Surviving Depression, Social Anxiety and Addiction

An interview with Miki Stephens Foster, ACC

Miki Stephens Foster, ACC.

Miki Stephens Foster, ACC (Associate Certified Coach) has a history of substance abuse and diagnoses of clinical depression and social anxiety disorder. She is now a transformational life coach who works with men and women in recovery seeking to go beyond the issues of drugs and alcohol and start asking the important questions about living their lives to their fullest potential.

Miki shares her experience with these mental health issues as well as her best advice for anyone who is also struggling with similar issues.

Miki is an inspiration to many.

Please note, this interview does not replace medical or psychological advice.

Miki's history with mental health problems

Miki began using drugs and alcohol at a young age. After getting clean and sober, she was suicidal. She was then diagnosed by a mental health team with depression and social anxiety disorder. She spent her days sleeping, lost her job, what little self-esteem she had, and her friendships. Being a mother and life in general were extremely difficult. 

In her own words, "the thought of leaving the house made me panic, even the grocery store would put me into a fit of anxiety and panic I would begin crying and hyperventilating." 

Miki spent years on different combinations of medications and therapy. She is now not taking medication, but has a commitment to herself and to her family to talk about depressive symptoms as soon as she feels them coming on.

She also has doctor she trusts who knows her history and is an integral part of her solution for maintaining her mental health and sobriety.

The hardest part of dealing with depression and social anxiety

"I think the hardest part of dealing with my mental health is feeling less than," says Miki. "It’s very difficult to talk to people who don’t understand what it feels like to suffer from depression and anxiety.

There are times I have to challenge my underlying beliefs and values because it can be very easy to lose myself in despair, self-hatred, and isolation."

The most helpful ways of managing depression and social anxiety

Miki has found the most helpful ways to manage her mental health issues to be a daily maintenance of exercise, diet and keeping her stress levels down. She has a very good doctor that she reaches out to as needed.

The lowest point

Miki indicates that her lowest point was when she found herself in a homeless shelter, driving across the country with her daughters, $30,000 in debt, divorced and jobless. She states that even though her thinking was foggy and she was unable to make healthy choices, "I remember looking out the window from the second floor of the shelter thinking, 'I have to get some help. I need to change this situation for these girls.' "

That was the beginning of an awakening for Miki that took her about five years to fully recover from.

Miki's resiliency

Miki notes that despite the horror and trauma that her mental health issues have caused, there are some gifts, for example, "the courage that comes from understanding I am a survivor." Despite having been very close to suicide, she is able to acknowledge her own strength, as she fought for her life because of her love for her daughters.

"I was lost in a sea of darkness and moving forward into the light of the unknown, was at times, more daunting."

She notes that her mental health issues have helped her find her way to the woman she is today. "I am continuously seeking ways to improve my relationship with myself and I don’t think I would have such a clear understanding of how important this is without the obstacles I've overcome."

Miki's advice to someone experiencing these mental health issues

"Seeking the right kind of professional help is critical to healing. Recovering from mental illness is a process not an event, it takes time for the brain to get better.

Be kind to yourself and remember you are not alone, there is hope for a better future. I promise."

About Miki Stephens Foster, ACC

Not long after getting sober in 2003 Miki believed she needed a supplement to the traditional 12-step program she attended in order to realize her full potential in recovery. Her organization, Recovery Elevated, is a culmination of more than ten years of education and dedication to carrying a message of hope to those seeking change,development and deeper meaning in recovery.

Miki’s love for working with people and helping in their development led her to her current role as transformational life coach. A breadth of life experiences has led her to believe there is a solution for every obstacle and great things happen to those who believe in hard work and even harder play.

Miki has more than 15 years of corporate management experience; holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics from Westminster College; and is a candidate for a Master’s of Business Administration from the University of Utah in May 2015.

With more than 225 hours of training, Miki attained her qualifications as a Certified Professional Coach from the International Coach Academy and her credentials as an Associate Certified Coach (ACC) from the International Coach Federation.

Visit her website to learn more about her work.

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