IMG_4157Mania is a luscious, exhilarating state of mind. All the fatigue and weariness in your bones and soul vaporizes. Your muscles feel bigger and stronger and ready to strike. Your thoughts are clear and brilliant. You are like a racehorse in the gate, wide-eyed and pawing at the ground with your hoof. There is no off-switch.

Medications give you a dimmer but you still have to have the desire and willingness to use it beyond the involuntary waning it induces.  You have to make the decision to turn the dimmer nob further to the left.

That is where I find myself today – turning the nob to the left. I am – of my own volition – taking my life down a notch. I don’t want to but I need to. It’s hard for me to believe I’m doing this. But years of therapy and the wisdom that comes with 56-years of f#*king up my life have taught me it’s time.

I have bipolar II – called hypomania. It’s bipolar lite. My ups and downs are not nearly as intense as those poor souls with bipolar I. Of course, fueling my mania with drugs and alcohol for decades enhanced those ups and downs. But I know I am blessed to have this lesser form of bipolar.

This is not a particularly good time for me to be dimming my lights. I have a lot going on – obviously – much of which I brought on myself. Besides work and trying the maintain an 88-year-old house on my own, I got myself involved in a sport called CrossFit.

If you haven’t heard of CrossFit, it’s an extreme exercise program that pushes athletes to the limits of their physical and mental abilities. Workouts usually leave me on the floor, gasping for air. It is the perfect type of exercise for people with bipolar and addictions. I love it.

I have been a competitive athlete my whole life. In the third grade I went to a birthday party and won every single damn game. The birthday girl’s mother suggested I give one of the other girls a chance to win. Really? I don’t mind losing, because it fuels my mania and makes me work harder. Bring it on. May the best girl win.

Every year CrossFit has a worldwide competition called The Open. It lasts five weeks. A quarter-million CrossFit athletes around the world do the same workout every week and enter their scores into a database.

In the senior division, the top 20 athletes from around the world go to The Games in California. It is CrossFit’s version of the Olympics and the winners are crowned the fittest athletes on the planet.

Now, you can imagine the lure of this kind of competition for me. Last year I finished in 74th place and vowed to move up into the top 20. I got a coach and started training my butt off. The Open starts in two weeks. I have already signed up and paid the registration fee.

I’m not going to do it. In the last two weeks I have felt and watched my mania build. I verbally ripped a guy’s head off at the dog park last week. I’m chronically self-absorbed and sarcastic. I’ve been writing nasty-grams and hitting the send button. I’m taking things too seriously. I don’t like myself. I’m going off the rails.

I want my nice, kinda-chill life back. So, I’m pulling the plug. I have to take care of my mental health with the same dedication as I do my physical health. I want some perspective. I want to stay out of the clouds and the black hole that follows.

So, sayanara mania.