Where are you from?
“I was born in Springfield, Illinois. My dad got a job and transferred down to North Carolina. I lived there until about a year and a half ago. I moved back up here not too long ago. It was a little brand new to me.
I’ve mostly stayed down South. I’m moving to Seattle in about a week and a half. My boyfriend, who is actually a former partner, landed a really good job there. I’m working about 20 minutes away from Pike’s Place.
I know I’m going to be completely biased, but it’s [North Carolina] one of the most beautiful places you can go. Even driving down the highway, there’s always some flowers planted and you can tell they actually care about how their land looks.
I come from the cliche, small country town. Everyone knows everyone and it was a really drastic change from living somewhere like that, to moving somewhere like here [Chicago].
Back home, if there was a random person on the street who needed help, there was a chance I had some sort of connection to them in my life. Everywhere I’ve gone in the South, everyone’s attitude is helpful and they care about you without knowing your last name.
I actually saw myself enlisting in the Air Force after high school. I tried to go through with that but I have anxiety, depression and ADHD. After that failed, I wanted to go to North Carolina State University. Back then, I wanted to become a chef with a minor in photography.
That quickly changed when I moved to Illinois. I made a promise to myself I would move back home in three to six months. When I first moved up here, I was miserable. I didn’t know anyone. It was a completely different world to me and I’m not good with change.”
Why did you decide to stay with Starbucks in Seattle?
“It’s by far one of the best companies I’ve worked for. Howard really takes care of his partners.
I remember last year when the pink drink started coming around, labor was down globally because of it. When you rang in the drink, the labor wasn’t accounted for. I remember one of my co-workers said they were in a meeting figuring out a way to cut costs. Someone suggested cutting partner benefits and Howard was like, ‘No.’
I mean, free Spotify is nice but things like the ASU program. That’s a thing that always stands out to me. When I interviewed at my store and my manager was telling me about all of the benefits, I was a little blown away.
There’s still hidden benefits I’m finding out about. Apparently, you get eight free therapy sessions a year through Starbucks. That’s one of the things that stands out to me most about this job, is how well taken care of we are.”
How do you feel you’ve changed since working at Starbucks?
“My patience has definitely increased. You deal with people before they get their coffee fix. Just the partners that I work with at my store, we’re all so close-knitted and such great friends.
They have helped me grow and hanging with them outside of work has helped me learn about myself as a person. Not even me as a barista, just me as a person. They’ve helped me realize all of my potential. I’ve never been so close to my co-workers. It’s really like one big family at my store.
I know we sound biased, but we really consider our store to be one of the best. There’s not really any drama and if there is, it gets taken care of immediately. Whenever we get hit with a random rush, I feel like in a moment like that, when you’re really busy, being friends with your co-workers really helps. When you see one of your friends struggling, you want to help them out.”
What is it like living with anxiety, depression and ADHD?
“ADHD is the least of my concerns. It can cause me to ramble on but I’ve never really been on medicine for it. My depression stemmed from taking medicine for it back when I was around 14. From my depression, stemmed anorexia. All of these things stemmed from me being on a simple ADHD medicine to stop my hyperactive mind.
Around all of the times I had severe depression in my life, there was a huge change. I like my life staying simple. Most of the change revolved around my dad’s health. He had to have heart surgery and I hated going to school because I didn’t want to leave my dad. When I got the news of his throat cancer, that was a huge weight on my shoulders.
I was in denial about my anxiety for a long time because I had all of these other things wrong with me. I didn’t want to have anxiety too. Another pill I have to be on.
Growing up, my mom always told me that, “You can’t care about what others think. They’re going to judge you no matter what. Do what you want to do”.
There was a time in my life where everything got out of control. All I really felt like I had was my mom and dad. My mom helped me get out of my rough spot. I was always very open with my mental disorders but I got shy with it. She snapped me out of it one day: ‘It doesn’t change your care for other people. If you let people affect you, you’re going to live a boring life.’
After I let myself get out of denial, I was able to take everything that’s considered wrong with me and be able to control it. I’m not on any medicines for it. Just being able to control it has helped me grow so much as a person.
I also got a huge wake-up call from one of my co-workers. She is one of the most inspiring people I’ve met because she doesn’t give a shit about what people think of her. She’s so content with who she is. She took me under her wing and she is a huge reason why I came out of my shell and why I got comfortable with my mental disorders. She has all of the ones that I do.
She handles it with such grace. She’s able to go on with her day because she has her husband and her kids who don’t look at her any differently because of her disorders.
One day, I was a hysterical mess. She sat in the back room with me when I got off work for like, an hour and a half, just calming me down. She really helped me learn how to cope with the change that I was going through and how to be comfortable in my skin.”
How did you come to terms with anorexia?
“Before I had anorexia, I thought it was solely that you look at yourself in the mirror and you see yourself as overweight, so you starve yourself. It was around the time my dad was dealing with his heart problems. My depression really took a toll on me. I was so depressed every day that I didn’t have an appetite.
It wasn’t until I started weighing myself or people started commenting on it that I was actually really unhealthy. I was slowly, but surely, killing myself. By the time I realized it, my body was so used to me not eating that whenever I would eat half of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, I would get so sick to my stomach and throw it up. I wasn’t used to having food in my system.
I didn’t want to tell my family because I don’t like to make people worry about me. My family had enough to worry about at this point.
I used to take cooking classes in high school. We watched a movie about a girl that was anorexic and who was starving herself. Halfway through the movie, I went to my teacher and told her I needed to see the counselor.
I went into her office and I just started breaking down. I told her that I was anorexic. Legally, she had to call my dad. He rushed into the room and he was so pale. Just so worried about me. He called my mom and we went to her work and told her.
My parents sat me down and it wasn’t until then that they realized I needed help. I was hurting and they weren’t giving me the amount of support I needed at the time.
After that, I started going to therapy every week. The road to recovery was probably more difficult to handle than the actual anorexia itself. By that time, I was so depressed that I didn’t want to go through recovery.
It wasn’t until I found out my sister was pregnant and that the baby was going to be living with us that, ‘I’m going to be a care taker for this child. I don’t know so many of my relatives.’ It sucked not growing up with relatives because your family shunned them or they died before you were born. I would never wish that upon anybody that I hate.
Once I found out I was going to be an active part in this child’s life, I did not want to be in a position where I needed to take care of myself. He was the biggest reason for me going through recovery. To this day, that little boy has my entire heart. If it was not for my sister being pregnant with him, I would not be here today. He was my number one motivation to go through recovery.”
Do you ever feel that you could fall back into your eating disorder?
“I think once you get into a certain disease, it is always going to be very easy and tempting for you to fall back into it. I’ll get spurts of depression where I’m really depressed for like, two weeks. During that time, I don’t want to eat. I’m not hungry – but I force myself.
Even if it’s just like, half a sandwich, I eat something. After I got out of recovery and hit my goal weight, I made myself a promise that I would do anything I had to do to take care of myself.
I can’t take care of my dad with cancer if I have to worry about myself. I can’t take care of my boyfriend when his anxiety is acting up if I have to worry about myself first. I’m always the kind of person that is putting someone before me. I will never let myself get back to that point of my life because it was absolutely horrible.”
What advice would you give to people with mental disorders such as anxiety and depression?
“You need to find a coping outlet to get yourself out of the bedroom. Out of the house. Find an activity or a hobby that you absolutely love to do. Find a person to be there for you.
One of the biggest things that I learned is don’t let it be your boyfriend or your girlfriend. People will rely on someone too much when that person does not have to be permanent in your life. Now, I solely rely on my mom.
It’s nothing against my boyfriend or that I don’t trust him. It’s that until there’s a ring on my finger, he’s not a permanent part of my life. That’s always been my biggest piece of advice is find someone who’s not going to judge you. Someone that’s not going to walk out on you and love you, no matter what you do.
You need to find something to distract your mind. You’re going to sit alone with your thoughts and hear this record player of your thoughts over and over. It’s going to destroy you. If you keep dwelling on the past, you’re never going to recover. You need to concentrate on your potential and what you’re capable of. Then, you have to force yourself to chase after it. Or, you’re going to stay in a rut.
I’ve seen people who have stayed in a rut and not gotten out of it. Some of them are in jail or in their parents’ house doing nothing. I’m not judging those people but I’ve seen the smallest form of depression take over someone. It’s absolutely heartbreaking.
There’s only so much an outside person can do for that person. You are the only one that is capable of changing you.”