How Sharing My Mental Health Story With the Baristas at Starbucks Helped My Recovery

I have been going to a Starbucks in my neighborhood a lot. Every day I walk into this Starbucks and order my usual. Some of the employees know me by now. Sometimes I come in with a smile, sometimes I’m in tears. But I always leave feeling better. Whether I sit alone researching on my phone trying to figure out how to get my life together or am running out the door to an appointment — I am thankful. It’s not just a coffee shop. It’s somewhere where I’m not afraid to embrace food, drinks, a social atmosphere and sometimes the quiet moment I need to get my thoughts together.

One day I went in there and broke down sobbing. I had had a horrible therapy session and just couldn’t hold in the tears anymore. Their responses were unforgettable. One grabbed me tissues, another gave me a hug and another wished me a better day. I was in awe of how caring these people could be. They didn’t even know me yet.

As time went on, I continued to come in. One day I saw a sign for Employee Appreciation Week and I thought, This is the time. This is my time to give back. I wrote a letter for them and put it in the box. Not sure what would come over it but I felt the need to express how grateful I was for them.

The amount of support I received is not even measurable. I decided to talk more and opened up a lot. I even talked about my traumas and my eating disorder. They helped me understand what I was going through during a time when I couldn’t see myself. It’s not a one-way street, though. I learned about some of them too. They let me into their personal lives outside of work and I actually made friends — something I didn’t know I was capable of.

I feel so thankful for their responses. Who would have thought a store so many people go into would be a place where the workers would take time for me and truly care for me. And I was able to care back. I know in my heart it was the right decision to talk to them. I will never forget the friendships and bonds I have formed. Maybe it’s not so simple for some to reveal struggles, but I took that chance and I love that I did.

These are the people that give me hope. When I feel I’ve lost the fight, I know there’s one place I can be myself and it’s a place I am not afraid to be in. Words can’t even describe the magnitude of hope that gives me. The day I revealed my eating disorder and traumas to some of the baristas at my local Starbucks, I made the best decision I have ever made. I know getting out of my comfort zone and talking is battle in itself, but it’s possible. It’s possible for others to care and be genuine. I hope others receive the same support.

If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, you can call the National Eating Disorders Association Helpline at 1-800-931-2237.

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Unsplash photo via Dmitry Schemelev.


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