Another Piece of the Puzzle

Another Piece of the Puzzle

You know those old sayings? “More will be revealed” and “peel the onion” and all that? Basically, things come to us gradually. Our part is to seek things out, and keep seeking.

I’ve been on a mission to improve my mental life for the last year and a half. It’s been amazing. It’s taught me so much about who I am and given me new ways of living that have really improved the quality of my life. Last week, I got some information that really opened my eyes and put things in perspective. I’ll get to that in a minute.

But first, let me explain how this began. I’ve struggled with lifelong anxiety. But when my cousin and best friend Josh was killed in a motorcycle accident, that really sent me down into despair. (I talk about it more openly in my upcoming memoir, Born to Build.) I struggled for months finally, after three nights of not sleeping, my wife Regan took me to urgent care. 

The physician I saw was named Dr. Moriaty. Yes, like Sherlock Holmes’s nemesis. Except in this case, he was my greatest advocate. We talked about what I was dealing with. He told me he also had anxiety and suffered from the same symptoms. No sleep, feeling uneasy being around people, rapid heartbeat, et cetera. He also told me used to have his own practice and can you guess his specialty? Anxiety. I was really comfortable with him. I felt like he understood me. I asked him, “So what can we do to fix this?”

I knew he was going to say medication. I have always been scared of medication. Dr. Moriarty prescribed me two medications—one in the morning and one before bed. Before I even left the urgent care building, I had taken my first pill. It’s been a year and a half and I have not missed a dose. I feel like a new person.

Things have been going so well that I decided to learn more information. A few weeks ago I went to a mental health clinic for testing to see if I had attention deficit disorder. I had always assumed this was a part of my challenge, along with anxiety. Having expert testing and diagnosis could be really helpful.

The exam was intense – about eight hours total of testing. And then I waited three weeks for the results. They came last Tuesday and totally shocked me.

I don’t have attention deficit disorder; I have autism.  

When I was told last Tuesday, I felt very emotional. I tried to keep my mind busy with other things. But what exactly did this mean? I went to bed that night feeling a little bit like someone else. Two days later, I felt much better and had started to accept it. By Saturday, I was back to normal. I may have this new diagnosis, but it’s the same old me. 

Autism is a neurological and developmental disorder that affects how people interact with others, communicate, learn, and behave, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.

The diagnosis has given me a chance to look back on my life with autism in mind. I can see how it’s influenced my decisions and actions. I have always been awkward around people. I have learned through business how to hide it and not show how uncomfortable I was. I tend to overanalyze and hyper-fixate on things. This has caused me to lie awake at night before the medicine, and it caused me a lot of stress at times. But it’s also what pushed me to be successful in business. There are positives to everything.

Has it changed anything in my daily life? Not really. Just more information.

I’m happy with who I am today – which is no small miracle for me.

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