Fight or Flight

By Various

In Athletes, HD Videos, Medical/Injuries

June 01, 2013

Video Article

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.

7min 32sec

HD file size: 233 MB
SD wmv file size: 98 MB
SD mov file size: 63 MB

Please note: For smoother viewing of HD videos, please download the entire file to your hard drive before watching it (right-click and choose Save Link As...).

Additional reading: The War Within by Hilary Achauer, published Feb. 10, 2013.

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11 Comments on “Fight or Flight”


wrote …

Impressive. Thank you for your honesty.


wrote …

Good luck Drew. Keep working toward your goals.


wrote …

Your writing and telling is great. Straight from the heart. Best of luck and am sure we will see you again.


wrote …

Wow. Not many people talk about being bipolar so candidly. I applaud you. Me, I'm kind of in the same boat. Finding balance is tough but one day I know I will find it and so will you. Your comment about seeing things as black/white or being all in or not at all totally hit home. I hope you know that you have inspired so many by putting this out there -Thank you! Life is all about taking the sour with the sweet... Balance be with you!


Jay Grob wrote …

Drew your words are inspiring. I have fought battles with depression (not bi-polar) for many years. Many times the medicines that I too religiously took would stop working. My doctors would roll the dice and try a new concoction of meds that would work for a while. I too have lost many relationships due, in part, to my depression. I don't know how many times I've been told, "you need to smile more" or "why can't you just be happy". No one really understood that I would have given almost anything to do just that. For me, I still struggle to find my way through a myriad of physical and psychological injuries. Somehow through all of this I've gone from a stable career to being a struggling business owner, in the form of a CrossFit Affiliate owner. The depression is still there, and I'm convinced its here to stay. I find my greatest sense of relief from my symptoms when I'm at my Box and working with other people. Somehow watching others succeed, especially if its as a result of a piece of my advice, makes me forget the cloud that follows me. Long story short, you are not alone in what you are going through. It's great that you have come to realize the acceptance of others. I wish you the best and thank you for this video.


wrote …

Thanks for sharing i much needed that.


wrote …

Good luck drew. Your words and goals are inspiring.


wrote …

Thank you Drew. I hope you've experienced the same relief from sharing your story as I've received from watching it. Your candor is a comforting reminder that no one who struggles is alone.. I admire the wisdom you showed in making the right choice for yourself. I further admire the courage you showed in sharing it.

However, I most admire your lulu. Sweet pants bro.


wrote …

All the best to you in the future Drew. Mental health is a blessing we all to often do not appreciate. I think that what you have created here is a wonderful step in the direction society does not yet realize we need to go. Thank you


wrote …

Drew, I just wanted to thank you for sharing your story. I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in my sophomore year of college. It was a very difficult thing to go through and still struggle at times. I started crossfitting two months ago and it changed my life. It allowed me to find a community of people who care and like seeing you come in the box for a WOD. I wish you all the best big guy. Climb, grow, rebirth. I tell that to myself whenever I face adversity, a way of thinking I learned from John Kim's book, Mindset. Keep up the good fight.


wrote …

Thank you for your vulnerability and sharing. I have struggled with Bipolar Disorder since I was in high school. I have been doing CrossFit off and on for about four years. Recently I have started to share about my disorder with friends and people I CrossFit with. It takes courage to be open and share, but you have inspired me to do the same. Lately it seems like my good days and bad days are happening more frequently and people are starting to take notice. Keep working hard and inspiring others. Day by day I will fight this battle as I hope you will do the same.
Thank you again for sharing!

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