“I am determined to continue with my self-improvement and Op Surf UK has made this happen”

My name is Gemma Gibson, I’m from Manchester but I work down in Plymouth In the Royal Navy, I am a CIS rating. I have been in the RN for nearly 4 years now - I have had some unbelievable times, and I have also has some extreme lows. I got diagnosed with anxiety and depression in Dec 2016. I have been in rehab for nearly a year now, it’s been an extremely tough time for me and the people around me. I am coming to the end of my treatment now and I can’t tell you how much these recovery exercises really do help. All the recovery exercises are amazing, but my best one by far was OP SURF, I attended Op Surf on the 11th-17th September.

I signed up for Op Surf UK as it gave me something to focus on and look forward too. Yes I can’t deny I was worried about going, as I do struggle around new people because of what has happened to me in the past. When I got there I was surrounded with likeminded people and it was a massive relief, everyone that attended all had their own stories and it was amazing to hear them all, there was never a dull moment.

There were so many different illnesses/injurys from PTSD to a triple amputee, everyone was just amazing inside and out. Op Surf UK gave me the opportunity to break down a lot of barriers, but it also gave me the courage, inspiration and drive to get my life back.

The week was amazing, we got the chance to do yoga every morning which was amazing as I have never done that before, and then it was a day of surfing. The days were challenging and tiring, but when you were out on the surf you just had a clear mind and enjoyed being there. Every wave that came was a hurdle for me and I knew if I committed to it I would do as best as I possibly could have. My instructors were the best I could have asked for both amazing and inspirational people, they were ex Royal Marines and had some amazing stories to tell. They got me through the week with lots of smiles and laughter! I really can’t thank them enough for this week! They both also got me to a stage where I was able to compete on the Saturday in the first ever adapted surfing competition.

The competition was WOW, it was absolutely amazing! I can’t deny the night before I didn’t sleep as my anxiety kicked in, but I just kept thinking about all the positive things my instructors had been saying to me throughout the week, and it gave me to buzz to keep going. I enjoyed the competition so much and I am 100% getting into surfing as a new recovery exercise for me.

I am determined to continue with my self-improvement and Op Surf UK has made this happen.

Gemma during Op Surf UK
Gemma during Op Surf UK