Miss Universe Singapore 2018: Ischelle Koo hopes to encourage and inspire others suffering from depression
Miss Ischelle Koo hopes to encourage and inspire others with her poignant story, after surviving the bleakness of depression and suicidal thoughts.
Between the ages of 15 and 17, the then National University of Singapore (NUS) High School student started to show signs of depression.
Mental illness continued to haunt her into her university days.
In the past three years, the NUS Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine undergrad lost her paternal grandparents to cancer and her mother was diagnosed with stage 3 cancer.
The aspiring doctor ended up dropping out to focus on healing and rehabilitating her mental health.
The 22-year-oldplans to continue her studies this year at the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences in NUS and eventually pursue a master's in political science and public policy.
What cause do you want to champion in MUS 2018?
People living with mental disorders have reached out to me, some of whom I have become friends with. We are so accepting of any body part breaking down, other than our brain. That ignorance has created a stigma. There is a lack of understanding on issues surrounding mental health.
Living with a mental disorder can be incredibly isolating and after my close shave with death, I feel strongly about this cause and hope to use this platform to reach out to even more people battling mental disorders or (who are) emotionally struggling with life's challenges, and to empower (people) through empathy by starting a conversation.
If you could change anything in this world, what would it be and why?
I think many of our social and political issues stem from apathy. I wish for more empathy. That way, we will be a little more hesitant to pass judgment and a little more ready to listen. With empathy, we will be more open-minded, respect differences, forgive more, and be more willing to lift and build others up.
I think many of our social and political issues stem from apathy. I would wish for more empathy.
If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?
I previously received funding and planned for mission trips to Uganda and Mongolia with a Mongolian medical student I had met on conference, but both plans fell through because my grandfather and grandmother unexpectedly died just before the respective dates of the trips. I would still love to go to the rural areas of these two places for an extended stay to do a needs analysis or volunteer with health clinics.
We are so accepting of any body part breaking down, other than our brain. That ignorance has created a stigma.
Do you have any special talent?
I can play the piano and violin, as well as do some advanced yoga asanas (postures or movements). I also have extreme willpower during physical exertion. This was a unique 'talent' I recently noticed on a fitness boot camp in Phuket. I could be at the point of vomiting, loss of vision or be unable to feel my limbs, yet my body will not stop going through the motions or give up until I complete the mission. Mind over body - literally.