Paris; Beautiful through and through

It was one of the most romantic, lovely cities I think I have ever been to. However, even amongst all the beauty, there was still struggle.

My social anxiety can flare when I least expect it.

I am one of those people who get extremely proud, to the extent of actual tears when I watch someone I care about in an event or doing something they love (soppy I know!!). Sadly, nowadays this is then taken over by anxiety and the tears become panic, and the panic becomes an attack.

Last Sunday, it was my birthday but also the day of T’s first ever marathon! I was SO tired (which didn’t help at all) but I was so excited to watch him smash his target as I knew he would. I was nervous for him – rightly so, I am sure you’ll agree – and so was he. We made our way to the Metro and got to the starting line on Av. des Champs-Élysées at about 07:45am. SO FUCKING EARLY!! T was ready, it was really fucking cold, but he was ready.

He went into his 3 hour starting pen and before I knew it he was off. I was crying. Then, I realised the crowds surrounding me and was claustrophobic. Then I froze. I was so nervous for him, I hadn’t even really taken in my surroundings. I was in a new place surrounded by 1000s of people and had no real idea what I was doing for the next 3 hours before he crossed that finish line. I got chills immediately, my breathing sped up and I could feel myself fidgeting and pulling my sleeves over my hands. For me, this timid Amber doesn’t come out very often so it was the black and white confirmation that I was in full on panic mode. Everything around me disappeared and my hearing started to go funny – even though there were so many rushing, pushy people and such loud music.

I had struggled the previous day too, and it happens on the first few days in new places – because they’re so new to me and I feel out of control in knowing where I am and where I can go, it affects me and spirals down to just wanting to freeze and get back into a little hole and go to sleep. I think it was just made worse that I was on my own with no shops even open to hide in!

I managed to start walking (in the wrong direction of course). Turned around and headed back up towards the Arc de Triomphe. I just kept telling myself, it’s my birthday, don’t cry on your birthday, don’t feel upset or scared on your birthday. You’re doing this for him, Amber, be there for T!!

So I rang my mum. They can solve everything right?!

We FaceTimed for the entire walk down to Trocadero Park where I just had 1 hour (or so) to wait for T to get through to the 30km mark and I could see him and cheer him on. I got a coffee, stood in the sun and held back the tears. I watched multiple wheelchair racers, elites and then the first waves of runners. As soon as I saw his little face running through the crowds at a ridiculously fast pace, I felt a wave of safety come over me. There he was, my T running the bloody marathon!!!!

Arc de Triomphe

Long story short, he finished after 2 hours 59 minutes and I was right there with a beaming smile on my face waiting for him. Not only had he made it, I had too. His face when I shouted his name at that 30km mark kept me going, I knew he needed my support and I HAD to be there.

There’s a lesson learnt here. I learnt that actually it’s not as scary as it may seem. I was within walking distance of the start, 30km mark and the finish. I had my phone for emergencies. I was able to walk the back routes and avoid the crowds and I was there for him when he needed me the most (he could barely walk…). That’s when I worked out that I had a job to do and when I put my mind to said job, I could do it. So, how do I avoid that initial panic and claustrophobia? Well that’s a work in progress but something I will overcome for next time.

Any tips would be appreciated, please leave a note in my comments below! Love from, Amber x

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