“My name is April, I am 27 years old. I grew up in a broken family plagued with adversity. I had to become an adult at a young age and appear strong so not to worry anyone. The reality was, I didn’t feel strong and my mental health declined. I was always seen as the strong one who had her life on track, the truth is I never did. I focused on everyone else to the point where I neglected myself. I used to wake up some days and be the happiest I could be, other days I felt like life wasn’t worth living. The act of being strong was ultimately what was making me weak.
It was at the age of 25 that I decided things should change. I wanted to take control of my life and be happy, to be part of something that would make me smile. My dream was to become a firefighter, something I had always wanted to be. I suffered several knock backs failing the entry exams at first, but I was determined. My resilience paid off and my dream came true, I became a firefighter. Finally, I had found something that gave me self-worth and kept my mind from falling back into that dark place. Nothing could knock me down!
This high didn’t last very long. Five days into the job, on my second shift I was called to Grenfell Tower. I did the job I was trained to do but that day has left a scar, it sent my head back into the place I had fought so hard to get out of. This time it was worse. What we endured that day will remain with me for the rest of my life. As a result, I found myself hiding but the isolation was killing me. I decided it was time to stand up and face this head on, I had done it before, I could do it again. I reached out and my employer offered me counselling, this enabled me to deal with a whole host of feelings I had never dealt with - It wasn’t just about Grenfell.
My fight continues every day, but I am lucky to wake up to a job I love.
Each knock back has made me who I am today, I wouldn’t change this for the world. I am nowhere near the finish line, but I’ve made a good start. I am a fighter...I am a firefighter.”