Friday, July 22, 2011

This Year's Girl

It’s been ages since I have posted anything on my blog. Basically, I have been going through an emotional upheaval that I feel has now subsided. A lot has happened over the last month. My book event at Noveteas was an enormous success, and my audience was very engaging as I talked openly about my experiences, disease and future plans. Special thanks go to Monmouth County Mental Health Association for coming, and I am especially thankful to Nicole of Novelteas for giving 25% of the evening’s proceeds to such a worthy cause.
My friends, it seems that DBT therapy is beyond my means momentarily. Those who are certified to practice it do not accept insurance, and I cannot afford such an enormous price for something my doctor wants me to have so strongly, but that’s how life goes.

I have done enough reading on the subject to know that I would benefit from the training immensely. It is extremely effective for treating patients with symptoms like mine. Perhaps in the future things will change.

I need to thank the people in my life who have put up with my antics over the last three months. I know I have been very difficult, and my emotions have been all over the place. Mental disease impacts everyone in your life, and takes courage, strength and brutal honesty to come to terms with it and retain a modicum of dignity. I will admit that some of my behavior has been undignified, and for that I am sorry.

Anyway, enough of this group hug horseshit. I wanted to share one of my all-time favorite songs by Elvis Costello called This Year’s Girl from the album This Year's Model, which was released in 1978. Hope you enjoy it.

Love to all!

James M. Weil

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Catherine Zeta-Jones Talks Openly About Her Struggle with Bipolar Disorder on NBC News

Catherine Zeta-Jones is all over the media lately about her recent diagnosis of bipolar II, and now the media is jumping all over her struggle with it and what the disease really means. As far as I am concerned, this is a gift from God.

I have said it once, and I will say it again: There is nothing courageous about Catherine Zeta-Jones going public about her disease. She is a role model, a gifted actress and a loving mother and wife. She has a moral obligation to raise awareness of this disease to others, so ordinary people who suffer from it don’t need to be stigmatized.

Catherine is very high-functioning. There are many who cannot function at all with bipolar disorder, although the spectrum is broad. The two major classifications are bipolar I and bipolar II. Bipolar I is much more serious and most manic episodes will land you in the hospital. People with bipolar II suffer from hypo-mania, a much less severe form, although sometimes these bouts can be very serious.

In 2004 I was diagnosed with bipolar I after a manic episode that was so severe that I completely destroyed my marriage, career and home for a woman I barely knew in another country. It was severe enough that I landed in the emergency room of Northshore University Hospital after writing Swiss Chocolate and El Aguila in under a year.

Not so long ago my diagnosis was changed from bipolar I to bipolar II with personality disorder NOS (Not Otherwise Specified), with histrionic and borderline features, more prominent on the borderline side.

I am getting a lot of treatment, and am very proactive about managing my disease. It is not easy, but I thank Catherine for coming out and doing an enormous public service by talking openly about her disease and what it is like to suffer with it. Kudos to you, Catherine Zeta-Jones!

Love to all!

James M. Weil

A Whole New Approach to Therapy

My doctor and I met last night and decided it was best to start Dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) therapy right away and not wait for a spot to open up in the four-week, intensive workshop.  DBT therapy is used to treat patients who suffer from borderline personality disorder. Although my main diagnosis is bipolar II, my secondary diagnosis is personality disorder NOS (Not Otherwise Specified) with borderline and histrionic traits.

DBT therapy has been very successful, and was developed to help patients deal with their inability to cope with their emotions, interpersonal skills and anger. In most cases, borderline personality disorder is brought on by early childhood trauma. As patients grow older, many unresolved hurt feelings manifest themselves in inappropriate behavior and persistent thoughts of suicide, and those with the worst cases have made several suicide attempts or engage in self-mutilation.

Although I do have strong, pervasive thoughts of suicide, I have never attempted it, but I have reached a point in my life where my self-awareness has never been stronger, and I realize how much I am in dire need of help. I am consumed with rage. My doctor and I talk about it all the time. I am not dangerous. If I were, he would have done something about it by now, but these thoughts and feelings are overpowering. I act out on my anger in non-violent ways, such as making horrible facebook posts about people who I am pissed at, or send out such vitriolic hate mail that my recipients want nothing to do with me again. My interpersonal skills also need a hell of a lot of work.

The DBT therapy would consist of two sessions a week—a group session and a private. Then of course I would have regular sessions with my therapist to treat my bipolar disorder, and my psychiatrist would continue to regulate my meds. I could get the four week program outside system I am at, but that would mean losing my doctor and therapist, which is not something I am anxious to do. My therapist is one of the best I have had in years, and we have made a lot of breakthroughs lately.

My doctor and I discussed the idea of going after the root of all the pain and surgically removing it. That's when the discussion got interesting. He told me that would require several years of psychoanalysis at least two or three times a week.

Although it was an option, it wouldn’t give me the coping skills to deal with my emotions in the here and now. By giving me the skills to maintain control over my psyche, I would eventually come to terms with what is inside me, and perhaps then the hurting would finally go away. Remember, hurt turns to anger, anger to rage and rage turns to vengeance. Who the hell wants to live like that? I am 53 years old, and it’s time for this bullshit to stop.

Unlike so many who suffer from mental disease, I am not in denial about my condition but embrace it, and then work my ass off with my doctors to find ways to cope. I guess that’s why I am so high-functioning. I have a high-paying job with The State of New York as a software engineer, and I get glowing reviews each year. I have written three novels and managed to get one traditionally published. Asking for a girlfriend may be a little much right now, but it’s best that I focus on myself and find my center. (Sorry ladies--this lunatic is off the market until he gets his head screwed on straight. :)

Love to all!

James M. Weil