I had someone tell me once, “Fitness isn’t all there is to the world.” And, although, I knew that, I didn’t comprehend what that looked like or how does one practice that kind of lifestyle, until life told me to take a seat with a cast on. It was during this time I learned fitness wasn’t everything in life. Fitness no longer always became the focus for which I identified with. That changed my perspective on everything else, and it also made room for everything else I had to deal with.
I believe fitness has helped me to manage my bipolar for over a decade. The first time I was diagnosed I didn’t want to believe it. I think it’s not uncommon to say that before I was diagnosed, life was better. But, that isn’t necessarily true. I want it to be. However, I understand that the notion of my life being better in the past is most likely stemming from not having the diagnosis in the first place since I can’t unknow what I know. Nevertheless, the moment when fitness became unavailable for me, it was easier to see how difficult it became to stabilize my mood swings and irritability in general.
I used fitness as a crutch for many things like anger, depression and the void. There were times I genuinely enjoyed gym-hopping because I naturally thought it was healthier than barhopping. But, those hourly long sessions five or six times a week at the gym were where I chose to avoid certain life reflections. So, rather than cut myself with a blade or fracture my hand on a solid wall, I would train to injury repeatedly. I was using a different method to continue to hurt myself.
When I couldn’t train for a period, I had to learn to sit with my passions. I had to observe my pain and find times for when I could adjust in healthier ways. I had to find new ways to regulate my recurring moods, triggers and symptoms. This was one of the most difficult things I had to do, despite allowing myself to feel what I feel when they arise. It took a long time for me to realize that not every feeling will remain and not every thought was something I had to believe in. I also didn’t realize in the way I trained my mind and body reflected my pain, avoidance, passion, anger, sadness and loneliness.
I’ve been a queen of silent pain, abuse and trauma. I’ve been cold and brutal many times, not only to myself, but to others as well. Once I started to transition from a masculine approach to more of a feminine one, I learned how to become softer and not have a meltdown. With changing my mindset, from being open to change and flow while being less critical, clarity came along with ease and it reflected in my training styles as a form of better awareness, in and out my fitness, and life itself.