In Ronald’s submission, he shares an inspiring and beneficial message about mental health awareness and we are proud to award him with the $1,000 Asana Scholarship to help him in his journey to becoming a Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP). (Submission below)

I am passionate about mental health because I almost lost my life to suicide. That said, I deserve a scholarship because my goals are the same as those of Asana Recovery: to support addiction treatment and serve others. Ultimately, I want to become a Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP) to reduce the number of suicides in America’s youth due to depression and lack of addiction treatment. My journey began with a presentation.

“You’re up,” said Mrs. Hirayama.

“Don’t trip!” I screamed to myself.

As I stood, I fell straight on my face. The class erupted in laughter. I did not know what hurt more: my face, or the fact that Mrs. Hirayama was laughing too.

I limped to the front of the room, where my knees started shaking like Shakira’s hips. When I opened my mouth, the only sound came from the ticking clock. My lips quivered.

I stared at the students as they stared back at me.

“Fatty!” yelled Chris.

Deprecating remarks were typical of my teen years as I struggled with obesity and depression. I ate lunch alone every day. My addiction to marijuana only added to my lethargy, and my weight further reduced my self-confidence.

I felt trapped. There was, however, a way out. I devised a plan to shoot myself with my dad’s gun.

When it hit 4 pm, I went to my mailbox to search for papers to write my suicide note. I cried when I read a postcard from my friend Nehemiah.

“Get busy living, or get busy dying. I love you!” he had written.

Something in me clicked. As I walked toward the gun, I trembled with the conviction that I was loved. At that moment, I challenged myself to start living.

I saw a psychiatrist, who prescribed antidepressants. I also reached out to Nehemiah for coaching, and I lost 100 pounds over two years. I broke down in tears several times in my journey. However, in my lowest moments, I remembered Mrs. Hirayama laughing at me and resolved to never let that happen again.

As my health improved, my self-confidence grew. I created new friendships, and my depression lifted as I grew to care for other people. Eventually, my drug addiction was replaced with self-love. When I fully accepted myself, I no longer needed marijuana to hide from my self-hatred.

In turn, I became an inspiration at my church, created the Fitness Association, and helped hundreds of people in turning their habits around. For example, Mr. Li set a goal to bike to work three times a week, and he lost over 40 pounds. I inspired people to change their lives.

After transcending suicide and reclaiming my life, I have decided to become a PMHNP to help those struggling with suicide. My own journey with depression and self-murder will allow me to give empathetic care. Ultimately, I hope to be a patient advocate so that no young adult struggling with depression or addiction picks up a gun to take his own life again.

Ronald Pan