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Fitness: An Essential Weapon to Fight the Battles Within

Coming off an incredible success, phenomenal good time, an absolute wonderful experience, it makes absolutely no sense that soon after it’d be tough to find the will to get out of bed in the morning–– but it is what it is.
Here’s something I don’t really talk about much, but I gotta be real.
When I was in college & grad school, I’d go deep sea diving in the long dark teatime of the soul––– I’d be in my art studio or in the edit suite for hours at a time without coming up for air. And I loved it. I lived for it. I’d go overnight clear til dawn without the passage time registering–– I’d go for days at a time without sleep. When I was inspired, the thought-stream of artistic vision flowed like a summer-busted fire hydrant with the neighborhood kids all dancing in the fountain’s rain. It held meaning, it relayed activated purpose.
It felt like being on top of the universe, looking in, and understanding.
Later, early in my career in editing, I’d be THAT GUY who would be able to meet the unmeetable deadline by staying awake, working around the clock, for 2, 3, 4 days straight with little break and no sleep–– *knowing* to the hour that that was the amount of time & effort it would take to meet the deadline. And it never failed: I met it, with flair.
But there was a flip-side to that “super-power”. Exhaustion after those euphoric bouts of vision & creativity, after the goal had been met, the dragon slain. For days, I’d be caught in a fog of Not Right-ness. Irritability. Feeling unanchored, without goal, adrift from purpose. The kryptonite to that which came before.
Knowing this full-well about myself, it wasn’t all that surprising when I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder; down to my core I didn’t want to accept that I couldn’t think my way to course correction, couldn’t overpower it, couldn’t tame or master it. How do you think your way out of a problem when the machinery of your thoughts is itself the problem? It felt like I was being told that something within me was “broken” / “not right”–– malfunctioning. Once I better understood what instead it actually meant, the roller-coaster moods that both fueled and drained me made sense.
Well–– these past few years, getting more involved with fitness & nutrition, in coaching & personal development, improving leadership & helping others exercise their muscles for character & leadership development–– that’s been an incredible help. Eagles don’t fly with pigeons, and concentrating energies onward and upward, toward positive ends through strength-building means–– it harnesses the good and minimizes the bad side of the disorder.
I still get my funk times; after the huge amazing successes recently in my career, it caught me off-guard to find myself in that row-boat in still waters––– but it happens.
But even biochemically, fitness helps. Endorphin release–– and just the basic sense that you can tell yourself, “Yes. I’ve accomplished this today. There’s a checkmark in my fitness program’s calendar that Week 5 Day 1’s workout is done. 3 weeks to go til the program’s completion.”
It helps. Getting in the 22 minute workout every day helps.
It doesn’t make it “all better”, sunflowers aint blooming from my toes and daffodils and sprouting from my nose––– but it does soften the edges of the glum times, if just that crucial little bit.
Like I said–– it’s not something that I often talk about, but to be real, it’s something that I deal with every day. Day to day. And maybe some of you do, too. Maybe knowing you’re not alone out there in stilled waters might help somehow.
Know that the sun still shines on the flip-side of dawn, the winds will pick up, and before you know it they will fill your sails & you’ll be flying.