Q&A with Amanda Elkin

Title: Director of Outpatient Services

Facility: Foundations Nashville

Education: Bachelor’s degrees in English and psychology from the University of Mississippi and a master’s degree in community counseling from the University of Southern Mississippi

Hometown: Jackson, Mississippi

What makes you passionate about treatment?
I love helping people see that healing is possible and that they are not alone. All human beings have some of the same core wounding and none of us get through this life unscathed. Everyone copes with this wounding a little differently, but deep down, we are looking for connection — with others, with self and with a power greater than self. It is a humbling blessing to be able to walk alongside people as they take steps toward healing.

What’s your favorite thing about your job?
I honestly don’t have just one favorite thing about my job. Being able to walk with clients through this process is an honor, through the rough spots and the wins. Also, being able to work with a team of professionals who are all striving for the same goal of recovery with our patients is amazing. We all see something a little different in each patient. It is the combination of all of our perspectives that allow us to treat the whole person.

What would you say to families going through the process of treatment with a loved one?
We are all broken human beings, and when my brokenness collides with your brokenness, relational trauma is the result. Every friend and family member of someone who struggles with addiction or mental health issues has their own trauma from being in that relationship. So while your loved one is in treatment getting the support that he/she needs, please, please take the time to give yourself the gift of beginning your own healing.

What’s your daily routine?
Hmm … I don’t really have a daily routine. Each day presents itself as something new and unique. I listen to my body and what it needs and try to make every day count!

What do you do to stay energized during the day?
This may sound weird, but I drink a lot of water. Every time I need to fill my water bottle, it forces me to get up and walk around, and usually have a conversation with someone else. So, while the water keeps me hydrated, it also keeps me moving and interacting with others rather than just sitting in my office all day.

What are your hobbies outside of work?
I love to be outside and work in my yard. Did you know there are antidepressant microbes in dirt, and that being out in the sun for 15 minutes can give you as much energy as a cup of coffee? Well, it’s true! So, why don’t you all join me outside?

If you could travel anywhere, where would it be?
Definitely Africa. I will go on a safari before I die!

What’s your favorite thing about the city you live in?
I live in a small town just outside of Nashville. I love that I live close enough to Nashville to be in the city easily, but still far enough away that I can have the smalltown atmosphere. It makes me so happy to drive home and see flags on every lamp post in my neighborhood for Memorial Day. I love to watch the “parade” of children with their bikes, tricycles and wagons decorated in red, white and blue and being led around the block by grandparents in a golf cart on the Fourth of July!

What life accomplishment are you most proud of?
That’s hard to say, but the first thing that comes to mind is being initiated into the inaugural class of Phi Beta Kappa at the University of Mississippi.

If you were stranded on a desert island and you could only take three books, what would you choose?
Probably my Bible, the Chronicles of Narnia and Madeleine L’Engle’s Crosswicks Journals.

How do you know when someone is “getting it” in the treatment process?
To be honest, that is really hard to say because some people who I thought “had it” relapsed quickly, and others who I may have doubted have been walking in recovery for years! The people who usually “get it” are the ones who have the courage to change everything (not just be abstinent), are open to listening to others, facing their past and to establish or re-establish a relationship with a higher power.

What advice do you have for people who are entering treatment today?
Please be open to trying things even when your brain says, “That’s silly … it won’t work for me,” or “If he/she only knew what I am really like ….” Don’t let your pride or shame stand in your way. Recovery is not for the faint of heart, and yet RECOVERY IS POSSIBLE!

What advice do you have for people who are struggling to maintain their recovery?
If you are struggling, talk about it. Don’t let your disease trick you into thinking you are not worth it, that no one will listen to you or that it is easier to just isolate yourself. Take the brave step to call your sponsor, a friend or your therapist. You don’t have to fight this battle alone.

How have you been inspired by people in recovery?
It is hard to name just one or two ways that I have been inspired by people in recovery. I am inspired every day when people have the courage to walk through our doors, into a therapist’s office or into a meeting. To watch people make the decision to be completely vulnerable when they have spent a lifetime protecting their darkest secrets is humbling.

Favorite quote or best advice you’ve ever received?
“The truth about our childhood is stored up in our body, and although we can repress it, we can never alter it. Our intellect can be deceived, our feelings manipulated, and conceptions confused, and our body tricked with medication. But someday our body will present its bill, for it is as incorruptible as a child, who, still whole in spirit, will accept no compromises or excuses, and it will not stop tormenting us until we stop evading the truth.” ― Alice Miller