She hides it well with a bright, white smile, a perky disposition and a warm, inviting southern drawl.
But away from the limelight of pageants, 19-year-old Miss Spartanburg Methodist College, Logan Phillips, has been to some painfully dark places.
“To me, I would describe being depressed … I was David facing Goliath,” she said.
Phillips, who will begin competing for the title of Miss South Carolina in the preliminary pageant Tuesday night, has now beaten her depression and hopes to use the clout of the crown to help others do the same.
“I want to be a mentor to people going through what I did,” she said. “I want people to realize you don’t have to be a certain image, you don’t have to be a certain weight, to be beautiful.”
Phillips spiraled into self-torment and crippling insecurity when her boyfriend of three years broke up with her in high school.
One day, she tried to kill herself at school.
“I’m sure everyone has their different types of depression, you know how all these people in high school go through break ups … that first break up I went through, I actually tried to take my own life,” she said. “I took many types of medication and tried to commit suicide.”
When she was found in the school bathroom, Phillips was taken to the hospital where she spent the next week.
“I just thought to myself the whole time, ‘I’m not good enough. I’m not pretty enough. I’m fat,’” she said.
In the following month spent at home and away from school, Phillips surrounded herself with family and faith for rehabilitation.
“Without God, none of it would have been possible,” she said. “God helped me realize I don’t have to be this other person to be beautiful. If I’m just myself, people will like me for the real me.”
Her grandfather, Steve Grigg, also helped her on the road to recovery.
“I’m not just saying this – he’s the most amazing person I’ve ever met,” she said. “He helped me realize that I can overcome this, and just because certain people make me feel a certain way doesn’t mean it has to control me.”
Phillips no longer feels the aching pangs of depression, but that didn’t stop it from following her.
In college, her roommate, who was sexually assaulted by her parents growing up, tried to commit suicide with Phillips in the room – twice.
The experience inspired Phillips to begin speaking publicly about depression, telling the stories of her and her roommate, who is now in foster care after dropping out of college. Phillips even stopped by her old high school.
“After I was done, so many people came up to me – and you could never tell from looking at them – that they were going through the same thing,” she said. “That’s what makes me feel good, when they let me know what I’m doing is making an effect.”
When Phillips takes the stage next week, it will be only her second time competing in a pageant (the first time was in January when she was crowned Miss Spartanburg Methodist College). She says that competing in pageants has helped her to move on and bury the depression for good.
“It’s helped me realize that pageants aren’t just about this image … it helps you help other people,” she said. “I don’t even think about (depression) anymore, other than the fact that I’m helping other people with it.”
For her talent segment, Phillips will sing “Let it go” from the Disney film “Frozen.”
Reach Buscemi at (803) 771 - 8442