BY ALL rights, Lauren Hyde should be studying French and Spanish at Manchester University and enjoying life like most other 18-year-olds.

Instead, she is housebound, exhausted and in pain, suffering from an illness that affects over 250,000 people in the UK.

Reporter Jamie Dunkley spoke to Lauren about coping with the debilitating disease ME and why she wants more people to understand the difficulties she faces every day.

ME, or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome as it is also known, is a debilitating disease that affects muscles, causes neurological problems and brings a great malaise to its sufferers.

It can affect people in different ways and imposes severe restrictions on their everyday life.

Eighteen-year-old Lauren Hyde, who lives in Cam Green, spoke to the Gazette about her battle with ME.

She said: "It was about two and a half years ago that I became ill. I was a very active person and liked to run and use my bike a lot.

"I started to find that I had less and less energy and found it harder to do the things I'd done before."

"When I went to the doctors they weren't able to be specific and things just got worse."

Lauren's mother Penny described how the illness had affected her daughter.

She said: "She has been truly disabled for the past two and a half years, but on a good day she can walk the 50 metres to the bottom of the garden and back.

"Others are not so fortunate and are bed bound and need to be fed by a tube."

Throughout her ordeal, Lauren's personal drive has been remarkable. Despite suffering from the regressive condition, she achieved 3 Grade As in her A Levels and still hopes to achieve her dream of going to university.

"I've been visiting a specialist unit at Frenchay Hospital and they tell me that I have good prognostic indicators," she said. "My goal is to go to university either this year or next, although it would only be part time.

"In the meantime, if I can raise the issue of ME and help people then that's a positive thing."

Her family is urging people to support the Association of Young People with ME (AYME) as part of National ME Week, which has been running this week.

Katie James, from the Association of Young People with ME, said: "This year we are particularly focussing on people who are bed and housebound - there are approximately 55,000 of these throughout the UK.

"For these people services don't always come to them. They are forgotten, unseen and unheard.

"Although more and more GPs are recognising it as a neurological illness, we need more and more research done to help sufferers."

To show your support for the Association of Young People with ME call 08451 232389.