I Had An Adrenal Crash. Here's How I Recovered

mbg Contributor By Kelly O'Brien
mbg Contributor
Kelly O'Brien is a freelance health and wellness writer based in Chicago.

I'm here to share the story of my own climb out of an adrenal crash after my autonomic nervous system began to dysfunction due to POTS Syndrome (Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome). There are five key steps you can take after an adrenal crash that will place you on a straightforward path to healing, regardless of how different your circumstances are from mine.

What is the clinical definition of an adrenal crash? According to UCLA Health Systems, an acute adrenal crisis is a life-threatening state caused by insufficient levels of cortisol, which is a hormone produced and released by the adrenal gland.

But an adrenal crash doesn't happen as suddenly as it sounds or feels. I know from my own experience that there was about a three-year buildup of stressful events in my life, including back surgery, divorce, and living a lifestyle that was so fast-paced, no one would have been able to sustain it.

After three years of exhausting my body, boom, I had a full-blown adrenal crash, which included fainting, a blow to the head and my heart momentarily stopping. It was absolutely terrifying. I couldn't walk one block in the first month to two months of recovery. Lifting my head was a workout. So the potential for this to happen is nothing anyone who's had any adrenal challenge should take lightly.

The road to healing after an adrenal crash is incredibly long but I want you to avoid the maze I went through. I've learned so much about healing the adrenals through integrative medicine. So, let's get to my five key steps to take after your adrenals crash:

1. Find an integrative physician.

I've mentioned this before, but it bears repeating. An integrative physician is going to give you a take-home saliva kit to measure your cortisol levels at all of the key times of the day (there are four). Conventional Western physicians typically only do lab work, which is relatively ineffective when it comes to the adrenals.

If you can do this first step right away, you're going to save yourself potentially months to years of bed rest, money and time. With these results, you'll be treated accordingly, with a combination of supplements and possibly medication.

2. Take a real, honest inventory of your relationships.

Yes, adrenal insufficiency and even adrenal fatigue is an indicator of an underlying health challenge. But sometimes, that underlying challenge includes toxic relationships. If you've had an adrenal crash, let me tell you very directly that your body cannot heal — it will not heal — in the presence of toxic relationships, and that includes energy-draining conversations, people placing demands on your time, your not having boundaries with loved ones, and a fast-paced schedule.

You can see an integrative physician, eat an alkalizing diet, meditate, and so on, but if you're involved in toxic relationships, your adrenals aren't going to heal.

3. Follow a specific plan for supplements and diet that you, your integrative physician and nutritionist develop.

I've seen it now too many times, and did it myself: People desperate for healing, going on the Internet and ordering supplements to experiment with. Reading a blog and starting that particular diet plan because it worked for someone else. If you're completely healthy? Experimentation is great. If you've had a true adrenal crash? Cultivate relationships with practitioners you trust, and devise a plan together.

4. Meditate.

You've probably read countless articles about the powerful benefits of meditation. Meditation is an absolute gift to your healing adrenals. I liken meditation to massaging the adrenal glands. Meditating daily is absolutely an essential step to calming both the central and autonomic nervous system.

5. Love yourself well and completely.

Initially in my healing from an adrenal crash, I began to do everything "right." I followed the steps above in addition to eating plant-based whole foods, and I was still missing a piece of my own puzzle. And that was truly adoring myself and my body, which included speaking kindly to myself, acting as one with my body, eating nutritious whole foods, giving myself a lot of room to rest and moving at a pace that enables me to feel joy!

Don't give up if you're in any stage of adrenal healing. I am living proof that you can get there!

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