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I believed I could outrun overwhelm - 1st August 2023
In 2015 I was told by my herbalist I had adrenal exhaustion. I had entered a very scary phase of my life. I had no physical energy. My emotions were all over the place. I couldn't manage a logical thought. I felt helpless. It was like staring into a black pit of nothing.
They say hindsight is a valuable thing - and not without reason!
Eight years after being plunged into a state of exhaustion and overwhelm, it's obvious that it had been pursuing me for a long time. Years in fact. But the closer it got, the faster I ran. At some level I convinced myself that was my only option - to keep running.
What do I mean by that?
I mean that instead of slowing down, pressing pause on everything, and giving myself a break, I was even harder on myself. There was a belief lodged in my head that I had to keep going, no matter what. That if I told my husband I was tired, that it would be wrong. That if I took a break from work, I would be letting people down. That if I stopped visiting my elderly mother, that would be shameful neglect on my part. I told myself I had an easy life, and that I should just get on with all of it. Such a bullying internal voice.
So what happened?
I caved in just before we were due to go on holiday. When I tried to pack a suitcase and realised I just couldn't do it, then a kind of raw terror landed on me. Fortunately my wonderful husband said he would pack and do all the driving. I remember getting into the car like I was in some kind of weird trance. I reclined the seat, closed my eyes, and took comfort from the fact that my husband was taking care of me.
Then when we got home I had an appointment with my herbalist and she told me I had adrenal exhaustion. She also told me that I must take full rest. To begin with I ignored her advice, thinking that if I just did a bit less that would be enough. It wasn't, and ultimately my body pretty much unplugged itself. I had no choice but to rest. I could never have imagined such tiredness.
What about recovery?
So ultimately I had to cancel everything. I had to turn down every invitation. I began to see that even that was not enough. In addition to herbs to support my adrenal glands I realised I had to nurture my nervous system. This was when I began to realise that for most of my life I had overridden my natural inclinations in many spheres. Now, all my sensitivities were turned to MAX and so bright lights were too much, noisy places were too much, crowds were too much. Some individuals were too much. Little by little I began to claim back my life. But there was no going back to my starting point. That version of me was the one heading for total overwhelm. I had to reinvent myself according to my own needs. Not anyone else's needs - mine. This was a new way of being. Like re-writing the script of my life.
Are you running from overwhelm?
Maybe some of what I've described sounds a bit familiar? I'm not here to tell anyone how to live their life. But when I give talks and meet people, and they tell me about their cluttered homes, I also pick up that they are overwhelmed in so many ways. It's my belief that life overwhelm contributes to home clutter. The reason I became overwhelmed was because I was not living life on my own terms. Instead I was operating from some kind of manual that had been planted in my mind when I was a young child.
The manual told me I must put everyone else's needs before mine. It told me it was wrong to rest. It told me that I should always say "yes" to invitations, and that I should never upset anyone. Nor should I express my own emotions. This version of my life had very little free choice. I might have thought I had choices, but now I see that was far from the truth. I was programmed to behave a particular way. This is why I had no option but to keep running. That was why self-care was unattainable back then. Does this strike a chord?
Holistic decluttering offers a way forward
The only reason I describe my business as holistic, is because of my experience of adrenal exhaustion and the realisation that my head was full of "clutter". My clutter originated from early programming by family, also by society.
If you feel like you are running from overwhelm then I suggest you begin the process of head decluttering ASAP. Notice how you put others first and treat yourself badly. Notice how you just can't say "no" to anyone. Notice how it's impossible for you to allow yourself to rest. Notice how a voice in your head urges you on, always more to do. You can't stop!
Become your own best friend. Encourage yourself to do things that are nurturing, rather than draining. Try Mindfulness, meditation, yoga nidra. Try walking in nature. Try just resting. Try eating more healthily. Try giving up multi-tasking. Try ignoring digital devices sometimes. Try going without TV. Try reading something affirming. Notice the people who suck the life out of you. Distance yourself. The interesting thing is that when you start taking care of yourself you also get treated better by others. I guess when we treat ourselves badly, that's a message to others that they can judge us, or tell us what to do - or not do. Consider, your worth is not dependent on what you do.
If you'd like some help with this process, then do get in touch. As you can see, I know the territory of overwhelm very well indeed. Remember, you are always loved.
Keywords: overwhelm, exhaustion