Bipolar Disorder: How Running Helps

World Bipolar Day

Nita Sweeney


Nita Sweeney and her dog Scarlet, aka the pupperina
Award-winning author Nita Sweeney and Scarlet the #ninetyninepercentgooddog

In honor of World Bipolar Day, former Still I Run board member Nita Sweeney shares insights about bipolar disorder.

I’d had the same psychiatrist, a woman I trust with my life, for years. I thought we’d covered all the ground. But a few years before I started running, dark, angry moods, yelling fits, and tantrums transformed me into someone I didn’t recognize. As I pondered her questions, searching for a cause, a memory surfaced.

“There were those times I nearly maxed out my credit cards, and had to return a ton of things when the bills came.”

She nodded, then said: “I think you might have bipolar disorder.”

It took a medication change and more therapy, but eventually, I knew she was right.

What is bipolar disorder?

Bipolar advocate Gabe Howard explains his take in this bpHope article:

Bipolar disorder is a spectrum of moods that goes from the lowest of lows ( suicidal depression) all the way up to the highest of highs (“godlike” mania), and everything in between. The person suffering from bipolar is unable to control where their moods fall on this spectrum, or how long that mood will last before transitioning.

Bipolar disorder is a severe and persistent mental illness. Typical symptoms include racing thoughts (which lead to hurried and nonsensical speech); rapid mood swings, ranging from depression all the way to mania; staying awake for days at a time without tiring; and grandiose thinking, such as believing you have more fame, money, or authority than you really do.

Bipolar disorder is an illness that affects the mind. Specifically, it alters a person’s ability to control their moods, thoughts, and the way they see the world around them. A person suffering from bipolar will travel back and forth on a very long mood spectrum that they cannot control. This includes moods typical people will never experience, such as suicidal thoughts or living in a consequence-free environment where a person feels invincible.

“Three Simple Ways to Explain Bipolar Disorder to Others” by Gabe Howard in bpHope



Nita Sweeney

Bestselling author of A Daily Dose of NOW, Depression Hates a Moving Target and other books. Runner, mindful reality coach, mental health warrior, dog mom.