Five years ago, my mother Sandy passed away in a car accident. Although the initial investigation from the Charleston County Sheriff’s Office stated that the cause of her accident was due to “some sort of a tire issue, causing the vehicle to veer off the road,” what my family and I know many years and one book later, is that her death was due to alcoholism, and potentially being attacked while driving.
Nikki Dubose, author, speaker and mental health advocate states: “I watched a little of “To The Bone.” As a former entertainer, I know that losing weight for your craft is seen as an art, but I also know that the environment can push you to engage in maladaptive behaviors.
I nearly lost my life trying to fit into what the entertainment and modeling industry wanted, and I don’t think it’s wise for an actress with a prior history of an eating disorder to lose that much weight, neither is it wise for the studios to cast someone who had an ED. It can be very triggering to the brain, emotions, and body. “
****Old video and took a LONG time for me to upload – sorry guys!! I was away from YouTube for a while because of the #ChildVictimsAct.
This is the second video in my #IdentityCrisis series. Most of us have an identity crisis at some point. It’s easy to, when we put our faith in our careers, relationships, success, money, on and on. Western society teaches us to believe that our worth and value is in what we can achieve, which is false. Our worth and value is in the fact that we are God’s children.
One of the main themes in my memoir, Washed Away: From Darkness to Light, is identity. I developed all sorts of addictions and problems in my modeling career as a result of a childhood filled with trauma and mental illness because I had no sense of worth or identity.
Learn how I was able to successfully deal with my mental illness, walked away from #addictions and a career that was giving me a false #identity in my memoir, #washedaway on Amazon
Earlier this year, I was very kindly gifted a copy of ‘Washed Away: From Darkness To Light’, a memoir written by former model and turned author and advocate, Nikki DuBose. Within the book, Nikki documents some of her most personal life events, from childhood sexual abuse to revealing how the model industry fuelled her all-encompassing battle with various eating disorders.
I’ll admit, I was a little hesitant to read and review it at first as I didn’t think it would be my cup of tea. I don’t have much interest in fashion or modelling and so was quick to dismiss the book in it’s entirety. The second I heard the words ‘mental health’ and ‘modelling’ in the same sentence, I couldn’t help but fear that this book might glamorise mental illness and in particular, eating disorders.
However, you know what they say: ‘never judge a book by it’s cover’ and in this circumstance, that saying proved truer than ever.
Inner beauty: you can’t sell it, but it’s your most important feature. Every month on magazine covers, we buy into the promise of “ten steps to…” a better body, bank account, romance, and more, but we hardly focus on the one thing that really matters, which is our souls.
Real happiness is found on the inside. However, we rush off to the stores in an effort to buy our way to true bliss, and this is what keeps us perpetually trapped in the advertising illusion. Things are not bad, neither is wanting to be beautiful, but our minds, souls, and emotions are precious, and they make up the foundation to which all other forms of joy grow. If our minds are out of balance, then how can we expect to ever be truly happy? If we fail to nourish our souls first, then we will never see ourselves as truly beautiful, and we may constantly look to others to validate us.
“Trauma survivors come from all walks of life, all over the world, and while each of us is a unique individual in our own right, our survivor stories are often very similar. It’s that similarity that helps us all connect, relate, and unite in a common goal of healing and awareness.
Those similarities were evident once again when I recently had the opportunity to speak with Abuse Survivor, Author, Advocate, and Ambassador, Nikki DuBose. It was such a privilege to spend some time talking with Nikki about not only her past; the abuse and trauma that she endured, but also about her advocacy work now and her amazing story of survival.”
#Repost @fatisnotanadjective (@get_repost)
On May 28, 2013, my life turned upside down in a way I could never imagine. What started as a simple, online friendship turned into an in-person meet up that didn’t go as planned. It turned into a day that I would never forget. It was the day that I was sexually assaulted. Being 14 years old, I knew something wasn’t right but I was too scared to say something.
On May 28, 2014, I attempted to take my own life because to me, it seemed like there was no other way out. My mind was flooded with the “it was your fault” thoughts and the nightmares would not go away. I was unable to escape the constant flashbacks and the feelings of disgust. I wanted out.
On May 28, 2015, I would wake up everyday, still hoping that I could eventually shower away my disgust. I thought that washing away the external dirt would erase the dirtiness I felt, but it wouldn’t. So time and time again, I would keep trying.
On May 28, 2016, I came to the realization that I couldn’t do this alone. I told someone.. It was probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done but it was also the bravest thing. I wanted my life back and some day, I wanted my body to feel like my own.
Today, on May 28, 2017, I am refusing to give him the power any longer. This monster of a human is not worth my endless tears, horrible night terrors, continuous dissociation, and vivid flashbacks. I am worth more than what happened to me. My body belongs to me and it’s time for me to start treating it that way.
#Repost @leenahlovesherself (@get_repost)
I love how this photo is mostly black & white with a splash of color. When you’re struggling with mental
illness (or even just life in general) everything can seem like a blur and like every thing is very one-note – like there isn’t any color or light.
However, even in the worst times, there are some pops of color. It can be SO challenging to see them, but they are there.
One way that we can find these moments is by choosing to practice mindfulness. When we anchor ourselves to the present moment instead of being in the past or future, we are able to see the little pops of color that life has to offer, even when times are tough ✨
(Photo by @cmrfx, wearing an @aerie bralette and a @capezio tutu)
When you’re a crook, there are no limits to the depths you will go to cover up your filth. Just ask most of the New York politicians, including former Senator Craig Johnson, who is a key ally and fundraising partner for the Independent Democratic Conference, led by Senator Jeff Klein.
Trauma survivors come from all walks of life, all over the world, and while each of us are unique individuals in our own right, our survivor stories is often very similar. It’s that similarity that helps us all connect, relate, and unite in a common goal of healing and awareness.
Those similarities were evident once again, when I recently had the opportunity to speak with Abuse Survivor, Author, Advocate, and Ambassador, Nikki DuBose. It was such a privilege to spend some time talking with Nikki about not only her past; the abuse and trauma that she endured, but also about her advocacy work now and her amazing story of survival.
As a former model, Nikki has spent time in the public spotlight, living and working all over the world, but at the same time, also hiding a secret of a traumatic past that she could not escape.
Starting this Friday off with some #selflove and #beauty 💕💕💕💕 For my African Queens 👸🏽
As I previously mentioned, I will be posting some of the pages I have found the most inspirational throughout the month. Today- let’s show @sassy_latte some love!!! #Repost @sassy_latte
Black girl magic, you ask? Is it real?
We are told our skin is too dark, yet we glow with pride. We’re told our hair is kinky and short, yet we grow our Afros big enough to block out the sun and locs so long they drag on the ground. We’re slut shamed for birthing children by different men, yet we raise our children, often alone, with passion and perseverance. We’re told we’re ghetto, loud, and dumb, yet we’re quickly becoming the highest educated population in the country. We’re told throughout history that our bodies are exotic and should be used sexually, yet we’re learning to stand in solidarity and take back ownership of our sexuality. We’re painted as desperate arm candy to rappers and athletes, yet many of us own our own businesses and organizations.
The list goes on. The obstacles never end. The judgment never ceases. The only thing that holds true is that Black Women keep shedding light on these myths. We keep our heads held high. We keep surpassing boundaries placed around us. We keep charming the masses despite being told we’re nothing. We keep pushing back, fighting for ourselves and one another. We keep proving you wrong and changing your mind. What else could that be?… To come from the ashes of slavery in America, to endure the metaphorical shackles of the present, and to be born-again QUEENS? … It has to be Magic. Black Girl Magic. And only We have it.
This year I am celebrating six years of sobriety from alcohol and drugs, addictions that took seed at thirteen years old. Actually, I had my first drink at three because my late mother thought it would be funny to see my reaction after sipping a Long Island Iced Tea.
It wasn’t funny, though, as my genetic makeup combined with an abusive environment laid the groundwork for unhealthy coping behaviors to manifest. As a teen, I grabbed onto alcohol, prescription pills, cocaine and LSD like candy and water.
Needing More and More
Eventually, I needed more and more to create the “high” feeling to take me away from reality. At some point, “high” wasn’t good enough anymore, and I needed death to quiet my loneliness.
Remember back when I read Lady Injury, when I told you that I liked a book…but then warned you not to read it? That’s exactly how I feel about Washed Away. In fact, the books are as similar as they are different, just as the two women are. Both books are about eating disorders and extremely severe mental illness. Both books are horrifically triggering and devastating. But, just as no two people are the same, no two mental illnesses are the same–and thus, no two memoirs could be the same either.
I remember the first time I felt self-conscious about my appearance. I was four, and my cousin Thomas proceeded to make fun of the birthmark on my butt cheek, which is shaped like a man’s face. It was then that I felt shame, realizing that my body was something others could use to make fun of.
A few years later, I binged to deal with sexual and physical abuse by my mother and a male figure. Looking back, I realize how much I was bullied within my own family; harmful words were used to describe my maturing body and face.
I was naturally a shy, introverted child. Add in an abusive environment, a mother with severe mental illness, substance abuse, and an early battle with eating disorders, and my shyness was lit on fire.
Turning inward to the extreme and developing depression, playdates in my room with stencils, colored pencils and drawing pads were my everything. This was my way to connect to life and imaginary people.
Child sexual predators often place themselves in areas where they have easy access to children. This is one reason why teachers, babysitters, nannies, mothers, fathers, priests, and summer camp workers make excellent abusers. And while Florida has made great strides to protect children from predators in child-care centers, they are falling behind in one major area: summer camp. (1)
Recently, the Palm Beach Post probed and discovered that camps in Florida have no restrictions, therefore there are no boundaries placed on how the camps operate. (1) Abuse can happen and does happen, and nobody is there to prevent or stop it.
Defying Mental Illness (DMI) recently had the unique and exclusive opportunity to meet Nikki and interview her. Nikki’s story is truly remarkable and will inspire you…
DMI: Wow, Nikki, what an honour to interview you today. You have an interesting story that you would like to share with DMI. You were a former model that was climbing high in your career at remarkable speed. However, there was a dark side you were struggling with.
You were challenged with several mental disorders. While you were probably the envy of your friends, secretly, they were your envy! Tell us, a little bit about who Nikki first and foremost. Give us an insight into your childhood.
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.
Author Nikki DuBose of Washed Away: From Darkness to Light was recently interviewed on addiction and recovery. Here she offers a recap on everything from when her addiction began to how to help a loved one who may be suffering.
1. Can you pinpoint when your problems with addiction began?
I was wired for addiction – my mother had bipolar and dissociative identity disorder and her mother (she was adopted) died from cirrhosis of the liver as a result of alcoholism.
“. . . Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me . . .”
I let the words sink in, and then I looked out my bedroom window that overlooked the water; for once, I took in the scenery not in fear, but in admiration of the sun as it descended below the horizon. The setting of the sun was a reminder of the magnificence of creation.
“If God made the sun, surely he made me. He must love me, too. I’m going to believe that no matter what, God is with me. When I’m afraid, God is right by my side. I might not see Him physically, but I can see him with my soul; simply because I believe that God is with me, He is,” I thought.
Today as I hiked with my blind and deaf Australian Shepherd and friends up and down rocky trails and around the azure waves of the Pacific, I was amazed at the beauty of God’s creation and the magnitude of his power.
I had no idea what to expect going into this book. I never thought I’d finish the thing in just a few days and feel so utterly connected to someone I’d never met. Knowing Nikki’s story has reminded me why I started to write about mental illness online, even though it often leaves me feeling vulnerable to expose myself to the world.
I had to get rid of the victim mentality to move forward in my healing journey. I couldn’t become a victor until I stopped believing that I was a victim.
Victim and victor sound similar, but the only thing that separates them are the last two letters; a small difference, with an enormous impact. Sometimes in life two letters is all it takes – or that extra dedication to recovery – to make a substantial change.
Stories of girls being sexually abused by male relatives are sadly all too common. But on some occasions the predator in the family can even turn out to be that most trusted confidant of all – the mother.
That was the case for Nikki DuBose who carries mental scars from the trauma of her own late mother sexually abusing her for several years. Now an activist and author, the 31-year-old ex-model is bravely sharing her story with ENTITY.
Washed Away: From Darkness to Light reflects a story of recovery and determination. Dubose allows us not only into her world, but similarly, into her thoughts, feelings, and emotions. She opens up about important conversations surrounding mental illness and the modeling industry that teaches a standard of “beauty” that is not always healthy and realistic. The memoir provides honest reflection as we see the stages of childhood, adolescence, adulthood and what Dubose takes away from each stage of her own life.
When recovering from eating disorders and body dysmorphia, one of the biggest challenges can be to change our inner perception, that negative self-talk, especially when we have a distorted outer vision of ourselves.
The Way We See Ourselves
However, we must consciously work on shifting the way we see ourselves on the inside, before we will ever love who we are on the outside. Everything begins in the mind. In my debut memoir, Washed Away: From Darkness to Light, I write about how I was able to wipe away that negative, monstrous outer image, starting from the inside .
My parents trusted Robbie since he played Mr. Fix-it, but Uncle Robbie played other games—secret games that only he and I knew about. Whenever he fixed something in my house, and no one was around, he asked me to play. At first, I agreed, but soon I discovered that these were not fun games, they were painful. These were games I never won.
You had a very rough start in life. Tell us about your childhood.
I grew up in a violent, dysfunctional family, however, hardly anyone knew that because I went to a private Christian school and we lived in a nice house. My parents divorced when I was two and my mom remarried to a much older man who kind of swept her off her feet.
Starting at four, I was subjected to physical abuse and then at 8, sexual abuse by a male figure. I developed binge eating disorder as a way to cope with the trauma, and later Body Dysmorphic Disoder and bulimia, which lasted for over fifteen years. My mom sexually abused me from the ages of 9 to 13 until the police removed me from my house. I suppressed those memories until my late twenties.
Former model turned author and activist Nikki DuBose, was in San Francisco to challenge Whole Foods Co-CEO John Mackey to stand up for child sexual abuse survivors and speak about her role in the Omnibus Child Victims Act in the state of New York.
Pick up Nikki’s book Washed Away: From Darkness to Light on Amazon.
Listen to the podcast with Nikki and Bill Murray here.
Tonight’s special guest is Nikki DuBose from Los Angeles, a returning NAASCA family member who was abused as a child and later as a young professional model. Nikki works closely with Matt Sandusky at the ‘Peaceful Hearts Foundation,’ and will tell us about her new book, ‘Washed Away: From Darkness to Light.’ In her memoir, Nikki details how being sexually abused as a child led to a seventeen-year battle with serious mental health issues such as eating disorders, depression, self-harm, substance abuse and sexual addictions. She experienced a great deal of success, yet that prosperity came with a high price that often mirrored the sexual abuse from her youth. Among other things, Nikki advocates on her web site for better regulation of the modeling industry. Coming to a place of full healing has not been easy for Nikki, but she says, “I wholeheartedly believe that full recovery is possible. It starts with speaking out and reducing the shame and stigma that is so often attached to mental health issues.” She goes on, “Being an advocate is what allows me to wake up every day and feel truly alive. All of that pain that I lived with for so many years is now channeled into making a difference in society. Whatever issues you’re passionate about, use your voice and the resources you have; love yourself first and from there you can help to change the world.” We’re delighted to have Nikki as a card-carrying member of the NAASCA family!
If you are looking for a story about a remarkable human being, with perseverance and resilience, who describes her horrifying and haunting life story with candor and courage, than I highly recommend Washed Away: From Darkness To Light, a memoir by Nikki DuBose with James Johanson. It is definitely not a light read – so be forewarned now. Washed Away is emotionally wrenching, compelling and brutally honest, truly providing insight into the mind of someone with mental illness and allowing the reader to understand her deepest and darkest thoughts.
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.
During my first day at James Island High, I wandered aimlessly through the halls. Hundreds of students buzzed by, but I couldn’t hear anything for the dark voices. “Nobody will ever be your friend. You’re a loser!” I kept my head down toward the gum-spattered floors. I wanted to spare everyone from my hideous appearance. When the teachers called out my name During roll call, I didn’t answer; instead, I sulked in the back of the class, afraid to utter a single word.
As the days passed on through March, I wanted to disappear. I was certain that if I stayed at James Island High much longer, everyone was going to find out about my past. Deep down, I longed for others to understand, but I knew that no one could, so I avoided conversations at all costs.
During lunch, I anxiously raced through the lines and grabbed a couple of brown paper bags and desserts. I thought it best to dodge the noisy chatter at the tables and skipped straight ahead to the bathroom stalls. There I at least had silence. The crinkle noises my sandwiches made as I unwrapped them was all the friendship I needed. I had my food, and I had my thoughts. Although, I questioned my thoughts most of the time. I could only sit with my thoughts for a few minutes before purging; it seemed like the rational method to rid myself of the pain.
It is a widely-known, yet little-talked-about fact that trauma in childhood can lead to the development of unhealthy and potentially-fatal coping behaviors such as eating disorders. Until a few years ago, I never spoke a word about the abuse that I had endured in my household, as well as the disordered behaviors I lived with for most of my life as a result.
That all changed when I left my high-profile modeling career, got a mentor, went through recovery, and began writing. Once I started writing, it was as if I had blown the cap off a lid of a tightly-sealed bottle of explosives; all of my memories shattered onto the keyboard, and I couldn’t stop writing about them.
Trigger warning: Descriptions of eating disordered behaviour and abuse.
In December last year we were lucky enough to have the opportunity to speak with the lovely Nikki DuBose about her recent memoir Washed Away: From Darkness to Light, her experiences in the modelling industry, her current advocacy work and her inspiring path to recovery from an eating disorder.
There is a road I’m walking on that I never thought I would. The road is simultaneously full of potholes and patches of silky, green grass. At times, just when I feel as though I’ve reached the end of this road, the wind whispers, and I realize I’ve been fooled. The illusion fades, melting the road into a thousand miles again.
It may be easy to think that our attitude doesn’t matter when we are recovering, but I beg to differ. I have found that having the right attitude has been just as important as forgiveness and perseverance. In my new memoir, Washed Away: From Darkness to Light, I share why attitude is critical for those recovering from addictions.
When I made the decision to leave the modeling industry, I was forced to confront all of my destructive behaviors and truths head on. Life was not fun anymore; it was painful because I had to face my real self. On top of it all, I had to recover, and there were many times where my family and I thought that I was going to die; living became a moment-by-moment process, not day-by-day.
But pushing through, and working with my mentor helped me to understand that having the right attitude was essential to my recovery because life is life and it is not going to change according to my feelings. If it did, then I’d float around on a pink, fluffy cloud all day and avoid pain and growth! That’s not realistic, though; to rise higher, we have to feel pain. Keeping the right attitude makes the growth process tolerable, and it helps to develop our character, which is necessary for every stage of life.
Nikki DuBose is a former model turned author who is nothing short of a superhero. Nikki released her memoir Washed Away: From Darkness to Light in September of 2016 in which she reveals her journey to self-care. As an advocate for mental health, Nikki is a Celebrity Ambassador for The Shaw Mind Foundation, and has worked with assembly members such as Marc Levine on addressing the need for updated workplace protections within the modeling industry.
We had the opportunity to speak with Nikki about some of the work she has been doing, her journey to get there, and what is next to come.
The other day, while sitting and rehashing all of my thoughts over to my psychiatrist through the computer screen, I began to feel annoyed. There he was, blissfully writing away on his notepad, while I regurgitated the same, unhappy words. “What does he really think? And why does he find my pain so funny?” I thought. But then I stopped and started to listen to my words. And I realized something. As much as I had tried to fool myself into thinking that I was no longer a paranoid person, or unaffected by the thoughts and behaviors of others, I was completely and utterly wrong.
So I snapped out of my tunnel, looked him square in the eyes (which can be hard for me to do with him), and said, “Stop writing on your little notepad.” He stopped. I noticed that he was maintaining that smirk on his face. I continued. “No matter how much I talk to you, my paranoia still exists, and in fact, it seems to get worse. And…all you can do is smile. I feel crazy!”
Model and author Nikki DuBose struggled with a variety of mental health issues for nearly twenty years; all while forging a career in the demanding fashion industry. Her problems began in childhood, where she was emotionally and sexually abused, and as patterns of self-abuse influenced her choices and progress in life, she found her self in a puzzling juxtaposition between success and failure as she worked as a TV host and began her modeling career.
While on the surface she appeared to be successful, traveling the world and leading a life that seemed enviable, in reality her struggles with PTSD, eating disorders, and mental and physical challenges were never-ending and became life threatening on more than one level. Washed Away: From Darkness to Light tells her story and illuminates the forces which contributed to her warped self image and the paths she took to emerge from her personal version of hell.
Nikki DuBose is a former model turned author, speaker, and mental health advocate. She recently released her memoir, Washed Away: From Darkness to Light. 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 on the Oprah Winfrey Network on the TD Jakes Show to speak about her recovery from Body Dysmorphic Disorder and eating disorders, and how the pressure to “fit into” the modeling industry nearly killed her.
Keep reading to learn more about this incredibly strong and inspiring woman, Nikki!
Nikki Dubose says she won’t give up on her fight make kids safer.
The 31-year-old model-turned-activist has already made a name for herself by speaking up about sexual assault. Now, though, she’s taking the platform she’s built and using it to try and change laws to protect children from sexual violence.
“In New York, they have the worst laws in the entire nation as far as protecting children from sexual abuse,” DuBose told A Plus. “There is only a five-year window after you’re 18 years old that someone can report what has happened to them.”
“Author, speaker, and mental health advocate, Nikki DuBose, epitomizes the word brave. She courageously talks about tough topics that others shy away from. I know, because I am one. For a long time, I wasn’t prepared to talk about my own trauma. (I didn’t even realize I had experienced trauma.) But, with the support of people like Nikki, I have opened up. Thanks, Nikki, for encouraging many of us to share our stories. With this post, I am thrilled to have had the chance to interview Nikki about the release of her memoir, Washed Away: From Darkness to Light.”
“Pela primeira vez, um grupo de tops decidiu se rebelar contra as regras estabelecidas pela indústria da moda. A poucos dias do início da Semana de Moda de Nova York, 35 modelos, entre elas Iskra Lawrence, Ashley Chew e Carré Otis, escreveram uma honesta e necessária carta aberta.”