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February 26, 2016

Identity

Nikki Dubose headshot

Contributor: Nikki DuBose, writer for Eating Disorder Hope

Disordered behaviors and addictions might start out as seemingly insignificant attempts to reach out for comfort, but they eventually can take over our lives. When I was eight years old I began to binge eat as a way to cope with being physically, sexually and emotionally abused — that led to a more than seventeen-year battle with all sorts of addictions.

I didn’t know how to deal with my feelings and I also didn’t know who I was – I grabbed onto to destructive behaviors during the most influential period of my development.

The Start

What started out with binge eating quickly led into years of bulimia then eventually anorexia during the height of my modeling career. For many years I was addicted to drugs, alcohol, work and sex; basically anything that provided comfort and took me away from reality, I wanted it because I didn’t know who Nikki was – my identity was all messed up. Because abuse and eating disorders stole my identity from childhood, I never got the chance to understand who I was.

As a fashion and swimsuit model, I hid behind vanity and the fact that my face was on the cover of a magazine or on a huge billboard on the freeway. My work and climbing the ladder of success gave me validation and worth and I used that as my identity, as well as the fact that my eating disorder comforted me every step of the way when those in the business constantly told me that I needed to lose weight if I wanted to be “just a little bit better.”

The Desire to Please

Of course the desire to be a “bit better” resulted in extreme measures – I was an addict. My identity was not rooted in anything stable or positive, it was wrapped around pleasing others, which came from my childhood. When children are abused they often grow up to be extreme people pleasers, as are those of us who have eating disorders.

cross-1149878_457x640When I finally went through recovery and dealt with the roots of everything, I had my false identity taken away. I left my job and therefore was literally left without that image to fallback on. From then on I had to start over and go through eating disorder recovery and deal with the issues from my past.

It couldn’t have been a greater blessing, however — I discovered that my identity was a child of God. Spirituality has guided me through the darkest times and has been the greatest complement to therapy, medication and the twelve-step program. No matter what happens to me, I now know that my identity is not based on money, fame, how much I weigh or what I look like, it’s rooted in the fact that I am a spiritual being, a child of God.

Community Discussion – Share your thoughts here!

What steps did you take to find your identity in eating disorder treatment and recovery? What worked well for you, share your advice here?


About the Author: Nikki DuBose is a former model, host, and actress who has recently turned her career focus towards writing, public speaking, and mental health advocacy. She is a passionate dynamic voice in the mental health field and seeks to encourage others to develop a strong sense of their intrinsic value and self worth.

Nikki grew up in charming Charleston, South Carolina and lives in Los Angeles. After traveling the globe and working as a fashion model and commercial actress in exciting destinations such as the Middle East, Paris, Barcelona, and London, she was inspired to leave the industry to pursue writing full time. Her writing is focused on encouraging others to overcome the deadly grip of mental health issues that affect millions. She draws firsthand experience from a long-standing battle with eating disorders, physical, emotional, and sexual abuse, drug and alcohol addictions, and a wide range of mental health issues.

Her memoir 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. She has been published multiple times within The National Eating Disorders Association for her hope, strength, and community outreach initiatives. She continues to advocate for NEDA, writes for the association and other incredible establishments such as Eating Disorder Hope and Recovery Warriors. She has been able to connect with people around the world through her website and speaks and assists with other organizations covering various mental health issues, body image and self-esteem.

Currently she serves on the executive board of Project Heal SoCal Chapter and on the board of directors of Peaceful Hearts Foundation, which seeks to educate, support and empower sufferers and the public about child sexual abuse. In addition to her writing and advocacy, Nikki is pursuing her degree in Psychology.


The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of eating disorders. These are not necessarily the views of Eating Disorder Hope, but an effort to offer discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.

We at Eating Disorder Hope understand that eating disorders result from a combination of environmental and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an eating disorder, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.

Last Updated & Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on February 25, 2016
Published on EatingDisorderHope.com

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