In 2000, I made the decision to stop being anorexic in an instant – and I have been eating ever since. That transformation happened at The Option Institute.
I started down the path to anorexia 8 years ago. My mother had a stroke and my father had developed diabetes and was about to have triple bypass surgery. I saw this as my own future and it scared me. I decided to exercise and eat healthfully. Although I wasn’t dieting, I lost 12 pounds. Over the next 6 years, I would periodically lose my appetite and drop a few pounds. Once the weight was gone, I didn’t want it back. I felt powerful for being able to lose weight – something most people want but never achieve. My body was the only area of my life where I felt completely in control. In the midst of enormous fear combined with a desperate attempt to feel good about myself, I turned to food restricting and exercise.
Every thought during every minute of every day revolved around food. Despite nagging hunger, I hardly allowed anything to pass my lips. I was so debilitated that just standing up or walking up stairs took all my energy. When I sat in chairs, it felt like my bones were being crushed. At 95 pounds, 5’ 7” tall, I went into the hospital, but despite the treatment, I wasn’t recovering. I was damaging myself through anorexia, but I was absolutely terrified to give it up at the same time. I knew all I had to do was put food in my mouth – hardly a challenge for most people – and yet I couldn’t fathom how that would become okay for me. It wasn’t even okay for me to chew a piece of gum because I didn’t want the 5 calories.
The turning point came for me when someone in my support group recommended the book, Happiness Is a Choice. This book changed my life. The ideas in it seemed wondrous and earth-shattering, yet obvious and attainable at the same time. I decided that taking a program at The Option Institute was my best and only hope for recovery.
In the summer of 2000, I took Grand Summer Sequence. During that time, my decision to eat again came during an Option Process® Dialogue I had with Bears.
Previously, anorexia hadn’t felt like a choice. I was so obsessed and compulsive that it seemed to overtake me. But at the Institute, I latched onto the concept that anorexia was a choice, not an illness or chemical imbalance.
Ultimately, the most significant piece that helped me recover was the attitude of acceptance. In the dialogue, Bears didn’t seem to see my anorexia as bad, wrong, or even sad. I had never experienced anything like that before, and it blew me away.
Since then, there has never been a question of going back to anorexia. During the Grand Summer Sequence, I learned many other ways to feel good about myself and effective tools for handling challenges. I haven’t been to a doctor, therapist, or nutritionist since coming here. I gained 30-plus pounds and stopped exercising compulsively. I am healthy.
After my life-altering experience with the dialogue, I could think of no better thing to do than train to be an Option Process® Mentor/Counselor. I was certified in October 2001; and, at graduation, my father, who is a surgeon by training and a skeptic by nature, told Bears, ‘I want to thank you and this place for saving my daughter’s life.’ Since becoming a mentor, I have been witness to others making wondrous changes for themselves. It is a most precious gift.
I want to thank this amazing place for saving my life and for teaching me how to help others in such a profound and meaningful way. The Option Institute is a special, special place. Thank you!
Abigail Lipson, Counselor, Massachusetts