BUCKEYE, Ariz. — Imagine going to sleep and waking up sounding British. It’s a real thing, and it happened to a Valley woman who has never even left the country.
“Everybody only sees or hears Mary Poppins,” said Michelle Myers, a mom of seven who lives in Buckeye.
Myers is a former Texas beauty queen who has never even left the United States.
Three times in the past seven years, Myers has gone to sleep with blinding headaches only to wake up with a different accent.
The first time it was Irish. The second time was Australian. Both incidents lasted about a week. But two years ago she went down with a crippling headache and woke up with the British accent she’s had ever since.
“They send in the psychiatrist at the hospital and make sure you’re not a loon,” said Myers.
According to experts, she’s not crazy and not faking it. She’s been diagnosed with Foreign Accent Syndrome. It’s an extremely rare condition that usually accompanies a stroke, neurological damage or other underlying medical issues.
“When I was a little girl I used to always go to my mom and say, ‘my bones hurt,” said Myers.
She has been to the hospital more times than she can count and the stack of medical records she keeps in the house says she has Ehlers-Danlos syndrome.
According to the Mayo Clinic, it’s a disease that causes easy bruising, rupturing blood vessels and painful joints that are overly elastic to the point of easily dislocating. Best her doctors can tell, it also turned her British.
Looking back at how she used to be is difficult, Myers says. She misses the way she used to say her kids’ names.
“I’m sad,” she said, watching an old video of her speaking normally. “I feel like a different person. The person I am now has been through so much compared to this person.”
But her outlook is positive.
She’s loves spending time with her seven kids, listening to them sing and play instruments. She also likes painting, writing, and motivating people.
And above all, she wants people to take her seriously.
“Some people think it’s physiological; others think it’s psychological. People like me – we don’t care which one it is. We just really want to be taken seriously and if it is something that’s going to hurt me, help me.”