A BEAUTY queen who was crowned Miss Intercontinental Ireland in 2017 has started a new full-time role with North Belfast suicide prevention charity PIPS.
Life for 23-year-old Nadia Sayers has not been easy. Just two years ago, the Omagh native was afraid to get out of bed after being overcome with suicidal thoughts, crippling anxiety and depression.
“Two years ago I was at the peak of being unwell, I tried to take my own life,” she explained.
“I wasn’t able to dress or wash myself. My mum had to take me back home to Omagh and sit me down in front of a doctor so I could get help.
“I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety. I was then put on a long waiting list and put on anti-depressants medication. I eventually started receiving treatment from a mental health specialist. I still have two sessions left after a year and a half of treatment.
“ I remember coming out of my fourth session. I went home and hugged my mum and burst out crying because it was the first time I felt I was getting the help I needed.
“I have been off medication now for six months. I am in a completely different place. It’s was 24th birthday recently. I never thought I was going to reach my 23rd birthday, never mind my 24th.”
Nadia first came across the world of beauty pageants just before she became unwell and it was a journey that would take her to world recognition.
“I never seen myself as a typical beauty queen. I like rock music and eyeliner. A friend made a joke about me entering a beauty contest. I won Miss Earth Northern Ireland in 2013 and competed in Birmingham. It was such a great experience.
“In beauty pageants there is a stereotype that it is a very aggressive and unwelcoming hobby – it’s completely different. I have made so many friends.
“Whenever I wasn’t well, I lost interest in everything I enjoyed. I didn’t know what was wrong with me.”
Nadia, who is a psychology graduate, now wants to use her range of experiences and her own mental health troubles to help others so that they too can follow their dreams.
Nadia has been volunteering with PIPS Charity on the Antrim Road for six months and this week started a full-time role as Youth Development Coordinator.
“Because I had my own experiences with mental health in the past, I wanted a job where I could raise awareness of help and support available for people who are in the position I was once in.
“I came across PIPS Charity and learnt about their amazing work and just how important a resource they are for people in the local community and beyond.
“They offered me the opportunity to get involved in their ‘Hope’ campaign which was a suicide awareness and prevention campaign in schools, youth clubs and businesses delivered to young people.
“I was doing it for six months before I was offered a full-time job as Youth Development Coordinator, which I started this week.
“I am going to use my own experiences because I feel I have the personal experience of suffering mental health problems myself and I can help others who are in a similar position.
“No-one came to my school or work to tell me where I could go for help. Now I want to help others who were in the same position as me a few years ago.
“If I can help one person, my job will be done. I would have loved to have been one person who got help when I needed it the most.
“I have a passion to work to campaign to remove the stigma regarding mental health and break down some of the barriers to local help.”
Nadia Sayers is the new Youth Development Coordinator for PIPS Charity. Contact her by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you are feeling in despair or know someone who is, contact PIPS Charity on 028 9080 5850