Health & Wellbeing


Lesson 3 Module 2

The goal of this lesson is to begin to understand and develop resilience. 

Following on from the first lesson, we will start with a quote from Michael J. Fox in relation to resilience.

“Acceptance doesn’t mean resignation; it means understanding that something is what it is and that there’s got to be a way through it”. – Michael J. Fox

Breaking that down; "acceptance doesn’t mean resignation”. It doesn't mean being told you have kidney disease and saying, oh well, nothing I can do. Poor me! I’ll just wait and see what happens...! For our point of view, as people with kidney disease, it is taking the diagnosis as a challenge, taking personal responsibility for our own health and, essentially, having a mindset of “acceptance with purpose.”  So when Michael says “it is understanding that something is what it is”, we are framing our acceptance in this way; ok, acceptance with purpose. The final part of the quote “that there’s got to be a way through it”, that is our journey back to health and well-being.

The journey of finding a way ‘through it’ is where you develop resilience. It is an important skill to have in your ’mental toolkit’

What are the characteristics of resilience? Resilience allows you to have the mental capacity to live life to the fullest, despite the setbacks and adversities. "Bouncebackability" is one description and, in a sense, resilience is a sort of mental gymnastics that you develop over time. It’s a skill that allows you to bend during difficult and challenging times, but not break. To think of Michael J Fox's words “...that there's got to be a way through it” is to know and understand that although life will be hard with kidney disease you will get through it.

I currently have a perfectly working transplant. Some day, it will cease to work and I’ll probably end up on dialysis again and, believe it or not, I’m ok with that. I'm prepared for that eventuality. I won’t like it, but I know I can get through it. How do I know? Because I lost a kidney transplant in the past, after less than 2 years. I had a transplant nephrectomy. This, to me, meant that I went through all the pain and suffering of a transplant, without the happy ending. Being wheeled into a dialysis unit after losing a kidney was a terrible experience. But I got through it, learnt a lot about the process and about myself. My comfort zone grew with each difficult experience endured.

You cannot go from being told you have a serious, life-changing illness directly to achieving acceptance. Resilience is what you learn along the way. It's not an overnight event. It takes time, and (this is important), it should take time, because as you grow, your health issues and the challenges you face will uncover strength and character that you may not have known existed within you.

You will grow as a person by living and dealing with kidney disease.

The lessons I have learnt throughout my health issues have been hard learned, but they have stayed with me. It gives me great confidence and solace when other difficult situations in life come my way. This is personal growth.

I started to see personal growth as a positive side effect of my illness. Essentially, what I want you to aim for is to turn the challenge of kidney disease into a catalyst for change and personal growth. 

So it's not about getting back to where you were in the world. It's about taking skills and attributes, such as resilience, that you have, and using them to grow and become a better version of yourself. 

This brings us to the next section which is finding growth in adversity.

Workbook: Make a list of challenging times and how you got through them. No matter how big or small.