Nikki DuBose joins us today on The SHAIR podcast. Nikki is a former model turned author, speaker and mental health advocate. Her debut memoir, Washed Away: From Darkness to Light, was released September 30, 2016. In Washed Away, Nikki recounts her experiences navigating the dark side of the modeling industry, while battling abuse, addiction, and various mental health issues. She recently appeared in the Oprah Winfrey Network on the T.D Jakes show to speak about her recovery from body dysmorphic order and eating disorders and how the pressure to fit into the modeling industry nearly killed her.
Listen to the podcast.
“…She flipped the truck into a ditch and just left the scene. Nikki…we can’t find her.”
I hung up. My momma: the adult, the child, my everything.
I slid to the floor and smacked my head with my fist.
“God, help me!” I thought. I desperately wanted the pain to end, and for our lives to be normal, but life had been chaotic for so long, perhaps this was our normal.
…I let the cold water wash over my blistered knuckles and stared into the mirror. The only face I recognized was Momma’s; she was all I wanted. Her reflection blended into mine and brought me face-to-face with some disturbing truths. Why was I incapable of taking care of myself? Why couldn’t I take care of her? “God, where are you? Don’t you love us?” I thought.
For most of my life, I never wanted to come to terms with the fact that I was an addict to pretty much everything. Addicted to drugs, alcohol, sex, money, fame, success, love, food, on and on. Basically, I just wanted anything to simultaneously temper the sting of loneliness and boost my low self-esteem.
Read more on Addiction Hope.
The other evening, I had just sat down to a nice dinner with a newly acquainted colleague at a posh restaurant overlooking all of Los Angeles. As I began to gaze over the menu, I suddenly heard the question slip from his lips.
“Sooo, what would you like to drink?” I raised my head, trying to fight back any signs of annoyance. Surely, this guy must have read my book. Surely, he must know that I’m sober. But no, there he was, staring and smiling, blissfully unaware and nudging the wine list in my direction.
Read more on Addiction Hope.
Nearly seven years ago, I was living in New York City, modeling, and battling several mental illnesses. My mother and I were trying to work through our complicated relationship, one that stemmed from years’ worth of domestic violence, abuse, and alcoholism. In my heart, I wanted so badly to try and understand my mother and have a genuine connection with her, but it was like trying to climb a giant hill wearing cement shoes. Not only did my mental health conditions keep me from moving forward and connecting with her, but so did hers. Bipolar, dissociative identity disorder, and her battle with the bottle were demons that kept her permanently trapped until her death in 2012.
Today would be Mom’s fiftieth birthday, and here I am, in New York City on a business trip, thinking about her.
Read more on PsychCentral.
Glamorously Dying: Ex-Model Nikki DuBose
The 31 year-old ex-model (Vogue, Vanity Fair) discusses surviving incest by her mother (who was also an alcoholic with BiPolar and DID aka Multiple Personality Disorder) and a lifetime of battling eating disorders (binging, bulimia, anorexia), depression, anxiety, psychosis, Body Dysmorphic Disorder, alcoholism and drug and sex addiction. She reflects on the physical and emotional bottom that finally made her walk away from modeling and seek help, ironically as her emaciated body was more desirable than ever in the industry.
Listen to the podcast here.
“Nikki DuBose is an excellent example of the transformational powers of recovery. A former model turned author, speaker, and mental health advocate she had many experiences navigating the dark side of the modeling industry, while battling abuse, addiction, and various mental health issues (sexual victimization, eating disorders, alcoholism, drugs, depression, suicide attempts, body dysmorphic disorder, PTSD, psychosis). In her debut memoir Washed Away: From Darkness to Light, she intimately shares her process of destruction to regeneration. Tune into this week’s show to hear Nikki candidly talk about her path to healing.”
Coming soon everywhere!
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.
Find out more about Washed Away: From Darkness to Light on Book Publicity Services.
“I shunned therapy or help of any kind for most of my life. As a child, I had a terrible fear of the doctor. My pediatrician referred to me as his ‘kitty cat,’ and gave me suckers every time I went in for a visit – which in my mind, was far too often. I cried and cried every time my mom took me to the doctor because I knew that hidden behind his smiles and candy was pain. And I didn’t like to feel pain. A nurse would suddenly burst into the room and then it would happen – I would get stuck with a giant needle. I resisted pain so much that the nurse eventually sat on my legs while the doctor continued calling me his ‘kitty cat.’
Read more on Clinical Addiction Recovery Institute.
“There were many, many signs all throughout my life as to the severity of Momma’s alcoholism. I, however, was in deep denial for years – I didn’t want to face her reality because I wasn’t facing my own. As a result of a traumatic childhood – one filled with child abuse and sexual victimization – I developed eating disorders, body dysmorphic disorder, self-harmed, abused substances and battled various mental health issues such as depression and delusions.”
Read more on Clinical Addiction Recovery Institute.
“Today’s guest is Nikki Dubose, a former fashion model, host, and commercial actress who recovered from a 17 year battle with anorexia and bulimia.
In this episode we discuss:
* Why the fashion industry needs to be better educated about eating disorders.
* What it’s like to recover while dealing with body dysmorphic disorder
* How 12 Step and faith can help you discover a new self in recovery.”
Listen to the podcast here.
On this episode I sat down with Laura Porter who is a student at George Washington University majoring in political communication with a minor in psychology. After taking three semesters off of school for her own mental health struggles, Laura became passionate about advocating for increased awareness of mental illness among college students, specifically eating disorder awareness. Laura served as president of Students Promoting Eating Disorder Awareness and Knowledge at GW (SPEAK GW) as well as a communications intern at Active Minds Inc.
Three years ago today Momma died in a car accident while driving back home to Charleston from Myrtle Beach, SC. Her body was infused with so much alcohol, that she couldn’t see or steer properly and she lost control of the wheel. She was thrown through the windshield, over fifty feet in the air. Her friend was killed on impact. Within seconds, lives were changed forever, and as Momma lay dying in MUSC alone, no one in the family knew the horror that was taking place. However it was obvious; all the warnings were there. Years and years of signs pointed to the culmination of that tragic day.
I was only three years old when I had my first sampling of alcohol. As I stuck the red straw in my mouth and tasted the Long Island Iced Tea, I looked up at Momma and proclaimed, “More, more!” It was a joke to the family, a look-how-cute-she-is moment that no one thought twice about. Perhaps we should have. After all, Momma’s birth mom died from alcoholism. We never met her; she had to give Momma up at birth.
At thirteen, I was hitting the bars with Momma at my side, letting hormones and anger guide my way. Resentful at the abuse that had taken place for many years, I wanted to blow off steam, however I was careful to notice that Momma was quickly spiraling out of control with drinking. Frightened, I became turned off by alcohol.
By the time I reached twenty-one, I had gone through one divorce and several failed relationships. I was determined to be the one to leave, to always be in control. I was living on the other side of the country in California, wanting to be as far away from my family as possible. Momma was losing her battle to alcohol, although it was kept a secret for the most part. I became carried away in the party scene and played with the dangerous game of lets-see-how-many-drugs-I-can-take. Death was not scary to me, I just wanted to drink and take drugs.
In my mid-twenties, I was a successful model, and had tried to sober up many times. For a few years, I rode sobriety like a wild rollercoaster, never knowing when I would take the deep plunge and drop off the face of the earth again. When Momma finally passed away in 2012, I saw a reflection of myself in her casket. It was time to jump off the rollercoaster and choose life once and for all. I’m so thankful I got help and got sober before it was too late. Today I live my life in gratitude one day at a time.
If you or someone you love needs help, I recommend the following resources:
National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc./ 1.800.622.2255
I came across this prayer on Facebook by Joyce Meyer Ministries and I wanted to share it with you if you are struggling with any kind of addiction or stronghold in your life.
I believe that we can be totally set free from anything, when we believe that we hold the power over whatever threatens to control us.
Prayer for Addiction: “God, I know You can help me overcome this addiction, and I’m so thankful, because I want to be free. Every time I come to You, I win another battle. Thank You for helping me to keep on fighting. I pray for complete healing and transformation not just for myself, but so others will be blessed by my testimony of Your love and mercy and Your power over sin. Help me remember what Your Word says: You will never leave me or forsake me, and You love me no matter what. Because of Jesus Christ, I already have the victory. Thank You, Lord, for showing me who I am in You. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”
-Joyce Meyer Ministries-
I searched for myself
inside of bottles, liquids
pills and powders too
I took my pain
and numbed it with food
’till I was nearly dead
Then one day
as I lay broken on the floor
a man appeared before me
“Are you ready to be healed
take my hand
All you have to do
is accept me.”
©2015 Nikki DuBose
We went swimming
on those distant shores
carried our love
to the birds
we returned to the birds
a love song birthed
captured in time.
Now you are in the sky
with the birds
still I return to the
carry my heart
to your soul
as we play
in a kingdom come
mother and daughter
a love song birthed.
©2015 Nikki DuBose
Happy 48th Birthday to our beautiful mommy in Heaven, Sandy Cargile. This poem is dedicated to you. We love and miss you more than you can ever know. We take comfort in the times we had together, and knowing that one day we will all be together again. Thank you for all of the memories.
I believe that anything can be exchanged for another addiction; food, sex, alcohol, drugs, nothing is off limits if we are careless. This series is in memory of my late mother, who died in 2012 of alcoholism. She also struggled with an eating disorder many years ago, and in some ways I write of certain instances in my life not to criticize her or anyone else, but to try to show why in general we might develop addictions and disorders. Thank you for reading.
I remember the night my mother and I were driving in the grey minivan in the pouring rain. I was thirteen years old, and Mom had already downed a few too many beers before we left the house to hit the bars in downtown Charleston. She was pretty tipsy at this point, I felt somewhat embarrassed for being in the car with her, and scared out of my mind that she was going to get into an accident. Although at this point in my life I was used to her drunken antics, I still could not wrap my mind around being my mother’s party friend instead of her daughter.
Mom whizzed steadily down the freeway, going above the speed limit but was careful not to catch the attention of any police. With her belly button newly pierced and her recent significant weight loss, I felt tremendously confused about my relationship with my mother. I desperately wanted to help her, however every time I tried to approach and talk to her about what she might have been feeling, she shut me out of her world. As we continued to speed down US 17 towards downtown Charleston, my mind recalled the months earlier when I went into her bedroom to ask her a question about my homework and I found her in her bathroom, door open, sitting on the toilet, lid closed, with a beer in her hand. Our eyes met before I could open my mouth to speak and she must have noticed the shocked look on my face because she just slammed the door on me right then and there. All of the emotions I had felt then came flooding back as I sat with her in the speeding van; what was happening to my mom? Was I to blame?
I loved my mom deeply yet I never felt connected to her because she did not let me in; private and isolated from everyone, she chose food, abusive relationships, and alcohol to be her best friends. I never got to bond with my mother; I only found myself in situations where I came to her rescue. My emotions with her were always on a panic basis, and I lived in a constant state of fear and apprehension. Even as I am writing this my nerve level is high; I am sweating a bit and and I feel tense. I know that writing is critical for recovery and so that is why I chose to take up this form of expressing my thoughts.
Going back to that fateful day in the minivan, as she exited off US 17 and drove into smaller, darker roads, I felt uneasy at the speed in which she maneuvered freely. I shouldn’t have been too surprised however; for about four years at that point she had already been drinking a bit and driving me and my younger brother to and from school, and sometimes drunk. This gloomy, rainy night with her, however, felt long and drawn out, as if I knew beforehand that something terrible was going to happen.
Not long after I sensed the impending doom, our van drifted over into a one-way road where several cars were flying at us, no stopping in sight. All at once I saw my short life flash before my eyes, and I didn’t know what to do. In that moment all I could do was scream at the top of my lungs, “MOMMMMM!” I grabbed the wheel, and looked at her as she attempted to be a drunken superhero by sipping yet another swig of her beer before managing at the last second to take control of the car and pull us over onto the tiniest sliver of the concrete embankment. A hair-split of a second later, the cars whizzed by, angrily honking at us. We were safe, but only by a miracle.
I couldn’t fathom in that moment what had just happened; or rather, what hadn’t just happened. “Mom, we almost got into a head-on collision! Because you are drunk, and you don’t even care!” I shouted at her from across the van. She paused for a few seconds and then covered her face with her hands, trembling slightly all over. All I could do was study her every movement; the pace at which she breathed, and if she made any kind of noises. I was infatuated with my mother’s lack of response and concern in that moment; in fact it was a trend as always in my life that I was dying for any kind of love and affection from her. A couple of minutes passed by before she slowly raised her beautiful black hair and looked at me with quiet, tear-stained eyes. “I’m so sorry, please forgive me,” she whispered as she attempted to start the van and roll it out of the embankment. “Jesus, mom, we could have been killed!” I cried, “What were you thinking?” Silence. Nothing. No response. Just the usual kind of deep pondering that often took place after a crisis. I plopped my head back against the car seat and zoned out, and Mom cranked up the radio to a moderately high level again. “Just do me one favor, ok? Don’t tell your dad, whatever you do,” she said barely above the music. I reluctantly nodded my head in agreement, but only because I was afraid of everyone in my family at this point in my life.
Why did I have to be ruled by fear?
To be continued…