Survivor story: From TBI coma to marathon runner with Erica Baggett

June 03, 2022 00:37:07
Survivor story: From TBI coma to marathon runner with Erica Baggett
TBI Therapist
Survivor story: From TBI coma to marathon runner with Erica Baggett

Show Notes

Erica Baggett is an energetic, hopeful, and frank survivor. She discussed her difficulty with being a young mom and having a serious TBI.  She discusses hope and her own drive to be the author of her own story. She recently ran in a whole marathon which was a big part of her healing journey. I was amazed by her presence and determination to be a beacon to other brain injury survivors.

Meet Erica:

On October 19, 2018,  Erica sustained a severe TBI.  She was involved in a MVA which left her unconscious and was subsequently airlifted for treatment.

After being in a coma for six weeks, she beat the odds and emerged. She was told she may never take care of herself or her son on her own. She was transferred to Shepherd Center’s Brain Injury Rehabilitation Program where she had to relearn everything, including walking, talking, swallowing, and dressing. She credits the dedication of her husband and family as well as survivor groups to her recovery and healing today.

Things we discussed: 


Takeaway #1

Find your passion. For Erica that was running! So many of my guests have discussed passions assisting their healing. 

Takeaway #2

Don’t give up. You won’t feel this way forever, even if things are very difficult now. 

Takeaway #3

Get connected with the TBI community. One of my biggest recommendations as well!

Takeaway #4

Get some space from your emotions or overwhelm. For Erica that is counting down from 30 or a short walk, two great ideas!

More From Erica

More from Jen

View Full Transcript

Episode Transcript

Speaker 1 00:00:03 Hello survivor coming to you today with a survivor story. The survivor on the program today is Erica Bagit. Erica is a mom and a marathon runner and a TBI survivor among many other things. I like to highlight all the other things that my folks are instead of just a survivor, because we are multifaceted. Yes. So my guest today sustained her TBI in 2018. After a motor vehicle accident, she, we talked about in the program. She unbuckled herself because her son needed her help, something that I have done on the highway. And I think a lot of moms or parents would understand wanting to comfort your child and not realizing that you're putting your life at risk in that moment. So she talked about being in a coma for six weeks, beating the odds of near death and emerging from that. And the recovery that followed having sustained a level three traumatic brain injury. She returned to work in 2019. She's driven to give back to the TBI community and share her story of hope and also extend just tips and takeaways from this conversation with her, Speaker 1 00:01:35 And also how to remain hopeful in a situation that there seems to be no hope as I'm talking with you today, we've as a country sustained many tragedies there's seems to be too many to name, but I will name them for Buffalo and for Texas. And I know that the impact of these events coupled with the pandemic and the divide in our country, racially, politically, all of the things that are stacking on top of each other for my survivors are lot to bear. It's a lot for many of us to bear. And I just want to name it and know that I'm also acknowledging it and knowing that it's been heavy for a lot of people, I can't imagine what people are sitting with. So I want to offer hope on this podcast. I offer, I also want to acknowledge pain and name it, and those people that might be in pain because that's something that I do in the therapy room. So I hope that you will find that helpful on the podcast that we name emotions, we name things that are happening, and that can be helpful in healing. So in that mindset, let's listen to this wonderful survivor. Speaker 1 00:03:04 Hi, everyone. Welcome to the TBI therapist podcast. I'm your host, Dr. Jen, where we explore the heart of brain injury. Hi, Erica. Welcome to the TBI therapist podcast. It's so great to have you on Speaker 3 00:03:28 Hi Jen. Thanks for having me. I'm really excited to be here. Speaker 1 00:03:32 Awesome. Well, I'm gonna kick it off to you and ask you what is one thing about brain injury that people often misunderstand Speaker 3 00:03:41 Specific to me and my experience. So I was in a car accident and, um, I had to go to a hospital and obviously I survived cuz here I am today. But like when I was released from the hospital after my car accident, most people thought, oh my gosh. So lucky you lived. And while I'm thinking I'm alive, but I'm not living. I, I was totally different. Um, I didn't feel okay. My mental health suffered immensely. Like everyone was like, oh my gosh, it's so good to see you. And I was like, is it like, I'm just, I'm not happy. So, um, I think what really is like as the brain injury, I looked okay, but I didn't feel okay. And so it was an invi, a visible injury and I wasn't being dramatic. I was different. And you know, I, it would see a visible injury. Speaker 1 00:04:41 Yeah. Yeah. I think that makes a lot of sense that when people see you, they don't really understand like what's happening inside what the turmoil is going on inside in that it's hard and confusing for many survivors to figure out how do I convey that? I look okay, but I'm not okay. Right. So that's frequently something I hear from people that, you know, it's, it's this weird position where you do look quote unquote fine, but don't feel fine. Speaker 3 00:05:14 Exactly. Speaker 1 00:05:15 Yes. Makes sense. Speaker 3 00:05:17 So, and, and like before the accident, I, I was a dramatic person, as you can see, I'm very expressive, always have been before the accident. So after the car accident, I was like, am I just being dramatic having these thoughts or is this a result of my traumatic brain injury? And so, I didn't know. And then like, you know, I went to therapy and I, I was working through it and I was like, that's not Erica talking, that's the brain injury talking and they're two different, they can, they coexisted for a long time. Speaker 1 00:05:53 Yeah. So there was like the brain injury thoughts and your own thoughts. Yes. So talk to me about, are you comfortable sharing kind of what types of thoughts you were thinking about, if not, that's fine. Or maybe like the category of the type of thoughts you're maybe talking about if you don't wanna talk on specifics. Speaker 3 00:06:10 Yeah, no, that's totally cool. So I, I honestly can't think of a specific example for this one, but like when something would happen to me and like, it was not planned or I didn't, once that I got news that I didn't like, it was like, my world was ending and I was gonna die. Like I was just scared I was petrified. So that was a thought like, you know, like if my husband, my husband's name is Josh and like, if our plans changed and like, I hadn't planned that out, I would freak out. And, and then another thing that I've noticed is I no longer have these thank goodness, but I would have intrusive thoughts, like sexual thoughts about people that I didn't wanna have sexual thoughts about, but they would just come my brain. I was like, what is happening? I don't wanna think about that. Speaker 1 00:07:12 Yeah. So some things that just like, you didn't know, like what to do with those thoughts and yeah, I've definitely heard of people. Uh, who've had struggles with that. Who've had struggles with just like unwanted thoughts and things that they had never struggled with before their injury. So that makes a lot of sense. Yeah. So tell me a little bit about the story of like your recovery and what that was like, you know, maybe a little bit about your injury and then what were the next steps for you recovery wise? Speaker 3 00:07:45 Okay. Um, can I give you a brief overview of like what happened to me? Speaker 1 00:07:49 Yeah. Gimme the, like the snapshot and, Speaker 3 00:07:51 Okay. Um, so it was in 2018. So we're now coming from year four, which is so crazy to me, but it was October, 2018, my husband, and at the time our son was 18 months old. He, all three of us were driving from Nashville, Tennessee, um, to our Alma mater, the university of Mississippi, Ole miss Hotty. And we had just crossed into the Mississippi line when our, um, well, let me preface this by. So our son had fallen asleep and taken a nap. And so, um, he woke up from his nap in the car, his back in the back seat and he was just losing his mind and Josh and I, we were trying to comfort in like buddy it's. Okay. It's okay. And he was just losing it. So what I did is I took off my seatbelt to get from the passenger seat, into the back seat with him, just to play with him. And in that 10 seconds, we were hit by an 18 Wheeler. Oh. And I was objected from the car, thankfully, Josh and hall, my son were okay. They were okay. And, you know, and tell me, there's not a God, that's my only thing I'll get off my <laugh>, you know, but Speaker 1 00:09:08 Anyway, that's alright. I'm a believer. Okay, Speaker 3 00:09:11 Cool. Great. Um, so, uh, I landed in the median. Um, I was from the median. I was airlifted from, um, the scene of the accident to a regional one in Memphis, the ICU. Um, and bless Josh again. My husband, he had to look at me, not sure if I was alive and then we had an 18 month old son, so I know that I live, but Josh deserves some credit. He was the real MVP like, gosh, could you imagine? Speaker 1 00:09:45 Yeah. So no, I have two boys, so I just, I that's, I can't, I can't Speaker 3 00:09:50 Right at 18 months old, Speaker 1 00:09:52 Like yeah. Speaker 3 00:09:53 Oh, crazy. Speaker 1 00:09:55 They're so attached. I mean, mine where I was mostly home at that point. So like to not have mom around, I think would've been so difficult. Speaker 3 00:10:03 Yeah. So that, you know, and okay. I'll get, we'll go into that in a second. Sure, sure. Um, so I was airlifted from the median to Memphis where I was in a coma for six weeks when I woke up or came to, they prepared Josh, uh, that for the worst, I guess that's the, you know, doctor have to, you know, this could be the possibility. There was a chance that I would never take care of myself or my son again, or ever be alone again, like I would never shower alone again. So, um, then I was transferred to shepherd center in Atlanta. You might have heard of that Speaker 1 00:10:45 High school. I, my most I'm in Maine now, so, well, I've mostly been up here for the past 10 years. Yeah. Speaker 3 00:10:50 Okay. Well, so shepherd center, brain injury rehabilitation, uh, program is a hospital in Atlanta that, um, you have to be accepted into that. It's for brain injuries and spinal cord injuries. So I, I was, you know, I got in there. Thank goodness. And, um, that is where I had to learn how to everything walk, talk, swallow mm-hmm <affirmative> and then dress myself and going through all of this. From what I remember, I don't remember it all, but like, I can remember thinking I'm fine. I'm fine. Everyone needs to leave me alone. So I, I denied that I was injured. So I was released from the hospital after 20 weeks in January, 2019, came home returned to work in 2019. Um, and then, but then I had to keep going to physical therapy, had some more surgeries, um, through that. And, um, I think I had my last surgery six months ago and knock on wood. Speaker 1 00:12:07 We're all good. Good with surgeries. Good. Yeah. Yeah. That's awesome. Yeah. So it was 20 weeks. And for you, it sounds like it was hard for you to admit like something was different or something had changed. Speaker 3 00:12:23 Yes, I could. I could remember, like I was fine. I didn't have a traumatic brain injury. I was fine. I was in a bad car accident. There was nothing wrong with me. Um, and then I denied it and that denied it. And then I, I don't have like a moment, but like, you know, once I accepted it, things became easier. I, I am forever different, but I'm okay with being different because I like the version of myself now so much more than who I was, uh, prior to the accident. Speaker 1 00:13:00 Mm-hmm, <affirmative> say more about that. Speaker 3 00:13:03 Well, um, I wasn't motivated before, uh, I, you know, I just didn't care about, you know, whatever. And, um, now I, I like everything planned out, like to a fault. I think that's good just because like I, and, and maybe it, maybe I am the way I am because an unwanted thing, an 18 Wheeler entered into my life that was not planned. I did not plan to be struck by an 18 Wheeler that happened. And, you know, I, I could have dealt with it two ways. I could have gone down victimhood and said, oh, more pitiable me, or, you know, come back and just say like, look at me now. Like, I, I have a story and I wanna share my story so I can help other people. And mm-hmm <affirmative> so yeah, I plan stuff out and I make sure stuff gets done that I want done. And, and no one's gonna do it unless I do it. So I'll do it. Speaker 1 00:14:15 Yeah. Speaker 3 00:14:16 I got a second chance on life and I'm gonna use it. Speaker 1 00:14:20 Yeah. That's awesome. That's a great, a great attitude I think, to have, and I think it can, at the same time, it's both and right. So at the same time, I think it can be hard for people to embody that attitude at times when I talk with them, because maybe they've been in that victim place, I don't wanna call it victim, but, um, because I think depression is real for sure. And I think sometimes people just get stuck in depression or get stuck in, um, not being to come out of that kind of hole of darkness and see that they're, they can help people or they can do something else that they may not have planned, but it could be something really great. And I'm curious for you how you were able to make that pivot, Speaker 3 00:15:08 Make, say that last part, Speaker 1 00:15:09 The, the pivot, the pivot, to be able to say, like, I can help people. I can tell my story. Speaker 3 00:15:16 Well, I think the reason I didn't go BEC I wasn't a victim and I didn't wanna be a victim because whether or not I felt sorry for myself or, you know, I am the way I am now that doesn't change. What happened to me that doesn't change that I am covered in scars, trached, you know, I have blood internally surgery, surgery that, that doesn't change. Fact I'll never smell or taste again, you know, and that, it, it sucks that I can't, but doesn't change it. So why, why dwell on it? Why, you know, and so what, so what I guess the reason I want to share my story now is like, I, I will allow myself to about once every two or three days, I'll feel bad for myself about an hour. Like it suck, and it's not fair. Mm-hmm, <affirmative>, it's not, it sucks. Speaker 3 00:16:20 I'll allow myself to feel that way. And then I'll say, okay, now put your big panties on and let's get some stuff done because it doesn't change your situation situation. And I, I can help other people with my story because Josh, um, when I was in the hospital, when they told him that, you know, there's a chance that she'll be in a wheelchair for the rest of her life and she'll never leave the bed again. Um, he went to survivor or caregiver support groups. Yep. And, um, he clung to that, those hopeful stories. Like there's a chance that she'll be in that 10% of people, 1% don't quote me in one numbers. Um, but that's fine. <laugh> um, but so, and so like, I love my husband and if that helped him, then I wanna help the next caregiver, the next survivor, because again, I got a second chance at life and I'm gonna use it for something. Speaker 1 00:17:29 Yeah. Yeah. So leaning into like the hope and the miracle, it sounds like of your recovery that you, you know, the statistics were pretty grim mm-hmm <affirmative> and you were able to see that and say, Hey, this is my second chance. So let's really lean into the second chance that I could have died. Speaker 3 00:17:52 Yeah. It, it lit a fire under me. And I think that's why that's one of the reasons that I got into running and then running longer distances because in the back of my head, while I'm running, I'm thinking, you know, a year ago, two years ago I was in a coma and now I'm running 10 miles. It like, and then I kept going. So Speaker 1 00:18:19 <laugh>. Yeah. And it sounds like a really tangible goal. Like I wanna work towards a marathon. So maybe you can share a little bit about your journey with running and where that led you recently. Speaker 3 00:18:30 Okay. Yeah. So, um, because of my traumatic brain or because of the traumatic brain injury that I sustained, not mine, cuz it was not only I could not sleep well. Um, I would go to bed at seven and then I'd wake up at like three 30 or four and I was up and so I'm sure you've slept bad where like, and then you look up the, your phone. You're like, I have two more hours. I gotta get up and like played that game. Well, so Josh was like, Erica, why don't you get out? And just start walking that that'll be good. Get outside. And I was like, okay. So I started walking every morning, you know, by myself, uh, listening to music or like praying. And, and then I got, I got bored of walking. So then I started running and I ran one Mo one mile and the next week I've run five miles. Speaker 3 00:19:26 So it was a very slow prog progress. And then, um, I, my best friend was running in a half marathon. I was like, I wanna do that. So I got into the half marathon. Well then after I did a couple half marathons, I was like, well, what's the next thing, a full marathon. So that's how I did it. And, and what I, what I found. So I'm sure you've heard, heard this before, but like people survivors who don't have anxiety before their trauma or their event, car accident for me. And then after they have so much anxiety. Yeah. Well, that was true for me. I never had anxiety before, but then, um, after I had anxiety and I had a little bit of depression and so running was the only thing that helped, uh, my neurologist prescribed me to medications and it just, it made me feel weird constipated just like running, didn't do that. So, um, I just kept running and I haven't stopped. Speaker 1 00:20:36 Hi everyone. Just interrupting your programming a little bit. It's Dr. Jen here. I wanted to let you know about my new email course. So I developed an email course in the past couple months just to give you kind of my basics on concussion and brain injury recovery. I go a little bit over my strategies for managing nervous system changes and also mindset shifts and how to find your people. So that's the main focus of the email course. And I also talk a little bit about my coaching offerings. So you might have felt that you've been trying to seek either mental health services and that's just not possible in your area to have someone with expertise in brain injury and wellness and mental health. And although this is different from mental health counseling, you might benefit from coaching or someone who can come alongside you and just kind of point you in different directions and resources and possibly connect you with resources near you. So if you're interested in any, any of that, please take me up on my free resource, which is the email course. And if you're interested about my coaching offerings, please head over to TBI back to your program Speaker 3 00:21:52 Four years later. Speaker 1 00:21:53 Yeah. So for you, it sounds like it was, it was kind of the thing that helped you feel better. Speaker 3 00:21:59 Yeah. Speaker 1 00:21:59 It was, it helped you kind of like get some traction in recovery. Speaker 3 00:22:03 Yes. It, it was something that I was good at and I was in control of it and, um, it was therapeutic it because, because what I, what I've learned still, um, three and a half, almost four years fall the accident, my head is, uh, still, like, I don't know how to describe like in inside my head, it's like jumble. Like it's just, I can't think clear. Speaker 1 00:22:35 A lot of people talk about that, that either some P someone told me it was white fuzzies, another person said like electricity, it feels like. So I, I think people describe it to me differently, but you, you call it, I like that. You'd made the noise. <laugh> Speaker 3 00:22:50 That's my Speaker 1 00:22:50 Head. That's your head. Yeah. But I it's, it's a common thing that people describe to me. Speaker 3 00:22:56 Yes. And I found that running is like, what helps me? And like that is when I'm able to think clear. And like, there is no the, in my head it's Speaker 1 00:23:09 Just right. Speaker 3 00:23:10 Music. Speaker 1 00:23:10 Did you struggle with any exercise intolerance or any problems like getting going and running or was that just smooth sailing for you? Speaker 3 00:23:17 No, that was smooth. Say away. Speaker 1 00:23:19 Oh, that's great. Cuz some people really struggle with the exercise intolerance pieces of like recovery. So that's great. Speaker 3 00:23:25 Right. Yeah. And so, but another thing that I learned or that helped me with my recovery and running, when I would think of something, um, you know, that I needed to tell Josh and I was on mile, you know, one and I was gonna run for another hour. I wouldn't stop running to write it down. I would just say, tell Josh that I wanna go to dinner here. Tell Josh, tell Josh. And I would just for the whole hour, I would say, remember, remember, and then I would hit listen to it in my head. And then when I got home after my run, I would go, Hey babe, um, we need to pick up this or let's go eat here. And like when I did that, it was, you know, I can remember my, it was like, my brain was repairing itself, if that makes sense. Speaker 1 00:24:23 Yeah. So that was your own what I I'm gonna call a memory compensatory strategy. So you would rehearse, it sounds like, yes. So you would rehearse what, the thing you want to remember over and over again, and then eventually that started to, to work for you. Speaker 3 00:24:39 Yes. Which was so cool for, because, uh, because for, um, about a year at following the accident, I would have to like write things down, um, or set alarms on my phone or in the notepad, on my cell of, you know, pick up this or do the dishes or, you know, and then like that got annoying. And so I was like, okay, let's just test your memory. Remember this for the next hour. And then when I would remember it, I was so proud of myself. So proud. Speaker 1 00:25:17 So yeah. So by testing it and really proving to yourself that you could like have a new skill, you can work on things and things can improve, which is really empowering. Speaker 3 00:25:29 Yeah. Speaker 1 00:25:30 Awesome. Mm-hmm <affirmative> well, I wonder if we transitioned to some tips you might have from your personal experience for someone who's been through a TBI or brain injury. Speaker 3 00:25:41 Yeah, totally. Um, so I have about five, but you know, they, I'm sure they're different for everyone. So this is what helped me. Speaker 1 00:25:54 Yeah. Speaker 3 00:25:55 Okay. So I would tip one would be find a hobby or passion that helps make you the best version of yourself. So for me, that was running. I love, I love myself after I get done with the run. I'm like so proud. And like, it's just something that I enjoy and it's just me and I just run. So that would be tip. And then I, I would also tell someone don't not to give up it it's hard, but keep fighting through the dark times because you know, tell me if this metaphor makes sense. Like on bad days it's raining, it's raining and it's hard and it's stormy, but it will stop raining. Eventually it will stop. So don't fight or don't give up, keep fighting. Speaker 1 00:26:46 Yeah. It means may have a quote. Real said, no feeling is final. We often feel like those that sad day or that those hard weeks they can feel like they lost forever, but the something else will come. It will change. Speaker 3 00:26:59 Yes. It will stop running. Yeah, totally. Um, and then I would say, uh, get involved with the TBI community, um, to find people who will empathize with you because for so long, I felt, you know, no one knew what I was going through. No one knew that my head was. And so find that someone who's who know, cause I, my, my family, they sympathize and they, they felt bad for me and they loved me. Goodness. But no one knew what I was going through. So find someone who can say I've been there and it sucks, but I've been there. Speaker 3 00:27:39 Yeah. So I would say get involved in the community. And then, um, the last two things. So again, my head is like a jumble mess. And so I get overwhelmed very easily. So when I can't go on a run or when I can't be active, if I'm, you know, doing something where I, it's just not a possibility, I will count down in my head, 30, 29, 28, 27, 26, all the way down to one. I mean, I know that's 30 seconds, but I feel like my head is clear again, you know? And it, when next time I get overwhelmed, which I'm sure will be, you know, this afternoon, do that again. And it, it helps me. And then last thing I would, another tip I would say is go on a short five, 10 minute walk just to clear your head, just to breathe. So that, that's my, my tips for sure. Speaker 1 00:28:43 Yeah. Thanks for that. I think people will get a lot out of that. And I think the passion thing is really what I'm hearing from many survivors and it's different things for some people it's been running. Like I just spoke with someone who'll be on the podcast at the end of the month. And theirs was reading like this religious. It was, they, they are Jewish and they were reading this certain text and really getting into interpretation. So they're cognitively, they could really dive into reading and that was great for them. So every brain injury is so different. Mm-hmm, <affirmative> that your passions and your abilities after injury just vary greatly. But the passion, I think I'm hearing a lot with people, like find something you really enjoy or that you're really good at. That makes you feel like yourself. Right. That's a great recommendation. Speaker 3 00:29:30 Yeah. Unless you, I, I think it's important. Do what you need to do to be the best version of yourself. It'll be tough, but you know, I say this nicely, but find a way, don't find an excuse, like do what you have to do. Speaker 1 00:29:50 Yeah. Yeah. I love it. Okay. So random question. Okay. What's your favorite holiday food and why? Speaker 3 00:30:02 Okay. Well, so I can't taste because of the TBI. Speaker 1 00:30:07 Right? Speaker 3 00:30:08 So, um, I reminisce about my food. Like my foods, you know, I'm like, oh my gosh. Yes. So, you know, that would be so good. So growing up every Christmas morning, um, I have two younger brothers. Um, my mom would make us Christmas morning breakfast and she would make eggs Benedict. It was my favorite. Like it just, I don't, I just loved it. And so if I could taste that, it would definitely be expedited. So I tell myself that's what it's for sure. Speaker 1 00:30:43 Yeah. And some of I, some of the folks I've worked with who've lost taste and smell. They will tell me like, texture is very like sometimes if something has a certain texture, it's so good. Interestingly enough, I've never understood the loss of tasted or smell, but I got COVID and for two weeks, I didn't have, I mean, thank God I came back. But I, when, when my survivors would tell me what it was like, I'm, I'm kind of glad that I was able to understand what that was like, because it's so weird. Speaker 3 00:31:13 Yes. Speaker 1 00:31:14 To not be able to taste your food or smell it. I mean, I was, I had like, I was cooking garlic and my eyes were watering. I could smell nothing. Yes. It could taste nothing. And so experiencing that for a short term, for me, I think helps me understand that, like your experience of a, of a meal, which is much, much about tasting and smelling and like the aromas that happen and how that is a loss. And I didn't think about this question in context of a context of somebody who had lost taste or smell. So I might be thinking of like, what your what's your favorite holiday meal and why cuz then that would encompass like an experience perhaps? I Speaker 3 00:31:54 Don't know. Yeah, for sure. Well, now I don't have one right now. Speaker 1 00:32:01 Oh, that's okay. Speaker 3 00:32:03 That's yeah. Cause my, my in-laws don't live here and um, we haven't had, we haven't had like a, a family gathering. It's just like the honey baked ham. So nothing good right now. Speaker 1 00:32:18 Yeah. No that's okay. Speaker 3 00:32:19 But yes, texture, Speaker 1 00:32:21 Texture Speaker 3 00:32:21 Is still a very, like, it's so important to me. So I like, um, this has nothing to do with the holidays, but like salmon, I I'll buy salmon, um, and eat that. Cause I like the way it feels in my mouth. And then, um, after I get done running Greek yogurt and uh, berries and peanut butter. Speaker 1 00:32:41 Yeah. People tell me the Greek yogurt parfaits. Like another, I liked that when I couldn't taste and smell. And then a couple survivors I've worked with have said that was like with granola too, or just like sweet. They could taste sweet a little bit. So, yeah. Interesting. Interesting. Yeah. Okay. So last question for you close. Okay. What would you tell your pre-injury self? Speaker 3 00:33:10 I would tell my pre-injury self that am, am I 30 years old? How old am I? Speaker 1 00:33:21 Yeah. At any phase, we'll just it's we can totally play with this question. Okay. Yeah. Speaker 3 00:33:27 I would tell my pre-injury self that Speaker 1 00:33:32 Or you're just a, yeah, a good, you could be a, a younger self, any point younger self. Okay. Speaker 3 00:33:38 I would tell her that Erica, you are, you are the author of your life. Speaker 1 00:33:47 Mm. Speaker 3 00:33:48 And the first couple chapters have already been written. You were a child bra, adolescent went to high school college. And then, um, right now you're in the mid, the meat of the book. You're, you're writing that your next chapter you're working. You're figuring out where your, what your life to go. And then you'll, you'll get to the final word of how you', how your life story is and you're in control. So, but in the middle of the book, um, I, I would say that bad things will happen, expect bad things to happen. And it's how, how will you respond? Speaker 1 00:34:30 Mm-hmm <affirmative> okay. Speaker 3 00:34:32 That's but you're the author. Speaker 1 00:34:34 You're the author. I love it. I love it. Okay. Is there any way that you'd like people to connect with you if they've heard this and they love to reach out, what's the best way to connect with you? Speaker 3 00:34:47 Yeah, well they can, um, my Instagram or Facebook, any social media. Um, my Instagram handle, I believe is at Erica bag and then my, uh, Facebook is Erica Hazel's hook bag, so they can direct message me, slide my DMS if they Speaker 1 00:35:07 Want slide your DMS. Okay. Awesome. Well, it's so great to have you on the program. I look for, Speaker 3 00:35:16 Can I say one more thing really fast? Okay. So I went back to run back to running. Um, I got bored with my music and so I was looking for traumatic brain injury podcast. So three came up and I listened to three yours included and, um, yours was my favorite. Thank you. Um, and I, I'm so sad that there's only 19 episodes. I need it anymore so I can run to them. So come on, Jen. Um, but I just, Speaker 1 00:35:46 I recorded, this is my third today. So I'm working. Speaker 3 00:35:49 Okay. Well it just, it, your podcast, it made me feel not alone and that I just, I, what I was experiencing, wasn't just Erica. It was the traumatic brain injury population and there are others out there and I'm not alone. So thank you. I read to you <laugh> Speaker 1 00:36:12 Oh my gosh. Sending you love that is awesome. I run to you. I have chills. Speaker 3 00:36:17 <laugh> get a t-shirt. Speaker 1 00:36:19 Yes, I run to you. Speaker 3 00:36:21 I love it. Speaker 1 00:36:22 <laugh> you're so great. Speaker 3 00:36:24 Well, Speaker 1 00:36:25 Thank so much. Okay. That is such a good note to end on. So I'm sure we'll be in touch. So I will talk with you really soon. Speaker 3 00:36:33 Alrighty. Speaker 4 00:36:37 Thank you for joining us today on the TBI therapist podcast, please visit TBI for more information on brain injury, concussion and mental health. The information shared on today's podcast is intended to provide information awareness and discussion on the topic. It is not clinical or medical advice. If you need mental health or medical advice, please seek a professional.

Other Episodes


June 17, 2022 00:45:22
Episode Cover

25. Concussion Survivor Story: How I overcame domestic violence

Have you been called “lazy” after your brain injury? My guest today talks about how people responded to her invisible injury. She discusses that her brain injury event occurred after an incident of domestic violence.  She discusses that there were many mental health issues intertwined in her recovery and it was further complicated by it coming from a domestic violence incident.  She discussed how memorizing her lines helped her in her recovery journey.  Something that I discuss all the time!  Mac Lawson sustained a traumatic brain injury in March of 2018 as a result of domestic violence. Her symptoms are mostly alleviated, minus some that are more long term. She pivoted after a brain injury to become a stand up comedian and her brain injury led her into comedy. Spreading awareness about TBIs is one of her life’s missions. Tips for Recovery Tip #1: Brain injury was financially difficult.  She found that she did things on her own with her self-care.  She found that limiting her light exposure was helpful. She discussed many things through trial and error! Tip #2 Try to remove people from your life that are invalidating. She discussed that she needed people around her that validated her experience.  Tip #3 She tried to be as normal as she could. She said “yes” to things that she knew would aggravate her symptoms.  We talked about the push-pull of being social and pushing yourself after a concussion vs. being social and living a “normal life”.  More from MacLawson @bigmaclawson More from Jen Just 2 spots left for coaching this summer! @tbitherapist  ...



May 13, 2022 00:19:23
Episode Cover

Q&A with Dr. Jen: Why am I so angry after a brain injury?

Episode #20: It’s me this week! I’ve received this question so many times while working with my courageous survivors, and recently a listener. Dr. Jen…why am I so angry? How do I stop feeling so pissed off!!  I talk about this and my journey to understand this complicated emotion and in the words of Berne Brown…a powerful catalyst but a life-sucking companion.   Things discussed: Berne Brown’s research and her new book Atlas of the Heart. You can find links to all her books I also talked about the work of the Gottman’s specifically regarding physiology and increase heart rate. Here’s a great blog about this concept on the website  My email course which discussed the nervous system and how it impacts our stress response.  One of my favorite resources for a book about anger is Andrea Brandt’s mindful anger book. Her book and website are here: Takeaways Takeaway #1 It’s ok to be angry! But don’t stay there. Find ways to use it as a catalyst as it is a life-sucking companion.  Takeaway #2 Work through your nervous system. There are probably great physiological reasons why you are feeling anger.  Check out my free email course below, I talk about that a bunch there!  Takeaway #3 Be mindful of your physiological state. Wearable technology has come a long way! Use measures of physiology as guides to rest and take a break when you are triggered or angry.  ...



January 25, 2022 00:32:18
Episode Cover

TBI Dietitian Krystal Merrells on Nutrition after concussion

Concussion and nutrition is a hot topic! But does it need to be? My guest Krystal talks about her role as a nutritionist and her concussion recovery. We talk briefly about the HUGE topic of intuitive eating and brain injury.  She found that people were often on restrictive diets, supplements, and tracking when they were struggling with their recovery.  She found that no one was offering more of an intuitive approach to eating after a brain injury.   Things we discussed:  Intuitive eating discusses 10 principles, here’s a link to the principles from the founders of this approach. We talked about “bad” foods after brain injury and how diet culture influences this belief. Diet culture is pervasive. Foods are labeled as villains.   Krystal says that she has seen many times that clients will say that they can not eat many foods. She helps them understand a different perspective on their recovery and the role of food.  She talks about clients fearing food because it may “hurt” them.  Not eating or getting enough energy contributes to inflammation and stress.   First and foremost we need to eat!! We are literally adding fuel to the stress fire!  Takeaways Takeaway #1 Routine! The brain and body love routine. Get your three square meals a day. It’s a great place to start!   Takeaway #2 Think about what to add vs. what to cut out. Figure out what you like to eat and ...