Bekah Georgy

@bekah-georgy | contributor
Bekah Georgy is from New Hampshire and has had anorexia nervosa, depression and anxiety for over half her life. She is also a dancer, singer and a Christian. She loves to write and put a smile on other people.
Bekah Georgy

How My Mother Goes Above and Beyond Helping Me With My Illnesses

For the past 14 years, I have struggled severely with anorexia nervosa. My mom has helped me in and out of treatment, hospitals, watched me at deaths door more times than I can count, and has driven me to numerous therapists, dietitians and treatment centers. But more recently, I have learned I have multiple extremely rare chronic illnesses that makes things 100 times more difficult for both myself, my recovery, and my family and friends. The first chronic illness I was diagnosed with five years ago was postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS). At first, it was seen as just my eating disorder effecting my blood pressure and heart. Eventually, when I was somewhat stable in my eating disorder and my symptoms were not improving, we knew something was seriously wrong when I would pass out multiple times a day. I spent at least once a week in the ER and being admitted to the hospital. This prevented me from driving which caused me to rely on my mother for rides to numerous cardiac specialists. There went more gas money, wear and tear on her car, and it feels like more time wasted. The next chronic illness I was diagnosed with was about two years ago. Gastroparesis. This one was also frustrating for my treatment team and family. Gastroparesis pretty much translates to paralysis of the stomach. If I try to eat food normally, my body just instantly rejects it because it sits in my stomach and goes nowhere. The only way out is up. At first, my team and mother blew it off as my “eating disorder talking.” Or that I was just trying to find an excuse to not eat. Finally after being in a treatment center in Arizona, and being compared to the other girls who could eat large meal plans and not have it come back up, we realized something again, was wrong. Over the past two years we have gone to four different gastrointestinal doctors, my current one being about an hour away from where we live. The gas money, wear and tear on her car, and time quickly started to pile on more and more. Not only that, she now had to accept that her daughter would most likely have to have some kind of feeding tube for the rest of her life. This I can imagine is not easy for any parent to handle. The final chronic illness I was just diagnosed with about four months ago, also a very rare illness is called Ehlers-Danlos syndrome. Thisparticular illness has caused my mom to spend the most gas, time, and energy for since so very few doctors even know about it. Ehlers-Danlos syndrome comes in four types. I have type four. It is a disease that effects the collagen fibers in the body and basically makes them default and not as strong as a healthy persons would be. I am prone to dislocations, subluxations and severe joint pain. In the past year and a half I have had two ankle surgeries, countless X-rays, MRIs, and other imaging done. We travel an hour and 45 minutes one way to get to my specialists. Each time we go, it seems we have more and more bad news that involves us making a trip up north sooner then we both would have expected. Sure, my mother gets frustrated on occasion, as would anyone who has to spend hours in a car, or hours with their daughter who is so sick. And sure, she may complain once and a while, but what person wouldn’t? But she still helps me. She still spends the money she doesn’t have on gas to get me to these appointments, and spend nights in hotels. And she gets me the help I very much need. She is always there when I wake up from surgery. She stays with me on an uncomfortable, hard, and itchy cot in the hospital because I am in so much pain I am terrified to be alone. She could more comfortable in a hotel bed or her own bed, but she would rather be there to support me. She doesn’t have to do what she does. I am an adult, I am 24 years old. She could have given up on me the second I turned 18, or sooner in reality. This isn’t what she signed up for. As Mother’s Day approaches, I have so much to be grateful for when it comes to my mother. I want her to know how much I truly appreciate all that she does to help me find my way to a healthy life. My mother is a true superwoman. 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 . We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here . Thinkstock Image By: Nikodash

Bekah Georgy

What It's Like Trying to Hide My POTS

Living with the illnesses I live with provides enough struggle to get through the days. Most days it feels like climbing Mount Everest to just pull myself out of bed. Never mind the added energy, motivation and determination it takes to hide my illnesses, or symptoms I am experiencing. You see, living with mental illness is hard enough. When you add in the factor that you have chronic medical problems, it makes appearing “normal” seem impossible, especially when you are living with postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS). I used to be a very active, energetic, full of life girl until these life-sucking symptoms started appearing as an adolescent. I used to dance hours on end for a studio, I used to run, go on hikes, ride my bike and go on long walks. Now? Many days I can’t go from sitting to standing without the walls feeling like they are closing in on me. First comes the seeing stars, followed by tunnel vision, which is often followed by blacking out/fainting if I do not quickly sit. Sometimes sitting does not even prevent from the inevitable from happening. How do you pretend like everything is ok when your heart is beating out of your chest and everything you look at feels like you are looking out of a pair of glasses that show the world through a fun house mirror? How do you focus on the fun going on around you when you’re full of fear of POTS taking over? When you look at me, I appear to just be a normal 23-year-old. I don’t “look sick.” I am not losing hair from cancer, I don’t use an oxygen tank, and I don’t have a physically evident disability. Many medical professionals have not even heard of POTS! Sure, I may look “too thin” from my other illnesses, but sadly many see this as a strength, not a weakness. So what do I do? I smile, I pretend like everything is great and life is great. I pretend I know what everyone is talking about, when in reality I can barely see straight a lot of the time. I pretend I have a normal life. When people ask me “What do you do for work or school?” I respond with my wishes for my life, that I am “working on” becoming a pediatric nurse, when in reality I don’t have one year of college under my belt due to my illnesses. But hey, it sounds good right? And it’s not a lie, I do want to become a pediatric RN. When I am sitting at a concert instead of standing and dancing and singing along and I’m asked why, I respond with, “Oh, I am just tired,” when in reality I don’t want to cause an embarrassing event of the paramedics showing up. Or another famous question: “Why don’t you dance as much as you used to? You are beautiful at it!” I usually respond with “I am focusing on other passions such as nursing and singing,” which isn’t fully true because most of my weeks are spent at appointments. It is a full-time job trying to act healthy when you’re not. Your world can become narrower, with less people, less events you can attend, but more depression and emptiness. We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here . Lead photo by Thinkstock Images

Bekah Georgy

Response to Meme About Food Stamps and Disability

I generally don’t tell people I’m on disability and receive food stamps. I grew ashamed and embarrassed that I needed this assistance to survive. I like being independent, and people look down on me when they learn I get help . But lately, I notice more and more people bashing those who receive financial support. I’m not keeping quiet any more. Yesterday I signed on Facebook, scrolled through my newsfeed and this photo popped up: My body overflowed with anger. Society often pins people who are receiving SSI, disability, food stamps (or really any sort of financial aid), as addicts or alcoholics, or someone out to abuse the system. But according to the United States Census, “about 56.7 million people — 19 percent of the population — had a disability in 2010.” Here’s what else you need to know: About 8.1 million people had difficulty seeing, including 2 million who were blind or unable to see. About 7.6 million people experienced difficulty hearing, including 1.1 million whose difficulty was considered severe. About 5.6 million used a hearing aid. Roughly 30.6 million had difficulty walking or climbing stairs, or used a wheelchair, cane, crutches or walker. About 19.9 million people had difficulty lifting and grasping. This includes, for instance, trouble lifting an object like a bag of groceries, or grasping a glass or a pencil. Difficulty with at least one activity of daily living was cited by 9.4 million “ non-institutionalized” adults. These activities included getting around inside the home, bathing, dressing and eating. Of these people, 5 million needed the assistance of others to perform such an activity. About 15.5 million adults had difficulties with one or more instrumental activities of daily living. These activities included doing housework, using the phone and preparing meals. Of these, nearly 12 million required assistance. Being frequently depressed or anxious, and other mental illnesses such that it interfered with ordinary activities was reported by 7 million adults. Overall, the uninsured rates for adults 15 to 64 were not statistically different by disability status: 21 percent for people with severe disabilities, 21.3 percent for those with non-severe disabilities and 21.9 percent for those with no disability. I am one of the many in the country who receive financial aid. I have been on disability for about four years. I have multiple chronic illnesses that prevent me from holding down a full time job to support myself. I battle with anorexia, depression and anxiety (I am not going to get into the debate of whether those are illnesses — that is a blog post in itself). I also struggle with gastroparesis, postural-orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS) and many other medical complications. They leave me feeling constantly fatigued, dizzy and with chest pain and palpitations. I would love more than anything to be able to attend a full time job . But my body and mind prevent me from doing this. I think sometimes people who can work take for granted what a privilege that really is. Sure, it can be annoying to get up early, or work late, or miss social events. But what if you had to miss those same events because your body simply wouldn’t let you go? You don’t have the energy and you constantly feel like you have the flu. But your illness is invisible, so you have to pretend everything is OK. You don’t look sick on the outside, so you must not be sick, right? Wrong. If it weren’t for the help I’m able to receive, I would be homeless or maybe even dead. And like many other Americans, I too live check to check. I do not have money to spend on luxuries and electronics. Many times I have to turn down going to a movie or out to eat because I do not even have $10 to spare. I don’t receive enough food stamps to feed myself a decent amount. So in my experience, that picture above is not accurate . The amount of money I get in food stamps a month? Less than $30. The only places I ever drive to (when I have the energy) are my appointments because I don’t have enough money to spend on gas to go anywhere else. I don’t smoke or drink, and I’ve never tried drugs (yes, including weed). I’m not saying people don’t abuse the system. I’m sure people do. But far more people actually need the assistance. On top of that, t he government does not take those applications lightly. It’s difficult to get help. And just so you know: You cannot buy alcohol or cigarettes with your food stamps. For some reason, many people believe you can. (And for the record, we should empathize with, not judge, people who struggle with addiction.) According to the United States Department of Agriculture: Households can use SNAP benefits to buy: Foods for the household to eat, such as: breads and cereals; fruits and vegetables; meats, fish and poultry; and dairy products. Seeds and plants which produce food for the household to eat. Households cannot use SNAP benefits to buy: Beer, wine, liquor, cigarettes or tobacco Any nonfood items, such as: pet foods soaps, paper products household supplies vitamins and medicines Food that will be eaten in the store Hot foods Please, before you judge someone, be grateful for what you have in life. Because there are others out there who do not have what you have. The Mighty is asking the following: Describe a meme, image or sign you’ve seen shared online that struck a chord with you, for good or for bad. Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.

Bekah Georgy

To the Little Girl With an Eating Disorder

Dear sweet child, I know your pain, I know your torment and I know your struggles. I can see through your plastered on smile and fake laughter. I can see through your artificial confidence. Why, you ask? Because I’ve been where you are now. Truth is, maybe I’m still there. But sweet little girl, you are worth more. You are more than a number on a scale, or the size on the itchy tag attached to your jeans. You are more than what’s on the outside. I’m sure many people have told you this, and I know it can feel hard to believe. Maybe you you look in the mirror and want to die. You don’t understand how people see you. You tell yourself they’re blind, or that they’re lying to make you feel better about yourself. But my love, they are not. You are one of a kind. There is no one else on this world like you. I don’t know if I’ll make an impact, because as I’ve said, I’m sure you’ve heard numerous times how beautiful you truly are, but I hope you’ll listen. I’m a young woman who feels the same way about herself. A young woman, who at age 10, started starving herself. A young woman who was once that same 10-year-old, who is now almost 23. A young woman who believed those lies for so long  she almost died way too many times to count. A young woman who spent most of her young life hating herself, wondering why she is the way she is. And sweet little girl, I don’t want you to make the same mistakes that I have. Anorexia won’t bring you happiness, it will bring you the opposite. It made me miserable. You might not be able to get out of bed, never mind run a race, or go to prom and dance, or even have the energy to just shower. Maybe you’ll become thin, but you’ll never see it yourself. No matter how much weight you lose, every time you look in the mirror, you will see the same girl staring back at you. You see, you lose more than weight. I lost friends, jobs, boyfriends, sports, hobbies, my grades and my will to live. It left me laying in a hospital bed being force fed through a feeding tube. You may be thinking that this will never happen to you, that you will stop before it gets to that point. Well precious child, I thought the same thing, and now, thirteen years later, I’m sitting in a nursing home being force fed through a tube, unable to walk because my muscles are too weak. I wish at the age of 10 I had the words to reach out for help. Sure I can recover now, but I’ve not attended college yet and I can’t hold down a job. I’ve lost a lot of my life because of this. So sweet girl, when I tell you you are beautiful, know I’m not lying. It’s the mirror lying to you. It is the voices in your head lying to you. My prayer and wish is that you start to believe this. Do for me what I could not do. You are worth so much more than all of this. Sincerely, A young woman who cares. 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.

Bekah Georgy

To Rachel Platten, Who Gives Me Strength to Conquer My Demons

I am sure you get many letters, fan mail and gifts. I didn’t send you a letter about how you’ve helped me because, well, I am sure you get lots of those. I recently saw you singing with a young girl who has cancer, and your song “Fight Song” helped her immensely. You see, there are many illnesses out there, not just physical ones but mental ones, too. And I want to express how you have helped me. I have been struggling with anorexia nervosa for almost 13 years. People tend to brush it off because they don’t understand the facts about eating disorders. They quickly classify us as vain, attention-seeking and selfish. But this is far from the truth. There are many reasons I developed this disease. I have a lot of family issues and I have a personality trait of being a perfectionist (it’s my one sense of control). I didn’t have an image in my head of a celebrity’s body that I wanted to attain. I just wanted to be thin. I wanted to be skinny enough to be loved, to be perfect. I just wanted to be enough. When my anorexia started at age 10, I didn’t even know what an eating disorder was, never mind that I had one. It quickly escalated and I developed severe medical issues. I have almost lost my life numerous times, and I believe the only reason I am alive has to be God. I’ve had heart damage, and there was one point where most of my organs were shutting down because I was in septic shock. My latest health scare happened a few months back. I started having multiple seizures a day. I ended up in the hospital where I spent three weeks trying to get them under control. Bekah Now, for the past month I have been stuck in a skilled nursing physical rehabilitation facility — a 22-year-old in a nursing home. I lost almost all muscle strength in my legs. I can’t even stand longer than 30 seconds, and that is with a lot of help and support from someone else, so technically I am doing half the work. I constantly think to myself, How did I let it get this bad? I would tell myself that I am done, that this is what is going to kill me. Until one day, I was down in physical therapy and we decided to play a song to help me get through the excruciating pain that struck my legs. We played “Fight Song.” I instantly started crying while I was trying to stand. Tears of joy. It motivated me greatly. I carefully listened to the words and knew they applied exactly to my situation. I kept telling myself I will get better, I will be able to stand again and dance. I will conquer this eating disorder and depression and anxiety. You see, my dream is to help people through music like music has helped me. I actually do sing — would I give anything to get to sing with you. I think people need to also see the reality of eating disorders — they are not glamorous, they are deadly diseases, tormenting and affecting you both mentally and physically. I call it cancer of the mind. I have tried to kill myself five times because I thought it was the only way out of this demon. But I thought you should know that “Fight Song” really helps. I also looked into the background of why you wrote it, and I resonate completely. I want to make it in the music industry as well. My dream is to help people through music like it has helped me. I doubt you will get to read this, but I pray you will. You deserve to know your song is helping people of all struggles and challenges. If you or someone you know needs help, please visit the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. You can also reach the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741. Head here for a list of crisis centers around the world. The Crisis Text Line is looking for volunteers! If you’re interesting in becoming a Crisis Counselor, you can learn more information here. The Mighty is asking the following: Share a powerful moment you or a loved one has had with a public figure. Or, write a letter to a public figure who you feel has helped you or a loved one through his or her work. If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to community@themighty.com. Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio. Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines. Lead photo credit: YouTube user madbadhadsad screenshot

Bekah Georgy

To the Insurance Company That Sees Me as Just a Number

My name is Bekah. But all you probably know is my ID number on a piece of paper or computer screen — either of which you will use to judge whether or not I’m worthy of potentially lifesaving and life changing care and treatments. But most of the time you seem to deem me unworthy. You’re either asking for more at a pace I cannot tolerate, or you’re telling me I’ve “progressed enough” and that I don’t need any more care. All cases are not the same. Some struggle more than others. Let me tell you a little about myself, so you don’t just see me as a number. I am 22 years old, closer to 23. I’ve been a competitive dancer since the age of 3 and it’s one of my many passions in life. I also love to sing, help lead praise and worship at a church and hope to further my music. I also want to go into the medical field and become a pediatric nurse — I love kids and I love helping people. I’m a nanny for 2-year-old twins and absolutely adore them and my job. But right now, I’m the one in desperate need of help. I’ve suffered with anorexia nervosa for almost 13 years, starting at age 10. My disease isn’t about being pretty or glamorous, as many seem to think. One factor you probably don’t know that contributed to my illness is that I was sexually abused from ages 4 to 5 and again at age 7. I can trace a deep hatred to my body back to age 3. Eating disorders are dangerous — anorexia nervosa has the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric disorder. I do not want to become another statistic. As you probably know, due to malnutrition I have had lots of muscle atrophy and weakening, not to mention a severely injured ankle. But I’m trying my damn hardest every freakin’ day to gain strength back at this skilled nursing facility/physical rehabilitation center. I’m 22, not 90 — I have a full life left to live, preferably walking and dancing through it. Why do you get that power to cut me off because I couldn’t stand an extra 30 seconds or turn my feed rate up due to nausea? Sure, I may not reach those goals at the snap of a finger; maybe I stand an extra 5 seconds. The fact that I’m even keeping my feed on is huge progress in itself. For once I can say I think I’m finally starting to do a little better, 13 years later. To cut me off in the middle of this is wrong. It’s a death sentence. How come you get to determine what “enough” progress is? You don’t know my name, you don’t know my story and you don’t even know my face. All you know me by are notes scribbled down on paper then transferred to computer. Why not try talking to the client? Why not try hearing them out and understanding where they’re coming from? As for me, I’m taking steps. They may be baby steps, and maybe I’ll even take three forward and then six back. Maybe I’ll have a rough day or week, but does that make me unworthy of care? I ask that you stop determining what I’m worthy of by a stupid number, or note, or assumption. I am a damn human being. Bekah at her treatment facility If you or a loved one are affected by sexual abuse or assault and need help, call the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 1-800-0656-4673 to be connected with a trained staff member from a sexual assault service provider in your area. The Mighty is asking the following: Write a letter to anyone you wish had a better understanding of your experience with disability and/or disease. If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to community@themighty.com. Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio. Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.

Bekah Georgy

Anorexia: How I Met My Boyfriend in a Psychiatric Hospital

When you’re admitted to a psychiatric hospital, you expect many things — long boring days, lots of medications, loneliness, arts and crafts, restraints, seeing unimaginable events and maybe, if you’re lucky, a breath of fresh air for five minutes each day. But what you don’t expect is to make long-lasting friendships. You especially don’t expect to fall in love. Well for me, that’s what happened. In July of 2013, after a suicide attempt and a major decline in my health due to anorexia, I was placed in a psychiatric hospital. The doors slammed behind me as I rode in a stretcher. Horrifying thoughts and feelings flooded my mind as the reality finally hit me — this was going to be my home. I instantly panicked at the thought of being trapped inside. I felt like a prisoner. A prisoner on the outside and a prisoner in my own body. My chains? My own thoughts and distortions. For the first few days — or maybe it was the few weeks — I isolated. I didn’t want to see anyone, talk to anyone or hear anyone. I was in my own little distorted world, trying to cheat the system to avoid weight gain. After a month or so, I finally came out of my shell and left my room. I started attending most groups and activities, but I still felt isolated. It seemed like no one understood what was going through my head. Most of the other patients were struggling with drug addiction, alcoholism or other mental illnesses, and I felt like I couldn’t relate. Until that one evening. The evening that perhaps changed my life forever. I was so malnourished, I had to use a wheelchair. Michael happened to be in the same situation. I remember that evening perfectly. We were both sitting at the medication window waiting for our bed time meds so we could finally go to sleep. Something inclined me to introduce myself. That introduction turned into a two-hour conversation. We quickly realized how much we had in common. We both struggled with an eating disorder and suicide attempts. We laughed, sharing our painful secrets and memories. We connected on a level I had never connected with anyone. Eventually, Michael was transferred to the other unit solely for eating disorders. I thought that was the end. I thought I would never hear from him or see him again. It was just a great few days and that was all. Now, three years later, I’m proud to say Mike is my boyfriend. We’ve been together for five months, although it feels like it’s been much longer than that. This is the first relationship I’ve been in where I don’t have to hide my struggles and true feelings. Because I know he understands. Some question whether our relationship is healthy considering we both struggle with an eating disorder; I say this is the healthiest relationship I’ve ever had. He understands me and I understand him. We push each other to do better, to become fully recovered. Although Michael is much further along in his recovery than I am, it motivates me to get to that same place. I started to lose hope in ever finding anyone who understood me, but my dream has come true. They say that princes aren’t real, and I tend to believe that. Maybe there are only a few true princes in this world. I’m grateful to say I have been blessed with one of them. My future with him looks promising, and as long as we both stick to being healthy, who knows what we can achieve. How our paths crossed was unfortunate, but honestly, I don’t think I would change it if I could. Everything truly does happen for a reason.

Bekah Georgy

how to handle holiday stress with anorexia nervosa

As the first few weeks of November go by, my anxiety has been getting worse. I keep asking myself why? What’s so different? Then I remember — Thanksgiving isn’t far away. For many people, Thanksgiving brings pleasant memories: warmth, laughter, sharing, seeing family you haven’t seen all year and of course, stuffing your face to your stomach’s content. But when you have anorexia like me, Thanksgiving can be the most dreaded day of the year. To my family sitting around our Thanksgiving dinner table, let me try to explain what’s going through my mind. When I think of Thanksgiving I don’t think about positive things. I don’t have any excitement. I feel dread, anxiety, distress, depression, shame, guilt and fear. I’m not thinking about family time. I’m not thinking about the people I’ve missed. I’m not even thinking about what I’m grateful for. There’s one thing on my mind and one thing only: I am going to get fat. This fear is so dominating it keeps me from enjoying anything about this joyous holiday. I’m physically there, but mentally I’m gone. I’ve entered the world of numbers and my brain becomes a human calculator. My anxiety has gone from one to 100 just by walking into that room, let alone choosing what I’m going to put on my plate. When we all sit down at the table, people are talking, laughing and sharing stories. I feel like a shell of a human being. Anorexia is yelling at me the entire time. It’s like putting your headphones on and listening to a record on repeat — except this record isn’t nice. It’s screaming, “You don’t deserve to eat. You’re fat. You’re a failure. You’re disgusting. You’re unloveable. Everyone is staring at how much fatter you are than last year. Everyone will judge you if you eat. You’re ugly. You’re stupid…” That’s why I’m asking this year for my friends and family to please be patient. It takes courage and strength to sit at that dinner table. Here are some things you can do to make it a little easier: 1. Don’t comment on my looks. Even comments like “you look good” or “you look healthy” can be extremely triggering. It’s best to avoid appearance-oriented conversations all together. 2. Don’t comment on what I have on my plate or how much. People in treatment are sometimes on a meal plan and will base their meals off those guidelines. Bringing attention to portion sizes may raise my anxiety and increase eating disorder urges and behaviors. 3. Don’t discuss your own thoughts or worries about eating. Making comments about calories/fat in food, talking about diets or discussing exercise plans can encourage eating disorder thoughts and worries. It also sends the message that being full is not acceptable. 4. Please don’t watch me eat. I’m already uncomfortable and self-conscious — this will make it worse. 5. Do enjoy the food and model healthy eating behaviors. This includes not “fasting” to get ready for the meal and including a variety of food on your plate if you can. 6. Tell me how happy you are to see me. It could be exactly what I need to hear. 7. Plan other activities to do as a family. Distractions before and after the meal are very helpful. 8. Have normal conversations that don’t include talking about therapy and treatment. I want to be at that table. I want to spend time with you. The best I can do is just get through it, breathe and remember it’s just one day. I will survive. This eating disorder will not define me or beat me. If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, you can call the National Eating Disorder confidential helpline at 1-800-931-2237. Related: 40 Things People With Eating Disorders Wish Others Understood

Bekah Georgy

Starbucks Barista Pens Smile on Coffee Cup of Girl With Anorexia

Dear barista, You didn’t know me and you didn’t know my story. Most importantly, you probably didn’t know writing the simple word “smile” on my order would change my day for the better. When you look at me, you might assume I’m happy, bubbly, outgoing and full of life. But you don’t really see the complete me. You wouldn’t know that behind this plastered smile is a girl who has broken and fallen to pieces. You wouldn’t know this girl had so much self-hate, she starved herself  for over half her young life. Or that she’s tried to end her own life five times. I’m guessing you didn’t know these past few weeks, and that day particularly, had been extremely hard. You were just going about your job, unaware that writing a minuscule word on my drink would change my day and possibly my life. Maybe you wrote “smile” on my drink because you saw the feeding tube. Or maybe you could see past my fake smile because you’ve been where I am. Either way, I’m grateful. You didn’t have to make my order special. You could have treated me like another annoying customer. But you took that extra second to add some positivity to a life that’s been filled with so much negatively lately. You see, my day consisted of a horrible doctor’s appointment and a horrible therapy session. I was filled with hopelessness, and my suicidal thoughts were getting worse. When my anorexia is bad sometimes coffee is the only thing I can drink. But I was afraid to consume even coffee that day. If I hadn’t encountered that cup, I could have done more damage to myself that night. When I read that word, I couldn’t help but smile, literally. A simple act of kindness can mean the world to someone. It can provide hope for the hopeless. Now I plan to pass this hope along. So barista, thank you. Thank you for turning my day around. If you or someone you know needs help, please visit the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. You can also reach the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741. Head here for a list of crisis centers around the world. The Crisis Text Line is looking for volunteers! If you’re interesting in becoming a Crisis Counselor, you can learn more information here.