I have suffered from depression for the last 17 years. For a long time, I thought Prozac was the only solution. I struggled with feelings and judgments of my own self-worth and what I believed I could and couldn’t have. I questioned my role as a mother, a woman, and an African-American, all because I believed that I was stuck with my life and my past and there was little I could do to change it. All the while I was having this internal struggle, I was dealing with the very real illness of my only son, Chris, who was diagnosed with AIDS.
I heard about The Option Institute from a dear friend of mine around the same time I got the news that Chris was dying. Chris had decided to stop taking his medication and allow himself to die. My friend and I had taken seminars together for the past 20 years, so I agreed to join him at the Option Institute for a one week program.
When we arrived at the Institute, it was only 4 months since Chris’s death. I was ready for anything.
The program completely changed how I look at my life. When the teachers talked about how we define reality, I finally understood that we are always choosing how we respond to the events in life and, in that way, we are always making up our own reality through those choices. What a breakthrough that was! I realized that I didn’t have to accept that I would be depressed for the rest of my life and that I could choose to live in the moment instead of the past.
I also realized that Chris’s choice to stop taking his medication was his choice and Chris’s life was his life. Understanding that finally gave me the freedom to accept his illness and his death in a way that 10 years of therapy had not. Not only could Chris rest in peace, but now so could I. I was finally free to live my life as I chose.
As African-Americans, we have blamed history and events for a lot of things. I have always thought we could instead use that same energy to change our destiny. Before I may have felt unworthy to pursue that goal, but, after attending the program, I realized that I could truly make a difference as a human being and I could impact my race without being Dr. Martin Luther King. The work I could do would be important, too.
I enrolled in the Grand Summer Sequence, 2 weeks after my first program. I’m excited about bringing the principles and technology of the Option Process back to the African-American community in any way I can. Today my life is filled with more challenges that I look forward to and a new anticipation of living life on the edge – because a life isn’t a life unless you live it, moment to moment. The most amazing thing is that I no longer feel depressed about my past or my future.
Linda Craft-Smith, Party Planning Director, California