Every year on 7th July, the media forces me to relive my worst nightmare over and over again and especially today on the 10th anniversary of the bombings, I feel as though I just can't get away from it. So, I have decided to write my own version of events- partly because I would like to tell my side of the story. Partly because I hate all the inaccuracies in the media but also because despite the fact that I want nothing more than to forget what happened that day, there is a huge chunk of me that believes that I don't deserve to erase it from my memory. After all, I was fortunate to have not been physically injured on that day. I've had a really tough time deciding on whether or not to blog about this, I like my blog to be a happy place and this isn't a happy subject!
On the 7th July 2005, I was a young ambitious girl fresh out of University having recently completed my masters degree. I had been working for just over 6 months in my dream job and was loving every minute of it, I thrived off the buzz of working in London, it felt as though the sky was the limit and I could achieve whatever I put my mind to. What was to happen later that day, would shatter my world as I knew it and I still suffer from PTSD, panic attacks, flashbacks and nightmares 10 years on.
I set off for work that morning, as usual I was running a little bit late but only by about 5-10 minutes so that was ok and I jumped on to the arriving tube in the direction of Edgware Road which was the closest stop to my office. Ironically a few months earlier my mother had given me what she called an ' anti-terrorist kit' which consisted of a tiny hand held fan and a slimline torch which she wanted me to keep in my handbag for emergencies. I had left all these things at home because I felt pretty safe and confident on the tube. The area around Edgware Road tube station has a large Muslim community and it had never crossed my mind that this area would have been targeted by terrorists.
The tube passed Paddington Station and had then came to a standstill in the tunnel, waiting for the green light to approach Edgware Road. I checked my watch anxiously because often we could be stuck at this point for up to 5 minutes each morning and as I looked down another tube train passed us in the opposite direction. Suddenly there was an almighty explosion, the loudest noise I have ever heard in my life.....
I seem to remember there being a really bright and blinding white flash at the same time, like the sort you get from a camera flash but magnified a few million times. I can remember the look of horror and shock on the face of the woman opposite me, she had a blonde bob and was dressed in office attire.
And then the screams began as the carriage filled with smoke so thick that I couldn't see my hands before me. Was there a fire? how were we going to get out? I distinctly remember feeling like a small child once again and thinking ' I want my mummy!!"
Eventually the smoke cleared and I could see what was going on around me, two girls sat hugging each other, crying and rocking on the floor in fear. To my left, there was a pregnant lady sitting next to me and holding my hand, with her other hand she held a copy of the Quran and she frantically read out passages under her breath in prayer. I then looked out of the tube doors in front of me and realised that the passing train hadn't actually passed us but had stopped with the impact of the explosion. There was so little left of the carriage opposite and apart from the emergency lights, it was so dark outside the carriage, so it took me a while to realise that in front of me was the remainder of the carriage opposite and that the bomb had gone off just metres away from us.
A man had prised open the doors to our carriage and was speaking to people through the small gap. He told them that he was a medical person ( I can't remember if he was a Dr, a nurse or a paramedic) and he then proceeded to give directions to them as to how to administer CPR but sadly that person didn't survive.
Some people were taking photos on their phones which I found totally bizarre, why would you want a photo of our worst nightmare? I guess that everyone has their own ways of dealing with such situations though.
After what seemed like hours and hours trapped in the carriage with sounds and smells that I will never forget, emergency services came and escorted us out of the train. We had to walk along the tracks to Edgware Road Station and I remember being terrified that the line was still live and asking someone if it was safe to walk on which they assured me that it was fine. As we walked along the lines and to the train station, I tried not to look at the carnage around us but I saw some truly horrific sights that I hope never to witness again. When we reached the station, no one seemed to have any answers as to what had happened, was it a power surge, a bomb or something else?
We were taken to M&S next door to the tube where we were checked over by paramedics and then sent off on our way. My Boss and my best friend Anna from work were waiting for me at the doors although I was in such a state of shock that I didn't recognise them at all and walked straight past them. They enveloped me in a huge bear hug and then despite my protests that I was fine and ok to go to work, my boss bundled Anna and I in to a passing taxi and sent us home.
I handled things pretty well for quite a few months after wards although I have never been able to take the tube again alone. However, suddenly one day I felt as though a black cloud had descended on me and then the flashbacks and the panic attacks started. Any loud noise such as a balloon popping, someone shouting, a champagne bottle opening, still sends me in to panic mode to this day. Finally, I was diagnosed with PTSD as a result of the events of that day and was referred for CBT which has helped considerably. I don't think that I will ever be able to take the tube on my own again and I struggle to use public transport in general and know that I will never be able forget the events of that day.
I still don't believe that any God or any religion would condone the murder and suffering of innocent people and I live in hope that one day we will live in a world without fear of repeat attacks. Since the events in Tunisia last month I realise that we are no closer to this dream than we were 10 years ago but we must try our best to go about our daily lives and not live in fear because if we don't then the terrorists will have won and achieved their goals.
I'm sorry for the morbid post and I promise to return very soon with the usual.
Sending much love and strength to everyone affected by terrorism today xx