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The Mind-Blowing 60 Minutes Episode About Women Who Woke Up With Foreign Accents

Imagine you wake up one day feeling completely normal, but when you get to work, everyone you speak to looks at you funny. After a while, you realize that you are the source of their confusion, due to the fact that you're suddenly speaking in a foreign accent. Despite never speaking another language, or even visiting the country of the accent's origin, everything you say comes out sounding like you have spoken like that your whole life. 

That's exactly what an extremely small percentage of people experience with what doctors are calling Foreign Accent Syndrome. An episode of "60 Minutes Australia" features three women who suffer from this rare condition telling their stories, and for many people viewers at home, the side effects are not only hard to understand — they're hard to believe. The three women featured all had very similar issues right before their speech changed. Cindy Hastings from Queensland, Australia; Sarah Colwill from Plymouth, England; and Kay Russell from Gloucestershire, UK, all experienced horrendous migraine headaches before waking up the following morning, sounding completely different. 

Foreign Accent Syndrome may never go away

Viewers may find it hard to believe Foreign Accent Syndrome is even real. Cindy Hastings deals with that prejudice on a daily basis. When her migraine headache turned into a seizure, she was prescribed a medication for convulsions. Shortly after, she woke up with an eastern European accent she couldn't drop. 

Sarah Colwill also had a migraine headache before waking up with a thick Chinese accent. The former I.T. specialist says the condition has resulted in her losing her friends. "I think particularly in the early days they didn't like to see what I'd become," she said. "Because maybe it was too upsetting for them I don't know." The condition has been with Colwill for a while. "The last seven years has been quite an emotional journey. People still think I'm not British," she told the Daily Mail.

Kay Russell's own migraine resulted in a permanent French accent. "If you've been through this or go through this you know jolly well there's no way of fighting it, it's impossible," she explained. 

Dr. Nick Miller has been studying the syndrome and says that the patients aren't actually speaking in a foreign accent. It's just the way their words are being perceived by the people around them. The sudden change is actually a speech impediment brought on by whatever condition occurred in the brain as a result of the migraines. By the time the speech gets from the brain to their mouth, it's converted into sounds that other people will detect as a foreign dialect. As for the people who experience this extremely rare speech deficiency, Dr. Miller explains that it is very likely they will suffer from it for the rest of their lives.