Teen battling brain disorder starts speaking in French and Irish accents

A teenager has been diagnosed with Functional Neurological Disorder after waking up experiencing an unexplained physical twitch and verbal tics.

Surreally, this included beginning to randomly speak in a French and Irish accents.

Mary Henry, 19, led a healthy lifestyle by playing football for Hartlepool United, travelling, and hiking before receiving the bad news.

Now, the teen from Hartlepool is reliant on family and friends to support her through serious symptoms after the disorder has affected her ability to walk and talk, as well as causing chronic fatigue.

The disorder affects how the body and the brain sends and receive signals and can contribute to a wide variety of problems, including physical, cognitive, and sensory symptoms.

Mary told ChronicleLive: "It's incredibly frustrating. You wonder why you can't do things like you used to.

"It's a horrible thing to live with, I wouldn't wish it on anyone. The strange thing is nothing seems to have triggered it.

It was shortly after her 19th birthday in October when Mary woke up with a tic in her neck, which she initially put down to nerves.

However, only days later while at work in Morrisons the twitching started happening more often.

She admits to being scared when verbal tics including whistling and swearing also started to manifest.

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Mary’s GP did not know the what was behind the football mad teenager’s strange symptoms and the following day she was admitted to A&E.

The 19-year-old would later receive the diagnosis of FND that would radically alter her life.

"Anyone who has spent anytime with me recently will have been subject to my expletives and accents," she said.

"I've got a good Irish accent now which I can't usually do. It is actually quite funny. When I first went to A&E the doctor I saw was Irish and it's since then I can do it.

"Some words such as 'Scooby Doo' I say now in a French accent too. It's just bizarre.”

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Over the next few months Mary would develop further symptoms of FND including intermittent loss of speech, muscle weakness, chronic fatigue, and leg paralysis.

Eventually, she was forced to buy a wheelchair when she suddenly lost the use of her legs. She also suffers from brain fog, itchy skin and being unable to pick things up with her hand.

Mary is now having to learn how to do basic things again such as cracking an egg.

"I've had to swallow my pride a little bit. I've needed help getting food and going to the toilet for example.

"I live with my parents and two younger brothers and they've all been incredibly supportive. They've helped me with everything – from doctors appointments to listening to me rant."

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"It must be so difficult for them and I think that gets overlooked at times. They were all in such shock when all this first started – as was I.”

With no NHS specialist FND site in the North East and large waiting lists for centres across the country, the former Kings Priory School pupil has sought private treatment to give herself the best possible chance of recovery.

But with only working part-time, she has had to launch a GoFundMe campaign to help raise the funds to pay for her treatment.

Happily, Mary has been left overwhelmed by the support from the public, who have so far pledged more than £4,000 to the cause.

"I can now walk again which is fantastic," she added. "It was so difficult not being able to do something so simple for two months.

"I'd love to be back playing football and coaching again but I'm taking little steps at a time.”

Mary also wants to raise awareness of FND, which although relatively unknown is the second most common reason for a neurological outpatient visit after a headache or migraine.

To donate to Mary's GoFundMe page, go to https://uk.gofundme.com/f/marys-fnd-treatment

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