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Starbucks Coffee, The PTSD Epidemic & You

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I’m Annmarie – a busy woman juggling a career, starting up a business, being a mom, wife, daughter and friend. In 2003, I had a mental meltdown and couldn’t hide from PTSD anymore. I gathered all I knew about life coaching, psychology and PTSD and decided to fight.

What I found out was focusing entirely on my mind was making it worse, seeing my therapist once a week wasn’t enough, and I couldn’t make my regular doctor understand the physical pain I was feeling. Then, I discovered a holistic approach that incorporates an entire team of helpful professionals and support people. In three short years, I was 100% symptom free and have been for almost nine years. But you might be surprised to know . . .

Starbucks saved my life.

Join me here at PTSD Relief for a series of four articles that talk about making real change happen in healing the lives of PTS survivors – veteran and non-veteran alike.  Like what you hear? Pass it along to a friend or colleague. We’re reaching out, hoping to walk through an open door. Plus, you never know who’s reading . . .

Part One

Care more than others think wise.

~ Howard Schultz, Starbucks CEO

Coffee. Always a staple in our household, while I was growing up. I’d run to the kitchen at the first pssssst! sound of the can opener piercing the top of what would later become my makeshift drum. Father would let me dip my nose close to the black grounds and linger at their intoxicating scent. At boring meetings attended by my parents, I always found my way to the coffee pot, but was disappointed when my young taste buds were betrayed with the awful, dirty-dishwater that only heavy amounts of cream and sugar could redeem.

Why didn’t it ever taste the way it smelled?

Then my mother discovered a tiny, little coffee mecca off of Pike Street in Seattle – Starbucks Coffee and Tea. One of their early #1 fans, she vowed to invest if the company ever went public. On my mother’s birthday, June 26, 1992, Starbucks Coffee Company went public at $17 per share, closing the day trading at $21.50. Sadly, she passed away just three weeks prior.

The love of coffee was sealed upon my soul by then, as a recent Facebook post said, “Starbucks is my blood type.” But something more began to grow within me as I ventured out into starting my first business as a life coach in 2000 – an intuitive knowing that I had something profound to accomplish and an ability to bring people of all kinds together to achieve great things.

Howard Schultz became the Willy Wonka of coffeedom to me. I read everything I could get my hands on about the entrepreneur. Something about his unusual way of putting people first, creating community and infusing his core values into a rapidly growing enterprise, right down to the barista on the front lines at your nearest cash register, ignited a dream for me. But the dream would have to wait . . .

until I woke up from a nightmare.

Deep in the abyss of Post Traumatic Stress (PTS), I had to abandon my life coaching business and devote myself to the 24/7 job of healing. The physical symptoms of PTS are excruciating. The mental and emotional torment exhausting. I had become agoraphobic. Trapped in my friend’s condominium for six months, unable to leave without great fear, strain and effort, I fought back.

PTS had ravaged my life, taken me from my family, eliminated my friendships and devastated my confidence. I felt worthless, hopeless, helpless, a burden to the one and only friend who stayed by my side. I needed to reconnect, reengage life, feel a sense of purpose and provide for myself. One of my reoccurring symptoms was waking up at 3 a.m. every morning. That’s when I made the connection . . .

While I was healing from PTSD, I needed an empowering, motivational environment with flexible hours to accommodate my limited stamina and overactive anxiety.

While I was healing from PTSD, I needed an empowering, motivational environment with flexible hours to accommodate my limited stamina and overactive anxiety.

As a life coach and friend to many, I often met people at Starbucks. Store managers would joke that I should be on the payroll, I spent so much time there. It gave me a casual, yet public place to help people overcome life’s challenges, believe more for themselves and find their passion.

I thought, Maybe Starbucks and coffee could do that for me.

Not to mention, I would be learning from ‘The Man’ himself by way of immersion. The flexible scheduling allowed me to work at a pace I could handle as I continued my healing, striving to overcome the easy flooding of my senses. I was already up at 3 a.m. anyway, so why not?

I ended up staying with the company for about 6 years, and when I decided to try my hand at influencing politicians to support PTS survivors at our state’s capitol, gave my notice. While I was at Starbucks, I helped store managers in two districts connect with their communities, resourced them with practical ideas on how to get their partners involved in local volunteerism, and spearheaded a collaboration with Project Linus. All while dissolving a 14-year marriage and healing from PTS.

That’s how Starbucks saved my life. Will Starbucks save the life of someone YOU love?

Stay tuned . . .



Partner #1195279

Are you a survivor? Tried everything you can think of to heal from Post Traumatic Stress? Tell us about your frustrations and successes in the comments below.

Remember . . . you never know who’s reading. Let Howard Schultz, and others supporting PTSD research, know where their dollars can best contribute to practical, effective tools that not only heal PTS, but transform survival into a life worth living.


5 responses »

  1. You have an amazing story Annmarie! And you are an AMAZING Woman!

  2. Pingback: The Risk Of Ignoring The PTSD Epidemic: Mortality, Money & Morals | PTSD Relief

  3. Pingback: Should The Middle Class Clean Up The Veterans Administration’s PTSD Mess? | PTSD Relief

  4. Pingback: Join The Conversation: PTSD Solutions, Starbucks Coffee & Facebook | PTSD Relief

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