If I had a dollar for every time a woman has said to me “Something isn’t right…I shouldn’t have such a hard time living life” or some rendition of that refrain I would have some pretty serious spending money in my purse right now. Exhaustion and all the resulting myriad of side effects and physical complications brought on by fatigue seem to be the constant companions of many women. Most have forgotten what a life full of energy and “feel good” is like to experience. Having been one of these women most of my life, and having had the opportunity to talk to literally dozens of other struggling women I want to share some of the opinions and perspectives I’ve gained along the way.
The ironic thing I’ve noticed about women who are struggling on some level or another whether it be from sleep deprivation, underlying chronic health issues that may or may not be diagnosed yet is that some of the most productive, motivated and hard working women I know are the ones struggling to stay off the couch during the day. The more driven and motivated in life they are it seems the more prone they can be to experiencing this “Something isn’t right” syndrome. There is an actual explanation for why this might be…Very motivated, driven, type A individuals tend to be very hard on their adrenal system and the end result can be Adrenal Fatigue after years of abuse. Since the adrenal system and thyroid systems work so closely together and rely upon each others functionality in order to keep things working well a few years of flogging the adrenal system can result in a thyroid problem even if there wasn’t one to start out with.
Physical issues aside I believe just as big of a toll can be taken on the emotional health of a woman struggling with this syndrome. There are a slew of experts out there trying to answer the question of “Why are women so hard on themselves?” and probably a dozen books on Amazon touting the latest answers to that question. I don’t have the answer, or even part of the answer but I have accepted the truth that many women are incapable of complete personal satisfaction. We seem driven to find something, anything to torment ourselves with, usually based in some comparison to other women. A lot of it is self created but in many cases there is an innate knowledge within us that we could be, and should be accomplishing so much more in life than we are. When it’s a struggle just to get out of bed, get the kids fed and keep everybody alive and cared for without the house tumbling down around our ears it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize there is something wrong with that picture. The occasional “Super Woman” who manages to get 6 hours of sleep per night, have well maintained operating systems within her home, cooks from scratch and grows that gigantic organic garden, births 8 children, homeschool them all and do it all with a joy and life satisfaction and never seems to suffer once from brain fog or depression much less need naps…well, it’s just further evidence for what we are already telling ourselves. We are failures and therefore we must push harder, and try harder even though we feel worse and the mental toll increases.
Depression very often goes hand in hand with this “Something isn’t Right” syndrome. Feeling like a perpetual failure, often struggling to get adequate sleep even when there is opportunity to in addition to whatever underlying physical things might be going on…little wonder depression begins to set in. Unfortunately in our society it is a whole lot easier to get treatment from the average Dr. for Depression than it is for a vague “Dr. Something isn’t right…” While I firmly believe there is a time and a place for prescription medications for depression I also recognize the fact that Depression is a symptom of a bigger problem 9 times out of 10 and not the problem itself. Putting the mute button on Depression as a symptom (and perhaps a few more symptoms as well) via anti-depression medications often times does nothing but allow the underlying problems to go even longer without detection. antidepressants should only be used as a band-aid, a temporary way to get reprieve from symptoms (and even then I would go so far as to say should only be used when the mental imbalance is severe enough to cause harm to oneself or impedes the ability to safely care for ones children), not the cure or solution for depression or sleep problems. Many of them are highly addictive and come with their own host of potential side effects and potential long term negative health impact.
Find a Dr. who is willing to at least check for Adrenal and Thyroid problems via blood-work and a saliva test. Don’t be bullied into believing that what you know in your heart of hearts to be a physical struggle as being “just in your head” The second phrase that I hear a whole lot (and said myself for several years) is “I don’t have a Thyroid problem. My Dr. did the test and there is nothing wrong with my thyroid” This may be true, your thyroid may be fine or it may be that your Dr. did not know enough to interpret the test results, or might not have even ordered the right tests to show your particular thyroid problem in the first place. It is important to keep in mind as well that the adrenal system may be completely taxed and messed up for some time before it is bad enough that it begins to affect the thyroid. It is important to have BOTH systems thoroughly tested before scratching them off of the list of potential issues. The reason I am so passionate about this is because I had my thyroid tested by a Dr. 3 times. The tests came back normal each time so although every few months I seemed to acquire more thyroid based symptoms I kept insisting it couldn’t be part of what was wrong with me. Turns out my Dr. was not ordering the right tests for my particular problem to even show up.
If you happen to be one of these women struggling with the “Something isn’t Right” syndrome please do not give up. It may take years to figure out what is going on, and you may get answers one piece at a time but please do not give up seeking answers and solutions. Don’t write off what you are feeling and experiencing as “mental” either. And please, for goodness sakes, don’t use the fact that you are actively struggling as an additional tool to beat yourself up with. Life is hard enough without the extra mental self-flagellation we are prone to giving ourselves at every turn. A womans body is an incredibly complex creation with dozens of operating systems and functions that rely upon each other to stay in balance and operate at full capacity. There are so many things in our society that can cause these fine tuned systems to be thrown out of whack it is the unusual woman who is completely and truly unaffected by external health and functionality disruptors. It is not a spiritual problem, not an attitude problem and definitely not a mental problem to be struggling physically although all of those elements may come into play the longer a struggle goes on.
Although I only touched on two commonly “hidden” things that can severely compromise the health of a woman there are many others out there. The second most common is undiagnosed gut problems and food sensitivities. Out of time and space in this post to address those but they are actually the easier problems to fix with diet modifications, food enzymes and gut healing protocols.
If you happen to be a “Something isn’t Right” woman out there right now I wish I could give you a huge hug.
Regardless of what factors you have going on, or what level your life struggle is at, or even if it is caused by a physical problem or maybe even a life circumstance or stress you have no control over I know just enough to know that it is emotionally exhausting to keep on keeping on through it all.
The light at the end of my personal tunnel of physical struggle is brighter than it’s ever been. My first pregnancy that followed right on the heels of multiple miscarriages was fraught with physical, mental and emotional exhaustion. The first year of our precious girls life was spent with me even more exhausted and sunk deeper in mental and emotional depression. Another miscarriage and then a hospitalization preceded some drastic dietary changes that began to improve my physical and mental state and finally a diagnosis and answer to help explain what was going on with my body. Although I am now in the 3rd trimester of pregnancy, traditionally the most miserable stage of pregnancy my mental, emotional and physical well-being are better than they have been in years. Although by no means completely healed, or even operating at what I would consider to be “optimal” it is still so much improved I thank God on a daily basis for how wonderful it is to experience so many positive things this pregnancy.
Here’s to every woman’s “Something isn’t Right” struggle ending in hope, triumph and complete healing. In the meantime it is my hope and prayer that the “Something isn’t Right” struggle so many are facing can help to bring us to a place of more grace, compassion and willingness to help each other as we struggle and muddle through life together.