How can I begin to express my gratitude for what I‘ve learned through The Option Institute and Fellowship? There have been so many ‘miracles’ for me! Here’s one. Several years ago I came home from a stressful trip abroad, and returned to work immediately. Soon I felt the gentle hand of a colleague shaking my shoulder. ‘Karen – wake up!’ I had fallen asleep literally with my face in my work. I went into the ladies room. Imagine my surprise when, hours later, I awoke to find my head propped between the wall and the roll of toilet paper! I ached all over. Something was dreadfully wrong.
Home, in bed, I waited for this ‘flu’ to go away. 3 days, 5, 10, 20 days. It didn’t go away. No matter how much I slept, I always felt exhausted. I was dizzy, burned with a constant fever, couldn’t concentrate, had blurred vision, hurt in every joint and muscle.
When I could, I began dragging myself from one doctor to another trying to find out what this mysterious ailment was. The doctors were frustrated and angry with me because they couldn’t pinpoint the problem. They referred me to psychiatrists because it was ‘all in my head’. I began to doubt my own sanity! Finally, one kind doctor diagnosed Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, a ‘new’ disease that was coming to be known in the media as ‘the flu that doesn’t go away’. There was no help that the medical profession could offer at this time, except antidepressants.
I didn’t want antidepressants, though I certainly was feeling depressed! I wanted to feel alive again! Would I ever be able to dance, to walk a country road, to simply move for the joy of moving? I knew I’d have to find ways to help myself.
At last, after five months, the fever subsided and I returned to work, in spite of the pain that still pervaded my hips and knees.
It was at this point that I learned about The Option Institute. The fact that it was nicknamed ‘A Place For Miracles’ cap turned my imagination; did I ever want a miracle! I signed up for the Happiness Option Weekend.
During this program I was assisted to explore my feelings and beliefs about the pain in my body. How did I feel about it? I hated it! Then why did I have it? I didn’t know. Was there something I was afraid that would happen if I didn’t have the pain? Wow! Yes! I was afraid if I didn’t have it, I might allow myself to get exhausted and stressed out all over again, and wind up where I‘d been five months before, flat on my back, unable to move! After all, I’d heard so often that people with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome usually have deep relapses, losing all they have gained.
So, the pain had a purpose! Once I understood that, I changed my entire vision of the situation. I chose to see the pain as a friend. I could even welcome it and be open to learn what it was trying to tell me. I decided to try out this new perspective.
I returned home after the weekend. An amazing thing happened. Within a few days, about 80% of the pain disappeared! In choosing to love and trust my body, instead of drugging it and trying to push the sensations out of my experience, I began to feel alive again!
To think that if I hadn’t found The Option Institute, I could have ended up like so many others with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome – depressed, exhausted, and in pain for years and years! While others are still learning to cope with chronic illness, I feel I’ve actually been transformed into a new person. Transformed from a person who could barely walk into one who dances, does yoga and Tai Chi, gardening, and in the winter even skis. Truly, I feel I‘ve created the miracle I was searching for; I am so grateful!
Karen Ryder, Therapist, Rhode Island