An Alabama teenager has been cured of a rare disorder that caused her to think she was dead for three years.
Haley Smith suffered from Cotard’s syndrome, also known as “walking corpse syndrome,” an extremely rare illness where people with the condition are convinced they are dead or that parts of their body are missing, reports Daily Mail.
Some people die from starvation because they feel they don’t have to eat anymore. Like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, “walking corpse syndrome” is a form of delusional psychosis, which is caused by a malfunction in an area of the brain called the fusiform gyrus.
The 17 year old says her problem started after her parents split up.
“I didn’t cope with it well,” she said. “Then one day when I was sitting in English class I had this really weird sensation that I was dead and I couldn’t shake it.”
She went to see the school nurse who couldn’t find anything wrong.
Smith began missing school, sleeping at home all day and staying awake at night.
“I’d fantasize about having picnics in graveyards and I’d spend a lot of time watching horror films because seeing the zombies made me feel relaxed, like I was with family,” she said.
But Smith eventually confided in one of her friends, according to the Daily Mirror.
“I thought he’d think I was a freak but he just nodded and listened,” she said. “It gave me the confidence to tell my dad.”
Her father urged her to see a psychiatrist, who helped her on the road to recovery. She also found that watching Disney films improved her condition, giving her a “warm, fuzzy feeling” that made her realize she was not dead.
“'The Little Mermaid,' 'Aladdin,' 'Sleeping Beauty,' 'Bambi' — I watched them all,” Smith said. “Being a corpse was the most bizarre experience, but I’m so glad I managed to get out alive.”