Karen, thank you for comment. I’m so glad you were able to find help. And that you recovered! It can be a frustrating journey figuring out what treatments work but so worth it. Wishing you all the best and I’m glad you found my site and read my story :).

  7. You are describing my life right now. I went through two pregnancies, breastfed two children for two years each, moved from Europe to the US and back, had ppd and prenatal depression…and now here I am. I just received my cortisol saliva test, and it’s worse than yours. Next week I’m seeing my functional doctor but I’m really desperate and running on empty. I really hope I can get better.

    • I’m sorry you are struggling with this! I’m glad you have a functional doctor who can help you to create a recovery plan for you. Healing can take a long time, and it can be very frustrating at times. But it is not impossible. Wishing you all the best. And I hope my story has encouraged you.

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