Voices for Recovery
Lisa E. Overton
The most challenging part about being a veteran in recovery from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and a substance use disorder is that I don't look like your typical “Disabled Veteran.” I have all my limbs and no battle scars. My wounds are internal. But people notice my behavior: I shy away from them. I get anxious in crowds. Loud noises make me jump. I don't attend parties or go out to clubs.
Once they get to know me though, people see the strengths I've used in my recovery, including courage, compassion, honesty, sincerity, loyalty, faith in a higher power, a sense of humor, and the ability to ask for help when I need it and to give help as well. These strengths have supported my recovery in many ways, including learning how to advocate for myself and others.
I am fortunate in that I was able to receive both inpatient and outpatient addiction treatment. Those treatment centers directed me to 12-step recovery, which helped me learn where my thinking needed re-adjusting. I follow the 12 steps, attend meetings on a regular basis, and my higher power steered me to my current sponsor who demonstrates unconditional love.
If I am hurting, I have learned it is okay to find a friend I trust and let them know what I am going through. It is okay to be me. Loyalty to my friends and my recovery keeps me grounded. Being honest and sincere lets people know who I am and that they can trust me too. A sense of humor allows me to laugh at my shortcomings and not take myself so seriously. My faith in my higher power has given me the ability to let go of trying to control everything. This gives me a sense of belonging and a serenity that was unknown to me before. For this I am grateful.