Sarah Colwill went to sleep with a Plymouth accent and woke up with a Chinese accent.
Colwill suffers from a rare condition known as Foreign Accent Syndrome for which there have only been 61 reported cases between 1941 and 2012.
Before her sudden change in accent, Colwill suffered a severe migraine which caused an emergency room hospital visit. Doctors examined Colwill but were perplexed at her change in voice.
Her story became so popular that a team at the BBC created a documentary called The Woman Who Woke Up Chinese.
In the opening scene for the documentary, Colwill sobs as she proclaims:
“It’s just been such a horrible thing to go through. People automatically assume I’m foreign, for a start, then they like to try and work out where I might be from.”
Throughout the documentary, her foreign accent syndrome leads people to ask where she is from, assuming that she is a foreigner in her own country.
Sarah says her accent has led to many jokes at her expense ever since the syndrome struck in 2010.
The only clue doctors have is that Sarah is a migraine sufferer who can have upwards of 10 migraines every single month.
Other sufferers of foreign accent syndrome have also reported suffering from severe migraines, which eventually became so bad that their accents changed.
Doctors believe the severe migraines could lead to brain damage, which in turn leads to a sudden accent change.
According to Foreign Accent Syndrome expert Professor Nick Miller: “There are some common threads that run through their stories. There’s a lot of frustration about ‘why me?’ and ‘why is nobody able to explain why this has happened to me?’ ”
Sarah Colwill continues to look endlessly for a cure, but, in the meantime, voice therapy is the only coping method she has at her disposal.