Profiles: Andres Alas, Junior

Shannon Coan, Feature Editor

Sitting in the corner by himself, contemplating suicide and whether or not to come to school the next day. This was the reality for current junior Andres Alas, who has depression and anxiety, as an elementary schooler.

“I was always playing a character or some type of role in a life that I didn’t want to live,” Alas said.

At a very young age, he isolated himself and put on a “mask” to pass as being OK. He was bullied for his sexuality, which caused him to struggle with his identity and what others thought of him. He shifted his focus away from grades and friends, leading him to feel alone in dealing with the negative problems that were going on in his life.

After much time and through changing the way he thinks about life, he has now accepted himself and no longer pays attention to what other people think, but he still goes through periods where he stops caring about life and reverts back to his old mindset. Aspects of his life still continue to add to his depression and anxiety, including the illnesses of his parents and his brother’s current suicidal thoughts, but he has developed coping mechanisms that generally keep him from getting into too negative of a headspace.

“Instead of being focused on [the negative] and being sad and depressed about it, I stay positive,” Alas said. “As much as things around you are negative, you can’t focus on that because if you focus on what is negative, eventually you become negative.”

Before he was focused on being a good dancer, he would just dance whenever he felt sad or anxious. While dance does sometimes make him more self critical or causes him to compare himself to others, he still uses it every morning, as a member of Advanced Dance, to help him release all of the stress or pent up emotions that he is feeling.

Music also helps calm him down and stay positive. For him, listening to lyrics and understanding what songs are about has given him a sense of solidarity.

“Listening to … songs where artists speak about their own experiences helped me because it reminds me that I’m not alone and that other people are going through something similar. It might be a little different, but at least I know I’m not alone,” Alas said.

Despite not believing in the efficacy of counselling when he was younger, he started going to counselling at Sequoia where his counsellor diagnosed him and helped him isolate issues and deal with them.

“[The Teen Resource Center] has actually been really helpful for me. I took the opportunity to talk to counsellors because sometimes talking about it just makes you feel better.”

For others going through difficult times, he recommends they focus on self love.

“Once you truly love yourself for every aspect of your life—all your imperfections, all the things that people might talk about or people might not like—once you finally accept it, you feel like a superhero. You feel untouchable.”