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.

Tara Nicole DuBose was born in 1985 in Charleston, South Carolina to Sandra Pierce and Wayne DuBose. Her mother was an artist and her father was a delivery salesman for local food companies. Sandra named her “Tara” after the fictional plantation in the film, Gone with the Wind, directed by Victor Fleming. Despite Sandra’s love for the name, she and Wayne often referred to Tara as “Nikki,” short for Nicole, and so the name stuck. After her parents divorced when Nikki was two, she and her younger brother were raised by their mother and stepfather. Her upbringing was filled with problems; Nikki suffered abuse of all kinds and was a witness to domestic violence. Her mother, Sandra, was afflicted with severe mental health conditions and drank heavily. As a result, Nikki suffered for over seventeen years from a wide range of mental health conditions.

Join us now as Nikki takes us through her battle with addiction and her journey into recovery up until today!

Clean Date: November 2011

Omar:  So Nikki, tell us a little bit about what your normal daily routine looks like, including recovery.

Nikki:   Well, it looks a lot different than it used to. I try to remember to give all the glory to God, to pray when I wake up, because in the morning my mind is like mush. It’s unreliable. My thoughts are kind of all over the place. Last year I was diagnosed with major depression and psychosis, which kind of helps me to understand better why my mind is the way it is, why it is all over the place and why it tends to be negative a lot of times. It’s really important for me in the morning to focus on something positive and to get out a recovery book. I have a book called The Life Recovery Book, a bible of work book, so I try to do something 12 step based or just get a positive book that is like a meditation book that is centered in spirituality and something to remind me that God loves me.

Try to meditate on bible verses or something that is going to help me get my mind focused on my direction of the day because if I don’t do that, and there have been times when I don’t do that, I end up in a really bad mood or doing things that are my old self and it’s usually not a good result.

Omar:  No, I hear you. I hear you. I want to touch on that real quick because one of my questions that I normally ask our listeners is how do you maintain your spiritual condition, that conscious contact with a higher power, and you seem to have a very strong connection with your higher power so is there something more that you do to maintain that spirituality?

Nikki:   First of all, before I go into that I would say- there’s no such thing as a perfect person, right? I think that people reach out to me and they’re like, “Wow, you’re so amazing. You seem to have it all figured out”, but I absolutely don’t have it all figured out. It’s just because I wrote a book about it or I post things, I absolutely don’t. There’s no such thing as a perfect person. I don’t have it figured out and God knows that and he loves me regardless. That’s what I do know. I’m just trying to do the best I can.

I do get really depressed, I do screw up constantly, maybe even more than I did in my past, but I try to remember that when I screw up and when I’m having these dark movements that I have someone to reach out to. I have my higher power, which for me is God and before I make a big major oops I now know that I can stop, I can reach out to God, I can pray. I can open my bible and I can find a verse that is in accordance to what I’m struggling with. I can reach out to a mentor, someone who’s there for me and I have that person. I think that prayer, meditation, stopping before I act on an impulse is super important.

Omar:  As far as your drugs and alcohol clean date, how much clean time do you have and when is your anniversary date?

Nikki:   Well, I don’t know the exact date but I do know that it was November of 2011. I know that because I almost destroyed an entire yacht.

Omar:  What was keeping you from getting clean or staying clean when you first got introduced to recovery?

Nikki:   I’d say what was keeping me from getting clean when I first got introduced to recovery was just the fear and the shame, and also my ego, pride. Pride is a big thing and ego is a big thing, and also because it was all I had ever known from staying clean. It was all I had ever known. It was my lifestyle so it felt comfortable. It felt like my best friend versus recovery being my best friend.

Omar:  At what point did you have a spiritual awakening? That ah-ha moment in recovery when you accepted that you were powerless over your addictions, but for the first time had developed a hope that you could recover.

Nikki:   Definitely when I had that first spiritual awakening it was in 2010, the first time when I went to, when I decided to go to recovery- when I did go to a 12 step program. Even though I did have a relapse after that, I will tell you that I did have that hope that I could recover when I went to that first meeting. I saw the hope in other people’s eyes and they offered that hope to me and I did get a sponsor. I did feel the presence of God in my life and I was thirsty for that, I was actually hungry for that. I was more hungry for God in my life than I was for drugs, alcohol, or binging, purging.

Omar:  Do you have a favorite book, I’m going to say for you? Do you have a few favorite books that you would recommend to our newcomers that you read in early recovery or that you would recommend in general?

Nikki:   Well, there’s a lot of great books. I would say for guys, like I mentioned before, and really for girls too but definitely from a guy’s perspective on body dysmorphic disorder there’s Shattered Image by Brian Cuban. Great book. Also, it’s about eating disorders from a male’s perspective, depression. I read a really good book super early in recovery, 2010 I think, called When Food Is Love by Ganeen Roth. It just explores the relationship aspect in the body. Also, there’s a friend of mine, Jenni Schaefer, she’s written, really, a few good books. Almost Anorexic. You might want to check her out.

Omar:  Then, of course, your book.

Nikki:   Yes, of course, my book, Washed Away: From Darkness To Light. If you don’t go check out my book I will come and hunt you down and I will hang you by your toe, just like my grandma used to say, on the clothesline. Trust me when I say that because I’m really freaky, man. I’m just joking. That’s one way to get your book sales high up on the inside. A really good book, a really good book from a friend of mine, she’s a friend of mine. From Suzy Favor Hamilton, she was an Olympic runner. She has bipolar disorder. She was an escort so her book is about that. You might want to interview her too, she’s amazing. Her brother committed suicide, she was on the New York Times bestsellers list. She has bipolar disorder, she was an escort and she was an Olympic runner. Her book is called Fast Girl. It’s an amazing book so I highly recommend that.

Omar:  What is the best way for our listeners to reach out to you, find you? Do you have a website?

Nikki:   I do. It’s nikkidubose.com. You can find me on Twitter, tweet at me. It’s @thenikkidubose. Also, on Facebook it’s @thenikkidubose. My Instagram is @thenikkidubose, they all three match. Just don’t tweet anything mean at me or else I will still come hang you by your toes. Not really. I welcome the negative comments. I like them, I get a lot of them, I like them. Makes it interesting. I like talking to people so you can come and talk to with me, I like it.

WEBSITE AND SOCIAL MEDIA

Omar:  What is the best suggestion you have ever received?

Nikki:   When I’m in my darkest moments, and I really do get dark, I always go back to thinking what friends of mine say, “Never, ever give up” because I think that when we are sitting and we’re sad and we feel like we want to give up, knowing that not giving up, it really, really makes a big difference. Sorry, that’s my dog, and he’s right there telling you, “Never give up.” He’s confirming that, so I will tell you no matter, no matter what seems like life is not worth living, don’t ever give up on yourself because you are worth more. You are worth all the love in the world. Tomorrow is another day and it’s worth a chance to make it good. Don’t ever give up on yourself.

Omar:  Beautiful, beautiful. If you could give our newcomers only one suggestion, what would that be?

Nikki:   There’s a lot of them. I think that if you’re feeling like you don’t know – you’re in that dark place and you don’t know what to do, I would say just start by either writing down what you’re feeling because writing was an extremely healing tool for me. Just start by writing out your feelings, or start by reaching out to someone. In some way, shape or form communication is a highly effective tool, so either by writing or reaching out to someone. Nobody’s going to think that you’re weird. They’re there to love you, they’re there to help you and from there it’s going to open up a path of healing. That’s what I would say.

SUGGESTIONS FOR THE NEWCOMER

Just start by writing out your feelings, or start by reaching out to someone.

Thanks again for your SHAIR, Nikki! We SHAIR our stories every Tuesday so subscribe to us on iTunes and Stitcher Radio!

See you then!

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Disclaimer – The opinions shared on this show reflect those of the individual speaker and not of any 12 step fellowship as a whole and though we discuss 12 step recovery and the impact it has had in our lives we do not promote or endorse any 12 step anonymous program.