Profiles in Recovery

Lisa Schmidt

Known to most as a wife (to Lori), a corporate paralegal, social activist and creative. Schmidt spent much of her life hiding her true self. She spent 17 years trying to make her marriage, to a great guy, work. Ultimately deciding to come out at the age of 40.

As a little girl, she was “pressured to be attracted to boys, sneaking wine coolers and keeping girl crushes closer than secrets”. This pressure to fit the norm led to anxiety and alcohol abuse. In 2013, she left her career, moved to a new town and found The Refuge (treatment center). She recalls “I carried with me that same little girl; full of confusion, deep wounds and a bottle of vodka. I left a woman; brave, confident and empowered, ready to face the future without depending on any substance to be loved or live loved.”  Schmidt wants to encourage others to not be ashamed of their story because it will inspire others.

Art therapy was a huge part of her treatment process, she was able to “spatter my painful truth and story on canvases of all kinds through art therapy”. Looking for a way to bring art therapy to others she created The Story Box (found on her website, https://www.thesoberhipster.com/). “The Story Box is designed for anyone wanting to approach recovery, body image or pride creatively. By purchasing The Story Box, you receive an opportunity to start the journey of art therapy privately, easily and affordable.”

Day Job:
Corporate Paralegal

Best advice for newbies:
My best advice to newbies is to “play the tape all the way through”. When you start thinking of ____________ (you fill in the addiction blank) don’t stop there. Think about the consequences that will come afterward (i.e. the hangover, disappointment, pain to others, etc.).

Advice to my younger self:
You are good enough. Period. Your worth is not something to be earned by your performance and it’s certainly not dependent on the approval of others.

Rules I live by:
Be yourself.
Trust your instincts.
Love God. Love people.

What I value most in recovery:
Recovery has given me the tools to finally be able to live life on life’s terms. I’ve learned how to have sober fun. I’m able to sit in my emotions rather than run from them. But I’m most grateful for recovery teaching me how to love myself.

Rock bottom moment:
My rock bottom started out as an ordinary day. But when I received some unexpected news, it quickly spiraled out of control. It brought on the worst anxiety attack I’ve ever experienced. I took my anxiety medication as prescribed, but it wasn’t helping. So, I took another and another. Then I started drinking. I didn’t stop until all the pill and vodka bottles in my apartment were empty. Somewhere in the middle of this meltdown, I started telling myself everyone would be better off without me. I didn’t want to die, but I didn’t know how to go on living in pain. I collapsed on my bed that night not expecting to wake up the next morning. But I did. And that was the turning point in my life.

Favorite recovery quote:
My favorite recovery quote is a phrase… progress, not perfection. Before recovery, I always strived for perfection, which was unrealistic and unattainable. But it didn’t keep me from trying or beating myself up when I failed. Now I value making progress and learning from my mistakes.

Thoughts on relapse:
Relapse happens. For me, it happened a couple of weeks into treatment. But it’s not the end of the story! You can begin again from that moment and go forward without shame.

I get inspired by:
Listening to someone share their story. I love podcasts and biographies!!!

What saves me from me:
Getting out of my own head. Art therapy or doing something for someone else.

Shed the Stigma:
If you’re a person in long-term recovery who wants to share your insights, please contact us at [email protected].

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