For Mental Health Awareness Month, Locals are Sharing their Personal Mental Health Stories
For Michael Pittner, the possibilities are infinite.
The founder of personal training business Infinite Fitness set out to embrace health and fitness towards the beginning of last year after years of using food as a crutch to cope with his mental health struggles.
Today, he has come off of a successful 150-mile run from New York City to Albany to raise money for the Center for Prevention of Child Abuse. While he enjoys the occasional burger every now and then, he has shown throughout his journey that momentum is the key to maintaining any goal.
“Once you gain momentum, your brain chemistry is actually changing,” he said.
When he decided on the goal of leading a healthier lifestyle, Pittner got to his whiteboard and started setting out a plan.
“I just remember explicitly writing down on a whiteboard,” he said. “I wrote down ‘back to 185 [pounds],’ which is my normal weight, within six months.”
He then set out to work in incremental goals, such as running ten minutes per day or going to the gym, to work towards his eventual milestone.
Pittner’s brain is maintained every single day with a strict regimen of medication, keeping his day organized and regular exercise. In his early twenties, he was diagnosed with Bipolar II disorder, and it took him a long time to accept his diagnosis.
“There’s this perception that men have to be big guy, tough guy, even if you’ve got two broken legs, you still got to get up and go to work,” he said. “I’ve grown as a person from that.”
Sticking to a routine is the only way Pittner is able to cope with his condition and not revert back to a total state of depressiveness.
“I always say, I get really good at being depressed,” he said. “You go through these phases of, ‘I can move myself out of this,’ but honestly, you must surrender and then also not being not looking at as a fault because it’s not.”
When he was first diagnosed, friends and family showed concern.
“There was some disagreements and people mostly coming out of concern of like, ‘Hey, you should be seeking help’ because I had been diagnosed with [bipolar II disorder] way early in my 20s,” he said. “There were a lot of disagreements in terms of what the best way to help myself and my family because they saw some destructive situations, but ultimately, I was always in a supportive family.”
Today, Pittner has a family of his own. He does worry that his two-year-old son Matthew might develop the same condition he has, but he knows he will handle the circumstances with grace should his son inherit his mental health issues.
“There’s a legitimate concern, but definitely, since I’ve gotten through it myself, I truly believe that everything in life does happen for a reason,” he said. “So if this was my journey that I had to go through, to gain knowledge to help someone, whether it be my son or any other individual that I come across in life, then I’m grateful for that.”
He is also grateful for being able to pass on his life lessons to his growing list of clients of all ages.
“I love comeback stories and underdog stories, overcoming large obstacles,” he said. “I’ve always been intrigued by the challenge of pushing your physical limitations and becoming the best version of yourself in physical athletic capacity. We all have this innate ability inside of ourselves.”
For more information on Infinite Fitness, visit https://infinitefitness.us