Six years ago my daughter was having her 4th birthday party. My family had travelled up to Sheffield for the event and all her friends were having fun at the play centre. Towards the end of the party, I received a phone call from my partner who had popped back to the house to get ready for the family ‘after party’ we were going to have at home.

“There’s been a break-in. Someone has broken into the house”.

Literally, in that moment, my life changed.

Everyone at the party was fantastic, offers of help to repair any damage, offers to have my daughter while I went home to sort things out. The one thing I remember being incredibly thankful for was having my mum and dad there. Usually, they are 2 hours up the road, but having them there made a lot of difference.

When I arrived at the house, the police and crime scene people had already arrived. The house was turned upside down, all the prep for the party was hidden under mounds of stuff. They had taken all the obvious things: games consoles, cameras, my laptop, my jewellery and worst of all the money from the birthday cards I had laid out for Aimee to open after the party. Well, they had also opened the presents too but they didn’t bother taking the toys and clothes, just left them unopened scattered on the floor. My bedroom was the worst affected, literally, everything was out of the cupboards and thrown around the room.

Family and friends rallied together to get the house tidy, to patch up the back door and clean away the glass, to rewrap birthday presents and to replenish the cash in the cards. I was just in a daze, switching between sadness and rage.

When my daughter finally arrived home, you would not have known what had happened. It was a lovely evening and Aimee enjoyed her party and seeing all her family without any knowledge of the break-in.

But I was far from ok. In the weeks that followed, I became more and more scared to be in the house alone, I was scared to leave the house to go to work, but I was terrified to arrive back in case I’d been broken into again. I became obsessed with avoiding the back garden (the police believe they came in over the back fence and used the washing line to break the glass in the back door) and I would not go into the garden unless there were no other options. I cried every time I went to bed, imagining people in my room, going through my stuff, still being there and jumping out on me while I slept. I kept the curtains shut in every room all of the time. It was a constant living nightmare 24/7.

I struggled to manage my high-pressure job and fell apart most days when the slightest thing went wrong, I went from a highly organised and logical person to a complete mess. Every single day at work was torture, the constant worrying about the house, did I lock the door, did I close the curtains, it just never seemed to end. Eventually, I had to admit defeat and six months after the break-in I left my high-pressure job for a less taxing and less well-paid role. My income dropped and I still couldn’t fully function properly. Things I thought I should be able to do standing on my head were impossible and eventually I was signed off work with stress.

It’s said that a traumatic event can trigger Fibromyalgia and this is the traumatic event that I can trace my Fibro back to. It started with upset and paranoia, developed into anxiety, stress and depression, then chronic pain, then exhaustion. I was back and forth to the doctors for stress and depression, saw the doctor for IBS, weight gain, pains in my back, pain in my knees. Slowly but surely over a 3-year period, I went from happy, healthy and loving life to depressed, overweight and in agony.

It’s still difficult and I still get upset when I think about the events of that day. That said, I cope much better since moving from that house, I have learned to accept my new normal and to live surrounded by as much positivity as possible. I am still angry about what happened and I am still resentful of how dramatically my life changed and how little thought the people responsible (who have never been caught) probably gave to what they were doing or the impact it would have but I have found ways to live life, to work again and to be as good a mum and person as I can be. I have lost many things along the way, but my family keeps me strong.

Can you trace your Fibromyalgia back to a traumatic event? How do you feel about what happened and how it has affected your life going forward?