March 08, 2012
Hospitalized with bipolar disorder, Chuck Wagner finds a way out of the darkness through running, CrossFit and an inspiring father-son team. Hilary Achauer reports.
In August 2010, Chuck Wagner was in good shape physically. A young man in his 20s, he was training for a marathon and played competitive lacrosse. Wagner was a working professional living the good life at the beach in San Diego, Calif. Inside, however, he was falling apart. Wagner kept pushing forward, stuffing down his increasingly dark thoughts until he lost control one night at a work event.
That night set off something within Wagner, and things kept sliding downhill until he ended up in the hospital in August 2010, depressed and suicidal. He was later diagnosed with bipolar disorder. When he was in the hospital, Wagner heard a lot about what he shouldn’t do and what he couldn’t do now that he had been diagnosed with a serious mental illness. Everyone told him he had to stop training, focus on his mental health and find the right balance of medications.
One of Wagner’s therapists took a different approach. He told Wagner that as part of his treatment, he wanted him to try something new. A lacrosse buddy of Wagner’s told him about CrossFit, and Wagner decided he would check out CrossFit Pacific Beach, the box in his neighborhood.