What does “low” feel like?

*Disclaimer: This post describes how I feel during a cortisol low. It is intended to show how low cortisol hijacks the brain. This took place over the span of about 6 hours due to accumulated physical and emotional stressors. This was not an adrenal crisis. Not even close. I believe in honesty and transparency so I did not edit my original thoughts from that state. I wanted to call attention to the profound mental and emotional effects of low cortisol, and I don’t want others with adrenal insufficiency to feel alone or ashamed when they feel this way. Its biology my friends.*



I’m being pulled in a million different directions. I’m completely overwhelmed. I’m frazzled, inadequate. The confusion sets in. I’m not thinking straight, I can’t make decisions. My mentality grows increasingly negative. Everything is stupid, life is un fucking fair. I can’t stand to be in my own head. I’m either combative or weepy and sometimes flying wildly from one to the other.

I become increasingly sensitive to light and sound. Even dim light is hurting my eyes, every noise is like it’s attacking my ears. I cannot take care of myself by this point. I cannot see that I am in need of things like food, water, and medicine. I don’t even want to take the medicine, and become agitated when asked if I need more meds. I feel weak. My head is hurting. I just want the weight of the world off my shoulders for a while. I can’t help everyone, I can’t fix everything. Doubt strikes. What am I even doing? What makes me think I know anything about anything? I feel isolated. I feel like I need to reach out to someone, but no one can help me. Why would I even expect them to? They’ve heard enough of my problems.

I finally admit I might need to dose. My husband doesn’t let me choose the dosage, and hands me a pill. I want to tell him I’m sick of meds, I want to tell him that’s too much (it isn’t though,) and that it’s going to take forever to kick in, but I don’t have the energy to protest. I cry to him about all the things weighing on me. He says “Don’t worry about that. We could be raptured in 5 minutes for all we know.”

Damn, and we don’t even have any ice cream.


*I started to come out of the low about an hour later. It took a generous stress dose and some environmental modifications like turning the lights off and reducing noise. This situation would have continued to deteriorate had I not given myself more cortisol, and eventually, probably in the middle of the night, I would have had to inject or go to the hospital. I chose to medicate before it reached that extreme, as I believe that is safest for my body.

Low cortisol and the results are not a personal failing, it is not something you are in control of. This is biology. Your brain is not getting the increased amount of oxygen and glucose it needs during stress because you don’t have the cortisol that would make that happen.

Keep calm and take care my friends 🙂

❤ Michelle


5 thoughts on “What does “low” feel like?

  1. Hi, i just read this and it sounds exactly like what I’ve been going through. How do i find out about cortisol levels and how to help fix them? Thanks xx


    • Hi Amy! Any doctor on your medical team can order some blood work to check your adrenal function. They would want to check 1. AM Cortisol 2. ACTH 3. Plasma Renin 4. Sodium (sodium is usually on the CMP.)

      However, be aware that every laboratory has a different range of what they call “normal” for cortisol, so what may low, can sometimes be mistaken as normal. You would want your 8am cortisol to be at the high end of the lab’s range.


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