June 1, 2013
Fight or Flight

Drew Canavero often fell prey to binary thinking: it was black or white, he loved it or hated it, and he was either fully committed or completely disengaged.

“Living with bipolar is a frustratingly (irritating) process. Progress is usually slow and tenuous—one step forward, a half step back. And there are times when I have the inescapable feeling that my life is in free fall. And I often choose to hasten my collision with the bottom by engaging in counterproductive and self-destructive behavior,” explains Canavero, who finished seventh at last year’s South West Regional.

The 26-year-old withdrew from this year’s CrossFit Games Open after his disorder had him battling suicidal thoughts. The thing that gave him purpose, the thing that identified him—training to qualify for the Regional—suddenly brought him only disappointment.

“I hated working so hard to ultimately feel like I underwhelmed each Open workout,” he says. “At any one time, I didn’t know whether to cry at the pervasive sense of loss or laugh at how comically tragic it all was. I often did both.”

He suffered a nervous breakdown. This time, though, he told people about it.

“I let people in and they embraced me,” he says. “This is my new challenge: to establish balance in my life.”

Video by Jay Vera.