Post Title – Friday Friends: Morten Bonde.
Morten Bonde: Danish Author and Motivational Speaker.
I ‘met’ Morten Bonde through my RP Family Support Group. We discovered we had several similarities in our lives though he came from Denmark and I, the United States. We both:
- learned we had Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP) at around the same age.
- had an exciting career path that shaped our lives.
- fell into denial of the condition.
- had our worlds come crashing down on us.
- changed our perspectives and wrote books to encourage others
Morten Bonde’s Story.
In Morten’s own words, he describes his journey as one from Hopelessness Street to Possibility Road.
I’d come to a standstill. I’d shut down. Didn’t know how to move on. I was suffering from stress and depression; everything looked bleak. An inner voice ran on repeat in my head: “You’re going to be blind, and there’s nothing that can change that. You’re useless—just give up now.”
My name is Morten Bonde, I’m 47, father of two sons, married to Mette and I have a disease that is slowly making me go blind. It’s called Retinitis Pigmentosa. Oh, and I’m also a Senior Art Director for the LEGO Group.
For years, I put on an Oscar-worthy performance, acting as if my decaying vision wasn’t a problem that I needed to deal with. But then the realities of the disease hit me: “I’m going blind!”
So begins my book Sentenced to Blindness – Now What? A Journey from Hopelessness Street to Possibility Road that was released on September 4 on Amazon. The book contains knowledge that I’ve used to transform my view of the world we live in and to find my place in it.
Maybe you know what it feels like to be stuck in life, too? Maybe right now your gut is telling you that you could do more with your life, but something is impeding you? I’ve been there! And I found a way to move on. First, from a deep sense of hopelessness and powerlessness and later onto a place of solid knowledge that I create my own life according to what I think about and think of myself. This simple sentence may not make much sense to you right now, but it can. Its importance is earth-shattering and can change your life, like it did for me when I first understood its enormous significance.
In the book, I tell you how I overcame an insurmountable challenge in my life and how I turned it into something that made me stronger, happier and hungrier for life than I’d ever been before. I’m going to share with you how we can cope with whatever comes our way, even if we don’t—and can’t—believe it when we’re at the bottom of the black hole. I share with you how I found the way forward, despite blindness being my future prospect.
‘World Champion’ at Hiding Vision Loss.
‘I was a world champion at looking like I could see everything.’
It was not my visual impairment that was my biggest challenge in life, it was actually my way of dealing with it. I didn’t want to lose my identity and my job. Today, I hold a full-time job as a senior art director at the LEGO Group.
I was diagnosed with the eye disease RP when I was 29 years old. The eye disease has developed slowly, and I eventually experienced such great challenges in everyday life that I suffered from stress and depression. A long mental journey awaited ahead.
I had lived with RP for about 14 years and I didn´t think I needed anything from anyone. It was only in the summer of ’16 that it dawned on me that I had lost so much vision that I only had four degrees of vision left. Then it began to seep in: I needed to do something drastic in my life.
I stopped fighting against the inevitable
Through four years of my working life, I suddenly experienced being very challenged. Everything became unmanageable. I couldn’t overlook the tasks that I could in the past. But I kept going, kept going and kept going until I had no more energy to keep on going. And then I developed severe depression and didn´t work for five months. I slowly returned to the job but when I got back to my normal work level, BOOM! I relapsed.
After a trip to Greece in 2016, my wife noticed that my vision had gotten a lot worse, and she said, ‘Morten, when were you last at the ophthalmologist?’ The truth was that I hadn’t been to the ophthalmologist for seven years. For what was I going to do there? The only thing I was told each time was that I had lost even more of my sight and that they couldn’t do anything about it.
I now had to deal with the fact that my vision was so bad that I might no longer be able to keep my job and be the person I used to be, and I tried to ignore it. I was a world champion at looking like I could see everything. I spent a lot of energy on that when I was at work. I felt that admitting that I only had four degrees of vision was a major risk, because that could mean someone saying, ‘Then you can no longer be an art director.’ There was so much to lose. But then my wife asked, ‘Could there be a connection between the depression, the stress and your vision?’
So, I went to the ophthalmologist, who examined me and exclaimed, ‘You’re legally blind!’ He understood the pressure I was under in everyday life, with so little vision. The doctor thought it was unbelievable that I had managed life for so long without getting help. The strange thing was that I was well aware of it. But still, there was something that had kept me going: just one more year I kept saying to myself. It was a surprise that I was legally blind. And, in fact, I was relieved. Because I had created what I call the ‘inner voice.’ The voice that speaks to you in your head whenever you are to make a decision: ‘Are you sure you can do it?’ Or ‘Be careful now—don’t do anything stupid.’
On December 3, 2016, I sat in the municipal office with a regional consultant, a job retention advisor, and a social worker. We talked about how I could get a part-time job via a job-placement scheme. For half a year, everyone was confirming to me all the negative aspects of becoming blind, and it made me think I couldn’t work anymore. I felt like they could just take it all. Take my car, take my job, take my family, take my life. I didn’t care anymore. In that office, on that day in December, I DIED!
All my identities died, and I experienced such a sense of freedom. I let it all go. I discovered that even though I said goodbye to all that that I thought was ME, I could feel that I was still here. I was breathing and I was alive. I was still Morten, even if I couldn’t be what I used to be. I stopped fighting the inevitable. I had to figure out how I could get the best out of my life and move on from there. I think, I separated myself from all the layers I had built up through my life. All the stories I had been telling myself about my situation. I had said to myself, I couldn’t do things and should avoid things, for otherwise I would be exposed as a blind man. It was an old voice. And the job of that voice was to prevent people from discovering that I was challenged by my visual impairment. But now that all the identities had died, I could start building something new.
Eliminating the limitations in my head
Finding a New Outlook and Hope.
In the summer of 2017, I started my experiment. I embarked on intense research on how our mind works, on why we have a voice in our heads and where it comes from, on why I don’t just do the things I set out to do. Many of those things really got me curious. And then I decided that I would be an expert in it. So, I started to build up an interest in meditation and mindfulness. And I read about philosophy, psychology, Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, physics and biology. I was a magnet for everything I could use to figure out how I could become the first driver of my own body and my own head, so I could do what I decided and have a good life.
It’s been quite a trip. And that’s what my book is all about.How to overcome obstacles in life and thrive. Often, it is a choice we have. Among other things, I came across a guy without arms or legs. Still, he swims and surfs. When I saw him, I thought, Well, he’s definitely decided to make the most out of life. It was the kick in the butt I needed: If I decide that I can achieve anything in life, it will happen!
If I can’t change going blind, I have to change my perspective on going blind. I was tired of feeling self-pity and suffering. I wanted to decide for myself whether something was good or bad. And I can! That is a powerful realization, and I’ve gathered several tools that have turned my way of looking at life upside down, and I want to show others that there is an alternative to just giving up.
Book: Guide To Transformation.
I have spent three years writing my book. It offers a personal and powerful experience, which, of course, describes my own journey with a chronic illness, but I want to achieve much more with it than just telling my own story.
I’ve discovered that by changing little things and thought patterns in everyday life, I can bring about big changes, which create space for new opportunities—even in difficult situations. That’s why I’m sharing my story and the tools in my book, which I won’t hesitate to call a guide to transformation.
I will still lose my eyesight and I am still legally blind, but that doesn’t change anything in the life I am to live and the gift that it is. I know that we create our own reality, and I left Hopelessness Street forever to live on Possibility Road when I finally realized that we are not our thoughts, but rather the consciousness, which is deeper than the flow of thought, and that with our focused awareness, we can direct our thoughts and, thereby, create our lives according to our dreams and visions. Whether it is joy, happiness, grief or sorrow, the choice is ours.
The book Sentenced to Blindness – Now What? A Journey from Hopelessness Street to Possibility Road is available on Amazon, and as audiobook on iTunes and Audible.