Keira Ensell-Brennan, a cheerleader for Doncaster Knights rugby team, is currently preparing for a beauty contest this Sunday.
She currently holds the title of Miss Social Media for Yorkshire but she said it had been a long journey to success in the thing she loves most.
Keira suffered with depression, anxiety, self-harm, suicidal thoughts and panic attacks for years during secondary school but after discovering beauty contests she found her confidence and joy for life returned.
She said: “I can’t really remember when it started I just remembered being stuck in the phase where I didn’t want to get up in the morning, I didn’t want to wash or brush my hair - life was pointless and it all just came out of nowhere. It was worst in school if I started to feel anxious I’d have to leave or I’d lose it and have a panic attack. “When telling someone you’re having a panic attack they don’t realise how awful they are, you can’t physically breath you feel trapped and all dizzy and all you need to do is get out of this bubble your stuck in but it just won’t pop.”
During a particularly bad day at school which ended with her climbing over the fence and running home, she realised she needed help.
Keira received help from CAMHS but said it was with support from her family and starting beauty contests that helped her ‘break out of the cycle’. “It helped my confidence so much, I wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for this amazing competition. I found myself in it and I’m forever grateful it exists.
“When I look back I do wonder how I made it through and how awful of an experience it was. A lot of people would never have known I went though this because I have always been such a fun loving person but it really is true not to judge a book by it cover because you never know what the real story will be.”
She now helps others deal with their own demons and gives talks around the region.
Keira said the competition has been a great way to make new friends and try new opportunities. She said: “All the girls are so nice, and we aren’t just judged on appearance, it’s on how a number of things including how you help the community. “There are so many opportunities with it and no pressure to compete. If you don’t win you aren’t heartbroken because the girl who did win is probably a good friend.”
Previous challenges for the competitions have included all sorts including baking extravagant cakes to creating outfits to match a theme.
She encouraged anyone feeling like she did “not to give up” and to have hope that things will get better. The upcoming competition takes place over a series of heats, one of which takes place on Sunday. For more details go to https://www.missengland.info/qualifiers/grimsby-district/#