CNN Special 
on the Unintended Consequences of Painkillers

of Child Loss and the Author's Recovery


Gender Gap in Silicon Valley

"On Wednesday, Pandora became the latest Silicon Valley company to publicize a breakdown of its employees by gender and race. Notably, Pandora employs a much larger share of female workers—about forty-nine per cent globally—than most of the other big companies that recently disclosed their numbers, including Google, Apple, Twitter, and Facebook (in all these companies, women only make up around thirty per cent of employees). Pandora also appears to have a larger share of underrepresented minorities than many of the others. The company, commentators concluded from the figures, must be doing something right.
It’s notable that these disclosures no longer come as much of a surprise; not long ago, this kind of information tended to be hidden away in human-resources departments. (Companies of a certain size must report diversity figures to the government, but they don’t have to make them public.) That changed in May, when Laszlo Bock, Google’s senior vice-president of people operations, published a blog post that began, “We’ve always been reluctant to publish numbers about the diversity of our workforce at Google. We now realize we were wrong, and that it’s time to be candid about the issues.”

The figures were startling. As of January, Google’s global workforce was seventy per cent male and thirty per cent female. Sixty-one per cent of workers in the U.S. were white. “Google is miles from where we want to be,” Bock admitted. So, apparently, is much of the rest of Silicon Valley. Google’s disclosure inspired, or perhaps shamed, LinkedIn, Yahoo, Facebook, Twitter, and eBay into following suit, and their numbers don’t look much better."


Nuclear Weapons - Schlosser of Fast Food Nation, NPR

Globally, there are thousands of nuclear weapons hidden away and ready to go, just awaiting the right electrical signal. They are, writes investigative reporter Eric Schlosser, a collective death wish — barely suppressed. Every one is an accident waiting to happen, a potential act of mass murder, he says.


Why Does Someone End Their Life?

After more than three decades, I have been "close" to suicide more than the average person. I have spoken in depth to loved ones who have lost a family member to suicide (child, parent, spouse) as well as folks that have tried and failed, and then, a few who tried and ultimately succeeded. I have had to deliberate on the deeper meaning of such a violent and drastic action. Here's my humble but best understanding. 

Have you ever tried to solve a complicated math problem? If it's beyond your abilities, you will probably give up, knowing it’s pointless, saying something like "I will never get this. I don’t have the brain power, patience, motivation - to work it out. I can't solve it!" The fact is, there are math problems that I simply will never be able to solve, and I know it. Life is sort of a math riddle; lots of rules that nobody can ever accurately relay to us, we just kind of "get it" at some point, if we're lucky (luck is defined as the cocktail of  DNA, family, health, temperament, spirit, opportunity).

"I can't get this thing called life. Other people can. I can't and I never will. It’s just out of my reach and I give up," is the exhaustion and frustration speaking.

Those who complete their suicide have almost always tried it before, maybe once, usually several times. Suicide is the end of a long road. It’s physically painful. Air hurts. Not for a day. Not for a week, or a month, but years. Feelings of hopelessness, combined with impulsivity - mix in chronic pain, job loss, a recent heartbreak. Problem-solving experiments show that the first thing to go is creativity when pressure is increased. Creativity is an outgrowth of time, patience, clear-thinking, freedom, respite. Once creative problem-solving is squashed, ideas run dry and hope for the future is greatly diminished. Thinking becomes like molasses.

Many people suffer from a clinical depression at one time or another, maybe recurrent over a lifetime, yet, the majority do not seriously contemplate ending their life for more than a fleeting thought. No…it’s not like your blue days. 

He "killed himself" is being phased out because there's an implication in that language that one is sound of mind and body, an informed consent at play, complex thought. Finally, suicide is not meant to punish other people. That’s far too devious for the person buried under a mountain of ash, unable to gasp a full breath, racing heart, feeling of dread, terror, panic, shame…these are the words and feelings I have heard about.

Please do not refer to someone's suicide as a big FUCK YOU. See it from their pinhole shaft of light.
RIP Robin Williams, 8/11/14
RIP Junior Seau, 5/02/12 
RIP Freddie Prinze, 1/29/77


How The VA Can Fix their Problems

Spoken Like an Expert

VA Health Care should be the gold standard of best practices. How has the bureaucracy gone so far astray? I remember as a young girl driving - early 1960's - with my grandfather for his doctor's appointments to the Phoenix VA. He had implicit unshakable trust in that health care system. Those doctors walked on water and he was grateful to have them.

I spent two and a half years working for the VA as a research Study Therapist. My time there was wonderful. I am now friends with many of those co-workers. My supervisor was the best guy; a smart clinician, successful grant writer, and all around great human being. Our support system of administrators -schedulers, secretaries, data analysts - had a collective abundance education under their belt. They were all outstanding and in it for the right reasons. We worked hard for the client (aka patient, Veteran).

Surely, the white house will ever call me or any of my colleagues, or for that matter, a Veteran on the receiving end of this care - for advice on how to fix a broken system, but if they did, I'd have my polled aggregate list ready.

- "More accountability of VA employees."
Paul D., US Army, Combat Vietnam War Veteran

- "Allow Retired Veterans to receive care at any local military hospital. We shouldn't have to drive 600 miles for a necessary surgery." Mike M, Combat Vietnam Veteran
Daniel E. Veteran, US Navy

- "Personally, I think Veterans should be able to see a therapist of their choice for as long as they want. I especially think Vietnam Vets should be able to see someone weekly until they die if they it reparations." Bridgett, Clinical Psychologist and research Study Therapist.

- "Allow a Veteran to use any mental health counselor that they can find. Licensed Clinicians are already vetted, for God's sake. They are licensed and treat minor to grave psychological issues every single day. This would also allow the Veteran to bring in his wife or children as it pertains to his/her mental health counseling, which results in great positive benefits!" Christina N, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist

- "Enlist volunteer Vets to help process VA claims backlog." Tom T, Combat Vietnam Veteran


What is Anxiety?

"I embrace you.
I accept you.
I believe in you.
I am grateful for you.
I love and adore you.
I surrender to the flow
of where our relationship takes us."
-helpful for relationships in transition