A Sheffield mum who lives in constant pain because of a burglar has launched a blog to bring sufferers like herself together.
Emma Sheridan, aged 38, of Chapeltown, has fibromyalgia - a condition causing widespread pain, joint stiffness, depression, and various other ailments.
The exact cause of 'fibro' is unknown, but in many cases the condition seems to be triggered by a physically or emotionally stressful event.
Emma, who writes for a software company, can trace the beginnings of her fibromyalgia back to the stress of being burgled six years ago.
She and her family were out celebrating her daughter’s fourth birthday when she had a phone call to say there’d been a burglary - with presents and other belongings taken or left scattered across the floor.
Emma said: “In that moment, my life changed.”
Emma recounts what happened next in her blog, A Sheffield Fibromite:
“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 cried every time I went to bed, imagining people in my room going through my stuff, jumping out on me while I slept. I kept the curtains shut in every room. It was a constant living nightmare.”
While many people feel anxious after a burglary, Emma began to develop far more unusual problems including back pain, knee pain, and depression.
Her extreme stress meant she had to stop working in 2013 - the same year doctors suggested that her constant widespread pain could be caused by fibromyalgia.
Some studies have estimated that almost one in 20 people could suffer from fibro but the lack of any diagnostic test means it often goes unrecognised.
Emma’s doctor did not provide her with information about the support groups and charities in Sheffield - such as the Sheffield M.E. Group for people with chronic fatigue- and she had to do her own research to find out more about how to alleviate the pain.
She also found that hardly any support for Sheffield's fibro community is easily accessible or widely advertised.
“The doctors don’t really understand,” Emma said. “It’s very depressing and the outlook is very bleak.”
Some days Emma can 'barely move' for the pain she is in.
Writing down her experiences of being a fibro helps her to understand her condition, and this year Emma realised that she might be able to help other sufferers too.
Emma has launched a Facebook page and a blog and contributes to both regularly.
“My aim ultimately is to have a log of my journey - for my own benefit and for other people’s,” she said.
Emma’s key message is that it is possible to live positively with pain.
She said: “Most of the time I try to maintain that bright outlook and do things with as much gusto as I can.”
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