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112 – Krystal Cantu-Cuate – The Healing Journey: Facing Traumas and Truths

On this special episode of Trial Lawyer Nation, Michael welcomes his favorite client of all time, Krystal Cantu-Cuate. Like many clients, Michael was introduced to Krystal under difficult circumstances. Krystal was traveling a car that experienced a tire blowout. The blowout resulted in a tragic accident, and the amputation of Kyrstal’s right arm. As is often the case, this was only the beginning of a long and emotional journey.

When she first saw her family members gathered in the hospital waiting room, they were crying and expressing fear and apprehension about her future. In that moment, Krystal decided she was going to be strong for them and defy their fears and worries.

With the driving force to be strong for her family and take control of her situation, Krystal began working tirelessly to achieve and overcome. Within a month of her accident, Krystal was back in the gym resuming her CrossFit training

Behind that incredible tenacity the world saw, a much darker story was playing out. Krystal wasn’t okay. The trauma was silently wearing on her. She admits she was in denial, repressing difficult thoughts, emotions, and feelings about the accident. And, because she was lacking the tools and knowledge to process the trauma she went through, inner struggle, pain, and repressed emotions became her normal. As litigation wore on, and maintaining the Superwoman exterior became more difficult, Krystal’s mental health challenges began to consume her.

While the journey has more bumps than Krystal was willing to admit to herself in the early years, this story has a happy ending. With Michael’s help, Krystal admitted to herself that is was okay not to be okay, made her mental health a priority, and sought out the support she needed to continue her healing journey. 

Join us on this new episode of Trial Lawyer Nation for this emotional story of trauma, bravery, hard truths, and healing with guest Krystal Cantu-Cuate, an ex-CrossFit adaptive athlete and keynote speaker on mental health.

Featured Guest

Name: Krystal Cantu-Cuate

About: Krystal Cantu-Cuate is an ex-CrossFit adaptive athlete, keynote speaker on mental health, part-time bridal stylist, mother, and wife. After a tragic car accident in 2013 that resulted in the amputation of her right arm, Krystal went on to live her life in the face of adversity. Becoming one of the first competitive CrossFit adaptive athletes, Krystal traveled all over the US competing — and inspiring thousands while doing so. In 2016, she gave birth to her son, Joaquin, and left her competitive career. In 2021, Krystal was faced with her biggest challenge yet: mental health. After a traumatic experience with crippling anxiety, Krystal was faced with challenges that called for uncomfortable conversations. Krystal is now a keynote speaker on mental health and its importance. She continues using her own personal experiences to help others who may be struggling.

Connect: LinkedIn | Instagram | Facebook 

Key Points

Top takeaways from this episode 

  • It’s okay to ask for help. Asking for help doesn’t make you weak — it actually shows how strong you are. Whether you have a case in litigation or you’re fighting inner battles, it’s important to seek help. Lawyers and experts in the field can guide you through the litigation process and ease your worries. Close friends and family can give you the support needed to work through personal struggles. No matter your circumstance, always remember that you don’t have to go through it alone.   
  • A healing journey requires honesty and bravery. Healing is never easy, and it’s not a linear process. You have your ups, your downs, and everything in between. But what will get you through is honesty and bravery. You must be honest with yourself about where you are and what you need to start healing. Once you understand this, you need the courage to take on whatever challenge comes your way. 
  • Trust yourself. Nobody knows you better than yourself, although it’s easy to forget sometimes. In her darkest days, Krystal’s husband, Daniel, reminded her, “No matter what’s happening in your head right now, don’t forget — don’t forget who you are… Just trust yourself.” Trusting yourself and your strength can help keep you out of a downward spiral.  

Episode Highlights 

[02:06] The tragic story that changed everything: Krystal Cantu-Cuate shares the story of her car accident in 2013 that resulted in the amputation of her arm (and the beginning of her work with Michael Cowen). 

[04:48] The litigation process: Krystal recounts what the litigation process was like, the harsh questions she faced in the deposition room, and what it was like dealing with foreign language and legalese documents. 

[07:39] Knowing your strengths: Despite the severity of the situation, Krystal trusted in Michael, continued her CrossFit training as a form of therapy, and stuck to her strengths. What drove her to take on this superwoman persona?

[13:45] Dealing with the difficulties of the case: Krystal opens up about her fears of facing the memories during the witness preparation.    

[16:18] Using CrossFit to push through: Krystal couldn’t fathom someone telling her she couldn’t do something — so she continued her CrossFit training. She doesn’t regret doing CrossFit because it kept her body healthy and her mind preoccupied.

[20:07] Struggling behind closed doors: Despite her fierce positivity, Krystal lost a lot of confidence in herself and faced a ton of anxiety after the accident.

[22:28] Finding a breakthrough: Krystal shares what finally led her to a breakthrough after a traumatic anxiety spiral. From suicidal thoughts to medication, Krystal faced a turning point that led to her healing journey. 

[33:15] Using therapy in your healing journey: Michael and Krystal discuss their experiences seeing a therapist and why you have to be courageous to get honest. They also dive into the stigma of therapy and their thoughts on removing the stigma. 

[35:31] The truth about intrusive thoughts: Krystal talks about naming her suicidal thoughts, telling her family about them, and why suicidal and intrusive thoughts are more common than you’d think. 

[41:43] Not staying quiet: Instead of holding in her thoughts, feelings, and pain, Krystal speaks up. Whether it’s to her husband or therapist, Krystal shares what she’s feeling — despite how uncomfortable it can be. 

[44:39] Receiving support: Krystal shares how her husband, Daniel, was an essential part of her healing. 

[47:45] Krystal’s speaking initiatives: How is Krystal using her speaking to help others going through a similar situation? She’s sharing all of the details. 

[51:08] Leading through tough situations: Krystal shares advice for attorneys on how to companion people through their difficult journeys.

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In this popular and award-winning podcast for trial lawyers, noteworthy author, sought-after speaker, and renowned trial lawyer, Michael Cowen explores critical topics distinctive to the legal profession with some of the biggest names in the industry – specifically focused on developing extremely efficient law practices, securing a competitive edge in the industry, and wildly excelling in the courtroom.

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