From Illness and Isolation to Reclaiming My Confidence Through Travel

Lake Balaton, Hungary
Hey Love Bees! 🐝
Woohoo! I’m finally back from my backpacking trip, and I’m so excited to be posting again! 😊
I’d been hoping to blog while I was away, but I’ve been so busy growing, transforming and breaking through my severe social anxiety, that I haven’t had much of a chance! 
I’ve returned to England feeling revitalised though; full of confidence and new ideas – which I’ll be telling you about in the coming weeks!
For now though, I’d like to share a little about my life-changing adventures across Europe! πŸ’œ
The Girl I was…
In the years that I was bed-ridden with chronic Lyme Disease, I fell into deep isolation.  
As my illness progressed, my friends and family members drifted away, and when a loved one (who saw my illness as a curse) publicly slandered me, my local reputation was destroyed. 
After this, I avoided human interaction as much as possible, and even when my physical health improved, I still remained very alone. 
I was at the point where I hadn’t seen my friends in four years, I found it difficult to make eye-contact with others, and public places made me very anxious. Even stepping out of my house was a challenge, as I dreaded the contempt from our neighbours. 
Trapped by my fear and anxiety, I knew that something had to change – so I decided to jump right out of my comfort zone, and do the one thing that scared me the most: Travel alone across Europe! 
After being sick for so long and becoming a shadow of my former self, it was something I needed to do! 
Taking the Plunge!
When I boarded the plane to Amsterdam I was a nauseous, emotional wreck.
Every fibre of my being was screaming β€˜What are you doing??!!’ but as I took to the skies and left England behind, I knew there was no going back. For better or worse, it was time to start my adventure! 
When I arrived in Amsterdam I found it too overwhelming, so I quickly moved on to Rotterdam. There, I nervously started to spread my wings, in the spacious, modern city.
I soon made a friend at my hostel and even plucked up the courage to catch the ferry to the famous, old windmills at Kinderdijk.
Market Hall in Rotterdam
Rotterdam was an incredible place, with some of the most amazing architecture I’ve ever seen (like the beautiful market hall above!) but unfortunately, I was still greatly affected by my anxiety. 
The Change in Me.
From Rotterdam, I took a night train all the way across Germany, to Prague. At least that was the plan, before massive delays caused me to miss the connection for my night train, leaving me stranded in the most awful station imaginable!
It was well past midnight, the ticket office was closed, the station guards had all gone home, and drug addicts screamed wildly as they ran through the artificially lit, blood-stained tunnel, which ran beneath the platforms.
It was un-policed, completely unsafe and I was stuck there until the morning.
Thankfully, a completely lovely (yet equally frightened) couple from Columbia were also in the same boat, so we huddled together and waited the night out, on one of the cold and creepy platforms. 
Interrail Blog
Missing my train was just the start of what was a very difficult journey, and when I finally arrived in Prague, I’d been travelling for over 20 hours.
By then, something had changed inside me though, and when I later got verbally and physically attacked by an old lady (it was as crazy as it sounds! πŸ˜‚) it didn’t upset me in the way that it would’ve before.
After that, a sense of strength and freedom washed over me, and for the first time in my life, I felt comfortable just being me.
Lake Bohinj, Slovenia
As I opened up, I met so many beautiful, diverse and inspiring people, and as my confidence grew I found myself doing more and more things that made me face my fears head-on.
These included climbing up a huge, crumbling sniper tower in Bosnia (which was scary, but also very moving) and swimming in a deep, black lake, during a ferocious thunderstorm in Slovenia!
Sniper Tower, Mostar. 
Just a few years ago, when I was housebound and using a wheelchair, I could never have imagined that in 2017 I’d be backpacking on my own across Europe; walking up to 19 miles a day, busting through my social anxiety, and having the time of my life! 
My health isn’t 100% perfect (I still get bad days, neurological problems and heart troubles) and I’ll admit, I’ve had a few minor wobbles with my anxiety – but I’ve come further than I ever thought was possible, and I’m so grateful to now be in remission, and reclaiming my confidence and my life!
If you’re trapped and alone, suffering from chronic illness, anxiety (or both) I want you to know that my heart truly goes out to you, and I pray that in some small way, my story might give you a little hope.
Also, if you know someone who’s suffering with their health, why not get in touch and remind them that you’re thinking of them – your kindness might make their whole week! πŸ’œ
In my upcoming posts, I’ll be sharing more about my trip and how I managed to eat a gluten-free vegan diet in Europe. I also have some tasty new recipes, as well as a cheeky little giveaway too – so keep your eyes peeled for that! πŸ’œ
Sending you love, hugs and sparkles,
Chrissy xx


31 Comments on From Illness and Isolation to Reclaiming My Confidence Through Travel

  1. This is so emotional! The isolation has been horrible for me but thanks to information you gave me, my health is getting better all the time. I am able to do many more things now. ME has shown me who truly cares and who truly does not. I am so proud of you! You do not have a reblog button and i am wondering if I can reblog this on my blog.

    • Aw, thank you! *Hugs* It makes me so, so happy that your health is improving too! <3 I'm so sorry you've been through such dark times though. It breaks my heart to think of all the people who are chronically ill, and have become so isolated from the world. πŸ™

      Yes, of course you can reblog my post - in fact, it would be such an honour! Thank you!! <3 I really hope my story can offer some people a little hope! xxx

  2. Sarah Bailey says:

    I am so pleased you found a way to refind yourself and reclaim your confidence, it sounds like you have managed to see some amazing places.

    • Aw, thanks Sarah! <3 Yeah, I saw so many beautiful places, and the whole trip such a positive impact on me! I think I'll be talking about it for the rest of my life! Hehe! πŸ˜€ xxx

  3. I am so pleased you are feeling revitalised and more confident – you visited some fab places!

  4. Wow that is a really brave thing to go and do. I don’t think I could cope with any form of backpacking. It seems to me that was the right thing to do for you and also an amazing experience.

    • Aw, thank you! πŸ™‚ I didn’t think I’d be able to cope with it either (especially the whole hostel thing!) but I surprised myself so much and I’m so glad I didn’t chicken out! xxx

  5. I’m so glad that your health is improving and that you managed to overcome your anxieties to have such an incredible trip. Well done you!

  6. Kate says:

    Hey Chrissy, wow what an amazing story! You’re so brave to face your social anxiety and take the plunge to go backpacking across Europe! Well done! I can completely relate to your social anxiety as I can get nervous even going for a walk and passing people! Your are an inspiration πŸ™‚ xxx

    • Aw, thank you so much Kate! It was more of an impulsive decision than a brave one, but I’m SO pleased I did it – it helped me way more than I ever expected! πŸ™‚ Ah yes, passing people on a walk can be SUPER awkward! Acknowledging strangers isn’t really the ‘done thing’ amongst the true locals in my area, but since I’ve got back I’ve decided to grin and say hi anyways! πŸ˜€ xxx

  7. So glad your health is improving! It looks like you visited some amazing places

  8. Jenni says:

    Welcome back! It’s lovely hearing about all your adventures! They sound amazing. I’m glad to hear that your health is improving. Looking forward to reading more about your trip

  9. Good on you! My mummy has been in hospital a lot of this year with 3 collapsed lungs and have lung surgery and must admit being at home is very isolating. This is why its important to get out and about. She’s dragged herself out of the house and is looking forward to returning to work. Cant wait to read about your adventure and hope your stories help people x

    • Oh no, I’m so sorry to hear that – I hope her health improves soon! *hugs* I’m so glad she’s managing to get out and about and is looking forward to getting back to work! Sending much love and gentle hugs your way! <3 xxx

  10. What an incredible journey you’ve been on, so inspiring to read how you overcame your anxiety and found yourself again πŸ™‚

  11. What an emotional post! And also very inspirational πŸ™‚ I loved reading this post (even the scary train station) and I can’t wait to see more of your adventures as it sounds like you really did experience everything!

    • Aw, thank you so much, I’m so glad you enjoyed reading it! πŸ™‚ That scary train station really was so crazy – I felt like I could take on the world after spending the night there! Haha! <3 xxx

  12. Sarah Ann says:

    I don’t mean to this to sound cheesy, but discovering your blog and reading this post has been my highlight of the day. It sounds like you had an incredible adventure and although unexpected difficulties (and a crazy old lady) made an appearance you survived and learned so much about yourself. So, when’s your next adventure?

    • Awww! Sarah, your kind words have completey made my day!! Thank you sooo much! <3 I'm thrilled that you enjoyed reading about my adventure, and I'm definately planning more!! (I've been bitten by the travel bug, I think - or maybe it's the adrenaline rush of being beaten by crazy, old ladies! Hehe!) xxx

  13. stephanie says:

    What a lovely post, and what a great journey you’ve been on x

  14. Mangey says:

    Hi Chrissy, I know what it is like to be sick. It takes true love for one to stand by you during your darkest day, but most importantly is your love for yourself that took you out from your darkness. Keep on loving yourself and keep on moving ahead, don’t turn back.. May God bless you with lots of Happiness and Good Health…. Take care….

    • *hugs* Aw, thank you so much Mangey – that really means a lot! <3 Yes, self-love is SO important! <3 I'm so sorry for everything you've been through with your health πŸ™ Sending lots of love and bright wishes for health and happiness your way! xx

  15. Amy Deverson says:

    Lovely post. Travel is so important in discovering things and learning about yourself. Glad you are feeling yourself again πŸ™‚

  16. Clarissa says:

    such a lovely post on your new found life, i bet it feels good soaring above your olderself

    so what next ? x

    • Aw, thank you so much! <3 It honestly feels so amazing and surreal!! I definitely want to do more travel, and join some local fitness groups too! Eventually, I'd also love to achieve my ultimate dream, of running a hostel and vegan cafe! <3 xxx

2Pingbacks & Trackbacks on From Illness and Isolation to Reclaiming My Confidence Through Travel

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