Perpetually smiling beauty queens get depressed too.
In an unusual admission on national television, newly-crowned Miss International Kylie Verzosa spoke of her personal experience with depression and how it fuels her drive to raise awareness of mental health.
In an interview with News To Go on Wednesday, Kylie admitted that her advocacy is close to her heart because aside from having family members with mental illnesses she has also experienced it firsthand.
Before being a model and joining local pageants, the Filipina beauty from Baguio City had a bout of depression for more than half a year.
“It's close to my heart. I have a lot of family members going through some mental health issues, like depression, bipolar disorder. I've been through it myself,” she said.
Kylie added: “I want to bring the message out there because there is a stigma towards depression and mental illness. It's not given a lot of focus because it's not a sickness that is very tangible. It's mental. There's a stigma surrounding it, and I'm out here to say that it's not okay.”
The international beauty pageant titleholder encourages “natural healing” as a way of recovery, but also wants to alleviate the stigma surrounding people who seek professional medical help.
aside from awareness, she said it is also important to understand that mental illness is a different journey for every single person who has it.
“'Yung unang step to be diagnosed is to be aware of it. Once you're aware of it, you take the necessary steps to cure yourself. I went through it naturally. I didn't know what I was going through until I was brought to a psychiatrist. It's a very difficult situation and I do think it's a big problem of the youth today,” Kylie said.
The beauty queen added: “[Natural healing] is more safe, but I'm not against taking it the Western way, or the medical way. It could be an option. It's different for every person. There are different ways to handle it. There's the natural way where you can do it by really changing your lifestyle. Then there's medicine, which can help you faster."
After winning the Miss International crown last month, Kylie has returned to the Philippines to fulfill her duties as a beauty queen.
“I would also like to focus on cultural diversity and international understanding. I have some projects planned for the future,” she said.
The beauty queen from Baguio City is the sixth Filipina to win the crown, following in the footsteps of Miss International 1964 Gemma Cruz, Miss International 1970 Aurora Pijuan, Miss International 1979 Melanie Marquez, Miss International 2005 Precious Lara Quigaman, and Miss International 2013 Bea Santiago.
Kylie is the newest victor from this year's line-up of Binibining Pilipinas beauty queens, following Nicole Cordoves, who was named first runner-up at the Miss Grand International 2016 three days before her win. —ALG/TJD, GMA News