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She was diagnosed with adjustment disorder

ASSURED: (Top and above) Contestant Gladys Chan. - PHOTOS: NURJANNAH ZULKIFLI, COURTESY OF ERM SINGAPORE

ASSURED: (Above) In a beauty contest at seven. - PHOTOS: NURJANNAH ZULKIFLI, COURTESY OF ERM SINGAPORE

She avoided people and was frequently fearful.Yet, she is now subjecting herself to scrutiny and the spotlight as a finalist in Miss Singapore Beauty Pageant 2014.

Last August, Miss Gladys Chan was diagnosed with adjustment disorder.

Having recovered in May, the 21-yearold now wants to raise awareness of mental illness here and fight the stigma that sufferers sometimes face.

And she intends to do it through the beauty pageant.

The psychology undergraduate at the National University of Singapore said she took on too much work in school last year and had anxiety attacks.

Miss Chan recounted: "I avoided people as I was scared most of the time and I thought that life was very hard.

"I lost my confidence and lost many friends in the process.

"Thankfully, my boyfriend and close friends sent me positive messages every day to encourage me.

"I also spoke to a counsellor and took medication to relax. My whole outlook on life changed after that."

The 1.6m-tall finalist sees the pageant as a platform for her to regain her confidence.

Miss Chan admits that her parents were a little concerned that the stress of the competition would get to her.

LESSONS

"I assured them that I've learnt many valuable lessons in the past year and I'm able to handle it," she said.

"I will voice it out if I cannot deal with the pressure."

This is not Miss Chan's first pageant.

She took part in a beauty contest when she was just seven years old, and made it to the semi-finals.

That pageant, Little Miss Singapore, saw her learning how to catwalk on a T-shaped stage and to present herself in front of a big group of people.

Miss Chan said: "Joining this competition brings back snippets of images from the child pageant.

"As I've never had any modelling experience before, these memories are all I can depend on."

For Miss Chan, participating in the beauty pageant is more about gaining experience and making more friends rather than winning.

She said: "If I have to choose one, I want to get the Miss Singapore All Nations title.

"I met and talked a lot to last year's winner, Miss Sabrina Alim. She's very inspiring."