YES!!! You are not crazy! I'm so sorry no one has replied to you before now. Your experience is quite typical of those of us with CFS, now more properly called ME/CFS, especially internationally. The ME stands for myalgic encephalomyelitis (NOT encephalitis). However, sometimes we have to use "chronic fatigue syndrome" just to be understood.
There are two subgroups of patients: sudden onset (you), usually after having a virus, and gradual onset (me), but mine also started after a case of two back-to-back viruses.
I would advise you to stay on your Zoloft! SSRI's and other antidepressants have proved to be helpful for many of us.
First and foremost, know you are not alone. Look for a support group in your community. Some are better than others, but I found friends there. Or join an online group. A big, important question for you: Are your friends (especially at school) and family understanding and supportive? Or do they question your illness because all the tests come back normal and the doctors say you are a picture of health? You need people around you or available to you who understand what you are going through, and are supportive. The quest for a diagnosis — let alone treatment — is arduous, and can be depressing in its own right!
Don't be hard on yourself about the exercise. It is known to exacerbate ME/CFS symptoms, and must be done very carefully. That was one of my first symptoms. I was having to cut my exercise short, and didn't know why.
Pain amplification is a well-known symptom, as are headaches that are new or different. For me it has been the transition from normal, episodic migraines to daily migraines that are really only treatable with doses of opioids that are now unobtainable due to the opioid OD epidemic. And, yes, cognitive problems, like poor recent memory and brain fog, are definitely symptoms.
Do not despair! Believe it or not, you are entering this "patient community" (although I realize you might not look at it that way) at a much better time than when I did. The illness is much more accepted now, except for one thing. The old name, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, has misled most people, including many doctors. That is why we all fought so hard for a new name — with mixed success.
Perhaps I saved the best for last. There is one very good, down-to-earth, and practical Website that I highly recommend. It used to be called about.com, but this branch now calls itself verywell.com. Here are two sample articles to get you started. I love the writer, and she is an ME/CFS+FMS sufferer. The URLs are:
You can also sign up to receive her emails that lead you to articles on various topics (e.g., coping with the holidays).
Also see Dr. Bateman's site at http://batemanhornecenter.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/MECFS_FM_Treatment_Advice.pdf.
Her advice is a basic and practical guide to living with ME/CFS, but it is also easier said than done. I will say that I was following much of her advice on my own when I was first ill, and I was MUCH more functional than now. Also, conventional wisdom is that the earlier you get treatment, the more likely you are to recover (not that likely) or at least go into remission or be more functional. When I first became ill, they said most people who got better, did so within the first two years.
A very interesting (to me) site that is more about cutting-edge research is:
healthrising.org. Do note, however, that it also offers cutting-edge treatment options.
There's also this list of organizations working for ME/CFS patients.
Some are better than others, and some I am not familiar with. The Solve ME/CFS Initiative (SMCI) has a patient registry and maintains a biobank from patients, both of which are to aid researchers in the field.
A note about finding a doctor. You stand a better chance of finding a doctor who knows SOMETHING about ME/CFS if you live in a larger city. Right now, the actual specialists are a handful, spread across the US (where I live; I don't know about other countries). Furthermore, these specialists can be extremely expensive, and most do not accept insurance. ☹️ I am just flabbergasted that I live in a moderate-sized city — with a well-known university which houses a top-notch medical school and teaching hospital. There must be hundreds if not thousands of doctors practicing here, yet we have exactly ONE doctor who knows about ME/CFS (and of course, he cannot accept new patients)! There are many more who know about fibromyalgia (FMS). The conditions are often seen in the same patients, so some doctors confuse them, but they are not the same! (And adding to the confusion is myofascial pain syndrome — which I have — that most doctors know nothing about, so they diagnose it as fibromyalgia.) A big problem for us is that no medical specialty has claimed ME/CFS. Your best bet is either a friendly (non-arrogant) PCP or a rheumatologist, who may or may not know a thing about ME/CFS. For now, we mostly just treat the symptoms.
I hope some of this helps you. I was saddened to see no one had responded to your post here. I hope that, perhaps, you found support elsewhere. If not, please don't lose faith. I have signed up to receive further posts here, so feel free to write back. I wish you the best of luck on this journey that no one wants or asks for.
With hope, sadness, and compassion, I will be thinking of you often …