For my 24th birthday this year, I decided to challenge myself and book a trip away to Paris with my friend Hannah. I’ve only ever been to Scotland, which is of course in the UK but going to France was a massive step in my recovery. It’s the first ever proper country I’ve been to.
Travelling for me has always been something I have avoided all my life due to my anorexia and anxiety but I have always craved to travel somewhere (except for Bangladesh which I do not count as a holiday).
Of course, I had other fears – the increase in terror attacks in France for one. That’s why before, I never really wanted to travel to Europe because of the fear of Islamist terrorism – and that really increased my anxiety and panic levels. But what will you achieve if you just avoid going to places because you are scared a terror attack will happen? That is letting the terrorists win. You cannot stop living your life because of terrorism and unfortunately terror in Europe is the norm now, so you must be vigilant but not afraid.
On this trip (we stayed for 3 nights) I realised what I can actually do. I can be spontaneous and I can let go and have fun. I realised that I don’t have to be confined inside this little shell of myself anymore. I can go out and I can socialise and I can eat! Surprisingly, the pressure of eating eased off during this trip – I think mainly because I was in a different place and my hotel had a gym – so in a way, I felt safe. I have to say, I purposely chose a hotel that had facilities to suit my needs, where I know I can workout at the end of the day, so I don’t get too overwhelmed with what I’ve eaten.
Of course, I did feel overwhelmed but having a friend with me who understands what it’s like really helped me.
It was the perfect time to be in Paris because it was of course the French elections and the campaigning was in full force when I was there. An election, or anything to do with politics rather, is right up my street as I cover it at work. Being on holiday didn’t stop me from asking people what they think about the candidates – and when people found out that I am a BBC journalist, they did not hesitate to ask me what I think about it. As soon as I mentioned Marine Le Pen, the French people immediately wanted to debate with me. It was interesting to see what people thought about a Le Pen win. It was also interesting to see what the French think about Brexit. Now, it’s against Macron v Le Pen – we had Brexit, we had Trump, a Le Pen win could be a massive possibility!
Places we’ve visited…
- Eiffel Tower
- Louvre museum
- A cruise across The River Seine
- Arc De Triomphe at the Champs-Élysées
I completely forgot that I had Bangladeshi relatives (an auntie + family) who live in France. They found out (from my parents) that I was in France and decided to call me up and invite me to my cousins’ wedding! If you know me, you’d know that I hate Asian weddings and in the UK, I always avoid going to them. But since I was in a different country, I decided to go! My friend Hannah also wanted to experience what an Asian wedding is like, so this was a good opportunity.
All in all, I had an amazing time away and ready for my next adventure! I just experienced what recovery can be like and it is great, so maybe, I should keep going?