I remember how it came on. Fast. Without warning. Suddenly, I was all fired up, as if I’d just been jump started.

I turned on some music, cranked the volume, and then began dancing. I couldn’t help myself. I was overcome with a desire to move. An hour passed before I finally took a rest.

Lounging upright on the couch, my body swayed wildly to the music pumping out of my speakers. I jumped to my feet, turned the volume up a notch, and then headed to the kitchen to brew a cup of coffee. I did a quick jig as I waited for the water to boil. Coffee. It was the dead of night.

I sat down with my coffee and stared out the window. I had so many brilliant ideas swimming inside my head. I grabbed for the nearest pen and tried to jot them all down on a scrap piece of printer paper. My mind raced and my hands moved rapidly. Every silly spelling error prompted laughter.

And then…

Tears. Overwhelmed by a sudden urge to end my life, I began sobbing uncontrollably. It was an angry depression. A pulsating rage swept over me. I threw myself face down onto the couch, punched my fist into the cushion and screamed into a pillow.

There’s a reason I began this post with a depiction of my affective disorder.

Because it brings up the theme of “extremes.”

Having struggled with schizoaffective disorder for over a decade, I’m all too familiar with extreme thoughts, emotions, and behaviours. I’ll admit, learning to balance these extremes has been a long and difficult journey through countless bouts of mania and depression.

I’ve spent a great part of my life going from one extreme to the other. Prone to black and white thinking, I lived a decade bouncing between reckless self-destruction and obsessive self-improvement. I only ever saw two options. I was going to be 100% well, or 100% unwell. No middle ground.

Going from one extreme to the other takes a hefty toll, and as a result, I wasn’t in good condition when I first began seeing a therapist. It took three years of therapy for me to gain insight into my black and white thinking. But my time and effort paid off. Today, I associate balance with fulfillment and happiness.

Becoming goal-oriented has played a significant role in learning to live a balanced life.

Currently, one of my goals is to ride twenty kilometers in the upcoming Ride Don’t Hide event on June 26. I’ve been training for the past two months.

I’ve been out for a few rides this week, and have a few more planned for the weekend. I rode 10 kilometers today – a personal record. I’m looking forward to achieving my goal of riding twenty kilometers next month. I love the feeling of achievement in the morning. Feels like…victory (kudos if you get the “Apocalypse Now” allusion).

Everyone has a reason for riding in Ride Don’t Hide. Everyone rides for something or someone. I ride to celebrate my recovery and the satisfaction it brings me. What makes my recovery so satisfying is knowing I’ve finally achieved the balance I’ve been searching for. I’ve found my sweet spot – somewhere between the extremes.