Health & Wellbeing

Finding growth in adversity

Lesson 4 Module 2

Growth in adversity?

It appears counter-intuitive and unfortunately, its one of those things that can only be viewed clearly through looking back. The reality is, you will experience difficult and challenging times. My objective here is to show you that, by going through these challenges with a positive, proactive mindset, you will come out the other side as a better version of yourself. You will indeed find growth in adversity.

Again it comes back to acceptance. Once I accepted my situation, I began to focus on what I could do, as opposed to all the things I could no longer do.

As a young person I loved contact sports such as boxing, football and rugby. I loved nights out and partying but, like sport, these were soon curtailed due to the restrictions of dialysis and kidney disease. I really felt that so much was taken from me. Initially, all I could see were the things I had lost. Only much later I realised these are the things you leave behind naturally as you get older. You slow down and stop playing sport, and partying, as other responsibilities take over, such as work or family.

The point is, we need to look to the future, understanding the realities of living with kidney failure. We then need to adapt. We can do this by figuring out a path that we choose, to a life where our goals and dreams are both realistic and achievable. 

As kids, we learn these very same skills. We want to be astronauts, we want to go to the Olympics, to be president, I wanted to be a famous footballer. For most, these dreams don't come true. Life, circumstances and situations get in the way. Without noticing, we no longer want to be football stars and we set new courses, we re-evaluate and we continue to move forward in life.

Growing older we see the world isn't as expected, we don't feel sorry for ourselves, not for long, anyway, as we quickly realise that this attitude doesn't help.

It's the same with kidney disease. Circumstances have changed, doors have closed, we learn about more restrictions that life, or ill health, in this circumstance, has placed on us. So then we have to chart a new path.

It's always been this way in life. The only difference is that adversity, in the form of kidney disease, has forced us to view a reality that time usually obscures. I didn't wake up one day and suddenly realise that I’m not going to be a famous footballer. 1000 different signals over many years made that obvious in a way that didn't hurt very much. Unfortunately, what can happen is that you walk out of a doctor's office and realise that your whole life is about to change, due to ill health. You haven't had the 1000 signals over many years to adapt and gradually shift your direction over time, thus easing the burden. It is often sudden and shocking. And you are left to deal with it. 

Looking back on module 2 we see now that you will suffer pain. Physical, mental, emotional and in many other areas of your life. Acceptance is an important concept to understand. Fostering resilience now becomes an essential part of your journey because you will have many setbacks in the future. Knowing and believing you will get through the difficult days will help you. When you get to that point of acceptance, you will have grown as a person.

You might not want to thank your illness for this but you have found this growth because of your adversity. 

With a clearer understanding of acceptance move forward through those difficult days, knowing you are developing and fostering key skills that will be invaluable on your journey to long term health and well-being.