Taking Back Her Power

 Photo by: Albert Watson

Photo by: Albert Watson

Winter is approaching the countryside. The cold makes you realize the need for shelter. There’s a remote cottage tucked away in the trees. It’s small and sparsely furnished. Inside you spy traces of modernity hinting at an unconventional relationship with our prevailing technologies. An Ethernet cord snakes twenty feet along the kitchen floor, plugged into a laptop for internet access. The Wi-Fi router is permanently disconnected. The alarm system is set to “wireless off.” There’s a curious gadget, not much larger than a matchbox, set on the windowsill. It’s a radiofrequency detector. Turn on your smart phone anywhere in the house, and the device buzzes.  

For Jolie Jones, this temporary abode, on compassionate loan from her friend, is a place to rest and heal. Only a dispossessed rest-stop for Jolie, it is nonetheless a makeshift haven from modern technology, from wireless transmissions, from cell towers, and from the pulsating energy of a life she once knew before she became Electro-Hypersensitive (EHS).

A woman who grew up to the melodic vibrations of jazz and pop, Jolie is no stranger to the significance of harmonizing frequencies. The first-born child of music legend Quincy Jones and his first wife Jeri Jones, Jolie’s youth and adolescence was one of captivating music, art, and fashion. From Manhattan to LA; from Paris to London, larger-than-life names orbited Jolie’s early existence. As a child, surrounded by musical geniuses Duke Ellington, Sarah Vaughan, Peggy Lee and Frank Sinatra, Jolie was welcomed into a world of infinite creativity. At the age of 16, fresh and beautiful, Jolie became the first African American woman to grace the cover of Mademoiselle and appear in the pages of Seventeen. Her subsequent years saw a thrilling whirlwind of modeling gigs, ad campaigns for Max Factor and Revlon, marriage at the age of twenty, the birth of her two sons Donovan and Sunny, art school in London, song-writing, vocal performance, and environmental activism. This was an animated and fulfilling life.

Jolie took her first activist steps with SANE, Citizens for a Sane Nuclear Policy. She later joined The Hollywood Women’s Political Committee; became a founding member of Earth Communications Office (ECO); then formed her own non-profit environmental organization, The Take It Back Foundation. In 1990, recycling was yet to be “a thing.” So to kick off awareness, Jolie created an award-winning, live-action music video “Yakety Yak, Take It Back!” with the participation from some of the world’s leading musical artists. 

Decades later, Jolie is now pivoting her focused passion to a sobering and escalating environmental health crisis: the dangers of wireless radiation, and awareness for Electro-Hypersensitivity. Jolie’s up-close and all-too-personal experience with this debilitating illness stole seven years of her life. “In my heart, and with my whole being, when I believe something is dangerous, or important, I consider myself an activist. And this is important. This is a big deal.” Heed these words from a woman who foresaw earth’s urgent need toward sustainability more than three decades ago.

Electro-Hypersensitivity is a functional impairment in which a person experiences a crippling degree of neurological and immunological symptoms when in the presence of electromagnetic fields (EMFs). Triggers include radiofrequency fields like wireless routers, wireless transmitting devices, mobile phones, tablets, Wi-MAX networks, and smart tech gadgets; as well as low-frequency electric and magnetic fields from sources like televisions, kitchen appliances, car engines, power lines, electric blankets, and heating/AC systems. Symptoms get worse depending on dose and duration of exposure, usually improve only when the individual removes the EMF source completely, but quickly recur when the individual returns to an irradiated environment. EHS is a condition shared by 3-5% of the world’s population, and those numbers are swiftly growing. 

Jolie suffered with EHS for years, unsure where to turn, while her health, bank account, and social network deteriorated. “This is what happens when you become sensitive. One EMF source agitates your system, then you become sensitive to another source. I didn’t have sensitivity to electrical things at the beginning. It was just Wi-Fi, cell phones, flat screen TVs, and minimally computers. But, looking back, during the last two years of my impairment, I couldn’t even have the lights on. Any small amount of exposure really put me in a position where I couldn’t function.” 

Incapacitated by the modern world, how did Jolie interact with life around her? Simply, she didn’t. Because she couldn’t. “I couldn’t be in a room with a cell phone on. I couldn’t go to movies, yoga, restaurants, concerts. I couldn’t go to people’s homes.” And it’s not for lack of trying or asking for the safe space her body needed. “Even when people say they’re willing to turn off their wireless devices, sometimes they forget. Sometimes, they’re just not willing. There was no way I could be around anything emitting. I couldn’t be present in my life.”

It’s easy to disregard someone with EHS. It’s even easier to denigrate the voice who bravely talks about it publicly. Doubters will subversively shun her authority, dismissing her stacks of research reports culled from the world’s renowned experts. Critics will conveniently conjure an image of a wacky woman donning a tin foil hat hiding in an underground bunker. But Jolie is not at all this caricature. She is not someone to diminish. And she is most certainly not a crazy cat lady. 

Jolie is eloquent, intelligent, and compassionate. She speaks deliberately and thoughtfully, with a soft-spoken tonality that illuminates a musical soul. Her expert knowledge on Electro-Hypersensitivity, wireless radiation, and electromagnetic fields is highly-documented and science-based. And Jolie’s personal experience suffering with EHS grants her a unique vantage point to stand up to speak out.

The initial signs of her EHS appeared in 2008 while living in Santa Barbara, when she rented a small guest house in an old caboose train car. “The minute I moved in there, I started to feel sensitive to my cell phone, iPod, and other electromagnetic devices. I didn’t think much of it at first, but I couldn’t function.” She remembers experiencing extreme joint pain, vibrations in her head, and mental confusion. It was like a “big cloud was pushing down on my brain.” 

She spent some time in British Columbia, on an off-the-grid island where she owned property, planning to build a home for herself. Despites its natural surroundings, this island was starting to go wireless. With Wi-Fi beaming directly onto her property, she fell further ill. Thrown down a rabbit hole, disoriented and spinning, Jolie had to navigate next steps without a formal compass for direction. “I couldn’t function there. I had to sell the property. That started my seven years of running from EMF and radiofrequency waves.”

For anyone with EHS, attempting to find a safe place is a Herculean task, given the global proliferation of radiofrequency in the form of Wi-Fi hotspots, cell towers, smart grids, and other EMF-emitting sources. There are no real “safe zones.” There are no established communities for low-EMF, non-toxic housing. Jolie moved thirteen times in less than a decade, crossing over three different countries, from British Columbia to California, from Vermont to Italy. This expedition may read like a magical fairy tale. But this was no fancy jetsetter’s life of privileged VIP passes and first-class spa treatments. This was not living; it was merely surviving. 

Her lowest point surfaced while living in Italy, too sensitive and cognitively impaired to leave her house. “There was a bus route that came right by my driveway to go into Florence. I could not figure out how to find the schedule to find the bus that came to the end of my driveway. I thought, here’s someone who once produced concerts for 750,000 people, coordinated hundreds of people and projects at once, and created national campaigns. I was reduced to not being able to figure out how to use the bus.” 

Jolie’s life became insular, solitary and homeless. She gave away everything she owned. Her savings depleted, unable to work, Jolie was reduced to basic human needs – food, water, sleep, shelter – and even those were a constant struggle to meet. “I spent the majority of those seven years, alone, by myself, scared for my future, wondering how did I end up like this? How could this happen to me?” Rural farms and rustic barns still carried harmful electromagnetic frequencies – from nearby cell towers, neighbors with Wi-Fi, faulty power grid layouts, electric fences – all polluting the environment with electrosmog. No one thinks about this, because they can’t see it. And EHS is at core an invisible illness. But, turn on a Wi-Fi router next to someone with EHS, and you’ll see them crumble in pain, and flee for their safety, just like Jolie did. “This is what people don’t understand. People can’t fathom what it’s like to survive this.” 

Misunderstood by friends and family with the best intentions, Jolie persevered to find answers. Toward the beginning of her impairment, one of Jolie’s doctors discovered that her mercury levels were ten times the accepted safe levels. Overly-toxified with mercury and other heavy metals, her body was like a little antenna, and her immune system was totally compromised. “I did everything. I was taking thirteen supplements per meal to build myself up. I tried alternative healing, acupuncture, ozone therapy, UV therapy, IV infusions, glutathione. I went to doctors, to a homeopathic clinic in Germany. I bought equipment, I slept in Faraday cages, I had phone jammers, I had healing necklaces. I couldn’t work. I spent all my money just surviving and trying to get well.” 

At the end of her rope, Jolie was depleted emotionally and physically. Not actually part of “life” anymore, but merely existing, she questioned how she could continue living, unsure if she even wanted to. It was at that point when she found her way to Annie Hopper’s neuroplasticity program, Dynamic Neuro Retraining System (DNRS). Jolie accredits this methodology for mostly healing her from EHS. 

Now almost three years after commencing DNRS, Jolie says she’s about 90% healed and able to concentrate, function in the world again, and rejoin community. However, she’s hauntingly concerned about the emerging public health crisis that looms due to the global influx wireless radiation. Those with EHS may very well be the canaries in the proverbial coal mine… a warning of what is to come. 

While the Internet of Everything may be changing our socio-cultural climate, this not-so-smart tech is also harming our bio-electrical bodies. People are mostly unaware of the significant health risks, yet there are thousands of peer-reviewed scientific studies providing evidence. Jolie is now working to educate the public on this environmental health issue through speaking engagements and her new website JolieTalks.com. 

“I want to begin a dialogue with people, so they know what this wireless technology is, and what it can do, until we develop safer technology. I believe once people learn a little bit, they will want to learn more, lessen exposures, and take precautions. When you experience these frequencies like I have, and you feel how strong they are, you know something that other people don’t viscerally understand.” 

The extreme impairment and existential isolation of EHS forces a person to journey through the dark night of the soul. There’s heart healing entwined in the physical healing. “The spiritual and inner work that you have to do to get through something like this is beyond comprehension. I had to do a lot of work about not blaming myself. I didn’t do this to myself. I didn’t choose this. It’s not my fault. Why couldn’t I keep my life together? I couldn’t. Or I would have.”

When asked to describe her chief characteristics, Jolie’s answer speaks to the identity-stripping experience of Electro-Hypersensitivity. “Describing myself is hard. Which self? The one before? The one now? Because I am not what I want to end up being. And I have felt for so long that I am trying to get back to me ... or to the new me. It feels like such a long road. I lost ‘me’ somewhere way back, and parts of me are fine left behind, but I am still picking up the pieces.”

Jolie is profoundly grateful to have found a way toward healing, and a new way to use her voice for positive change. Reclaiming her spirit and identity, she’s returned to her art and music, working on commissioned paintings and entertainment production. But, in a world now overpowered with wireless radiation, and a subsection of the population silently disabled from it, now it is time for Jolie to talk. It is also high time for people to listen.

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 Alison Main is a freelance writer with a focus on environmental health, EMF safety and natural living. You can read her published work at alisonmain.me and her personal essays at uncommonalchemy.me

©2017 ALISON MAIN ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. No part of this document may be reproduced without written consent and permission from the author.