21 Oct I like What You’re Wearing
I stop at Starbucks on a regular basis – a Grande White Mocha makes my mornings that much better! I am one of those regulars at my Starbucks – the type that doesn’t even have to tell her order because the amazing baristas remember exactly what I want and write my name on my cup without having to ask what my name is. In fact, the baristas have decided to rename me due to the difficultly of spelling of my actual name, and label my cups as “Allie”. Allie is a name I don’t go by at all, unless at Starbucks waiting for my drink. They are so kind and I tend to really enjoy the small talk that I have with them about what I have planned coming up in the day, or whatever else is brought up!
On my way into work one morning, I just so happened to be wearing my Recovery Is Beautiful shirt, and stopped into my Starbucks to get my delicious white mocha. Before I could even say good morning, the barista said, “Wow, your shirt is amazing! I really love it a lot!” Now I have been complimented before, and have had many conversations about my wardrobe choices, but nothing even comes close to what happened when I was wearing my Recovery Is Beautiful T-Shirt. As soon as I said thank you, she explained to me that she was an individual in recovery from a mental illness, explaining quickly her diagnoses, and how well she is doing. I explained to the barista that I too am an individual in recovery from a mental illness, explained how great I was doing, and then we both smiled at one another and said congratulations! I was so happy that she shared with me her story of recovery, and I could tell she was happy that I shared with her too. It always feels good when you connect with someone, but it is not common that I connect with acquaintances about something that is so personal to me, such as my mental illness.
But not this time! HOLY COW the normality of that conversation was something I have never felt before. It was like we were talking about something that everyone felt comfortable talking about, but it wasn’t just that – it was the light that was shown on it that got to me. We were talking about mental illness from a perspective of strength and triumph, versus the normalness of concern and misunderstanding that is commonly associated with the topic.
I thought for a second and really became overwhelmed with happiness from the conversation that occurred. Here we were, sharing our connection to mental illness, and talking about it in an incredibly positive light. It wasn’t conversation about the barriers we’ve faced, or the paralyzing symptoms that we’ve overcome, but a simple celebration of the fact that we were both here and doing well. Even now, trying to explain the feeling of that conversation and the comfort that we felt with each other is difficult. The only thing I know is that if this shirt continues to be the conversation piece that it has started to be, I’ll never want to take this shirt off. That’s what Recovery Is Beautiful has done for me, it’s made me proud to stand up and say that I am part of the mental health community, and I am proud of what I’ve overcome as well as what I represent.