The student news site of El Camino College

El Camino College The Union

The student news site of El Camino College

El Camino College The Union

The student news site of El Camino College

El Camino College The Union

Not afraid to take a stand

Jesus “Jesse” Chan attending a Clippers’ game in Los Angeles. Photo courtesy of Jesus “Jesse” Chan

I remember what mornings used to be like, with the dim sunlight hitting my face. It was certain — a free feeling for a boy whose only worry was getting to school on time.

As a 13-year-old, I was lost in imagination creating comic books, writing movie scripts, or drawing. I was unaware of people making fun of me.

Other students did notice the stuff I worked on; however, they weren’t impressed. Instead, they would snatch them and flip through the collection I drew just for a good laugh.

Since most of my friends moved out of state a year earlier, middle school was when I started getting bullied.

I fell into the same age range of 11 and 13 as the adults who were bullied according to a Wiley Online Library article.

Desperate to be accepted, I would adopt a jokester persona that would leave me as an afterthought.

I wasn’t regarded as part of any group; I was merely around for their enjoyment, with jokes about my physical appearance becoming prevalent.

I would always stare at myself in the mirror and wonder what other people had that I didn’t.

The more time passed, the quieter I became.

Leaving my childhood home, my family moved closer to Venice, where I would attend high school; which means I would once again start over.

High school was a nightmare; it was the worst time of my life. I had no father to guide me and people I thought I had a relationship with abandoned me.

My lowest point came during my freshman year when I met a girl. As any teenager would, I developed a crush. I would write little notes during class because I was too afraid to speak up.

Those notes were shared around campus, and people would humiliate me for it with constant laughs as I walked past. They would Shout the girl’s name, knowing I’d turn my head looking.

Seeing everyone laugh, play sports and eat together finally caught up to me. One day my science instructor was informed of a suicide attempt.

My attempt.

That same day, I was taken out of school and put into the back of an ambulance that was driven to a mental health hospital, where I stayed for three weeks.

I recall the white-framed beds, pale-gray walls, and barred windows suffocating me with claustrophobia. I cried every night because I couldn’t sleep and wanted to go home.

I felt isolated.

In psychiatric institutions, patient safety is a top priority. However, the risk of suicide is 50 times higher according to the National Library of Medicine.

In the doctor’s opinion, I was on the verge of joining that percentage. Thanks to another patient, I didn’t.

Every day, he would eat at my table and encourage everyone else to laugh, play and watch the horror Si-Fi flicks. It wasn’t until my last day he admitted to doing so so that I may be released.

I never got his name but he saved me. I was fortunate to be his roommate because he never judged me.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and, unlike in previous years, I am not ashamed of who I am or what I have been through. I’m getting better at accepting myself.

Having gone through what I did, I, like 87% of Americans surveyed by the American Psychological Association, believe that mental health issues are nothing to be ashamed of.

With that said I am the one who sits alone, but I’m no longer afraid to be the outsider looking in.

For a long time, my desire was to be accepted by people, rather than feel happiness for myself.

That led to what would have been the end of my life. There is still a part of me that wants to be the white knight in shining armor for people but I was afraid to love.

I believe people who are afraid to be the best people to have in your life. They tend to be the most concerned and most loving kinds of people.

Even so, it has taken me 26 years to accept myself. I used to believe I didn’t belong in the world.

I hid my story for so long this is me escaping the negative constraints of my past. I’m not sure where my life will take me, but I know I’m destined to be the best friend, son, brother, and, perhaps, father one day.

My name is Jesus “Jesse” Chan. My story is one in a billion, and it’s not over yet.

I am not afraid.

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