Alexandra Meek has been sick for six years.
Her main symptom is a never-ending fatigue, and a brain fog that at its worst can leave her struggling to hold a conversation, watch TV, or even just stand upright in the kitchen.
"I just felt like I was being tortured 24/7 because I just couldn't think because my brain was just a mess. I went from being this smart university student to someone who struggled to read text messages from friends," the now 28-year-old told Mamamia.
Then there is the pain. It isn't a headache, but it is in her head. And in those early years, it never wavered. Sometimes she would find herself sitting in a room, but it was like she wasn't there.
"I was like a zombie... and my brain was in the next room," she explained.
Listen to The Quicky, Mamamia’s daily news podcast, talk about Lyme Disease. Post continues below.
It took two years and countless failed doctor diagnoses for Alex to get an answer. She had Lyme disease, a bacterial infection generally transmitted by ticks from a bite she doesn't even remember getting.
In 2014, at the age of 22, the University of Sydney student had just finished up a Bachelor of Commerce and had landed herself a graduate job as an investment banking analyst that was due to start the following year.
She was in the process of deciding whether to go travelling in the meantime, or do her honours' year, when she got tonsillitis and then glandular fever.
But she never seemed to recover. Weeks of not being able to leave her bed turned into months.
"I was initially diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) and told there was nothing that could be done. I remember another doctor said, 'you're severely depressed' and tried to tell me just to go out more and maybe 'if I got a boyfriend I would start feeling better'. I was so sick, I could barely sit in the appointment. It took all my energy just to get there. I was trying to say I can't go out, even if I want too," said Alex.