Gemma Pickering – Girlguiding
Gemma achieved her Gold Duke of Edinburgh’s Award (DofE) when she was 24 through Girlguiding, whilst dealing with depression, anxiety, and different learning difficulties, which she has contended with throughout her life. Gemma thought doing her DofE would be a good way to enhance her CV and push herself to learn new skills.
Whilst working toward her Gold DofE, Gemma had a mental health relapse and suffered a serious breakdown. In order to continue with her DofE and give herself something to focus on, she worked towards each section separately, starting with her Physical section. By doing this, Gemma re-gained motivation and found doing her DofE to be a great distraction. After ticking off each activity she began to feel she could overcome any barriers she faced, including her own mental health difficulties.
“Doing my DofE has had a huge impact on my general wellbeing as it has shown me that no matter what life throws at me, I can do anything I set my mind to.”
For Gemma the hardest sections of her DofE was the expedition, she found this to be both physically and mentally draining. During her practice expedition her canoe capsized, and she ended up in the river, this caused Gemma to go into a panic and she felt she could not continue. However, through determination, she managed to complete both her practice and qualifying expedition. Looking back, Gemma believes that although this was the hardest section of her DofE it was also the section she is proudest of finishing.
Gemma strongly believes that the DofE helped her gain her current job role, she was able to reference the soft skills she developed through doing her DofE such as motivation and resilience. The confidence and self-belief she gained through doing her DofE has also allowed her to go backpacking abroad for the first time and speak about her own mental health battles. She now feels much happier within herself and that she can overcome any barriers she is faced with.
“Even though I started my DofE journey at 22 and suffered many different challenges and setbacks along the way. I showed myself and others that no matter what mental health issues I face; it is possible to achieve anything I want. Even when other felt I would fail.”