Monday, May 30, 2011

Do E-Cigarettes Really Work?

Once New York City raised the price of cigarettes to $12.00 a pack, I decided it was time to try an alternative. I had seen many people with e-cigarettes, and those I talked to who had one swore by them, although they claimed the batteries easily burned out. So, I decided to do a little bit of research.
E-cigarettes were developed and manufactured in China. The technology is quite simple really. A rechargeable battery is used to atomize propylene glycol and nicotine into a vapor that delivers a hit of nicotine that feels a lot like you are smoking. I have to say, at first I loved them more than cigarettes, because they are oderless, tasted just like my favorite brand of cigarettes, and I didn’t have to leave my office whenever I wanted to smoke. Even better, when I flew down to Miami last winter, airport security let me take it on the plane and I even smoked during the flights going down and coming up, because nobody complained.

After researching several companies on the internet, I realized there were a lot of scams out there, and I didn’t know which company I should go with. Finally, my boss got in touch with her daughter who had been dealing with a reputable company for a while, and really liked their products. I ordered a USB charger, a battery and twenty “five-packs” of nicotine cartridges for a total of $240.00. The cartridges come in several different flavors and levels of nicotine. I decided to start out with 16mg, which is one step lower than the top amount of 21 mg. A single cartridge is about a pack and a half of cigarettes.
Unfortunately, I burnt out three batteries in a matter of months, but by this time I found that my throat was very raspy, I had a terrible hack and it hurt to talk. It has been several days since I have used them, and my voice and throat are still not right. I think the biggest problem with e-cigarettes is that they are more addicting than regular cigarettes because they are much more available. Simply put, it is very easy to pick it up and take a few drags. If you can monitor your usage, you may do better than I did, but I found myself smoking the damn things constantly, until I actually found myself completely sick of them, and was glad when my final battery burned out.

Several things had happened. One, I weaned myself off my $12.00-a-pack cigarette habit for good; two, I had found a viable alternative to smoking them; and three, I finally gave up nicotine altogether. So, as far as I am concerned the damn things work, although there is still a lot of investigation about the health concerns of e-cigarettes, their efficacy and their impact on the environment.

I recommend them if you are really committed to giving up nicotine for good. They will get you off cigarettes. It’s the closest thing to smoking them without all the combustibles and carcinogens, but they can also be very addicting. The only reason why I quit them was because they were ruining my throat and voice, and I was also running very low on cartridges and didn’t feel like spending a lot of money on something I felt I didn’t need or want anymore.
Good luck with your efforts to quit smoking. It's not easy I know, but e-cigarettes did it for me.

Love to all!
James M. Weil

Friday, May 27, 2011

Sleepless Nights

It’s 4:30 am. Not a good thing, and can only mean that trouble is brewing. With the amount of medication I am on I should always sleep through the night, but the fact that I didn’t means my circadian rhythms are changing.

This could be due to stress, or I was simply awakened by a bad dream. If it had been a bad dream I would have remembered it. I always remember my nightmares. So, what does this all mean? It means I could be teetering on the edge of a major manic episode, depending how many sleepless nights I go through in a row.

Sleep is the single most important thing you can do for bipolar disorder, and it is extremely important that you stick to a regular sleep pattern no matter what. Once you go off your sleep pattern you are asking for trouble, and if you are doing it involuntarily you need to talk to your doctor. There is not a hell of a lot more that he can do for me to help me sleep as far as medication is concerned. I am maxed out on Ambien and Klonopin, and there are a slew of other drugs I take to keep me stabilized.

Perhaps this was just a single bad night, and I will sleep well tonight when I get home. The problem is that if I go to work overtired, my system will overreact and push me into hyper drive.  It’s a snowball effect, and can be incredibly dangerous if you don’t stay on top of it.

This is the last thing I need, but on the other hand, I have several books roiling around in my psyche that are itching to come out, so maybe a really good manic episode will give me the creative explosion I need to put one of them down on paper.

Love to all!

James M. Weil

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Taking Responsibility

There are times when living with bipolar disorder becomes so unbearable it seems like it is not worth the effort. My doctor and therapist are working hard with me to keep me stable and focused, but beyond suffering from just bipolar disorder, I am plagued with horrible demons that tear at my soul from an abusive childhood.

The combination of these two factors makes it difficult for others to deal with me at times, and I have to admit there are times I don’t like dealing with myself either. I have done things that I am not proud of. I have hurt those who I have loved with all my heart, only because they didn’t love me the way I wanted and rejected me. I have a tendency to lash out at those who have hurt me or who I feel have done me wrong with viscous words and actions.

Much of this has to do with how I was raised and what I endured as a child, but my instability of suffering from bipolar disorder doesn’t help much either. Really what it boils down to is choices. With enough self-discipline and focus I can choose how I want to react to certain situations without causing so much damage. That’s the God’s honest truth. There comes a time when a man must take responsibility for his actions, no matter what obstacles he faces in life.

Although I suffer from a debilitating mental disease, things could be far worse. I could be stricken with cancer of some other life-threatening disease. Instead, I simply need to ride out the wild mood swings I go into, and hope to God I don’t wreak to much havoc. I have lost several good friends because of some recent manic episodes where I was completely off the rails. Some of these friendships went back for years, and at this point I really don’t know if they can be repaired.

It’s a damn shame when a man throws away all those who are closest to him, only because he can’t control his impulses and is driven by demons from his past, and the instability of a mental disease that can be managed.

Love to all!

James M. Weil

Monday, May 23, 2011

Russian Scam Artists

Do you remember the Nigerian scams that were so utterly ridiculous that you hardly believed anybody could possibly fall for them? Well, believe it or not, there were a surprising number of people who got suckered by these obvious scams and had lost thousands.

Now there is a new scam coming out of Russia from young women posing to be in love with you and send you email after email with intriguing pictures of innocent, good-looking young women until they finally hit you with the proposal that you wire transfer them money so they can get a visa to come see you.

I am certain there are a lot of desperate, lonely men out there who will fall for these traps. Some people are born suckers, but what it boils down to is that they are looking for a way out of the loneliness that eats them alive, and are simply looking for love.

Below is the latest email I have gotten from the same woman everyday for the last two months. She is relentless and won’t take no for an answer. I am certain the pictures are not of her either. I suggest we all send her an email and play with her head. That’s what I have been doing ever since she started all this. I have to admit, it’s rather fun, and I am sure she is starting to get frustrated, but, like I said, she won’t take no for an answer.

Love to all!

James M. Weil


Hello my dearest one how are you today? As for me I am not really in the mood.
I have a feeling that I did something wrong.
I have never thought this could happen to me. That I could fell in love with the person I
have never seen in my life.

I want to less the distance between us so much, to take your hand, to look into your eyes
and to see that you understand my naive soul.
I know I shouldn't be so open. I have to be strong and keep everything inside.
I am too emotional but I don't want you to be scared and run away.
If I could be closer to you and if I could show you my feelings.
I want you so much to see me, to feel my touch. I would kiss your eyes and say how I love you.

Again I am acting like a silly little girl. I am mad at myself. But at the same time I can't stop. I want you to know my feelings. I even thought of coming to you. And I have even went the tourist agency to check about the visas.

And now I know that the best way for me to come to you is to get a tourist visa. It will not take much time.
And they told me at the tourist agency that I have a very good chance to get it. And it is a very good reason for giving me a visa.

I've checked that a visa and all documents will cost $400. (International passport, police report, medical documents (about my health status), documents from my work and credit report, visa)

You know with my salary I just can't afford it. And I will need your help. It's up to you, of course. But I really hope you will be able to help me with getting visa.

Please, think about it and let me know. But if you can please send some extra for food and etc... Do you want me to come to you? Do you want to meet with me at last? I want it very much. Hope you too. I will give you the information for the case you decide to do it.

The best way to send money is to do it via MoneyGram or Western Union. It is an easy and quick way to get it. It is necessary to know the full name of receiver.

My full name is Elizaveta Guseva.
Saint-Petersburg, Russia

And after sending money, the one who is getting money should know an Reference number (for Money Gram) - 8 digits,
MTCN (Money Transfer Control Number) - 10 digits and the sum of money that was sent and the full name of the sender and the city where you are living.

Also you can send money on-line!!! (please visit and and for more information)

Well, I hope that you will think on this information. You have lots of food for thought. Please, write me as soon as possible. I am waiting for your reply.

Love you.

P.S. You can send money to any Money Gram or Western Union of Saint-Petersburg, Russia. Here is the closest Money Gram and Western Union office:

Saint-Petersburg, 190031, Russia

P.P.S. Also I have asked to copy the following instruction for you: While you're sending the wire transfer you might be asked to provide information concerning transfer purpose and destination. In order to speed up the process please reply that these funds are sent to your friend, relative, business partner and etc.

Please do specify that the receiver is known by you personally and also note that these funds are your own money. Main reason for this request is financial regulations in receiver s country, so be serious and answer teller s questions carefully because incorrect answers could cause a significant delay for the wire to be processed.

P.P.P.S check my new pics

Elizaveta Guseva

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Popular Posts

My "Popular Posts" sidebar always surprises me. My blog keeps a running count of how many hits each of my posts have gotten since my good friend Joann Buchanan created it for me on March 3, 2011. The top ten are listed according to the number of hits they have gotten. I have made a total of 43 posts altogether, and “On Writing Swiss Chocolate” was my very first post and was at the top of the list until this morning, when it slid into second place after “Swiss Chocolate Continues to be Painful,” written on March 22, 2011.
It’s kind of a moving target that fascinates me because some of my posts have simply dropped off the list altogether and have been replaced with new and even older ones. “Martial Arts as a Way of Life” is a very recent post but quickly moved into third place on my list.

Although my blog averages between 700 and 800 hits per week, most people don’t leave comments. I do try to link out to other blogs and make comments on other people’s posts as often as possible, but it is an enormous amount of work, especially considering I try to make at least one or two posts on my own blog per day.
I truly appreciate all the people who visit my blog and read my musings. I write from the gut with all my heart, and I try to be brutally honest in all that I write, all the way down to the occasional emotional meltdowns I have as a result of my bipolar disorder.

I am not perfect, but I am a generous, caring soul who would do anything for his friends and the ones he loves. The people who are closest to me know this, and make allowances for my disease. However, on a few occasions I was so far over the top I lost some really good friends. Perhaps they will come back to me once things blow over a bit.

Love to all!

James M. Weil

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

On Friendship

Friendship is about love, trust, forgiveness and understanding. It is about giving your all to another because you want them to succeed and be happy. The things you do for your friends must come from the heart, without expectations, or even gratitude. In other words, your intentions must be pure, and the love you give must be unconditional.
Sometimes these waters get a little muddy, and serious miscommunications and misunderstandings occur, creating enormous friction. That’s when tempers flare and things can get ugly. We all have expectations of others in all our relationships, no matter what kind of relationship it may be—platonic, romantic or simply professional.
Sometimes these expectations cloud our judgment of what another is capable or willing to give. The bottom line is that you must be sensitive toward other’s feelings, and not push too hard when they cannot take being pushed, or allow them space when they feel they are being crowded.

It’s a question of love. Love comes in so many forms, and often it becomes corrupted when we are not paying attention to what’s going on inside our heads and hearts, and the needs of the ones we care about most. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in your own personal problems, and take them out on people who are closest to you.
Friendship is about sharing. Sharing what’s in your heart and soul. Without a doubt there is a bit of risk involved, and people do get hurt, mostly not by callous actions, but by misunderstood expectations. We all have limitations, and the ones we love must learn to work with them and around them. This is how you build trust, and without it, there can be no friendship. And without friendship, there can be no love.

Love to all!
James M. Weil

Friday, May 13, 2011

River Road Books

I am sorry to announce that one of the partners at River Road Books in Fair Haven, NJ had a death in the family, and that my book event, scheduled for this Saturday, May 14, will be rescheduled for Saturday, May 21 from noon until 2:00 pm.

Sorry for the inconvenience, and hope to see you there.

Love to all!

James M. Weil

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Martial Arts as A Way of Life

Moti Horenstein

Rey Leal

The older I get, the more self-aware I become, and I realize the importance of protecting myself from those who would do me harm on a spiritual, emotional and physical level. Being an abused child, my spirit had been crushed and my self-esteem demolished. In my early twenties I was just a shell of a man with no direction and someone who was really hurting.

I remember when I decided to get into martial arts as a way of dealing with all my pain and anger. It just so happened I joined one of the top Kenpo dojos in Southern California. The training was intense and brutal, and on top of it I worked heavy construction as a tile setter. I was built like a brick shithouse and I did learn how to fight. Most people who joined the studio didn't last more than two weeks; the training was simply too intense for most guys to handle, and Monday night conditioning classes went for three hours, often running in the soft sand for nearly five miles before going back to the studio and doing endless calisthenics, then working the heavy bags until you were on the verge of puking your guts out. It was common knowledge that eating before Monday night training was a huge mistake. We were a small, but incredibly dedicated group of guys who were fiercely devoted to the training.

My instructor, Rey Leal, was a very intense man and an international point sparring champion. He brutalized me more than anyone I had ever dealt with. I took it for almost ten years, not knowing the man was abusing me. He belittled me, picked on me, and often gave me black eyes or laid me flat on my back when we sparred. He was relentless in the way he singled me out and made my life miserable, until finally I told him I had enough of his shit and was quitting. He simply looked up at me and said, “You needed to be spanked, so I just gave you what you needed. Now you don’t need it anymore. Walk with your head high and be proud of who you are. When you are ready to come back, let me know.”

I never did go back. Just too many bad memories of all the abuse I took. His way of teaching was far too brutal, but I did learn a valuable lesson: Those who are hurting wear their pain on their sleeves and bring negative attention. Those who are strong in spirit are respected and have positive relationships. He could have taught me these values without playing so many head games and beating the living daylights out of me.

A few years after I quit he closed down his studio in Ocean Beach and retired from teaching, taking on only private students out of his home in Chula Vista. I have tried several times to get hold of him, but so far I have been unsuccessful.

Years later, when I was in my early forties, and the onset of my disease was just beginning, I got into Israeli Survival, probably the deadliest form of mixed martial arts I have ever seen. My instructor, Moti Horenstein, is an internationally-known professional fighter, and holds World Titles in five different styles of martial arts. He was also the Heavy Weight Champion of Israel for three years in a row before coming to America. It was quite common to see him come walking into the studio with black eyes, broken fingers or toes, and contusions all over his body. He lived to fight and loved any kind of challenge.

He developed Israeli Survival from all the years of practical training he had in the Israeli airborne Special Forces, many years teaching self-defense to several Israeli commando divisions, and all the years of experience he had as a professional fighter in bouts all over the world. It was based on Mas Oyama, a form of Japanese full-contact karate, Krav Maga, Muay Thai, and several other styles he incorporated in his self-defense techniques. A lot of it entailed fighting on the ground, which is where many fights end up. He constantly told us that the techniques he taught were tried and true in battle and all the professional fights he had over the years.

There were no flashy, impractical spinning jump kicks—just simple, effective self-defense techniques designed to disable your opponent quickly by any means necessary. His philosophy was to quickly move from a defensive posture into attack mode, striking vulnerable areas with whatever was available, while holding onto a “survival” state of mind.

He developed Israeli Survival from all the years of training he had as as Israeli Commando, teaching Israeli Special Forces self-defense, and as a professional fighter who has had bouts all over the world. It is based on Mas Oyama, a form of Japanese full-contact karate, Krav Maga, Muay Thai, and elements from several other styles he incorporated in his self-defense techniques. A lot of it entailed fighting on the ground, which is where many fights end up. He constantly told us that the techniques he taught were tried and true in battle and all the professional fights he had over the years. There were no flashy moves and bedazzling jump-spinning kicks with no practical purpose. It was all about extremely effective self-defense techniques, designed to go quickly from a defensive stance into attack mode and completely disable your opponent by any means necessary, and to always hold on to a "survival" state of mind.

Unlike my first instructor, he treated me with respect and kindness, and went easy on me when we sparred, pushing me just enough to allow me to learn without kicking the living shit out of me. Regardless, the training was brutal and painful. I stayed with it for six years until I herniated two discs in my lower back, thus ending my martial arts career for ten years.

After all those years of inactivity, I went to see a spinal injury specialist. He told me the discs were no longer the problem; the problem was the muscles around the injury that were constricted and weak. I started doing Hatha yoga, and now I do it everyday. The muscles in my lower back sometimes spasm, but I am usually not completely incapacitated. I just feel uncomfortable and the pain can be managed through lots of Advil, ice packs, and heat patches. I am back to training with my children at Moti Horenstein's Mixed Martial Arts; I train around my injuries. There are so many lessons I learned though all those years of training besides how to kill a man in two moves—the most important are respect for others, self-discipline, and letting go of my fear of others.

Love to all!

James M. Weil

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

An American Poet

Throughout most of my life I have been a huge Doors fan. I remember hearing their first album when I was only fifteen, but it sent chills up my spine when I heard Jim Morrison’s deep baritone, and his intense passion and dark undertones made me feel as though there was someone else out there who understood what I felt on such a gut level, even at such a young age.

Ever since then I played their debut album over and over, and became obsessed with Morrison’s music and poetry. Strange Days also blew me away the first time I heard it. The Doors had an amazing ability to capture the macabre and darker side of life, while at the same time revealing a timeless truth that has stood the test of time.

There is no question that The Doors were one of the most important bands in the 20th Century, and were years ahead of their time. In the summer of 1978 I went to Paris and stood over Morrison’s grave. I will never forget how I felt, and the tears that welled up in my eyes. The world had lost a true genius, but he died on his own terms, even if the cause of his death is still mysterious.

I still listen to The Doors on a fairly regular basis. Their self-titled debut album is by far my favorite, but I have every album they ever produced, including the ones after Morrison’s death. There are so many songs I love so well, and it is just too hard to say which is my favorite, but I will post one that I feel touches me in a truly special way.

Love to all!

James M. Weil

Peace Frog

There's blood in the streets, it's up to my ankles
She came
Blood in the streets, it's up to my knee
She came
Blood in the streets in the town of Chicago
She came
Blood on the rise, it's following me
Think about the break of day

She came and then she drove away
Sunlight in her hair

She came
Blood in the streets runs a river of sadness
She came
Blood in the streets it's up to my thigh
She came
Yeah the river runs red down the legs of a city
She came
The women are crying red rivers of weepin'

She came into town and then she drove away
Sunlight in her hair

Indians scattered on dawn's highway bleeding
Ghosts crowd the young child's fragile eggshell mind

Blood in the streets in the town of New Haven
Blood stains the roofs and the palm trees of Venice
Blood in my love in the terrible summer
Bloody red sun of Phantastic L.A.

Blood screams her brain as they chop off her fingers
Blood will be born in the birth of a nation
Blood is the rose of mysterious union

There's blood in the streets, it's up to my ankles
Blood in the streets, it's up to my knee
Blood in the streets in the town of Chicago
Blood on the rise, it's following me

Monday, May 9, 2011

The Aftermath of a Psychiatric Crisis

Today I met with both my psychiatrist and therapist. After committing myself into the inpatient clinic, it is protocol that an intake session be made to assess my mental health. Both of them lauded my decision to remove myself from Facebook indefinitely, and that my therapist and I would focus on my inability to control my impulses that seem to get me into so much trouble. In one fell swoop, I lost every friend I have, but I guess these were really never friends to begin with, so it doesn’t matter all that much.

I told them I was going to focus on my blog, and really work at networking with other bloggers. Again, both of them warned me about making posts about my disease and focusing on too much about what I am feeling. Yes, I know that blogging can be dangerous if you say the wrong things, and that posts you make can come back to haunt you, but I don’t use names and usually focus on what is going in my head and heart. Still, they told me that focusing on my disease would perpetuate my problems and could make matters worse.

I find writing about my disease is extremely cathartic, and although I may seem like a complete lunatic, that is not always the case. My problem is that I rapid cycle, meaning I swing into depression and mania rather quickly, sometimes to the extremes, but usually I stay close to my baseline, and I live a fairly drama free life.

My psychiatrist is going to start making major changes to my medication to keep me more stable. This will be gradual and done with extreme caution because the medication he wants to put me on can have rather nasty side effects. He told me we have lots of time to work on it, and it wouldn’t happen overnight.

My main concern is focusing on my job and getting my work out. That is one thing I cannot let slip. The last four years I have gotten glowing annual reviews, but my boss informed us this morning that our annual reviews would be given to us this week. I have a feeling this year’s review won’t be as good as the previous ones. There are definite issues I need to work on, and overall I have had a bad year as a result of my disease. Also, the publication of my debut novel has had some serious ramifications on my mental wellbeing, but Swiss Chocolate came out in January, so it didn’t impact my entire year.

I have two book events that I managed to setup on my own. One will be at River Road Books in Fair Haven, NJ this coming Saturday from noon to 2:00 pm. The other will be at Barnes & Noble at the Palisades Mall in West Nyack, NY on June 19 from 3:00 to 5:00 pm. I am excited about this, but I really have no idea of what kind of turnout I will have at River Road Books. The turnout at the Palisades Mall will depend upon what kind of promotion I can do in the immediate area. I am going to focus on local colleges, small business associations, and local area book clubs. I don’t have a lot of lead time, so I had better get busy.

Love to all!

James M. Weil

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Sinking Into the Maelstrom of Madness

What do you do when your whole life is spinning out of control, and no matter how hard you try you cannot keep your emotions in check? Imagine the horror of ripping people’s reputations to pieces because of some uncontrollable rage that takes control over your impulses.
And what makes it even more horrifying is that you are aware of the damage you are causing as you are doing all this, but simply cannot stop yourself from what you are doing. This has been an ongoing problem with me for quite some time, and I have alienated so many friends who have witnessed my horrific actions.

Trust me, these things make it very hard for me to live with myself. People know me as a generous, kind, and loving individual, but when I go into mania or one of my debilitating depressions, I become extremely unstable and capable of exploding into torrents of anger, making me feel that my disease is progressing. My doctor is constantly jacking up my medication and making adjustments, but there are times when I still I cannot control all this self-destructive behavior. Sometimes I feel like a sinking ship that is about to go under.

I need a lifeline to grab onto. I need to spend more time with my children. They are only ones that keep me happy, and I know that Samantha is proud of me and loves me. Andrew loves spending time with me and taking trips down to the city, which we will do later this afternoon, unless it rains.
Other than that, there are so many that are pissed at me right now because of my last manic episode, which quickly swung into a deep depression. Unless they know what it is like to suffer from a disease as debilitating and destructive as bipolar disorder, they don’t know what it’s like to feel as though your life is being ripped to shreds.

Believe me, there are times when I feel as though living with this disease is not worth the effort. It brings nothing but guilt, pain and an incredible feeling of self-hatred at times. Not even my friends understand me anymore, and even one of my best friends is pissed at me for something I did on Facebook.
I have so many responsibilities, and I desperately need to keep things together. Thankfully these fits of rage and depression are not my normal state of mind, and I can usually function rather well. But every so often I do go over the edge, and I must continue pressing on, battling a disease that ravages my psyche. It is a battle that rages within me everyday, and it takes courage, strength and conviction to keep it at bay, as well as the right combination of medication, which constantly needs to be adujusted. I am a fighter, and I will not let this disease get the best of me. There is simply too much to lose and too much to live for.

My battle with bipolar disorder reminds me of a quote by one of the greatest thinkers of the 19th Century. "One must still have chaos in oneself to be able to give birth to a dancing star." - Friedrich Nietzsche

Love to all!

James M. Weil

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Terror on the Cross Bronx Expressway

Several years ago, when I was still living with my wife, I commuted from Rockland County to Floral Park, Long Island to a job I absolutely abhorred. All told, it cost me $600 a month in tolls alone because I had to cross two bridges and go through a toll booth. But the worst of it was always the dreaded Cross Bronx Expressway, which was choked with traffic from tractor trailers and cars trying to squeeze through a stretch of road that was so narrow and filled with potholes that if your tires were not ripped to shreds, you were constantly terrorized by truckers who loved to bully people who drove old, beat up cars.

I drive a 93 Toyota Corolla that’s beat to hell and looks like a rusty tin can. Once I tried to change lanes in slow-going traffic to inch my way toward the Throgs Neck Bridge. A trucker took umbrage at my getting in front of him, and he nudged my rear end. At first I thought he did it accidently and brushed it off, but then he inched forward ever so slowly, pushing the rear end of my car around until I was nearly horizontal. The whole time this was happening I was in sheer terror and leaned on the horn.

Nobody paid attention, and in desperation I dialed 911, but the traffic was so thick there was no time for the cops to get there to stop what this guy did. When he had me perfectly positioned so that my car was perpendicular to the front of his truck, he crushed my front door to the point where the window shattered, and then got out of the truck and asked me if I was okay. I wanted to beat the crap out of the guy but I was trapped in the car.

When the cops arrived he told them I had cut him off and he hit me by accident—a complete and total lie. The cops believed his story over mine, despite my 911 call, and let him go. They had to pry my door open, and then jam it shut so I could drive out of there. My nerves were so shot I could barely work the rest of the day, and ever since then I have been terrified of truckers.

Since that day there have been two incidents where a trucker has gotten behind me and gave my bumper a good nudge forward, letting me know he is there. Being on the Cross Bronx Expressway during rush hour there is no place to go, so I just prayed that the son-of-a-bitch was just bored and wanted to have a little sport with a piece a junk in front of him that wouldn’t matter if it sustained a few more dents and scratches.

On the other hand, there are times I wished I carried .50 Desert Eagle gas-powered semi-automatic that would be sure to penetrate their engine blocks and leave them stranded for hours on end while I find a way to skedaddle the hell out of there.  
Love to all!

James M. Weil

Black Hackers vs White Hackers

Last week my best friend’s twelve-year-old grandson sent me an invitation on Facebook to an event where he would teach people how to hack into people’s Facebook accounts. Then he listed all the names of the accounts he had hacked, and said how easy it was. This immediately triggered an alarm, and I posted on his wall that if I found out he was hacking into people’s accounts, I would notify the authorities and he would be arrested.

Not less than ten minutes before my appointment with my therapist last Tuesday, my friend called me on the phone and screamed her head off at me. She told me what her grandson did was none of my business, and that I was only causing family problems. Then she hung up on me and would not take my calls. This made me absolutely furious. I made that post almost a week ago, and the kid’s mother is just now getting around to reading it? Apparently, she does not take too much of an interest in her son’s activities on the internet.
Later that night, I made a post on facebook about what this kid had done. I didn’t use any names—everything was anonymous. All I said was that some misguided twerp had setup an event to show people how to hack into people’s accounts and then listed all the accounts he hacked, and that I had admonished him pretty sternly.

This set off a flurry of posts from people telling me that I did the right thing. I must have gotten twenty responses from people telling me that what I did was right and that the kid deserved to be taught a lesson. Several of my closest friends told me that they would not have warned him at all but simply reported him. I gave the kid a break because he is the grandson of my best friend. The next day I found my best friend had taped my spare keys to my door, meaning our friendship was over.
Although I ripped the kid apart for his stupidity, I did not use any real names. However, his mother took it upon herself to jump into the thread to defend her child. At that point, his identity was revealed, and I immediately backed out of the conversation.

All this happened while I was waiting to see my psychiatrist. I told him the story, and that I was pretty rattled, and had so many mixed emotions over what happened because I felt it was my duty to say something to this kid, but at the same time I lost one of my closest friends. My doctor could see how agitated I was, and asked me if I would like to check myself into the inpatient clinic for a couple of days. I asked him if I could think about it, and he told me to wait outside and he would be back in about twenty minutes.
I had been suffering from depression for weeks, and then the added stress of losing my best friend put me in uncharted waters. I didn’t feel as though I were in danger of hurting myself; it’s just that the thought of going back to an empty apartment in my current state of mind did not feel safe. I needed to disconnect from the situation for awhile and be in a place where I didn’t need to think so much, so when my doctor came back I told him I would like to check myself in.

They processed me, gave me a strong sedative, and I was taken into the clinic. This was my first stay in a mental ward, so I had no idea what to expect. It was dirty, the bathrooms were disgusting, the beds were uncomfortable and the food was surprisingly good.
I slept the entire day on Thursday all the way into Friday morning. They woke me up only to be interviewed by my doctors. I explained to them what led me to make my decision to commit myself, and they understood. I also made it clear that I was not a danger to myself or others; I just needed a break from the world.

By the time Friday morning rolled around I was going out of mind with boredom, and could not stand being in this place a moment longer. When it came time for my doctors to interview me, they told me that my primary physician recommended that I stay the weekend. I told them that would do more harm than good, because I could not stand it here and wanted to go home, do some writing, and pick up my children on Saturday.
They told me I could file a 72-hour Petition for Release because I admitted myself voluntarily, and that they would not fight it because they did not feel I was dangerous to myself or anyone else; however, they were concerned about me being alone over the weekend. I assured them I would be fine.

I was eventually released, and I went home and slept a couple of hours. Today I feel pretty good. Last night I talked with a good friend who knows the computer business inside and out. He knew the story about what happened with this kid, and he told me he would have reported him—no questions asked.

We talked quite awhile about it, and he explained that “script kiddies” did the most damage on the internet, and wreaked havoc with viruses, Trojans and ways they find to hack into people’s computers.  He has zero tolerance for it, just like all my friends on facebook who responded to my original post. He told me there were two kinds of hackers—black hackers and white hackers. Black hackers hack into other people’s computers for nefarious reasons. White hackers hack into their own computers to increase their knowledge. White hackers are the enemy of black hackers, and without them, we would not have the level of security we now have. But it’s a never ending battle.
I have since taken the original post down because this kid’s mother made his identity public, and I do not want to be involved in that mess. My friend told me if this kid hacked into anybody’s accounts like he said he did, because he made it so public, you can damn well bet the FBI will show up at his door and he will be taken out in handcuffs along with his mother. Computer hacking is a Federal offence and there is no age limit. He will go to Juvenile Hall and his mother will be liable for any damages he incurred. She may also be charged with Criminal Negligence for not monitoring her son’s activities.

So, what started out as the best of intentions turned into a complete mess and I ended up having an emotional meltdown. Basically, I was standing on a house of cards that was destined to come apart, but the one thing I learned most from all this is that a mental ward is the last place I want to be.

Love to all!

James M. Weil

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Controlling my Impulses

One of the biggest problems I have with bipolar disorder is controlling my impulses. When I start to move up on my scale, I make comments on Facebook and other social networking sites that I always regret.

Sometimes these posts are made in anger, other times I make idiotic comments about suicide that scare the hell out of my friends. Thankfully the latter is rare, because most times I am not suicidal, even though when I slip into a really deep depression I have prevalent thoughts of suicide.

But, throughout all my bouts with depression I have never once attempted suicide, and many of these depressions have lasted for months at a time. I remember one depression that was so debilitating that every morning while waiting for the train I would actually debate whether I should throw myself off the platform in front of an oncoming train.

I told my doctor about these thoughts, and several times he thought about hospitalizing me, but I convinced him that these thoughts were simply a product of my disease, and that I had no intentions of following through with them.

Despite the severity of this depression, and how utterly miserable I was, I still got up every day and went to my job. My boss kept me busy, and I was able to focus on my work and produce very well.

Lately, things have changed. I am unable to produce, and my depression is so debilitating I can’t get out of bed for days. Now, this boggles my mind because I have so much to be thankful for. Swiss Chocolate is doing relatively well, and I have two book events lined up, one of them at a huge Barnes & Noble at the Palisades Mall in West Nyack, NY. This is a major event because this store gets an amazing amount of traffic.

Today I am seeing both my psychiatrist and therapist. I need to figure out what’s causing this depression and perhaps make some adjustments to my meds. As far as my impulses are concerned, I need to take a deep breath and think before I post anything on Facebook and create problems for myself and alienate my friends.

My blog is a much safer forum for me because I have the opportunity to really think about what I am writing before I publish my post. As my good friend and editor, Susan Mary Malone, told me, Facebook is much more dangerous because everything is so immediate, and I can blast out a post off the top of my head without thinking about the consequences.

Love to all!

James M. Weil

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

My Inability to Focus on My Job

For the past few weeks, I have been sitting in front of my computer, staring at code that I simply cannot decipher. A couple of weeks ago, I was given a rather complex project that involved a lot of analysis and not too many code changes. I hit a brick wall, and simply could not follow the logic. My boss and I had a talk about why it was taking me so much time to complete a project that I would normally turn around in a few days.
I told her I could not focus on the task at hand, and that this has never happened before. She knows me well, and has seen me crank out enormous amounts of work very quickly, some of which has been extremely complex. Granted, the logic for this project was pretty convoluted, and we worked on it together for days until we found the solution.

For whatever reason, I simply cannot focus on my job, and even the simplest tasks are beyond my reach. I don’t know what’s happening; this is not like me, and I usually can read code and understand the underlying logic within a matter of minutes. But lately I look at the code in front of me and am at a total loss.
I am useless unless I can somehow turn this around. I need to figure out what’s blocking me from doing what I usually do so well. My boss knows that I have been suffering from depression, and that this may have something to do with it. She suggested I take a leave of absence and get help. I may have to do just that. Sitting in front of a computer all day and being unable to do anything only makes matters worse.
Perhaps my bipolar disorder is creeping up on me and destroying my ability to concentrate. I have heard that this is a possibility. Then again, this may be something temporary that can be treated with the right medication. I am not exactly sure what is going on, and that’s what bothers me the most.
I want my job back. I want to be able to sit down and crank out code the way I have been doing for the last four years. My boss has always been able to count on me to get multiple projects done well before my deadlines, and my users are always happy with what I produce.
I have always had a good work ethic, and I take pride in doing my job well. If my disease is keeping me from doing my job, I will fight it tooth and nail. I will do whatever it takes to remain productive and happy in a career that spans several decades in which I have gained a lot of respect. The last thing I want is to succumb to my disease and end up on disability.

Love to all!

James M. Weil

Monday, May 2, 2011

Tragic Endings That Could Have Been Avoided

Let’s talk seriously about Kurt Cobain and Ernest Hemingway for a moment. Both these men had a lot in common in that they both were serious substance abusers, and Hemingway was believed to be bipolar. Kurt Cobain was most definitely bipolar. Granted, suicide was rampant in Hemingway’s family, but Hemingway lived a full life. He was always a heavy drinker, and finally succumbed to alcoholism in his later years. He also suffered from severe depression.

Kurt Cobain had a slew of substance abuse problems, the worst being his heroin addiction. So what did these two men have so much in common? The answer is that they lost faith in their ability to create. Hemingway never left a suicide note, but he did say the treatment he received for his alcoholism and depression ruined his memory, thus his ability to continue writing.

Cobain wrote in his suicide note that he lost his passion for his music and art, and felt as though he were a complete fraud. In one of the last lines of his suicide note he wrote, “I don't have the passion anymore, and so remember, it's better to burn out than to fade away.”

And, finally, both these men used shotguns to blow off their heads, probably the most violent off all suicides possible. What makes all this so terribly tragic is that neither of these men got proper treatment for what they suffered from most. Granted, their substance abuse problems were serious, but if their bipolar disorder had been addressed, perhaps Cobain could have reinvented himself and found his passion again. And maybe Hemingway might have found a way to continue living his life with a modicum of dignity for all that he accomplished, and perhaps if his alcoholism were brought under control and his bipolar disorder was properly addressed, he could have kept on producing.

These are questions that will never be answered. The truth is, 80% of all men who suffer from bipolar disorder are also substance abusers. Many don’t get help, so they self-medicate, making matters worse, until the inevitable happens—an overdose or suicide.

Cobain’s legendary vocal ability and guitar work will live on forever, as will Hemingway’s brilliant stories, but the tragedies of their untimely endings should be examined more closely to prevent something like this from happening again. Some say that with great genius comes a heavy price, but look at Einstein, probably the greatest genius known to mankind. He was forever an optimist and his quotes live on in the hearts of many. My favorite being, "Imagination is more important than knowledge."

Love to all!

James M. Weil

Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood

Baby, do you understand me now?

Sometimes I feel a little mad
But, don't you know that no one alive can always be an angel
When things go wrong I seem to be bad

I'm just a soul whose intentions are good
Oh Lord, please don't let me be misunderstood

If I seem edgy
I want you to know
That I never meant to take it out on you
Life has its problems
And I got my share
And that's one thing I never meant to do
'Cause I love you

Baby, don't you know I'm just human
And I've got thoughts like any other one
And sometimes I find myself, oh Lord, regretting
Some foolish thing, some foolish thing I've done

But I'm just a soul whose intentions are good
Oh Lord, please don't let me be misunderstood
Oh Lord, don't let me be misunderstood
Please don't let me be misunderstood

Baby, do you understand me now?
Sometimes I feel a little mad
But, don't you know that no one alive can always be an angel
When things go wrong I seem to be bad

'Cause I'm just a soul whose intentions are good
Oh Lord, please don't let me be misunderstood

Baby, sometimes I'm so carefree
With a joy that's hard to hide
And sometimes it seems that, all I have to do is worry
And then you're bound to see my other side

'Cause I'm just a soul whose intentions are good
Oh Lord, please don't let me be misunderstood

If I seem edgy
I want you to know
That I never meant to take it out on you
Life has its problems
And I got my share
And that's one thing I never meant to do
'Cause I love you

Oh, baby, don't you know I'm human
I have thoughts like any other one
And sometimes I find myself, oh Lord, regretting
Some foolish thing, some foolish thing I've done

'Cause I'm just a soul whose intentions are good
Oh Lord, please don't let me be misunderstood

I would have to say that Elvis Costello's cover of this 1964 classic was by far the best I've ever heard, even if The Animals forever immortalized it. This is one song that will live in my heart forever.

Bipolar Depression - The Opposite End of the Scale

For anybody who is bipolar I, they know what it is to swing into a -5 depression (See my post “The Bipolar Spectrum and Management of the Disease,” Monday, April 18, 2011.) It is a feeling of being so hopelessly depressed that the simplest tasks are impossible to accomplish. If it continues for more than a few days, then hospitalization is most certainly required, and the threat of suicide is real and prevalent.

My bout with it lasted from late Friday afternoon until late Monday morning, but I was able to come through it okay. I did make a post on facebook about suicide this morning, which scared the hell out of my friends, and it wasn’t until my brother-law-law called and told me to snap out of it when I realized I needed to get hold of my doctor.

I left him a message and then had a talk with my boss. She strongly recommended that we get HR involved, but I asked her to hold off until I saw my doctor. The last thing I want is to be stuck at home with nothing to do, or to be hospitalized unnecessarily for a temporary state of mind. On the other hand, she does not want me to be stuck here unable to focus on my job. If I can manage to find my focus I will be okay.

So, which is worse? The self-destructive manic episodes I find myself falling over the edge? Or the hopeless depressions that are so utterly debilitating I can barely function, and all I can think about is suicide?

Bipolar disorder is truly a curse, and I do feel for those who have it. On the other hand, if you are responsible and take control over your disease you can live with it, but no matter how hard you try, you will slip every once in awhile and find yourself in a horrible mess of your own creation.

For me, that’s the hardest part to live with. I am constantly apologizing to people who get steamrolled as I go crashing into catastrophes created by my disease. There is a lot of guilt associated with what I go through, and that in of itself is an unhealthy emotion. When I am completely off the rails I can say and do some pretty awful things.

Underneath all this conflicting emotion and enormous passion is a a truly kind man full of love and generosity. I am constantly reminded of the Animals' classic song, "Please Don't Let Me be Misunderstood."

Love to all!

James M. Weil

Weekend Blues

This was a bad weekend. There are times when I think many of my friends can’t deal with me because of my destructiveness when I go into mania or I get angry. Most people live their lives on the surface, meaning they don’t really let on what is going inside their hearts and heads. They build a fa├žade for others to see, never allowing anyone past that for fear of what they might expose.

I live my life completely differently. There is something that drives me to expose all that is going on in my head and heart. For some, that is hard to take. But what makes it most difficult is when I have these moments of anger, and I start lashing out at the world. By attacking Nanette Reiss, the Director of The Oceanic Free Library, on a public forum, I served no purpose except to make myself look bad.

Yes, without question, she blew me off rather rudely, and never responded to any of my messages, nor did she tell me that the library had purchased a copy of Swiss Chocolate and put it on the shelves. So, after exchanging a few Facebook posts she disappeared and blocked me, and I went into a deep depression that lasted pretty much the entire weekend. I have no idea how many hours I slept the last two days, but the only time I got up was to eat and use the bathroom.

I did make a public apology on Facebook, and I also wrote her an apology, which will go out in today’s mail along with my rent. I am depressed because women are not responding to me on, despite the heartfelt, honest messages I send. I guess they are going up to my author page on Amazon and reading my blog posts, which reveal all that I stand for and suffered through as a victim of child abuse and someone who suffers from bipolar disorder. Nobody wants to get involved with someone who has endured that much shit and has been so emotionally damaged.

But what they fail to recognize is that I am a winner. I turned all that pain around and created a lasting work of fiction that actually got published. Very few writers get that honor. I also have a very successful career with the State of New York as a software engineer. Despite everything, I came out on top, and continue to grow as a writer and a human being.

I cannot lie to people and tell them I am not bipolar, because eventually the truth would come out anyway. They don’t need to know it right up front, but it is part of who I am, and although it is a difficult disease to live with, unlike so many who suffer from bipolar I and are on disability, I am strong, determined and live a rather normal life, in that I hold an important job with a lot of responsibility, I am able to crank out great works of fiction when I hit my “zone”, and I do have a strong group of loving friends.

Love to all!

James M. Weil.