Miss Utah 2020 Rachel Slawson Talks the Moment She Accepted Her Bipolar Disorder

Alyssa Ray
·3 min read

She's beauty, she's grace, she's not your average pageant queen.

On Wednesday, Nov. 18's all-new Just the Sip, E!'s Justin Sylvester caught up with Miss Utah 2020 Rachel Slawson. As E! readers may recall, Rachel is the first openly LGBTQ+ contestant to compete in the Miss USA pageant.

Thus, during her chat with Justin, Rachel, who is bisexual, opened up about her historic appearance at the Miss USA pageant and her mental health platform. Namely, Rachel is trying to break the stigma around mental health as she herself is living with Bipolar Disorder.

"I think when I first started doing pageants, I really tried to fit that cookie cutter mold of just really trying to present this perfect image and it didn't really work. If anything, it made me mentally unwell," Rachel relayed. "So, why I returned to pageantry was to add that breath of fresh air and actually be an authentic human."

Miss USA 2020 Evening Gown Looks

As she continued, Rachel said she "never even made top five until [she] embraced who [she] is as a person."

Specifically, Rachel competed for the title of Miss Utah five times before nabbing the crown. While Rachel didn't walk away Miss USA 2020, she said she's determined to keep living her life authentically.

"I know who I am as a person and I also know what I can offer, and I've learned that from losing," she remarked. "It's in those moments when you aren't chosen that you get to remember why you chose yourself to begin with."

Rachel Slawson, Instagram
Rachel Slawson, Instagram

On her Bipolar Disorder diagnosis, Rachel admitted that she was "diagnosed multiple times" before accepting the diagnosis. Per Rachel, she didn't embrace the diagnosis at first as it sounded "really scary."

However, after experiencing a manic episode, Rachel was ready to accept that there "was something different about [her] brain."

Rachel went on to call that manic episode "far scarier than being suicidal."

"It's the scariest thing I've ever experienced," Miss Utah shared. "I lost touch with reality for three or four days, but in those three or four days 20 years happened. Time was completely distorted."

Following this incident, Rachel chose to advocate for her own treatment and hasn't had a manic episode since.

She added, "There's sort of this death sentence that happens with Bipolar Disorder but, if you actually receive treatment, especially at a younger age, there's a lot of potential for your brain to heal."

In order to let her brain "heal," Rachel stopped using recreational drugs, which she felt "played into [her] having that manic episode."

After her release from the hospital, Rachel found herself homeless and without immediate care. Apparently, Rachel couldn't get an appointment with a psychiatrist for four months, which she called "completely unacceptable."

"People perceived me as just this broken disaster, but really, I just needed help and I needed healthcare," Rachel explained. "And, as soon as I received that, I was able to get back on my own feet again."

For all of this and more, including Rachel's love for Halsey, listen to the full episode above.