themighty logo

How Creating My Own 'Breakfast Club' With Friends Helped My Anxiety

‘‘We’re all pretty bizarre. Some of us are just better hiding it than others.’’ — “The Breakfast Club”

I remember the first time I watched this movie. It was back in middle school when I was casually scrolling through the TV channels with nothing else to do. Currently at this point in my life, I was just finding out about my OCD, anxiety and depression. So, finding me on the couch staring at the screen blankly while flipping through the channels wasn’t anything new. Even though I say, “staring blankly,” I had millions of thoughts going on in my brain, but I just had no emotions. This was my life at the time and that was my first experience with “The Breakfast Club.”

Recently, I had the opportunity to go on a mission trip with one of the local churches on my college’s campus. We traveled down to New Orleans and got the opportunity to feed and talk to some of the homeless down there along with helping kids in the local community center. Usually our days didn’t end till almost 11 p.m. every night.

Most people would think to go to bed after a long day to wake up at 8 a.m. the next morning. But not the newly started “Breakfast Club.”

No, we weren’t the kids that got in trouble constantly and were put into detention. We were the ones who had things to get off our mind and staying up till almost 2 a.m. every night allowed us to build some personal friendships within a smaller group.

Every night, the six of us would gather in the courtyard and talk about things that we were the most passionate about or just wanted to get off our minds. This was considered our pretend “initiation” into the group. Each person had two or more soapboxes that they had the chance to talk about anything. They had complete control over the conversation and we could all just casually talk about the topic on hand.

Some people talked about their college majors and some went a little deeper into their personal lives. Such as what happened in the actual movie where the main characters talked about different scenarios or current situations occurring in their lives. I was given the opportunity to go into depth about my current mental illnesses and answered any questions they had. Most people don’t usually take the time to ask questions about what goes on in my mind. It allowed me to get comfortable with those within the group.

As the trip started to slowly come to an end, we all were saddened at the thought that our new group wouldn’t get to meet up as much as we had. Luckily, we had each other’s numbers to keep in contact and decide on times to hang out. We even created a group chat where we literally talk about our highs and lows for the day to make up for not being able to meet face-to-face.

With the group chat, we had decided to find times for us to get together to meet up at the library and even study together. Most of the time we usually never got anything done because we enjoyed hanging out together so much that we forgot the reason we were together. As the second semester starts to wind down, it seems that all our anxiety levels have increased dramatically. Not only was it anxiety over school work, but it was us getting worked up about things out of our control. In general, I usually am stressing about something daily, but this was new to me. I had people who understood what I was going through and found ways to help not only comfort me, but each other.

Everyone that was in the study room kept having a mental breakdown about two to three times each day in that very room. Even when I didn’t have any tests or homework to stress over, my emotions just completely took over and I felt like there were times I could not breathe. It felt like I was constantly drowning in my stress and was looking for a lifesaver to drag me out.

Luckily, I had my new group. A group that could help me through my multiple breakdowns I had and if I wasn’t able to find my voice to speak, they respected that. A group that didn’t care if I ended up asking the same question four times within 4 minutes because I wanted to make sure I heard it correctly.

As a “club,” we had a plan as to how we should help each other out. We all start the day with checking up on each other to see how everyone’s mental state is at that moment. Each time someone tells us about a time they really struggled during the day, we put a tally on our hand. At the end of the day, we look at the tallies and figure out ways we can help lower the number of tallies for a certain person.

It’s such a great feeling knowing that my peers and I can go to each other whenever we have a struggle. It doesn’t matter the time of day, we respond to each other and find ways to help. Even if it means 1 a.m. IHOP stops to just talk about our lives now.

While my newfound “breakfast club” doesn’t exactly have the basket case, criminal, athlete, princess or the brain in it, we are our own club. Each person is special in their own unique way with their own story. And while most of us didn’t like to talk about personal lives, especially with those we only spent a week with, we grew together. One of the members in the group told me, ‘‘Admitting what you go through is the first step to healing, and self-admittance.’’

He was right. That stuck with me because I never really opened to a group about my situation like this. Especially in this setting. Being able to go back to a group that knows your struggles in depth makes it all worthwhile knowing you’re not in the battle alone.

The movie says, ‘‘Screws fall out all the time, the world is an imperfect place.’’

I say, find those people in your life who are willing to help you pick up the screws and build something beautiful out of something that’s not damaged or broken, but needs a little help to get back to how things were.

I am an imperfect person who is friends with imperfect, yet such amazing people.

Unsplash photo via Helena Lopes