I'LL GO FIRST PODCAST WITH JESSICA MINHAS
FIGHTING FOR YOURSELF WHEN DOCTORS WON'T
Veteran, journalist, traumatic brain injury survivor and endurance athlete Amanda Burrill talks all things knowing your healthcare rights and how to advocate for them.
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Stories from others on healing and finding purpose to remind us if they can we can too.
When I first met Amanda Burrill, boy, was I intimidated! Not only is she highly accomplished as a graduate of Brown University and Columbia Journalism School, a professional endurance athlete, cook, TV Host, journalist but ::drum roll please::
SHE ALSO SPENT 10 YEARS IN THE UNITED STATES NAVY AS A NAVY RESCUE SWIMMER AND SURFACE WARFARE OFFICER (I KNOW, RIGHT?!)
It's everybody's right to
feel healthy, to feel 100%
Amanda and I conducted this interview on November 11th, Veterans Day 2019. Veterans Day is really special to me because my entire family on both sides (yes, **entire**) going waaaaay back have all served in the military, whether in the United States military or abroad. I almost did too
but I got a scholarship for university right before beginning school. Everyone who has served in my family served during an active warfare time and as a result, a fair amount of them have suffered from PTSD at one point or another. It’s part of the reason why I’m so passionate about trauma recovery. I have always wondered what life could have been like for some of my family, my grandfather, in particular, had they not been suffering so much from their experiences in war. What hopes would they have had, what dreams could they have seen come to life?
Amanda brought so much wisdom and insight into this conversation. She talks about this very thing, the broad diagnosis of PTSD for active duty servicemen and women, veterans and her take on psychological prescription drug treatments - when it’s needed and when we are overprescribing. She also talks about the lack of awareness around traumatic brain injuries and post-concussive syndrome, which she unknowingly suffered from for over 10 years. Instead of being treated for a concussion, she was overprescribed psychiatric drugs - and, had she not continued fighting and advocating for herself to obtain her medical records - those prescriptions could have produced more long term damage.
We also talk about ‘losing time’ when sick. What it means for us when we are sidelined and struggling with the frustration of feeling behind compared to our peers, or even more frustratingly, from the expectations you had for yourself. Her main measure of success comes from knowing that she’s fought to get where she is now.
This would not be my life
if I hadn't fought for it.
In her own words, “This would not be my life if I hadn't fought for it. And so I'm always honoring
the fact that I had to fight for it and being grateful that I made it through and reaching back for those other people.”
Amanda just recently solo’d and summited Aconcagua. It’s the second tallest peak in the world next to Mount Everest. Oh, and the best part? She did it all by herself, brain injuries, 19 surgeries later and all.
As I’ve had time to reflect on this episode the thought that keeps coming to mind is when it comes to our health, keep fighting to be heard and taken seriously by your healthcare team, don't take “I don’t know” as an answer.
Fight for your health like it’s the fight of your life because... it is.
(28:02) I'm glad that whatever happened because it brought me to where I am today.
(31:17) So what I think about as far as success is concerned is helping the people who are stuck in the places that, I mean, I know these holes, I fell into them, thankfully I crawled out, but they can be very lonely dark places.
(32:17) Planning ahead wasn't a thing. And that's why I turned towards the mental health piece because if you are impaired in these ways, your mental health is suffering. It doesn't mean you're mentally ill. It means your mental health is being strained. And anyone with strained mental
health should seek help.
(33:02) So my advice would be if you are struggling in any way, the first step is to seek out some mental help, seek out some therapy, even people who have great lives, get therapy.
(33:56) Hey, this happened to me and it stinks, but at least I can help other people and be thankful that I made it through.
(41:19) This would not be my life if I hadn't fought for it. And so always honoring the fact that I had to fight for it and being grateful that I made it through. But reaching back for those other people.
(41:43) But being authentic is never forgetting where I came from and where I came from was a really long struggle.
(43:44) Every single person has a body that wants to heal.
(44:17) And I speak to a lot of people who I sense are insulted that I'm urging them to, to push
for more, to ask more of their providers. But our right and, it's everybody's right to feel healthy, to feel 100%.
(44:55) Taking care of myself is a huge part of being able to take care of other people. So the number of people I talk to that aren't taking care of themselves, is shocking to me and I try to just inspire other people to take their life back.