I’ve spent many an afternoon wandering around the library. To me the library has always been a place of opportunity, and it has helped me find books that ignite new interests and explain unknown worlds to me. I’ve loved collecting books over the years, and looking back at my favourites reminds me if where I was at that point in my life, how I was feeling and what I was doing.
Having depression and anxiety means I often look for answers in the books I read. Recently I reflected on some of the books that helped me make sense of my own mental illness and it’s something that I think you might find helpful, so I’ve listed my top 3 books below.
The same goes for this book. It shows the hard truth about mental illness, and sometimes that truth is hard to hear. So even though I never experienced abuse, drugs, or alcoholism, I recognized the truth in Nikki’s words. Washed Away: From Darkness to Light is an absolutely amazing book for many reasons, but one of the things I loved was that it didn’t shy away from the tough topics, showed the thought process that I have very rarely read in other books focused around mental health stories, and I thought the ending was absolutely perfect. You turn the page, asking where’s the rest, and it brought a smile to my face when I realized the book ended.
Kimberley Quinlan, LMFT interviews Nikki DuBose on her recovery from Body Dysmorphic Disorder, Binge-Eating Disorder and Bulimia Nervosa. Nikki DuBose is a former model turned author, speaker, and mental health advocate. Her debut memoir, Washed Away: From Darkness to Light, speaks about her experience with Body Dysmorphic Disorder, Binge-Eating Disorder, Bulimia Nervosa, Schizophrenia and child abuse.
“That face. . .Look at it!” I didn’t question the voice. I leaned in until my eyes crossed and my nose touched the mirror. My glasses began to fog from my breath. The voice continued, and then another voice joined it: a giggly, female voice. “Four eyes! Loser. No one will ever love you. What an ugly thing you are. I can’t tell if you look like a girl or a boy. Get to work fatty! Change that face. Don’t stop moving until it’s done. You can win, you can be the winner!” — “Washed Away: From Darkness to Light”
In my newly released memoir, “Washed Away: From Darkness to Light,” I discuss many of the graphic events that led to my mental breakdown in childhood. I think that sharing our stories is critical because there are many hurting people in the world who will benefit from our experiences, and also the more we share, the more we continue to heal and grow.
“Editor’s note: If you live with an eating disorder or have experienced binging, the following post could potentially be triggering. Please don’t hesitate to call the National Eating Disorders Association Helpline at 1-800-931-2237.
Darkness descends upon the room, signaling my arrival. Behind the curtain, I can feel my breath, waiting for permission to exhale. My knees quiver with apprehension as whispers drone from the crowd outside. From my spot behind the platform, I notice the flares from cameras and spotlights, like shooting stars in a strange, forsaken sky. I can already feel the eyes of the people as they stare at the empty runway, waiting for their goddesses to strut. My throat clenches and my mind empties — anxiety has taken control. What will they think of me?”
“I prance down the runway like a queen, my body dripping with jewels. Like a lioness, I sway from side to side, moving to entice all who look my way; I am the beast who no one can touch, and no one can tame. As I glance at the rows of curious faces, however, the darkness begins to take over. Before I know it, my worst nightmare has returned: the demons have revealed themselves, with their black eyes and mouths full of jagged teeth. I cannot escape them; they are my masters, and I am their slave.
Voices command me to keep moving. Look forward bitch and keep walking. Don’t screw it up! They’re all going to laugh at you. I force my head higher and put my shoulders back as I push through the noise and approach the end of the runway. As my feet carry me to the edge, I hear no sound, experience no sensation. Despite the music and commotion, I am lost in a dreamland.”
Washed Away: From Darkness to Light is a memoir that recounts the experiences of model Nikki DuBose as she overcomes a more than seventeen-year battle with abuse, child sexual victimization, eating disorders, psychosis, alcoholism, drugs, depression, suicide attempts, body dysmorphic disorder, and various other mental health issues, all while trying to navigate through the dark side of the fashion industry.
Her journey began as a young, introverted child with a florid imagination growing up in Charleston, South Carolina. By the age of eight, she had been sexually, physically, and emotionally abused and had developed an eating disorder. The abuse warped Nikki’s self-perception and sparked patterns of psychosis, depression and destructive behavior that stayed with her into adulthood. In her early twenties, she began working as a television host and started a career in modeling. Eventually, Nikki attained success, appearing on the covers of magazines such as Maxim, shooting for editorials like Vanity Fair, Glamour and FHM, and appearing in campaigns for Perry Ellis.