My name is Rebecca Miller. I’m 21 years old, and I live with anxiety.

It started back when I was 12 in high school, when other students began making comments on my weight. I knew I was skinny, but the constant judgement by others made it difficult to change anything about myself. Before I knew it, I landed in a toxic cycle of constantly self-critiquing and judging myself. I would start missing classes due to overwhelming anxiety, and sitting through exams felt nearly impossible to me. It would take me years to begin feeling confident again.

No one at the age of 12 should be made to feel embarrassed about the way they look, or how much they weigh.

I remember my mum having to literally pull me from the car so I wouldn’t miss yet another day of school. At this point, I didn’t really know what anxiety was but I knew I needed help. I found myself at the doctor’s discussing my weight and the feelings I had been experiencing. The doctor described me as “dangerously underweight” and diagnosed me with anxiety as the root of my problems.

I was referred to an under-16 counselling service through CAMHS, and attended weekly sessions to discuss the connection between anxiety and my eating habits. I was with CAMHS for two years, and learned so much which helped me in my journey to now. I’ve been able to distinguish coping mechanisms that work for me, including breathing exercises and distraction methods. My most important coping mechanism was my mum, who took me to nearly all my sessions and was always there when I needed her.

After I was signed off from CAMHS, I started to gain confidence and face new situations. I faced my fears and managed my first job interacting with the public, which was a huge achievement for me. I wanted to keep my momentum going, and so I delved into unknown territory – modelling. This would be a huge moment for me, given I struggled so much with my body image throughout high school.

I reached out to a brand who were looking for catwalk models for an upcoming fashion show. One thing led to another and, after practising, I began walking in shows and taking part in full photo shoots! This little passion of mine helped me overcome so much anxiety, and kicked off my mental health healing journey.

Fast-forward to today. I’m 21 and finally at a healthy weight.

I’ve modelled, catwalked and, unbelievably, I’m now competing in a pageant! I’m a completely different person now. Don’t get me wrong, mornings can still be tough and there will always be days where I need to put my mental health first. But that’s okay.

It’s been a journey, but I can say the support from counsellors and mental health services has really been second to none for me. My goal now is to spread awareness of mental health services across Scotland, through my pageantry, and let people know there is always someone here to help. I know I’m making my 12-year-old self proud every day.