I would like to share with you my adventures of tragedy and triumph, fighting for my mind and body against disorder and disease. Hi, I'm Michael Fillinger - The Manic Mechanic - mental and physical health crusader and personal trainer. Allow me to tell you my story and how through the tragedies I've experienced lead me to internal and physical success.

I am now building a business to help others move through difficult times both mentally and physically and triumph in life as I have. In my early 20's I was at the top of my game as a Journeyman Motorcycle Mechanic. Great career, fit, healthy and happy....then life started testing me....like it tests everyone. I found my mind was getting drained. I lost interest in many aspects of life that once energized me. I had no excitement and low energy. I was irritable and had poor self-esteem. Everyone gets that way sometimes right? Then there was the "flip-side" - enormous amounts of energy, interest in EVERYTHING, always laughing, endless supply of self-esteem...and I didn't need to sleep to maintain it! What a rush! It was great until the roller coaster ride came to a tragic ending, when things derailed and landed me in a mental institution. This is where the fighting began.

Fighting against a mental disease, called Bipolar Disorder. It took my health away, I became overweight, unfit and foggy-minded. It destroyed my career, my memory and my confidence. It tore apart my happiness and devastated my family and friends. When I say fighting against a mental disease, I mean fighting within two different perceived realities. One that is healthy, constructive and good. The other that is toxic, destructive and frightening. Two realities constantly fighting within the mind. The fight was like a boxing match. Four rounds that took ten years to train my mind to have a healthy mindset with a positive and constructive attitude. Each of the rounds I got knocked down into psychosis and hospitalized. Round 1 was the most shocking! I was at the top of my game, climbing the ladder of success  just like a fighter jet running out of gas in mid-air.  I crashed and hard.

That's where I was a flying in my thought life, taking on new, more and harder challenges, setting my sights on my target and achieving my goals - but all the while forgetting to "refuel" with self-care and playful adventure. I crashed into depression, then a mania and finally into a phycosis - Bipolar Disease 1, Mike 0 - ding went the boxing match bell for round 1. Have you ever crashed before? Do you remember how it feels to have the wind knocked out of you, trying to breathe and slowly getting up? Then you look around to see if anyone is watching, you feel stupid, ashamed and stigmatized. Well in round one, getting knocked down from Bipolar grounded me for good....or so I thought at the time. After being stabilized in the hospital and released, I had a bag full of medication in my right hand and in my left, papers to my next appointment. That was the beginning of the humiliation and shame. I now had a label around my neck. It said 'Bipolar' and it was hard to carry and keep hidden from curious eyes. Having my confidence stripped away, dreams shattered, marriage broken and mind lost. It took me a full year to get myself "workable" again. Have you ever broken something and fixed it with crazy glue - hoping for the best? That was me for the next two years. I was back working as a motorcycle mechanic trying to "rev up my RPM's" and do my best at everything but I just couldn't fire on all cylinders. I eventually broke down again and rushed back to the mental institution 'ding' went the boxing match bell. Here was Round 2.


Bipolar threw a wrench into the sprockets of my mind and caused it to seize up. It took me six months to get my mind running again but with one less spark plug. You cannot run at all in this condition. I lost my job. My stress was through the roof. I thought of suicide, a lot. What kept me from taking my own life was my three small children and thankfully, they loved their Dad. Pulling myself out of despair and putting my mind into a positive state I started building my own mechanical repair garage. Now "life" was surprised by that! No matter how many times life beat me down, I got back up. Then the disease dealt me a crippling blow. It left me with a broken marriage, a wife turned against me and of course, a night that I became a criminal. Psychosis enveloped my mind once more and this one tore me from reality. It filled my head with incomprehensible thoughts and I found myself charged with break and entry and worse, arson. I returned to hospital for round 3.

During this round, my wife and love of my life, left with the children. She found a new man and engaged in an affair while I was behind locked doors. I spent the next year in court with friends, family and the small community where I lived. Knowing of my offence was like standing naked in a crowd full of shame and guilt. The court deemed me "NCR", Not Criminally Responsible due to a mental disorder and ordered me to the Forensic Psychiatry Center. Round 3 left me with nothing left to live for, so I thought. Through the receiver of the phone on my weekly phone calls where three little voices going into my head saying 'We love you Daddy". I lay in my cell thinking about the last five years "life" and this disease had put me through, loss of my mind, a broken heart and now being incarcerated. If this wasn't rock bottom, I don't know what is. Mentally beaten, at this point in time I didn't think I would ever get up again. Just like any underdog, focused on the three children that loved me, I planned to pull myself together get a fresh start and make a decision to rebuild my best self.

Day by day, week by week, I began reprogramming my mind through books and activities that stimulated my mind with good and healthy thoughts. I did this in a cell behind bars. I had nothing better to do! Fast forward six months later, I was released to a group home to assess how I would function in society. Here, I took charge of myself and the group that was there. It was here that my peer support group was born. We would take the group home guys out to the movies and shopping. We cruised the mall floors for hours, walking and talking about what we were going to do with our lives and dreams. My dream was to get healthy, mentally, physically, spiritually and take on life's challenges with courage. I wanted get back in the ring and block all the punches and kicks that life throws at me and fight back. I'm sure "life" now seeing that I wasn't going to "stay down" watched in wonder. What was this mindless, beaten down, shadow of a man going to do now?" After being granted to leave the group home, my parents welcomed me into our family home, there I began Round 4 with Bipolar.


I began work on myself. I spent time training myself in the arts of self-mastery, self-discipline and learning to forgive myself and others, letting go of the pain and guilt of the past. I moved into recovery focused on prevention and aiming at maintaining a healthy mind, body and spirit. This was a round I won! Finding self-respect and earning the respect of others. As I persevered, I started regaining my mental health. The fog was starting to lift and my confidence regenerated and my self-worth was now invaluable. Through physical training and focus, I became both physically and mentally stronger consequently being more active and productive. My spiritual health embraced gratitude, grace and generosity. I continued to learn new skills to accelerate my mental and physical health and now am in a position to share my story to support others and aid them in the pursuit of recovery, prevention and maintenance of optimal mental and physical health. I may have walked through a fiery battlefield, but now that fuels the foundation of my new physical and mental health fitness business.