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.
For a chance to win a signed book, see information at the bottom of this post.
What inspired you to write your important book?
You know, I always loved writing. I wrote my first short story in the third grade and then was a staff writer for the Odyssey newspaper in high school. Writing was always one of my greatest passions, however, mental illness took it away from me for many periods of my life. When my mother passed away in 2012, I left my modeling career and decided to get better, although I had no idea what my new path was going to look like. Writing throughout my recovery helped me find my real identity and my new life, and ultimately, it led me to heal and write my memoir, Washed Away: From Darkness to Light. The actual title was based on the following:
- I grew up in Charleston, South Carolina, and it rained a lot. I love the rain, and the water element served as an inspiration. As a child, I often felt alone and sad, and listening to the rain brought a sort of supernatural comfort; I felt connected to it. My mom and I used to go outside before hurricanes and watch the sky change. Now, I have a special connection to storms and the rain because of her.
- The process of transformation was mental, physical, emotional and spiritual for me. However, the spiritual aspect was the most crucial component of my recovery, and still is. Throughout the book, I tied in the rain theme with the state of my spiritual self. Ultimately, the book ends after Hurricane Sandy, which happened right after my mother died (my mother’s name was Sandy), and that’s when I made the decision to get better.
- Darkness to Light represents the dark feelings I felt beforehand, before recovery, and the light I experienced once I finally chose recovery. The “Light” is the Light of the Holy Spirit, although not in the religious sense, it is purely an intimate, personal relationship that I have with God, and I think that it is different for every person who goes through recovery.
How did you learn to let go and have faith? Any tips for those struggling with spirituality?
I went to a southern, private independent Baptist church school, so it was an intensely religious and academic experience. I learned a lot about God and knew about him, but I did not personally know him. Because of the trauma that I endured as a kid, my heart became hardened, and I felt as though I couldn’t trust anyone, especially not this “God.” I wondered, “Where was this God when I was hurting?”
Many, many years later, I came to that final breaking point when my mother died. That whole process of watching her go through severe mental illness combined with my own, had backed me into a corner. I realized that I truly was powerless and helpless over my life, and that I couldn’t have saved my mother. When I started going through recovery and the 12-step program, it took many small steps of faith–of not knowing where I was headed–that eventually led me to a place to where I had to trust something greater than myself. I saw that little by little, I was getting better, and I understood that it was not me in my own strength, because me in my own strength had failed time after time. I had to humble myself and accept that God was the one healing me, and trusting in him and letting him guide me to a healthier place in recovery and life was a whole lot better than anything I had ever tried to do on my own. Once I gave up trying to control my life, I believed in spirituality and God because I experienced his healing power first hand.
In addition to spirituality, what is one key tool that helped you to overcome your eating disorder?
Definitely having a mentor, someone who I could go to when the going got rough. I needed that guidance, but I had to want to get better as well. Recovery is not one-sided, it’s a team effort, and we have to want it more than anything.
Similarly, what is a key tool that helped you overcome PTSD?
Recovering from PTSD can be very tricky, because trauma tends to show up in every area of our lives. Having a therapist trained in trauma is essential for that recovery because there are always things that will come up, and I need to talk to someone who can properly help me formulate a plan and move forward.
With PTSD and eating disorders, we often lose hope. What final words of wisdom do you have for those who are feeling hopeless as they read this? What pulled you out of the darkness when you saw no light?
On the day of my mother’s funeral, the pastor shared this verse, and it has gotten me through some of the darkest moments of my life since. It’s Jeremiah 29:11. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
I think we all need hope, we all need to know that no matter how bad life seems, it will always get better. We are not on earth to merely exist, but to thrive and to leave our mark. Challenges will come, but God made us to be overcomers. Hold on, it will get better. Have faith.