Some of the people who make me think most are people who are faithful to the Church because of major difficulties in life. In their stories I see people who've tried to find hope and peace in other places and found it in the gospel. People who, even in a world where self-indulgence is rampant, realize that there are more important things, and who make eternal covenants with God and come closer to Him. Who realize that life is good... even with things that maybe don't look as attractive at the outset.

I sort of put myself in that category... because I feel like anyone who has major issues to overcome needs to become a personal convert to the gospel. Not that I'm going to write that I'm inspirational to myself, since that probably sounds a bit arrogant... but I can't rely on the testimony of someone else. My life sometimes looks awesome and sometimes looks rough. I'm 27, just finished graduate school, have a partial interest in the business I help run, remain totally single, and am trying to figure out my life in the context of having bipolar and ASD. And there's the same-sex attraction issue, which right now just makes it frustrating to try to find people to date. Some days (when depression hits or I can feel the loneliness of ASD throbbing inside my brain) I feel like life is smashing me flat, but the reality is that, even on my most difficult days, I have a pretty awesome life.

Last night I went to a career workshop for adults with Asperger's/high-functioning autism. I was hoping to find some direction for my life so that I can figure out where I'll enjoy a career. Over the last few years I've changed jobs over and over again, creating a resume that has lots of stuff, but that only indicates the fact that I haven't found the right fit. It's been a huge stressor for me in recent months, and I felt totally alone and isolated when I compared myself to my classmates in the MBA program.

But at the workshop, I realized that, comparatively with at least some other people with ASD, I have it pretty good. I have job options that I could probably follow if I needed to. I have my business - which brings in at least something yet doesn't require 50 hours a week of work. I made it through college and graduate school quickly, without having panic attacks or dropping out, don't have gazillions in student loans, and only once got failed due to interpersonal stress. I've had amazing opportunities given to me - publishing books, performing, creating tools that influence lots of people. And I think I know what I want to do, have the experience and passion... and just need to find the right opportunity to make it happen. I realized at the workshop that everyone hasn't had those same opportunities. I was definitely an outlier.

I look at the same thing with depression. Yeah, some days I feel like the world is falling apart, and it's all my fault. But, again, comparatively outward and even to my own past, life is good. I haven't been really suicidal in a long time, and over the years I've been able to feel depressive episodes coming - even to the point that I can prevent them if I do the right things. I'm not on medication. I don't have to eat zero carbs to control my mind. And having been through the roller coaster of hypomania-depression, I can empathize with people who are there... and somehow know what to do to help them come out alive.

I don't know. Everyone has very different things in life that they face. But I feel like life itself is always good... and that one of the secrets of life is realizing that everything that happens to me is a gift from God (mortality and everything in it) - but it doesn't define who I am. Who I am is simply based on what I choose to do with that gift. Finding the good in all things makes life better, and makes me better.

Some things are intensely painful. Some seem so hard to be impossible, and maybe they are. But I've slowly learned that everything in my life is designed to help me learn joy - to learn to be a better man - and the pain, when I leverage it, is always worth it in the end.

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