Michelle Myers has never left the United States, but anyone listening to her voice might think she grew up in the United Kingdom. The former Texas beauty queen speaks with a heavy British accent, but she's not putting it on.
Three times over the past seven years, the mother of seven went to sleep with a painful headache and woke up with an unfamiliar voice, according to ABC 15. Myers, who now lives in Arizona, has had her accent change from American to Australian, then she sounded Irish, and now she has a British accent.
Each time, the accents appeared after she went to sleep with a horrible headache. She awoke to find herself speaking like she was from another country. The British accent has lasted for two years now.
The mom went to a doctor in hopes of learning how this was happening. Myers said:
“They send in the psychiatrist at the hospital and make sure you're not a loon.”
She wasn't crazy. Myers suffers from an extremely rare medical condition that began in 2011.
She was diagnosed with Foreign Accent Syndrome, a condition that usually accompanies neurological damage, a stroke, or another underlying medical issue, according to ABC 15.
The University of Texas at Dallas reports that the condition can have other causes, including multiple sclerosis and conversion disorder, while some cases have no clear cause:
Speech may be altered in terms of timing, intonation, and tongue placement so that is perceived as sounding foreign. Speech remains highly intelligible and does not necessarily sound disordered.
Myers also suffers from Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, which doctors think is what caused her changes of accent.
Ehlers-Danlos is a group of inherited disorders that affect your connective tissues, primarily your skin, joints, and blood vessel walls, according to the Mayo Clinic. The disease causes overly flexible joints, making dislocations common, and stretchy, fragile skin that doesn't heal well.
Myers has lived with the painful disease since she was a child. She explained:
“When I was a little girl I used to always go to my mom and say, 'my bones hurt.'”
During her interview, the mother teared up as she watched a video of herself before the condition. She misses the way she used to sound, especially the way she said her kids' names. She said:
“I'm sad. I feel like a different person. The person I am now has been through so much compared to this person.”
The mom hopes to spread awareness about Foreign Accent Syndrome so people living with the disease won't be judged:
“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.”
While Myers hopes to one day get her own voice back, she wants people to know this isn't a joke. She told ABC 15:
“Who would do this for attention? I don't know.”