Back in 2003, photographer Thilde Jensen started getting sick. She had problems with her sinuses, flu-like symptoms, a weird tingling in parts of her body and at times felt drunk and foggy.
"I felt like my blood was running backwards," she said.
The weirdest part was what set if off. First she noticed that the symptoms would appear whenever she was around a lot of car exhaust. Then she experienced similar symptoms whenever she was around books. Then it was cigarette smoke and perfume.
"It just kept getting worse and worse," says Jensen, 40, who at the time was living in New York City. "It actually became kind of surreal. It was like being in a Hitchcock movie, like everything was out to get me."
Finally, Jensen says, it got the point where there were so many triggers that she became totally disoriented and completely non-functional. By that point certain foods were also making her sick, as were electronics that emitted radiation, like phones and computers.
Faced with constant irritation, Jensen made the difficult decision to permanently move to upstate New York and live outside in a tent, away from almost all the amenities of modern life. It was the only thing, she realized, that would make her feel normal again.
She was married at the time, but about a year into her stay near Syracuse the marriage ended - in part because she couldn't move back to NYC and her husband couldn't move out to the country. Jensen says she's doesn't hold the breakup against her former husband.
"Most people would probably do what he did because it was such an extreme life change, I wasn't the same person anymore," she says. "I used to be this fun-loving person and suddenly I couldn't do anything, and in certain ways I really needed to do it by myself."
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