Aiding Others in Empathy: A Look Into The Suicidal Mindset.

One of the goals I have always had in journaling my experience, here at In It For The Parking, is to help others better understand what life is like for someone with my conditions, because I believe that empathy allows us to better communicate and connect with one another as human beings.

This is especially true when I write about suicide, because I have fought against suicidal ideation for years.

Recently, Scientific American came out with an article that I think came very close to describing the truth of the suicidal mindset, but that missed a crucial component – A #7: Stop caring about the people who you’d leave behind.

To summarize their article, ‎here is “How to Commit Suicide in 6 Easy Steps”

  1. Fall short of standards
  2. Blame yourself
  3. Don’t forgive yourself, and be acutely aware of what a fuck up you are at every moment of every day.
  4. Begin to believe that you ought to die – either because you should be executed for whatever real or imagined sin has occurred or because it is the only way to end your pain,
  5. Stop worrying about the future, because you’ve decided there won’t be any, and
  6. Overcome your fear of painful death.

You might wonder how I can say that I have overcome 1-6, but trust me, I have.

Anyone who has a chronic illness that has incapacitated them to the point of being forced to apply for Social Security Disability has been forced to fill out paperwork describing in detail how they have fallen short of standards set for them by society. A truly soul-crushing exercise, to say the least.

Anyone who has MS knows what it is to question whether or not it is your fault whether or not you have the disease. When medical science cannot tell you why you have a disease, why wouldn’t it be your fault? And with the mounting evidence about the gut-brain connection, I wonder sometimes if I haven’t caused it with my dietary choices. I couldn’t have known… but that doesn’t matter in moments when I’m suicidal over the pain I feel from it sometimes. And who wants a future filled with ridiculous pain anyway?

And then there’s the real reason why I have been suicidal for years – the miscarriage I never told anyone about in 2000… and my fear of judgment and punishment if I asked anyone at all for help. How “It’s your word vs. mine.” and a few well placed punches convinced me to never say a word to anyone.

But #7 matters. Because you can endure terrible pain when you care about people. Pain comes and goes. It’s kind of ridiculous the kind of disgusting and humiliating and awful things that you can simply get past and go through in life in the name of love, if you’re not willing to let that part of who you are break. Your love of those other people will get you through because there’s so much more wonderful stuff out there in life than the awfulness that the suicidal badness shows you.

There’s only one you. In all of time and space and for all eternity. So you suck it up, and you bear the pain and the shame, because those people fucking matter to you, and you won’t let yourself believe any of it anyway, so you tuck it all away. You repress it. You make it “disappear” because it already is done, and you should never have to think of it again… until 11 years later you get PTSD and get to relive it in flashbacks…

And then your brother tells you that you’re *choosing* to be disabled. *sardonic smirk* Maybe this will help him understand. No one chooses to be a victim.

Lawful Good?

…I described myself as any good D&D-loving girl properly raised by a prosecutor would — “lawful good.” Knowing me as well as he did, he said, “Now, now, you vaporize medical marijuana to help you with your MS! That’s still federally illegal! Does that make you feel nervous, or bad still? Surely not. You’ve gotta be ‘neutral good’ by now.”

Truth of the matter is, even though I know that I am doing something medically proper in my state and something that helps me every single time I use it to not feel absurd amounts of pain, I feel like a horrible person each time I use marijuana because I was programmed by my parents so hardcore not to do it and I caused so much trouble for other children who smoked weed as a kid. I think about how many kids got grounded and yelled at because of me, and I worry about being targeted by the DEA because of how openly I’m willing to talk about my use on the internet, even though every person with multiple sclerosis or epilepsy (either or both) ought to be allowed to have medicinal marijuana. It helps.

But then he said something that blew my mind. “If you ever feel bad, look at the members of Congress. Every law ever written came from guys like those.”

That statement made me realize that my guilt was based on the instinctive belief in the moral infallibility of legislators. All legislators are politicians. And politicians are not known for their moral infallibility.

It is deeply flawed thinking to believe that the law is always just or right or on our side.

*deep sigh*

I know, I sound like Dale Gribble. But I really believed that the government was our friend and that everything was just fine until just recently.

It’s really not fine with me at this point.

Not when we can’t fire the congresspeople who don’t do their jobs or who betray us and instead we have to wait till the next election. Not when we have no restrictions on Wall Street where people can short sell the market for billions. Not where the insurance industry makes the disabled pay more for their insurance and medication than the government provides, so they necessarily become homeless and die so that the rich don’t have to think about them anymore. Not when the 4th Amendment is becoming more and more of a lie.

I believe in the America that my Grandfathers fought for. I believe in the one that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. marched and died for, and I believe in one that can I proudly, patriotically can call home, where the government does not seek to further divide the classes. I believe in a United States of America, where we work together as citizens to stop the oppression of the lower class and middle classes, and take proud, peaceful action together to care for one another as the family that we are.

That’s just not the America that I’m living in. Yet.

Feria Hair Dye for less than half the cost? Super sweet! Here’s How!

One of the only good things I can say about the illnesses that I have is that they are invisible to the naked eye. Just looking at me, you wouldn’t guess there was a bunch of pain and yuck going on, so one thing that is important to me is trying to maintain looking at least as good as most of other ladies my age.

For me, that means dying the premature grey out, and keeping up a look that says, “I have pride in myself.”

But hair dye isn’t super-duper cheap, at least not the good stuff. And anybody who buys and uses box dye knows that if you’re a red-haired hair dyer, Feria reds are the strongest and longest-lasting pigment out there, and you’re used to the price fluctuating between $8 and $10 for it.

Today’s Los Angeles Times has a Red Plum insert that has 2 coupons in it from L’Oreal. One says Save $2.00 on any L’Oreal haircolor product and the other says Save $5.00 on any TWO L’Oreal haircolor products.

Clip both coupons.

Then grab the Walgreens circular. Walgreens will also have extra copies of this circular at the store in case you have to do this transaction in 2 transactions instead of one. (This may depend on your cashier.)

In this week’s Walgreen’s circular, there is a coupon for L’Oreal Feria or Root Rescue Hair Color, Limit 3, priced at $6.99.

Thus, using the Walgreen’s coupon and both of the coupons provided by L’Oreal, you ought to be able to purchase 3 boxes of Feria Hair Dye for $14 (2 boxes @ $6.99 – $5 = $9 + 1 box @ $6.99 – $2 = $5; $9+5 = $14).

This puts the cost of each box at about $4.67 — a significant savings!

I know that Red Plum and Walgreens are both nationwide, so even if you don’t get a the paper, check the websites!

To all you saucy and sassy ladies and gents out there in the world who are working hard, I hope I’ve helped you to look good and keep a bright attitude!

I wear red because it ties to my grandmother, who colored her hair red when she was going through chemotherapy for leukemia and was the kindest, strongest woman I have ever known, and to remind me of Carol Burnette and Lucille Ball who always make me laugh.

I hope this deal brings smiles to you like it did to me! 🙂

What’s in your pot?

Usually when I get existential, especially all the way down, the happiest answer I have found involved an Ancient Chinese tale about a child who received the gift of a plain clay pot from her grandmother.

The grandmother said that this pot would be her granddaughter’s finest gift, and so the granddaughter kept it and took very good care of it. Finally, on her deathbead, the grandmother asked the child how she had been enjoying the pot, and the child shrugged and said that she supposed it was okay to look at. The grandmother, with tears in her eyes, explained that a pot means nearly nothing if you do not know how to use it — if you never look inside of it, and that she felt had failed her granddaughter entirely.

The granddaughter said, “But Grandmother, it is so heavy!” and the grandmother replied, “That is because it is full.” and she passed away.

When the granddaughter got home, she opened the pot and found that it was full of coins.

Life is like a pot. There are times where it seems empty and meaningless, and it is at that time where it is up to us to fill it with meaning or to find the meaning that is already there but that we simply cannot perceive but that is right in front of us.

Our friends and our family members fill us up with love. We try to fill ourselves up with achievements and knowledge. But the unexamined pot is hardly a pot at all. 🙂

So sometimes you won’t see the point. And that’s okay. If life had a point, we wouldn’t struggle and we all would be the same. There would be no advancements as a society.

Emptiness is just another way of your brain letting you know there’s opportunity for more fulfillment.

Lions and Tigers and Medicare — Oh MY!

I had no idea when it came to signing up for Medicare that I would be as deeply and irrationally afraid of the process as Dorothy was of (Dare I say say the word??) bears. 🙂 But to tell you the truth, I actually had such a strong irrational fear of the process that even though I had been given information regarding the process all the way back in December, I had put it aside until 2 weeks before my effective start date.

But the process was easier than I expected, thanks to the time I spent in law school.

(Dear self, thank you for learning how to parse legalese. Understanding government-speak and contract language is by far the most intimidating part of this process.)

I was glad it was so easy to decide on the choice that was so clearly the only “not terrible” option for me, but sad to see that once again I was forced to choose between giving money to Anthem Blue Cross and Kaiser Permanente. It seems like whether the insurance is coming through the government or not, it’s going through them. So I stuck with Anthem – at least then, I wouldn’t have to switch my doctors.

Did you all know that Medicare has become so privatized that when you sign up for Medicare, they take the premium out of your Social Security benefits? Come March, I’ll get to see what it’s like to live off $758 MINUS my new Medicare premium of $115 + $39 for preventative dental and eye care. That’s a whopping $604 a month to live on – total, not including any prescription medication. An average of $20 a day in Glendale, CA in the year 2011. Could you do it?

I don’t think it’s reasonable to think anyone could, and I think it’s disgusting that Republicans think that it’s Social Security bringing the country down because of news reports like this that get people riled up and thinking that everyone is a fucking scammer… when it’s clear to me that this “news” reporter didn’t bother to get his story straight!

What they’re talking about is called Your Ticket to Work and Self Sufficiency! I got sent that son-of-a-bitch about a week after they approved me. The deal is that if you don’t have enough money and you need more money to live off of, you should call them! You call a number, you get job placement, with them in full knowledge of your disability and how it affects your ability to work. They will find you a job that works WITH your disability so that you can do something to help EARN your pay within the workplace and within the system. And the big payoff for you is that you don’t have to go through that fuckin awful checkup every 3 years where they hem and haw and decide if you’re still really disabled.

At this point, however, you are broke. You are hurting. The federal government has you over a fucking barrel, bent over sideways, because they know that you have no fucking money and that you can barely work if you can work at all, but that you are DESPERATE and will do what they want you to do. So they don’t have to pay you as much!

This is how you create a class of slave workers.

Then allow it to get out that disabled people are working without getting checked on! NOT THIS! Allowing it to continue to the point of excess creates a backlog of people to check for disability so great that suddenly ALL of them are liars.

Now your cripples are scapegoats.

First friends, then the unfortunate, then federal slaves, and now foes.

I was brought up to TRUST the government! I was brought up to LOVE America!

But this makes me sick. It is so fucking difficult to be disabled in this country. And to be poor.

It feels like there is a very assault upon my life by the Republican agenda, as though simply by existing as a woman with multiple sclerosis, seizure disorder, and post traumatic stress disorder, I don’t deserve to live because I cannot make someone else money at this moment.

I’ve worked very, very hard throughout my whole life. I’ve achieved a bachelor of music, a juris doctor – I took the bar exam twice while battling through seizures. I achieved that bachelor of music while in a relationship that could have easily convinced me not to go to classes. I foster kittens and have spent time volunteering with many philanthropies throughout my life. It’s not fair that I get the message, “You’re the problem” from the right.

When are people going to wake up and realize there are people trying to kill the elderly and the disabled?

Think about it, people. Really, really think about it for a moment. How many truly crafty cripples do you know? It’s the sociopaths we need to stop.

Big money to be saved in lactose-free milk! DIY and keep the change!

One bottle of Lactase Drops will remove the lactose from 12 gallons of milk. (So that’s how they do it!)

Each half gallon of lactose free milk at the grocery stores around town (at least here in Glendale, CA), costs between $3 and $4, making a gallon of lactose-free milk $6-8, whereas normal milk costs an average of $3 a gallon across California.

That sounds crazy, doesn’t it? I couldn’t believe there was such a significant difference in the numbers, so I figured that cost of the lactase drops would make up for it — but it doesn’t. Not even close.

Savings Comparison

Lactaid @ $3.50 per half gallon * 24 half gallons
+ CA 9.25% sales tax
= $91.77

Milk @ $3 per gallon * 12 gallons
+ CA 9.25% sales tax
+ Lactase Drops @ $17.95 plus shipping ($21.44 total)
= $60.77

An actual savings of $31 on milk! With no loss or negatives for us!

Adam and I usually go through at least 1 half gallon of milk a week, so that’s about 26 gallons a year, meaning that if we remove the lactose ourselves, we should stand to save about $100 a year!

Not too shabby when every bit counts. Not too shabby at all.

Rabbi Rae has been ordained by the Church of the Latter Day Dude!

Ladies and Gentlemen… Boys and Girls…

I have finally found a religion that I can get behind, at least enough to get ordained on the internet. 🙂


Hey, man, don’t give me that look.

Yes, the movement has a fuckin’ hellacious name, but the contents of this philosophic mamajama are nothing to be scoffed at. Sure, Dudeism is a religion deeply inspired by The Big Lebowski, but a second glance will show that it cherry picks from Taoism, Zen Buddhism, American Transcendentalism and humanism. However, it is not affiliated with the film in any way, and if I had to guess, since it does pull from American Transcendentalism, other films (like Kung Fu Panda and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off) will probably end up in it holy works eventually. They will at least end up in my list of works that bring the world towards a higher understanding of what it means to “just take it easy.”

Dudeism’s Ethos

From what is Dudeism trying to liberate us? Thinking that’s too uptight.
To what state of being is Dudeism trying to bring us: Just taking it easy, man.
By what means does Dudeism attempt do this? Abiding.

A Message From The Dudely Lama

“Life is short and complicated and nobody knows what to do about it. So don’t do anything about it. Just take it easy, man. Stop worrying so much whether you’ll make it into the finals. Kick back with some friends and some oat soda and whether you roll strikes or gutters, do your best to be true to yourself and others – that is to say, abide.

All joking aside, this comes so extraordinarily very close to my actual philosophical belief system that if you rolled up some Jewish morality in there, you’d have my total belief system. And to be fair, Reform Jewish morality is extremely close to that of humanism. There’s just always the question of “Is there or isn’t there a supreme being?” And I’m on Team G.O.D. I believe there is a God. I don’t care what you call Him/Her/It. I believe it exists outside the realm of our perception, and I believe it will continue to exist whether or not we worship it or recognize its existence.

In fact, I believe that God is possibly the most Dudelike of all in His abiding of us all. I believe we have a spark of whatever God stuff there is that makes stuff happen, and that someday scientists might have a name for it that will make my writings sound like prophecy.

Because Science is Magic like that, and I believe God speaks through us all.

And there is so much in this world that each of us cannot possibly know. There are 5 billion plus human beings living on this planet. Each one with their own eyes, their own ears, their own perspective, their own experience, their own plans, their own pain… and that’s just right now.

You look at this world, this amazing planet earth, and I wonder if it had a sign like McDonalds what it would read like. 60 Trillion lives served?

I’ve said, “It’s their world, we’re just living in it.” when on the road before, so many times not thinking about it.” but really, if you think about it, each of us lives in our own consciousness. Imagine a metaconsciousness that somehow is supposed to know 5 billion unique experiences at every moment of every day and somehow also control the environment around them. That’s what we’ve been told God is. Can you imagine having access to the 5 billion worlds that exist on this one planet at any given moment on any day? It makes me kinda giggle to think about it. Some folks on Quora were discussing whether or not this world and life were a simulation… if so, we’d be God’s video game!

My response to them was, “Why does it matter?”

Opiate of the masses or not, I believe religion has its place in the world and so does philosophy.

We need to ask ourselves the important questions. We need to find out the answer to the question that toddlers ask incessantly. “Why?”

Dudeism answers that question in a way that I like better than any other. It says, “Sit back, relax – the world will show you.”

Well, at least this time it’s not “wet ink”…

Got a call from the Access Group this morning.

Turns out that my final federal loan came back where the guarantor denied my status as disabled because (and those of you who practice law will really appreciate this) my neurologist checked the box “No” under “Ability to Work.”

What my doctor failed to read, unfortunately, is that after the large, bolded ABILITY TO WORK heading, under which there were boxes for Yes and No, there was a question in fine print: “Does the patient have a disability that impairs them from working?” Not reading the fine print, my doctor checked “NO” under “ABILITY TO WORK” and continued to fill out the form.

So, even though the government guarantor had ALL of the necessary information which explained how I am unable to work, because the wrong checkbox had a check in it, I get to start this loan-forgiveness process all over again. 🙂 Including hits to my credit record for having not paid on this loan for more than 6 months while we’ve been waiting to find out why they haven’t been taking the loan off my hands to begin with.

All for want of one check box being inaccurately marked.

Don’t you love bureaucracy?

When it comes to being disabled and needing assistance – when you really genuinely need help, it is up to you to be this level of persistent and diligent.

You must doggedly fight to prove what they already know.

To them, it’s only money. It’s just business. Nevermind that on your end, it’s your life that you’re having to prove to them again and again and again. You can’t take it personally or let your pride come into it. Pride is a luxury for fools who haven’t felt it stripped away too many times to bother with it anyway. Ain’t no pride in student loan debt collection when you can’t practice your profession anyhow.

I wonder how many years I have to suffer with these indignities before I can just let law school’s memory die.

Edit: Ok, that was a shitty attitude to have when I first posted this.

I felt really bad because every time I have to do this kind of stuff, I am reminded of how I am not on the path that I wanted to be on. I loved the path I was on. I was going to help my friends achieve their dreams of being rock stars and movie makers. I was going to shop bands to record labels. I was going to shop scripts to producers. I was going to be an entertainment lawyer, and this disability took that away from me.

And every time I have to send these forms in, I am reminded of that.

And the fact that it’s a fuck up that any competent lawyer would have noticed proves just how freakin disabled I am. It’s embarrassing.

So it’s like you hit some metaphorical wall again because you know it’s your job to double-check your doctor too.

You can’t expect the world to take care of you.

WalkMS 2011 – Be A Part Of It!

Yesterday was Adam and my first day of training for WalkMS 2011!

We got up and together walked Brisco around the block, which we did again today! Half a mile, each time. No seizures, no stopping! Adam even told me I was going at a good pace. I’m so totally proud of myself for that, it’s almost silly.

And as I type that, immediately I feel shame, like “half a mile is bullshit…” How can you feel pride over that tiny amount of distance? Especially not pride enough to blog about it…but then I remember that I could be laying in bed or sitting on the couch, doing nothing, like I have been doing: getting fatter and lazier, muscles atrophying, and not preparing for anything, and I allow myself to feel a sense of accomplishment again.

Resiliency is everything in life, not just MS and seizure disorder. Every time you get knocked down you have to remember to get back up. It’s time, now that I am able, to remind my body what it can do. Change is good!

Speaking of change: I’d like to see a change in my team!

We need people to come walk with us! Right now, Team SpinalTap is pretty small. It’s only comprised of Adam and myself. My friend Sarah D. is signed up, but she will probably not be able to make it to the race, so she is helping only as a fundraiser (which is fine, and which we at Team Spinal Tap LOVE!).

Click here to join Team SpinalTap!

Walk MS Greater Los Angeles

Sunday, April 3, 2011
7:45 am – Registration Opens
9:45 am – Opening Ceremonies
10:00 am – Official Start

Pasadena Rose Bowl
1001 Rose Bowl Drive
Pasadena, CA 91103

For more information
call 1.800.344.4867
or email –