More than a few things have changed since Patricia Celan was named Miss Charity BC in 2013.
For one, the former White Rock resident has graduated medical school and is now a resident physician in postgraduate psychiatry training.
Second, she has a full head of hair – a stark difference to the close shave she embraced during the 2013 pageant in support of Cops for Cancer.
Third, she’s married.
And fourth, she’s now sporting a new crown – one that she hopes will do far more than add a sparkle to any appearances she makes in the coming year.
“I … decided it is time to promote a cause that I had previously been silent about, and that is domestic violence awareness and prevention,” Celan told Peace Arch News this week of why she competed for the title of Mrs. Canada International 2021.
“I grew up in an abusive home environment, which I was silent about until I helped my mom finally get divorced in 2016,” she continued.
“Since then, I have begun to feel safe speaking up about what I experienced. I want to raise awareness about domestic violence and advocate for support for victims to escape, and I hope to use my title to bring more attention to this issue.”
Currently living in Halifax, N.S., Celan grew up in New Westminster but was living in White Rock at the time of the 2013 pageant. She earned the Miss Charity B.C. crown in July of that year after raising the most – more than $8,000 – of all 38 contestants for the pageant’s charitable cause. The win spurred her to have her head shaved on stage that night.
Celan said the opportunity to raise awareness around domestic violence and prevention was a driving force in her return to the pageant world after a six-year hiatus. But she also missed “the sisterhood and meeting amazing women from different backgrounds who become fast friends through pageants.”
She was named Mrs. Canada International in September, she said, following a pageant – described at mrsinternational.com as an affair “to promote today’s married women, their accomplishments, and commitment to family and marriage” – that was held online due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Celan told PAN that the pandemic has created a unique mental-health burden.
“I know there are those who say the general collective reaction to the pandemic of grief and anxiety is normal and should not be pathologized. However, there is a distinct difference between the average person struggling with their mental health during the pandemic and that being within the normal range of reactions, versus someone having such a severe mental health crisis that they need to see a psychiatrist,” she said.
“Several of the patients that I’ve seen have found that the pandemic has caused them to relapse into illnesses that were previously in remission, such as major depressive disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, claustrophobia, alcohol use disorder, and more. These patients were doing well and were in stable condition before the pandemic caused them to become too ill to function, leading to a need for changes in psychiatric medication or needing psychotherapy.”
The pandemic has also tested Celan’s own mental health, she said, as she struggles – as many do – with the challenges of not being able to travel or visit family for fear of unknowingly spreading the coronavirus.
She said once her postgraduate training is complete, she plans to return to the West Coast and open a psychiatric clinic somewhere in the Lower Mainland/Fraser Valley.
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