Posted By: Dan Messineo
A local pageant winner is on a mission. She wants to spread hope to those with mental health disorders.
Miss Gering, Kaylee Carlberg, encourages those who deal with mental health disorders to speak up and reach out for help because that's exactly what she did after being diagnosed with bipolar disorder. "When I wear that crown on my head, it's a symbol. Not necessarily that I'm this pageant girl who wears makeup and walks around in heels, but that I was able to overcome this, and go on and do something great in the public eye, and not be afraid and not let my mental illness define me," Kaylee said.
Nearly four years ago, Kaylee started to feel severe depression. It was so bad, she said she missed three months of high school and almost didn't graduate. Kaylee was diagnosed with type II bipolar disorder. It's an illness that's still her companion today. "I can still feel the edge of some of the moods, but I know how to work around them. I know what to do to live my life and control them now," Kaylee said.
Kaylee's not alone. One in four adults lives with a mental health disorder. Bipolar disorder affects nearly six million Americans. Kaylee said she'll always have bipolar disorder, but she's fought to live a successful life in spite of it. "With therapy, with medication, hard work and the right lifestyle, attitude change, you can get over it. You can function," Kaylee said.
Now as Miss Gering, she wants to give hope to those who live with a mental health disorder. "To know that I was able to motivate them, to get that help to live a fulfilling, happy life. There's nothing better than that," Kaylee said.
Kaylee competes for Miss Nebraska in June. She said if she wins, she'll continue to speak out about mental health.