“We’re not demonic - we’re just human,” said a young woman hoping to use her new status to help reduce mental health discrimination.
Natalie Markwell, who celebrated her 19th birthday on Sunday, revealed she was in a small cafe and simply screamed with delight when she discovered she had been nominated as Miss Burgess Hill.
The teen, who comes from Woodland Avenue, Burgess Hill and is reading clinical psychology at university in London, admitted she entered the competition ‘on a whim’ after watching a TV series in which a pageant featured.
However, having progressed to the final she is determined to make a difference.
Natalie was diagnosed with bi-polar disorder type 2 last year after being beset with anorexia and depression in her early teens which saw her hospitalised twice and miss a year of schooling.
People with bi-polar disorder experience extreme swings in their mood, from overexcited manic episodes to deep depression.
“It just annoys me that there is so much discrimination out there,” said Natalie.
“I‘ve had people say stuff to me about my moods, and that I’m different or whatever, when I am not.
“I don’t want sympathy - I just want people to understand that I am the same.”
The pageant finalist continued: “I am a big campaigner for reducing mental health stigma.
“I suffer with bipolar myself and hope that by doing this I can represent a part of the mental health population to show that we are and should be treated just like everyone else.”
The charity Mind states that one in four of us will experience a mental health problem each year. Natalie is raising both money and awareness for the charity.
Miss Burgess Hill continued: “I am proud of who I am because I have come a long way. I missed a year of school because of my mental health but I still managed to get straight As, so it is not as if we are incompetent people - it’s just we’re struggling a bit.”
“I just want to get the message out there that we are normal people. It is just an illness.”
Support Natalie’s bid to win the pageant at here.