‘I can wake up some nights and I feel the fear I felt that night’

South Shields's Michael O'Connor returns home after Paris attacks.
South Shields's Michael O'Connor returns home after Paris attacks.

The horrors of November 13 are something the couple say will haunt them forever.

Sara, is still unable to either talk about or listen to what happened that fateful night and Michael O’Conner says he is still trying to come to terms with it all.

We feel like we have been given a second chance at life.

Michael O’Conner

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While each is dealing with the atrocities which unfolded in their own way, they both believe they will pick themselves up and live the rest of their lives.

The couple met three years ago in Newcastle while Sara was working as a teacher on an exchange programme and are looking to the future and say they hope to one day marry.

Michael, who working in France as a chef before returning to study French, said: “It’s been hard. After it happened there was lots of specialist help available but the workers all spoke French so it didn’t really help me.

“I contacted the British Embassy and they said to contact my GP when I got back to Britain and they would send me for counselling. I done that but I’m still waiting.

“My GP has been great and I am on medication to help me sleep as I still have flashbacks and nightmares.

“Some days, I can be fine and on the outside I appear fine but inside, what happened is still haunting me.

“I can wake up some nights and I feel the fear I felt that night. Gunfights on TV bring it all back.

“We are getting better but it is just baby steps for both of us.”

He added: “It does make you think a lot more about things you have been putting off – like travelling. I’d like to do a bit more of that.

“It has been hard for us to go out again and I think it will be a long time before we will go to another concert.”

Michael and his girlfriend will spend Christmas with Michael’s family before Sara returns to France for the New Year.

Their thoughts are both now firmly on the future.

Michael is also considering going back to becoming a chef after finishing his studies while Sara is continuing with her teaching career.

He added: “We feel like we have been given a second chance at life.

“These people who carried out the attacks were not Muslims. We have friends who are Muslims and these people were not Muslims, they were evil murderous people.

“What happened to us will stay with us forever, but it has not put me off France and it won’t stop us from living our lives.”