For the first time in what seems like ages I actually feel like writing. I am sitting in bed in my brothers house in the recently voted best village in England getting some very seriously needed rest. Not just a scheduled few days off training type break, but a complete break away from what has been a very stressful, intense and not very pleasant last few months, I need some space where I can think clearly and try to find some objectivity and start making some rational decisions rather than reacting emotionally whilst existing in the constant state of nervous exhaustion and overwhelm that I have been.
Let me do some catching you up.
I’ve written a lot about this energy issue I’ve been experiencing for about 9 months now, I thought I fixed it when I massively increased my fish oil supplements, and for a while it seemed to work. But the issue has slowly but surely crept back, I am constantly exhausted, I nap at work, then I don’t sleep properly at night, I operate on autopilot often with no comprehension behind what I’m doing. My thoughts have been a constant whirl of negativity and blackness, there are times where I literally cannot function – I’ll be sitting front of my computer willing myself to doing something ‘write the email Sarah,then you can have a cup of tea’ then I’ll ‘come to’ and find a hour has passed that I have no recollection of. I cycle to work from training then when I get to work I wonder how I got there, again with no recollection of the journey. I have been feeling stretched paper thin and brittle, unable to respond coherently if something out of my routine occurs. Indeed even my routine has required immense effort – I’ll tell myself on Friday to do the shopping…and it will take me until Sunday to actually do it because to me it has taken on the appearance of a huge task that I’ve put in the too hard basket until I cannot avoid it anymore. Then I’ll spend an hour telling myself to peel the sweet potato before I am capable of summoning the energy to do it. If something unexpected does occur, I don’t have the capacity to deal with it, to the point in the last few weeks at any given moment I have been fighting not to burst onto tears, my mind a whirl of noise and negativity. Friday was a case in point. I had booked blood injections into my elbows the day I flew out and had in my mind it was for both elbows so that I could minimise training downtime. The idea being to get it all done in one hit, fly off for 2 weeks holiday healing and come back all fixed ready to ramp up for October.
But they refused to do both at the same time and it instantly became a huge disaster. All I could think of how I would now have to have the other injection done after holiday and that meant at least 3 more weeks off training, which would only leave 15 weeks till comp and how was I going to be able to do it? Could I do it? was I going to have to pullout of competing…again? it all got too hard all of a sudden and I couldn’t cope with it and the flood gates did open. What was the point of having been so patient for the last 18months only to have it all go down the drain just 21 weeks out?
I had no fight left in me.
Yet a few hours later when I was calmer, had eaten and had a massage I was able to look at it more objectively. There is a very good reason for not doing both elbows at the same time, because I would have been totally disabled, my left arm was numb and swollen all the way down to my hand. I couldn’t move my fingers and it was so painful that even the double dose of pandadine forte was having a hard time controlling it. I’ve managed so far this year not being able to train arms, if taking 3 weeks off after I get back from holiday gives me even 20% more function than I’ve had all year then 15 weeks should be plenty of time to catch up. I’ll have to discuss it with Aiden – when I get back.
Its not the end of the world.
What all this has been pointing to is that I am not functioning correctly, my system is out of balance somewhere and it’s manifesting in a number of other ways. I’ve been to the doctors so many times and had so many blood tests that I feel like I’m turning into a serial hypochondriac, you start to wonder if you are right in thinking that there is something wrong, but I have not been getting any sensible answers
The doctor I have been seeing has been next to useless, I have had blood tests, more blood tests and more blood tests yet all she could come up with was ‘you’re probably fighting a virus’
No lady, I am not fighting a virus, you’ve tested for all the viruses and the results have been negative – there is something else going on.
After the liver ultrasound the doctor suggested we get more blood tests in 8 weeks to see if anything had changed….
Then she proceeded not to offer any suggestions as to what I might do differently to cause a change or possible improvement.
So I dutifully went and got my blood tests at the 8 weeks and this time the doctor was away so I ended up seeing another doctor. This doctor, I’d seen about 8 years ago for similar symptoms of exhaustion, mood swings, bursting into tears for no apparent reason…
That turned out to be a gynaecological issue that was messing up my hormones and required surgery.
So after going through all the story again about the exhaustion, overwhelm, negative and depressive thinking, inability to function etc she mentioned the dreaded words ‘adrenal fatigue’ ( I almost burst into tears again!) and suggested another full blood work up with all the vitamins and minerals… and a hormone test… especially oestrogen and progesterone.
This threw me a bit as the other doctor had refused to do the hormone test, because being female, oestrogen and progesterone levels change daily according to where you are in your cycle and she said it was pointless.
Well, guess what. It wasn’t pointless.
My levels of both hormone are incredibly low and are not even anywhere near the recommended range. My vit b levels were also a bit low, which did surprise me given just how much broccoli and dark leafy veg I eat every day and red meat as well.
Guess what e and p do? Control moods, emotions and help with sleep.
Guess what B vitamins do? help energy and brain function.
Anyone else getting light bulb moments?
Finally I feel like we’re getting to the bottom of this issue. I feel a sense of relief, there is something wrong, I am not making it up…taking in all the symptoms together it seems that my whole body is just not functioning optimally. With liver function a bit off, that’s going to affect the metabolism of nutrients from food, so even with all the food I’m eating and all nutrient bases covered I am clearly not getting enough nourishment just to sustain me on a daily basis, let alone try and grow muscle, train, sleep and heal injuries…
Throw in very low e and p and you’ve got a compounding negative feedback loop happening, resulting in an emotional and physical downward spiral. Normally I would train my way out of a hole, but in this case the type of training I am doing is contributing to that hole.
So what’s the solution….well part of it is so simple I could have thought of it myself…and probably would have done if I was capable of rational thought!
If we can get me sleeping properly then a lot of other things will also start coming back into line. I’m already doing all the right pre bed de stress things like computer off at 8, tomorrows to do list written and prioritised, quality fur time with the cat, bed at the same time and always before 9:30, calming herbal tea and slow digesting protein + fats for bedtime snack.
I am also now taking b vits supps, a multi vit, vit d, vit c, zinc, magnesium, a cortisol balancer, and low dose e and p pill.
We’ll see how that starts working.
2weeks of r& r and gelati ought to kick things along in the right direction as well.
What does that mean for comp prep? Well the last 2 weeks I have been spot on with my diet and I have leaned down in a few areas. With not being able to/ have orders not to train at all, comp prep is semi on hold for the next 2 weeks – I am on holiday, and it needs to be a holiday from everything related to bodybuilding.
I’m going to relax my diet a bit – not completely of course, I’ll stick pretty much to what I’m doing at the moment, but Saturday night is always curry night at home, so I will have a curry – not one with sauce and probably no rice, but it will be a curry.
And in Italy I will have gelati….well you can’t not have proper Italian gelati, it would be criminal to go all that way…and besides, it’s mostly water…
I will sunbathe around the pool (Italy), go shopping in London, have lunch with friends and walk the dogs with my mum, simple things that I just don’t take the time to do.
And when I get back I’ll assess the situation (hopefully) from a more rational perspective and make whatever decisions need to be made.
Until then Bon voyage!