Believe it or not, there’s actually a mental illness that wields the power to make you believe you are dead. Dating back to the 1700s, it’s called Cotard’s Syndrome, though it’s more commonly, and more accurately, referred to as ‘Walking Corpse Syndrome.’
As reported by UK’s Daily Mail, 17-year-old Haley Smith spent the past three years of her life silently suffering from the delusional psychosis, which had her fully convinced that she was undead. It all began with a strange sensation, which she eventually was unable to get rid of.
“My parents had just divorced and I didn’t cope with it well,” said the Alabama teen. “Then one day when I was sitting in an English class I had this really weird sensation that I was dead and I couldn’t shake it. As I walked home I thought about visiting a graveyard, just to be close to others who were also dead. But because there wasn’t one nearby I went straight back to my house and tried to sleep it off.”
A few days later, the sensation returned with a fury, and this time it did not go away. Smith says her entire body went numb while out shopping at the mall, causing her to drop everything she was holding. That’s when her nightmare truly began, and she started to embrace the zombie lifestyle.
“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,” Smith revealed. “I decided to eat whatever I wanted because I couldn’t put on weight if I was dead.”
It wasn’t until two years later that Smith faced her illness head on, confessing to her father and a psychiatrist that she thought she was dead. The girl was immediately diagnosed with Cotard’s Syndrome, and with understanding of the disorder came a cure.
Oddly enough, Smith says that Disney movies were a big part of her recovery, as they made her feel the comfort that zombie movies previously had, before she was reminded that she was very much a living, breathing human being.
“Being a corpse was the most bizarre experience,” says Smith, “but I’m so glad I managed to get out alive.”