FOR 18 months after a crash, soldier Warren McKinlay thought he was dead.
He was suffering from a condition called Cotard’s Syndrome, known as walking corpse syndrome.
It meant Warren was convinced he was somehow experiencing death and did not need to eat or talk.
It was triggered when the recovery mechanic was stationed at RAF Horrington and was out on a motorbike ride with a colleague.
His colleague lost control, sending Warren, 35, veering off into a tree at 60mph.
Warren suffered a traumatic brain injury. He said: “I believed I was in a kind of purgatory and the memory loss and struggling to cope I experienced was a part of that.
“My medical condition was so bizarre, I felt I was literally a dead man walking. It was like I was in a living nightmare.”
After the accident, Warren’s wife Sarah, who is a mum to their daughter Katie, 11, and son Frazer, four, said he was moved to the high dependency ward at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital.
She said: “We would go and visit Warren and we would be sitting with him for over an hour and he wouldn’t say a word to us but as we left he would start talking to someone on the ward straight away.
“It was quite frustrating as we had no idea why he was behaving like that. When Warren was finally discharged, all my time was spent caring for him.
“It was a struggle but I was so thankful to have him home. But he just wasn’t himself at all. I remember one day I sat in my car crying as I felt completely alone.”
After his daughter, Katie was born in the October, Warren became unable to cope with any noises.
He said: “I wasn’t myself at all and couldn’t understand it.
“Every time there was a loud noise or Katie would cry I flew into a rage.
“I never hated my child – I loved her from the moment she was born but I would have to leave the house as the noise was like a searing pain in my head.”
Warren was sent to the rehabilitation centre, Headley Court, where war veterans receive care.
Warren said: “For some time I’d become convinced I was actually dead.
“I was convinced I didn’t have to eat. I’d sit for hours in a room refusing to talk to anyone.
“I’d gone completely into a shell, Sarah was loving and tried everything to help me but I felt I couldn’t share what was happening to me.”
Specialists diagnosed the rare condition and slowly, with support and therapy, Warren recovered. He also made friends with another soldier who bizarrely had the same rare condition.
In April, Warren was given the opportunity to join Team BRIT, a racing team made up of injured war veterans.
He is now seeking sponsorship in order to fulfill his dream of making history as one of a team of veterans to compete in the Le Mans 24 hour endurance race.
He said: “Team Brit has given me a renewed focus in my life.
“We race all over the country and Europe, in specially adapted hand control karts and it’s given me my direction back.”
Sarah added: “It’s hard to comprehend what Warren has gone through but finally our lives are back on track. Katie often says how proud she is of her daddy.
“She saw him at his lowest, his angriest, and she has seen Warren’s transformation over time into a smiling person once again.
“We still both live with brain injury, but Warren has achieved so much I’m incredibly proud of him.”
To sponsor Warren go to warrenracing.co.uk.