How many blows can a fighter take before deciding to throw in the towel? Why does he think he is invincible, picking himself up off the canvas only to be pummeled again and again. Poundings to the midsection. Punches to the head. Until he finally sees what everyone else has seen for a while.

Tim Davis has been a fighter all his life, with multiple gashes from self-inflicted wounds — battling opponents like abuse, alcoholism, drugs, bipolar disorder, anger and other addictions too many to name. 

His moment of clarity doesn’t appear until about midway through his powerful memoir Tripolar: The Story of a Bipolar Triathlete. After one painful digression after another, Davis writes of his most recent troubles at the time, “It’s hard to believe all the mistakes that my disease led me to do. I ended up bouncing three mortgage checks in a row, accrued almost $100,000 in debt, wiped out our entire home equity line of credit, stole personal checks from my wife and other family members, and cashed them for drugs. My wife went to the police and wanted to press charges.”

It wasn’t until one of his treatment sponsors took him to a mortuary and showed him the open casket of a patient who was sober for 12 years, then relapsed, and was found dead in his car. “He told me if I die from the same disease, my wife and kids will be sad, but they will move on. She would find another husband to help father our kids.”

“That drilled a nail straight through my heart.”

The book’s opening line is a grabber: “I got drunk for the first time at only nine years old.” Marijuana followed shortly after. “Those drugs worked to ease my discomfort with being maladjusted to life for many years – until they didn’t.”

He also describes an episode that had a profound effect on his personality and emotions – “the most traumatic event of his life.” Davis recalls how, at age 13, he was blamed for his father’s death. It was an innocent game of chase around the house. That chase led to  a second-story balcony, and his father — described as a “functional alcoholic” — apparently lost his way and fell over, never to recover.

As a writer, Davis is meticulous, detailing every action and feeling that makes readers feel they are right there with him. His style at times is raw, expressing thoughts more in a speaking voice as if talking to a friend. 

Davis vividly recalls being beaten by his older brother, and his experiments with everything from booze to pot to crystal meth, and lots in between.

It’s interesting how running into the woods becomes a metaphor for Davis’ life – first to get high, and later to experience the natural high of exercising. “I’ve spent the last several years chasing that dragon through the sport of ultra running,” he notes.

While other encouraging signs started to show for Davis, that joy of running led to his love for triathlons and ultra races as a positive outlet for his addictive personality. His sporting accomplishments speak for themselves: countless endurance races in the last 11 years, several ironman runs and 24-hour cycling races to name a few.

In Tripolar, readers will associate a lot of words with Tim Davis: intelligent, thoughtful, reflective, troubled, to name a few. Was he plagued by demons or a demon drawn to plagues? Was he a victim? Judge for yourselves. But give him a ton of credit for having the courage and willpower to document his story.  Hopefully it can serve as an inspiration to others.

As readers discover how Davis was able to turn his life around, they inevitably will wonder whether this man of constant impulses can stay clean and make his positive efforts stick.

“The hardest race I’ve ever run – the race to save my own life and recover from my many addictions….There is no finish line for this race – it’s a daily battle.”

Buy this book!

About Tim Davis:

Tim Davis played many sports in high school, but found a love for and excelled in distance running. He started running marathons in college, and later began doing triathlons and ultra endurance events. He has been a science teacher and athletics coach for over 20 years. He is married with three children, living in the Los Angeles area since age 18.