Come As You Are
Recovery life coach helps clients heal and thrive
By Jessica Laskey
Stacey Johnson has lived with bipolar disorder for close to 30 years. She self-medicated until she received a diagnosis. After recovery and years of working in substance-abuse treatment, she hopes to help others with her life coaching business, Come As You Are, which focuses on substance abuse and mental health recovery.
“I believe that addiction and mental illness are gifts when they’re transformed,” Johnson says. “We experience life in a very different way than the average person. I truly believe it’s a calling. We’re resilient people who’ve overcome a lot. To me, there’s a real strength in that.”
Through primarily in-person sessions, Johnson works with individuals, couples and families to set goals toward building a sober foundation, developing independence, prioritizing mental health and rebuilding relationships around sobriety.
“Some people need continued support to reach the next phase of their recovery by creating goals and healing with family and partners,” she says. “There’s a lot of trauma and turmoil in family. People become addicted because of pain and trauma, not because they want to. I help empower people to believe in themselves. The opposite of addiction is connection.”
Connecting with people has been essential in Johnson’s life. The San Diego native taught Waldorf programs and special education to kids and teenagers with severe mental health issues, before shifting gears to work as a chef and general manager at a time “when women weren’t in kitchens.” She opened several restaurants during her 20-plus-year career and worked for the Paragary Restaurant Group, helping launch Café Bernardo.
Johnson sees food as “a beautiful language we all speak from the heart,” but left the restaurant business at age 44. She spent a year soul searching and learning about anthroposophic psychology, a concept developed by Austrian philosopher Rudolf Steiner that seeks to counteract the materialism and upheavals of the modern world. (Johnson holds a certification through the Association for Anthroposophic Psychology.)
At 45, she started working in substance-abuse treatment with various populations, including the homeless and incarcerated, at local outpatient clinics, such as the Intensive Outpatient Program she helped launch at Pathways Recovery.
Now nearly a decade into her third career, Johnson is looking toward the next phase of her journey—connecting with young people. She plans to start booking speaking engagements at area junior high and high schools to talk to kids about drug prevention in a personable way they can relate to.
“The world’s a lot bigger and a lot scarier than when you and I were growing up,” Johnson says. “I want to speak from the heart to their hearts, which is the way we ultimately connect to people.”
When not on the speaking circuit, Johnson wants to expand her Come As You Are client base and continue her education in anthroposophic psychology. No matter what she’s doing, her ultimate goal is always the same.
“I love people, I love our community and I want to see everyone thrive and fulfill their destiny,” she says. “To be the most who they are in their lifetime.”
For information, visit comeasyouare.life.
Jessica Laskey can be reached at email@example.com. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram: @insidesacramento.