In the history of movies I don’t think I have identified more with a movie than The Breakfast Club. There are few movies that I will stop what I am doing to sit down and watch any time or day. It’s funny because no matter where you are in life those character types can be found, the athlete, the brain, the criminal, the princess, and the basket case. In school, at work, at church, on your dodgeball team… and in the psych ward.
The thing about the psych ward is it is a lot like being in detention. I would know now, having been in both before. The only real difference is that in detention you can use pencils unsupervised and no one ever asked you about your bowel movements. I mean, it’s practically a luxury resort when you put it in that context.
You can’t really stereotype people in the psych ward for mental illness. Everyone is there just to work on themselves and complete whatever treatment order they had been given. See? Just like The Breakfast Club, almost, except it’s a table full of basket cases. With more or less outbursts and/or Ally Sheedy’s dandruff.
There is a lot of stigma about the people in both detention and the psych ward, but I think we all know what society tries to tell us about mental patients. There is practically a whole category of movies on netflix dedicated to the topic. Isn’t that why Charlie Sheen has a career? After being in treatment for 8 days for exhaustion, depression, anxiety, and a wicked case of PTSD, I learned a lot about people and mental illness. Everything I ever needed to know about crazy I did not learn from my family… for once.
Crazy is not a word that is reserved for mental illness. I just happen to be crazy ALSO also have a mental illness. Not everyone can be as lucky as me. The thing about mental illness is that it’s such a pervasive entity within an individual, but is also just a very small part.
The people on the psych ward weren’t crazy. They were just people. They had feelings and stories and some of the biggest hearts I have ever met. There was as much healing in the conversations outside of group therapy as there was while meeting. I learned a lot about myself, too, from being immersed with individuals who were so much different than me. There were young people, old people, moms and dads, college students, and all of them so, so, so beautiful and precious. I think being in a place where you can be yourself, not hiding behind masks or whatever public persona, is one of the safest feelings.
To quote The Breakfast Club, “We are all bizarre, some of us are just better at hiding it.” And I had gotten really good at hiding my crazy. Hiding it down with the pain of memories, self-hate, fear, lack of control, and avoidance. The thing with that stuff is that you can’t avoid it for forever. It will creep up and show itself in hideously ugly ways and convince you of your worthlessness. It will drain you and evascerate you from the inside out. It will tell you that no one loves you and that you don’t matter. But you do matter. I matter.
Mental illness is not a joke. Depression does lie. It’s also just one of my demons. Sometimes those demons sit quietly, sometimes they mock, and sometimes the demons are me. But I’m getting better. I got help. I showed my demons who was boss (It’s pizza. Just kidding.) I know my triggers and I know my symptoms so that I can keep them at bay. I kind of even like myself today. I have great coping skills and the most amazing support system who are there for me and cheering me on because they want me to live. I will now loving refer to as my own Brat Pack, complete with several other basket cases. I am choosing to live.
But will still probably be a little bizarre. And that’s okay.