Dave Nealon – well know in the Tri Alliance circle as being one of the ‘nice guys’. Always cheerful, ready to crack a joke (often at himself!), happy to help others, always up for a coffee and this years winner of our Social Award for riding an RACV Bike during the Sandringham Olympic Distance – simply because he could!
Yet Dave was up for another challenge and that challenge he set himself was to complete a Half Ironman. After sitting down with his coach, he knew the challenge was going to be a big one, but one he was ready for.
Dave has had to not only contend with the usual Ironman leadup including flying himself halfway across the world – in no other place than HAWAII, he had to over come injuries, hire a bike (and subsequently fallen off said bike) but more note worthy is the challenge within himself that he had to face to get himself to the start line this weekend in the Hawaii Half Ironman.
So Dave leaves his story with us on HIS extrordinary journey to Ironman…..
“It’s not long from my race in Hawaii and I’ve decided to talk about why I chose to do this race in my prerace report. I have used this race as a goal I set myself to help me get through a tough period of my life, something happened to me a couple of years ago and I have chosen today to come out about it.
At the age of 35 you think you know yourself or doubt there would be any new major surprises about who you are. Yet I was blindsided two years ago as I was diagnosed Bipolar 2 or hypomanic (below mania). The reason why I became diagnosed was due to a reaction I had to an antidepressant which fixed my depression but launched me into a hypomanic state for 4 months after which I went into a period of chronic fatigue as my body was literally drained of pretty much every nutrient you could think of. To further complicate the matter I’ve since found out through a genetic test that this was compounded by my body not being able to metabolise the antidepressant normally and it had built up in my system to toxic levels.
During the period of hypomania I had a mind I could not turn off, inability to sleep as it supercharged my system, sadly only in energy (not speed which would have been handy for the odd race). My body now has difficulty producing melatonin which makes you sleepy and makes very little cortisol (which wakes you up)
in the morning but makes way too much of it at night. Thus making it really hard to get to sleep and really hard to get up in the morning. Added to this my adrenal glands went into overdrive and I have suffered with terrible anxiety and anxiety attacks as my adrenals would often fire and dump any adrenalin I had into my body. At its worst I became aqua phobic and would often have anxiety attacks whenever I got into any form of water whether it be a pool or swimming at Elwood (mostly Elwood).
I’ve been visiting so many people over the past couple of years to try and get my head around all of this, and am still learning. I find it strange as it seems being Bipolar is what has actually helped me rather than hindered me mostly through life which is another reason why I’m coming out to help show not all Bipolar is bad. I thought everyone gets flights of ideas, guess not just as much as me? Anyway I seem to have made it through the worst of it now, funnily enough my main treatment has actually been training. I wasn’t sure if my body would make it back to a point where I could do this race but I took inspiration from the likes of Nick, Greg and Juliet with their comebacks and drew strength from them, gang you unknowingly helped heal me.
I’ve been undecided and even now a bit afraid about whether or not I come out about being bipolar as its one area that still manages to freak a few people out. Sadly I’ve already had some people, and even a job turn away from me because of it. Hopefully not too many from the club will as I’m still the same old Dave, I just know a bit more about myself these days that’s all.
I’ve included a copy of my Bipolar Toolkit to help explain it a little more and please feel free to come up and ask any questions you like about it. Through the past couple of years I’ve realised that when it comes to Bipolar I’m actually one of the very lucky ones as it doesn’t really affect me as bad as it does others and so I dedicate my race to those with Bipolar that are struggling and hopefully help inspire others as Nick, Greg and Juliet inspired me.
Thanks also to Ollie, Sarah and the other coaches for their help along the way.
Cheers and Beers
On behalf of everyone at Tri Alliance, we wish Dave the race of his life. We will all be cheering you on Dave – so when the going get’s tough think of us and we’ll give you that extra little push on the bike and gentle nudge on the run to inch you closer to that finish line. This race is yours….