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To the Mentally Ill Person With Financial Anxiety, Go Get That $5 Coffee

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Editor's Note

If you experience suicidal thoughts, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741741.

Nowadays, finding joy can be a little bit of a challenge. Finding things to despair over, however, is as easy as turning on your TV or scrolling through any random social media feed. As we approach another (hear the collective millennial groan) recession within 20 years, more people are having to stress about money. Companies are doing hiring freezes, mass layoffs are happening across industries, and a lot of people are barely surviving. It’s easy for our mental health to deteriorate as we watch our bank accounts closely every second of every day, and that’s why this advice, as unorthodox as it sounds, is actually incredibly important.

If you have it, screw it. Buy the damn $5 coffee.

I know. Not this conversation again, but hear me out:

For years millennials (but really anyone who enjoys lattes made at the hands of a flannel clad barista) have been gaslighted into thinking they were financially irresponsible for wanting to buy their coffee in the morning, versus making it themselves. Financial insecurity is one of the greatest sources of anxiety and depression for me, easily contributing to that feeling of low self-worth that keeps me up at night. 

For years I did the responsible thing, making my coffee from home, every single day. Then one day I decided to say “screw it,” and I went to the nearest coffee shop and got a café mocha with four pumps of simple syrup and extra chocolate drizzle.

Here’s what happened:

I was still depressed and anxious and I was down $6.44. However, I got a single secular moment of peace paired with a nice little serotonin drop that helped me start my day off right.

Sometimes, there’s going to be financially “irresponsible” things that bring you joy that you shouldn’t technically do because you’re on a tight budget, and by tight budget I mean you’re broke as a joke. However, I find myself more anxious with more of my mental illness symptoms showing up when the only thing going through my mind is what I “can’t” do and what I “can’t afford.” Don’t get me wrong, I’m not made of money, and there are times I still have to say no, but this small thing that I could do for myself offered me a little moment of joy in a really shitty life. It affirmed me in the sense that it reminded me that I still deserve nice things, even if I’m not upper class. 

Financial anxiety is a bitch, and you can’t budget your way out of being poor, but if it’s not going to overdraft my account, the small monetary glimpse of happiness I get from my morning coffee run is worth it. I think we need these moments to help push us forward when everything is going wrong, because without them, we’re stuck in a sad cycle that keeps us feeling stagnant and depressed. 

The world is on fire and we have to work through it as if nothing is happening. We’re already living with mental illnesses and health conditions that can make everything all the more challenging. If you hate your life and maybe even don’t want to live it, the smallest thing you can do for yourself is get that artisan coffee and have a few moments of peace, courtesy of some brown beans from Colombia, Costa Rica, or some other country in the coffee belt.

Getty image courtesy of Guido Mieth

Originally published: July 9, 2022
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