The thing about living with adrenal fatigue/insufficiency (if that word is foreign to you listen to the truecast) is I look fine when you see me, so it often feels like I am lying when I say, I am sick. Sometimes I wonder why my body just can't do the job it was built to. Why I didn't know any better when I was younger and take better care to manage stress, stop living off of caffeine and adrenalin and get assessed for food sensitivities sooner. All of these things could've meant we would have avoided this, maybe.
Nowadays if I achieve the task of getting out of the house or inviting people over then I know that in those few hours I can survive, I can genuinely enjoy the time with you and I have the energy to be present with the people we adore. This is the quality of health you know me as.
It isn't until a while after you leave, and before you arrived, I was experiencing something far different. The fatigue that makes it difficult to think straight or keep my eyes open. The brain fog that when I try and run errands in this state I spend most of the shopping trip trying to keep the cart from bumping into aisles because I cannot seem to keep it rolling straight. The bed that calls my name more often than it calls my own children to sleep. The idea that my body is failing me. Those of us living with this, we want to be involved, we want to pour into our children's and friend's lives, and when we muster up the energy and strength to do so, we do it with flying colors. It reminds us of our old selves. We love every minute. We do this so well in fact, no one knows we're unwell.
You see when you live with adrenal insufficiency/fatigue your body only has so much juice to power it up. So when you burn it all at a playdate, or a work function, you have very little to go on for the rest of the day or even sometimes, the rest of the week. You save up for the moments that mean the most, the ones you just have to participate in to maintain your level of sanity.
The hard part is, maybe you knew me before this condition started. So you are perplexed. It can also look a lot like postpartum depression, or anxiety or a really horrible ability to handle stress. This can set on seemingly overnight but really over years and years of time has slowly been crowding in until one day it just snaps and your adrenal glands stop. When the juice runs out in me I also snap. You haven't seen this. You've never witnessed rage, or sadness, or me talking as if I were drunk when I am not. Only my family has. Because when I see you I make sure I am healthy, for the time being. I save up my self to spend time with you because you matter to me.
When my child too has this, sure he looks great when he is awake and sticks to his schedule so that he does not get over tired. But when he is off his schedule, when he skips a nap or pushes one off for too long, my friend, you aren't home to see him and I crying at night, all night because his body doesn't know how to calm itself down. It can't calm down so he starts scratching himself until he bleeds. He looks happy and healthy and growing. But inside, his organs are just surviving. His brain is a fog and the way he walks one could argue is developmental but one could also see he is so tired his legs wobble. He has enough juice to run until he doesn't.
So when I stop calling, or stop showing up, or keep being that annoying person who refuses to hang out during nap time, I feel awful. I wonder when will this stop being so hard? But then I remember all of the things that with my first child were hard or for my friends are hard.
Hard is hard, regardless which kind of hard it is. If it weren't this kind of hard this time, it'd be a different hard. What we do in response to hard is what counts. We choose to seek out help in all sorts of ways, to learn, to make our pain our purpose, or we don't. I choose to get better. But this takes time, who knows when I will feel like myself 100% again if ever. This frustrates me more than you can imagine, or that my behavior may ever frustrate you.
So instead of feeling guilty for being a less than consistent friend, I am trying to embrace that I have some more peace and quiet than I used to forced upon me to keep my body going. I am learning so much about how to heal the body and figure out where exactly things are going haywire. I am passionate about spreading awareness of adrenal fatigue/insufficiency for mothers and professional athletes particularly because many of them think their depression stems from their brain and when the meds don't work they give up. They just aren't looking at the right organ. I am learning that everyone is doing their best. I may not know why that is their best, but trust that it is, just like I hope you trust that I am doing my best too.