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! 💜
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 ‘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.
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.
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! 😂) 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.
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!
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! 💜
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! 💜
Sending you love, hugs and sparkles,