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.”
By the time I reached my teens, I still hadn’t learned to like the doctor. Instead, I avoided help at all costs and coped with pain by escaping my body through illicit substances. I was paranoid and thought that most professionals were out to harm me. I had learned to not trust most adults. This was the result of being physically abused and sexually victimized by two people I trusted. I also watched my mom try to commit suicide and lose herself in alcoholism. I had seen things no young person should ever see and had already begun to experiment with drugs and alcohol. Smoking marijuana and tripping on acid were normal, almost daily occurrences, and I thought that doing them made me some kind of superwoman. I didn’t want to have to deal with reality because my reality was very painful. As long as I could exist in a dreamland, I could cope.
However, by my early twenties (and many times before then), I had been through too many scares with substance abuse. I also had terrible eating disorders for most of my life. Combining that struggle with an off and on drug and alcohol addiction, all exacerbated by my modeling career, was a recipe for death. But I didn’t think so. I was an addict! And I was certain that nothing could kill me and didn’t want anyone to help me. Then one day a boyfriend pleaded with me to check myself in to the hospital and I did. The doctor examined me and shook his head saying he didn’t know how I was still alive. He wanted to keep me in the hospital, but I didn’t stay and told my boyfriend that I would rather die than get help.
So what happened? Why am I alive, sober for over four years and in strong recovery from my eating disorders for over three? How am I an author, a speaker, and an advocate about the very issues that once threatened my life? How did I get over my fear of the doctor? It was a long road but I had to make the life-or-death decision to seek help when I saw my mother die from her alcoholism. When I did, I went into recovery and worked through my issues with large support group. My path included different therapists, a food mentor, a psychiatrist, the support of family and friends, and the twelve step program. Therapists worked to uncover the trauma from my childhood, taught me about boundaries, and showed me healthier ways to cope with life. More than anything, having people to talk to, people I could trust, helped me to rebuild my interpersonal skills. A food mentor who specialized in disordered eating worked with me and gave me food plans to follow and held me accountable for my daily food intake – I was basically like a child when it came to knowing what foods to eat. For a couple of years, I tracked my foods and turned in a list that included no alcohol. I don’t see a psychiatrist as often as a psychologist; however he is just as valuable and really takes the time to connect when I go in for a visit. He is patient, truly listens and evaluates me on a mental, emotional and spiritual level which for me, is very important. He’s not just another doctor throwing medicine at me and pushing me out the door; he’s truly concerned with my overall well-being. That’s why we have a great long-term relationship as part of my recovery, and why I’ve remained healthy.
The twelve step meeting and support of friends and family have been critical components in my ongoing recovery. It is so easy for me to fall back into my habits, but twelve step provides practical tools that I can implement in my everyday life, with meetings that I can attend via phone, in person, online, even on apps. Because of my past, I had a hard time connecting with family and friends and letting people into my life in a true, intimate way. This is something that is still a challenge for me, however family and friends have shown their support and loved me during my darkest times and for that, I am forever thankful.
It is important to understand that you don’t have to have a lot of money to go into recovery and get the help you need. There are different opinions about alternative methods like the twelve step program – some good, some bad – but I honestly don’t know where I would be if I hadn’t read the Big Book and gone to meetings. People say to me, “You’re so strong to have gone through what you did.” Well, I cannot take any credit! At my core, I know I am an addict and a human being. I need help! My strength is not my own. I need constant spiritual help (for me, this is most important), guidance from medical professionals, therapists, mentors, and supporters. I also am greatly helped by my medication. Everything has to come together in my recovery and I have to remain humble and persevere. My attitude needs to stay in check with the support of professional therapy – the two are connected and one can’t work without the other. The moment I think so, I’m in prime position for a relapse.
Nikki DuBose is a former model, host, and actress who has appeared on the covers of and in editorials for magazines such as Maxim, Glamour, Vogue and Vanity Fair. She has recently turned her career focus towards writing, public speaking, and mental health advocacy, and is a passionate, dynamic voice in the mental health field who seeks to encourage others to develop a strong sense of their intrinsic value and self-worth. She draws firsthand experience from a long-standing battle with eating disorders, childhood abuse, sexual victimization, addictions, and a wide range of mental health issues. Her memoir, Washed Away: From Darkness to Light, is set-to-be released this year and recounts her life struggles and ultimate triumph over the mental disorders and addictions that plagued her for most of her life. Learn more about Nikki on her website, thenikkidubose.com.
About C.A.R.I.: C.A.R.I. provides guidance on intervention, detox, drug and alcohol rehab options in North County of San Diego, including the cities of Oceanside, Carlsbad, Encinitas, Vista, San Marcos and Rancho Santa Fe. We help not only the people who struggling with drug and alcohol abuse, but also their families and loved ones. Our program accepts PPO insurance from insurance providers such as Cigna, Aetna, UBH, Optum, Magellan and Value.