Are you living on adrenaline?

Are you running around on adrenaline, much like ‘roadrunner’ just running non stop?

Following my own rather large run in with adrenaline and the diagnosis of having dysautonomia and being hyperadrenergic (a-dren-err-gic – I still have problems saying it) I’ve become somewhat interested in the role it plays on the body and thought I would share some of what I know.  So here goes….

Apart from its role in the autonomic nervous system in modulating blood pressure, adrenaline also gets sparked when you are low on sugar (hungry), in need of oxygen (physical exertion or short on air), when you are fearful and also when you are excited (for the buzz junkies out there).  Excess release for those functioning ‘normally’ generally comes as a result of the flight/fight response being switched on.  When it gets sparked here’s some of what happens – it gives you an energy boost and leaves you feeling pumped (to enable you to flee or fight or do something supercharged), it stops non essential bodily activity so you conserve energy (eg slows digestion, stops blood going to your extremities), makes you more alert, dilates your pupils, makes you sweat, cold, clammy and jittery.  My specialist calls it ‘cold turkey’ but I think that rather unflattering for the afflicted personally. It can leave you feeling bloated due to your digestion slowing – not a fat roll as I had first thought, it’s food literally stuck in your belly! In my case, it also gets triggered by too much talking (which is my favourite pastime) and by heat and standing.  Gosh there’s probably more but that’s probably enough for now.

Are you running around on adrenaline, much like 'roadrunner' just running non stop? Click To Tweet

Many of my own reactions in the last year were and still are pretty much continuous, mainly as a result of my now diagnosed dysautonomia.

Being hyperadrenergic means all of my adrenaline production (conscious and unconscious is excessive). Stress and excitement totally exacerbates what I have to deal with.  In the end it can make for a pretty nasty body cocktail. When my body initially went full on bananas (after being overheated at the hot springs), I became like an engine that had been revved way too much and I wouldn’t switch off.  My body over-reacted big time to the drop in blood pressure it experienced when my blood vessels over dilated.  This over-reaction lasted well over six months – it was bloody awful.

Could someone please take their foot off the accelerator??!

To give you an idea of the delightful impacts of adrenaline, I’ve experienced painful burning sensations flowing up my chest and down my arms (like I was burning from the inside out with ‘acid’), daily adrenaline ‘panic-like’ waves that would literally take my breath away and fill me with a sense of doom, tachycardia (racing heart) and high blood pressure whenever I stood up, got excited or exercised.  I also had continuous arm and upper body tremors (I would literally wake up buzzing), chest pain, nausea, dizzy spells, a sense of a seizure coming on, headaches that nothing can shift and continual sleep disturbance (intense dreams/nightmares, limited sleep). Some of this was on account of the low blood volume but a good deal was also just adrenaline excess.  Oh and when the accelerator was full tilt, I talked like I was on full speed, was overly excitable and couldn’t sit still – just in case all that wasn’t enough!

I was literally buzzing and exhausted all at the same time.

I jokingly referred to some of my episodes as my flight simulator or my thunderbird puppet days. It can have many different faces and I had to find something funny to call it, some days I literally thought I was going mad and I probably looked it too!  My body was exhausted but my adrenaline wouldn’t let me rest.

The tell tale signs for me were also there before it hit me big time. In what I thought was a good way, my over-reactive adrenaline tendencies left me pumped to keep doing more – over excitement and an ability to be super fast at everything – I loved having a reputation for getting stuff done quick but, looking back, I now know this was the adrenaline talking!

I would often say I lived my life like I was in a race with it and I wore it like a badge of honour.  What was I thinking?

It soon lulled me into a place of no return where the ‘feel good’ was replaced with something quite catastrophic almost overnight.  And all it took was a dip in a hot pool!

All it took for my adrenaline catastrophe was a dip in a hot pool! Click To Tweet

Adrenaline for me represents my good and evil twin, good when it’s being triggered in moderation but evil when in excess.

Your mind can also have an influence on how much of it gets triggered and can have an irritating knack of continuing to push you beyond what your body is able to cope with.  Remember though, your mind is not king.  Your body will ultimately hold the score and it will get your notice quite spectacularly if you push it too far.


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