My brain and body aren’t listening to each other. I am 52-years-old but my brain still thinks I’m 21. Sometimes it thinks I’m still a kid. I’m in good shape but my body is decades ahead of my brain. For me, 50 is the new 10.

Throw a healthy dose of mania on this communication breakdown and you have some very, very sore muscles, pulled ligaments and swollen joints. I have no off-switch and I don’t know if I want one. The louder my brain shouts and less my body listens.

I discovered this new group exercise program that is based on Navy Seal training.  Lots of pull-ups, push-ups, running with weights, dead-lifts, cleans, power cleans, walking lunges carrying a 25lb plate over your head, hand-stand push-ups, box jumps, jump rope – you get the picture. It’s the first group exercise program I have been in that challenges me enough – to the point of collapse. I love it.

My body is ignoring what I am telling you – sticking her fingers in her ears – La-la-la-la-la-la-la. But my brain has this figured out. For years I used exercise as a denial mechanism. There is no way I could have a drinking “problem” if I got up in the morning and swim-bike-run like this. The worse my drinking, the more I swam, biked and ran. Harder. Faster. Harder. Faster.

Exercise also provided an outlet for my mania. On those days when my mania flared, I felt like a racehorse in the gate – eyes wide, hooves pounding at the dirt. Open that gate baby and I will kick your ass. I once ran the last six miles of a marathon without my shoes because my shoes were killing me and I was not about to stop.

My alcoholism and bipolar just love each other. They are evil little twins. When I put one to bed the other one sneaks in and wakes up the other. I have been sober almost 13 years and the mania is still banging on the door. My medications have been an incredible help in taming the beast and lifting the depression.

Still, I love the mania and it takes one helluva workout to tire her out to wear her out. I could take it down a notch but I feel guilty just trying. I haven’t worked out in two days. Two days and I feel I should go to confession and say a couple dozen Hail Mary’s. My therapist used to tell me I could only work out 4 days a week. That didn’t work too well. Four is not a good number. Five is better. Six is best. I still have the common sense to take one day off.

I need to get going now. It’s 6:15 am. Time to head to the gym.


    Last reviewed: 25 Jul 2011

APA Reference
Stapleton, C. (2011). Alcoholism and Bipolar: My Evil Little Twins. Psych Central. Retrieved on January 29, 2015, from


Hoping for a Happy Ending
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Christine Stapleton

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