'Let me get better, I thought, or let me go, because this is hell'
Marie Coffey (47) lives in Enniscorthy, Co Wexford. She began experiencing ME when she was just 31.
"I had been suffering from chest problems and some bad colds but I just collapsed one day in a friend's house in April 1993. I spent two full years in bed. I couldn't walk, I couldn't move, it was hell.
"My husband Tom had to carry me to the bathroom, and the doctors were telling me to exercise.
"I had been a very active person, I worked, I had two children. Dominic was six and Christina was eight. My son wouldn't remember me as a healthy mammy running around the place. I knew it wasn't psychological. I was pulling my hair out listening to doctors saying, 'Ah Marie, you just have to get up'. I did try but it got to the stage where I couldn't hold a cup.
"I never considered suicide but at one point I did ask God to take me if this was what it was going to be. Let me get better, I thought, or let me go because this is hell. My own mother dismissed me. I remember her looking at me one day and saying: 'Marie, you can't be that bad'.
"I'm still recovering -- it's baby steps. I like to say that ME doesn't manage Marie, Marie manages the ME! I speak to people on the phone, trying to help them go through it. I tell them to listen to their body, and I would beg doctors to listen to their patients.
"My son was a great man with the football -- I used to sit in my car watching him but other days I would be in bed crying because I couldn't go see him. I missed weddings. I missed my mother's funeral. We weren't close but I would have liked to have gone.
"I know now to give the body time to recharge. I meditate, I do stretches and yoga and I practise Emotional Freedom Therapy, which is like acupuncture without needles.
"When you first wake up you can be in burning pain. There is no doubt in my mind it's a virus -- your lymph nodes swell up, you're continuously dehydrated. You feel out of this world, they call it a 'brain fog', like your body has been invaded from outer space.
"I don't think ME should be fobbed off as a psychological problem. I have learned to be assertive and if a doctor doesn't listen to me today I just walk out.
"But I'm a firm believer that if the spirit is good, the body can recover. I have a grandson who is a wonderful boy of seven months. I can't hold him but I can still love him. It was a rough journey but I am thankful for where I am now."