Health & Wellbeing

Changing Your Personal Story

Lesson 5 Module 3

Kidney disease changed my personal story. It ripped up the script. All without my permission. My personal story went from a healthy sports and fitness student with a bright future ahead of me, to that of a sick person. I heard, ‘poor Darren, he's having a tough time' and I received loads of sympathy. I was acting and being treated like a victim. I’m sure you have had similar experiences. We behave that way because that’s often all we know. It’s all people around us know to do, because you cannot prepare for a diagnosis when you don’t know its coming.

Life, for me, went on like that for a while, before acceptance and the factors that led to my own change in mindset took over. It slowly became apparent that, just as kidney disease led to an uninvited change in my story, I also had the capacity to change that story in the direction I choose.

How do you change your personal story?

There are many factors in changing your personal story.

The one I’d like to start you off with is in relation to role models. A role model is a person looked up to by others as an example to be imitated. Essentially, you can begin to change your personal story by looking at others who have successfully changed their story. No matter what health issue you have or, at what stage in your life you have it, there is always someone with similar experiences you can learn from. It doesn't have to be someone with the exact same health issue. But someone with the characteristics you need to get you through this time in your life.

Many of my greatest role models have come from books, inspirational people who have suffered adversity and shown how they survived.

Others are fellow-patients I have personally met in hospitals or at the Transplant & Dialysis Games. People both transplanted and on dialysis who had partners, who had kids, who worked and owned their own businesses. All things I initially thought were unattainable to someone with kidney failure.

Online can be a great place to uncover advice and guidance from those who are further along the path and with the answers you are often craving.

So yes, you will have some very difficult times during your 'personal story', but I want you as always to look at these times as opportunities for growth and learning. What can you learn from the people you look to that will help in your recovery? What knowledge or coping skills are you developing through watching how others survived their difficult times? 

Often, our greatest fears are grounded in ignorance. Our thinking on the severity of our illness can be based on hearsay. We often only hear of the worst-case scenario, the 1% whose experiences are bad. We assume a certain mindset and belief because we know of no alternative. It is only through seeing, meeting and interacting with our adopted role models that we learn. Some of my greatest role-models are patients who decided not just to lie there and be acted upon, but who took responsibility for their health and their future. By doing so they unconsciously gave me permission to do the same.

So reach out to others. To change your personal story, it is vital to see that it is actually possible. That there are others out there who are living healthy, active lives on their own terms and thriving within the limitations that the illness has set them.

I hope I can be one of those for you.