There are a lot things I credit my parents for, but raising my siblings and I to be respectful and kind to other people is high up on the list.
We were always encouraged to treat other people the way we want to be be treated, which meant whenever someone needed our help, we were ready to offer it.
Sometimes all another person needed was something as simple as a smile. As a child, I didn't fully understand why my parents put so much emphasis on being nice to people around us, but of course, as I got older, it all made sense.
Not only is being kind a characteristic of a good person, but just the simplest act of kindness could change another person's life.
Bekah Georgy's story is the perfect example.
Despite her young age, the teen from Salem, New Hampshire spent over half of her life battling depression, multiple chronic illnesses, including seizures, and anorexia.
She has been in and out of hospitals countless times, and at one point it all became too much to bear.
The eating disorder derailed the course of her life, and transformed her from a talented ballet dancer who loved life to someone who considered committing suicide on five different occasions.
"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," Bekah wrote on TheMighty.com.
She continued, "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."
Bekah explained that on difficult days, the only beverage she can drink is coffee. Not only is she able to keep it down, it also makes her feel happier and helps keep her brain alert.
One day, the teen was feeling particularly low and the suicidal thoughts were creeping back, so she decided to visit Starbucks for a little pick-me-up treat.
As expected, the barista took her order for an iced coffee, but it was what she did after that changed Bekah's life forever.
If you've been to Starbucks, then you're aware that the employees will ask for your name so it can be written on the cup.
However, in Bekah's case, instead of asking for her name, the Starbucks employee wrote something else on the cup, and it's exactly what the young woman needed at the time.
So what did the barista write that was so powerful?
The word "Smile" followed by two exclamation points and a smiley face.
Bekah was so touched by the barista's action that she wrote an open letter to her.
"I’m guessing you didn’t know these past few weeks, and that day particularly, had been extremely hard," she wrote. "You were just going about your job, unaware that writing a minuscule word on my drink would change my day and possibly my life."
She theorized that maybe the barista "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," but "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.”
Bekah then revealed that prior to walking into that Starbucks, she had an extremely rough day that "consisted of a horrible doctor’s appointment and a horrible therapy session."
“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.” She continued, "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," Bekah concluded.
Thanks to the kindness of the Starbucks employee, Bekah is still with us today. However, she still has a long road to recovery, and needs a lot of help.
Bekah continued to document her struggle with anorexia, mental illness, and other health complications on The Mighty.
She revealed that she had gotten treatment in the past, but it was against her will and did not do much to help her.
Now, she's ready to seek help and "finally destroy this demon," but it hasn't been easy.
In a note on a GoFundMe page started by Bekah to raise funds for her treatment, she revealed that she had been living in a nursing home for a year and a half, but the experience has been awful.
"I've been neglected, verbally abused and some other imaginable things have occurred. This place doesn't understand eating disorders, or trauma / ptsd, suicidality, depression or anxiety," wrote Bekah. "They don't understand my chronic illnesses of gastroparesis, POTS , seizures or ehlers-Danlos syndrome either. And I've been sinking, it seems so even faster lately."
Unfortunately, despite her being ready for treatment, her "insurance refuses to pay for any more eating disorder treatment."
Bekah admitted that she feels guilty asking for donations, but she desperately wants help.
"So I have to try and come up with funds on my own to save my life," she continued. "I feel guilty even asking anyone to donate because I probably don't deserve it. But I finally desperately want it. If anyone can help in anyway I'd greatly appreciate it, you are helping me save my life so I can in turn help save others lives."
She has a goal of $5,000, but unfortunately, that has not been met yet.
Thankfully, she has her faith and a solid support system, including her mother, that are helping her stay positive while she sorts out the money situation.
If you'd like to help Bekah, you can visit her GoFundMe page.