The West

Beauty reveals her inner demons
Courtney Sander. Picture : Ian Munro/The West Australian.

She's the affable WA country girl who has charmed her way through Seven's reality show Beauty and the Geek but behind the pretty smile and warm sea-green eyes there is something darker lurking within 19-year-old Courtney Sander.

The Kalbarri-born stunner - who exited the show last night after losing the elimination challenge with insect- collecting geek Matt Hall - told AAA about her battle with depression since the age of 16, which she said was triggered when she moved away from family to attend boarding school in Geraldton.

"I think it was the huge life change that triggered it," she said. "I had nothing to be upset about at all. I'm a happy girl and I had a bunch of great friends and everything I ever wanted, so it came out of nowhere which was the worst thing. I think it might run in my family, because my nanna is bipolar."

Often seen as a taboo topic, Sander said people needed to realise depression was a serious mental illness.

"It's definitely an illness that needs to be put out there to the public," she said. "We need to recognise it a lot more than it is. And we need to start talking to people about it.

"It is not an attention-seeking thing. It's nothing to make fun of and people shouldn't keep it closed up."

While she admitted there were times she had to "fight it off", Sander said she learnt to redirect her depression through interest in the spiritual practice of Wicca.

"How I got over it was through studying and just connecting with something else and that's how I found Wicca," she said. "I still try to fight it off every now and then but Wicca helped a lot."

Clearly devastated to have left the show after just two weeks, Sander said she wished she had more time to connect with Hall and the other geeks.

"I really tried to help Matt but he was extremely shy," she said. "We didn't get along as I hoped we would. We did click at first but then he just wouldn't let me help him sometimes and I found that really difficult.

"He even told one of the geeks that he didn't want to change and that was the whole point of going on the show, so that was really frustrating for me."

Though she loves the street- stopping attention she has been getting since gracing the small screen, Sander said she was disappointed to read hurtful comments written about her on social networking.

"Seeing all these horrible comments it really hurts - I'm just there to entertain," she said. "I can handle being called dumb and stupid, I've been called that before so it's nothing new to me, but they don't need to blow it out of proportion."

The West Australian

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