'I was that depressed I was pulling at my skin' - pageant queen on how being on stage helped overcome depression
PUBLISHED: 15:57 05 September 2019 | UPDATED: 15:57 05 September 2019
When Megan Casey received a message asking if she had ever considered entering a pageant, she thought it was a joke.
After having suffered a life-time of abuse because of her weight, the 29-year-old could not think of anything worse than standing on a stage in-front of hundreds of people.
But after finding the courage through the support of her family, she decided to do her first ever pageant, which she says has changed the rest of her life.
Today Ms Casey, from Barnham near Thetford, is known as Miss Norfolk Curve, has completed her second pageant and said she has never felt more confident in her own skin.
"Before the pageants I have never had any confidence, I have always been self-conscious," the single mother said. "I was that depressed I was pulling at my skin and bruising myself because I just didn't want it on my body it was horrible.
"I never used to look into mirrors other than when I used to beat myself up. It was hideous. I was on anti-depressants and I had to have counselling."
A few years ago, Ms Casey's depression and anxiety reached an all-time low, as her relationship broke down.
"I have always been big. I have always suffered. I have always been bullied. But when someone you love tells you that you're over-weight and not attractive then that's when it really hits you," she added.
She was pregnant at the time and although she felt beaten down from the verbal abuse she had suffered about her weight, Ms Casey knew she needed to find the strength to be the best mum she could.
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On August 24, Ms Casey placed as second runner-up in the Miss British Beauty Curve 2019, and says that next year she is going for the crown to prove to her son that you can do anything no matter what you look like.
She added: "Me getting on that stage is my way of showing my son that no matter who you are, or what you look like, you can achieve whatever you want.
"Yes I'm big, but I'm now a plus-size model and a pageant girl and I never thought that any of this would happen."
Since the pageants, Ms Casey has found work as a plus-size model and met star diva and plus-size advocate Gemma Collins and says she cannot believe how different her life is compared to a few years ago.
Taking part in pageants is not just about looks, as Ms Casey says she has also found a sense of happiness and fulfilment in her charitable work.
Last year, as Miss Norfolk Curve, she raised nearly £2,000 for East Anglia's Children's Hospices (Each) and received a letter from Kensington Palace on behalf of the Each patron the Duchess of Cambridge.
For her next project, Ms Casey is hoping to 100 donate boxes filled with supplies to Lighthouse Women's Aid, a refuge for women and their children who have escaped domestic abuse.
"I chose Lighthouse because a few people I know have gone into refuge," said Ms Casey.
"They literally have nothing because their abusers can take everything away from them and when they go to a refuge they have to leave everything they own behind. It is heartbreaking especially for the children."
Ms Casey has urged the Thetford and Barnham communities to donate items to be given to the women and their children when they arrive at the refuge.