When I was 17, I left home and decided to join the army. My home life was problematic, I needed an escape and at the time, the military seemed like the only option. All my teachers thought I was making a mistake and desperately tried to push me down a different path. No one thought I could do it, which gave me more motivation to prove them wrong! Since I was in my teens, I have suffered from major anxiety problems. Despite that, I pushed myself into situations I found stressful and uncomfortable and learned that if I put my mind to something and take it at my own pace, I can achieve so much.

At 18 I began my basic training. I was out of shape and my anxiety was sky high. While the other girls cried about missing their families and how they were not used to being away from home, I was scared this experience would be added to my list of growing failures. I didn’t want to let down the people who put their faith in me or prove those who didn’t right. In spite of the sleepless nights, the sheer exhaustion, the inedible canteen food, the constant shouting, the sweat and the tears and thanks to the support of tutors, officers and fellow soldiers, I finished my basic training and went on to join a field intelligence unit.

My basic training graduation was when I finally realised how much I was capable of and that I couldn’t let my disorders win. I believed that I could, and I did it. Now, three years and many new and more difficult challenges later, I still have a long way to go, but I am a lion and I refuse to give up on myself.