At what point of life does one start writing their memoir?
Meaning, I think, which space and time is the best point to start it off at? The most logical point for most probably is one the day they arrived on this big blue planet. For me, it’s not that simple. Not that easy. But then of course, with me, it never is. I have two beginnings, not just one. I didn’t ask for two, but I most definitely experienced them.
Obviously there is the usual stuff like the day I was born , then my childhood, my early adult years with getting married and having a family. Also, there was my career in online development, content creation and news media sites.
That era, I must admit, was one I loved. Launching news websites back in 1996, back before the general public realized WWW wasn’t just for World Wide Wrestling , hell yeah, that was a blast. That was until the reality that the “Golden Years” for newspapers was over, felt deeply with revenue drops, and then the layoffs started.
During the first round of “de-hire” sweeps in early 2009, I was a patient in the hospital antepartum wing and fighting for my life while trying to maintain pregnancy for as long as possible, and give my daughter a better chance to survive and thrive. I’d been so ill with what my OB/GYN doc labeled as pre-eclampsia, but he’d never seen it start at 15 weeks . There was no question my daughter was going to be born early. It was a fight to keep me alive and give her another day in utero and a better chance of survival once she was born.
No doubt about it … that experience was hellacious with nightly episodes of blood pressure so high it nurses couldn’t read it on the monitors and out would come the team of professionals. The nurses, the aides and others that worked there with some important job or other, would line each edge exposed edge of my bed.
Blankets of blue would be wrapped and taped around the side bars in case I had a seizure. I remember giggling and not able to answer the aide what was making me laugh … I wasn’t able to speak. I laughed at the thought the thin wrappers would help protect my head if I had a notion to seizure. All humor vanished with a bolster of magnesium burned up my arm and then down my skin.
And this went on every night. Every night. Every night with sand paper scrapes on my chest and sticky tabs attached, then wires and the beeps. Nurse on the cellphone getting doctors orders. Fear took energy, and of that I had none. So instead of seeing the worry in the suppressed expressions of the staff, I watched Detective Goren and Detective Eames seek to solve another crime on the small tv anchored high on the wall opposite the bed.
Typically the scare had been remedied, or at least stabilized, by the time the series “Charmed” finished it’s late-night marathon, and I could look out the window in anticipation of seeing the sun. When the night dark began to yellow again is when I counted my win: I’d lived to see another day. My daughter was one day stronger than before. It went on like that until my pregnancy was 34 weeks, and then I could do it no more. My baby was born by cesarean section weighed in at three pounds four ounces. Today, she’s nearing her 11th birthday healthy and strong. I am not.
I’m told I never really recovered after the pregnancy. I never did get back to how I’d been. Not really. To this I have to accept another’s understanding because I don’t remember. Nowadays, there’s lots of things I don’t remember … until I remember them, and then poof, they’re gone. Amnesia is weird that way.
Weirder is life with other people knowing more about me than I do, because I forgot and then forgot again.
There was an 18-month grace period between the birth of my daughter and my downfall into oblivion. I know I worked at a Children’s Hospital in the marketing department at the end of my career. Sometimes I remember being there. Right as I type this, I don’t remember much other than I feel like I was happy to work there.
On December 16, 2010 I know I left work early because I did not feel well, and hadn’t felt right since that morning. My notes to self from that time say I felt a pop in my head, and a sensation like blood had rushed down my neck before I left for work that morning. Only when I felt for the blood, there was only dry skin and hair. It scared me but I had no explanation for it. So I grabbed my homemade cupcakes for the office lunch and left. I didn’t make it through the party and had to leave because I felt such pressure and weirdness in my head and body. Something just wasn’t right.
After leaving work, I never made it all the way home. I had been so unwell I stopped at my mom Pam’s house and I’m told that is when the seizures, tics, tremors, amnesia, and my loss of ability to walk, talk and otherwise triggered, and life as I knew it was over. The final diagnosis was Functional Neurological Disorder (once known as psychogenic non-epileptic seizures, or pseudo seizures) and PTSD.
I’m told I was mostly bedridden for two years after that. I’m told that I lost my hair in a massive drop, and when I did speak, I was not understood. My words had no logic. Whatever it was I was trying to communicate, couldn’t be understood for a long time after the trigger. It is still problmatic today when my brain is overtired.
That summary you just read is my life, but version Life 1.0, the Years of Jyna (sounds like Genna). Today, I am Eve and this is Life 2.0. Both of those names are short for my birth name, Genevieve.
Many in my family and some other loved ones say I have a different personality now. That I’m so different now and they struggle with it. That it’s so hard to them this change. It’s like the daughter, sister, loved one they knew died.
To them I say: That is true. The person you knew died. I know, I watched her go, and mourned my loss. For so long, my body was a coffin. Why the hell I was left? Why did Death refuse to visit again and take me too?
So this is who’s left. Me. Just me. I’m the one that survived. I’m the one that lived. Jyna is gone and will never return.
I am Eve. Stop seeking the ghost beneath me. I’m the only one that lives. Accept me or leave me be.
Now that’s said, this blog is a memoir written by both of us. The first me. This now me. How is that possible? Well, I’ve discovered that my former self was an prolific writer, mostly communicated via email correspondence, blogged and has social media archives going back as 2005 and before. So that’s how.
I’m not sure how that’s exactly going to work out yet — but will figure it out as I go.
- The Ghost Beneath Me: A Memoir Of Two LivesAt what point of life does one start writing their memoir? Meaning, I think, which space and time is the best point to start it off at? The most logical point for most probably is one the day they arrived on this big blue planet. For me, it's not that simple. Not that easy. But … Read more
- Poetry & Prose From The Past | Life 1.0To start with Jyna Life 1.0, I'm sharing these poems and prose bits written when I was a teenager. The difficulty with my memory being so hopscotch, playing the here-and-then-gone-again game, is my recall of life isn't in a linear format. These days I don't feel the passing of time. A week, a month, five … Read more
- I’m New In The Psych Ward | Life 2.0I'm in the new ward and I can't believe how fucking amazing these people are to me. [TW: Rape, Abuse, PTSD] Photo taken in 2013 (Originally an email written by Eve Reiland (then Hinson) to a friend on 9.20.13 from the community computer in the psych ward at Stanford.) This place is gorgeous and comfortable. … Read more
- Found Out I’m Pregnant Today | Life 1.0[ From Journal Entry: September 20, 1992] Today I found out I was pregnant. The test was so pink it was purple. First feelings? Happy but tremendously surprised, scared, worried and confused. I didn’t know how to feel. I cried a little bit. So did Jim. Just because we had so many feelings at once, … Read more
- Dear Me: A Letter To My 16-Year-Old Self | Life 2.0Note: This piece ran as a Valley Voices article in The Fresno Bee in 2015 Dear Me, First, you’re not stupid. You’re going to be one of the most brilliant people you ever meet. Right now, most folks don’t understand how you think because you’re more abstract to their concrete. Don’t fret, in your 20s … Read more
- Learning To Accept My Autistic Son | Life 1.0(Originally posted Apr 17 2008 12:00am and was nationally syndicated through McClatchy newspapers and media sites.) My son was born after midnight during the cooler days of May, before the Central Valley could blaze triple-digit temperatures. The delivery room was packed full of people. The doctor, several nurses, my husband, my parents and my mother-in-law … Read more
- Pregnancy, I Wasn’t Expecting This | Life 1.0[Note: This was originally published as a 3-part series and nationally syndicated through McClatchy (MCT) in 2008 under the byline Genevieve Hinson (I have since been divorced and re-married with the last name Reiland.] Part 1 I’m not dying; I’m pregnant. It had been sixteen years since I last tested positive for a baby. It … Read more
- The 5 Rules For Fighting Bullies | Life 1.0Note: This entry was written in Life 2.0 (penned March 2018) while remembering Life 1.0. I will have brilliant moments of memory and this is one of those that I was able to preserve with words. Reading it now helps prompt the memory again, but not with the detail I had when I first wrote … Read more
- “Rampage” College Adventure | Life 1.0[Originally this was an article published in Fresno City College’s newspaper “The Rampage” on November 12, 1997.] Eve Reiland (née Hinson) on the left in 1997. The morning air was chilled with the slight wind that blew across the parking lot behind Yoshino’s cafe. The Rampage staff waited patiently for our instructor and our transportation. … Read more
- Back From The Psych Ward | Life 2.0Note: Originally this was written as a series of emails to a friend on October 5, 2012 [TW: Suicide Compulsion] Colored this picture of B. while in the psych ward. Strange to think the stereotype of the mentally ill in the day room, all coloring and the small tv on the wall playing some really outdated TV … Read more
- Becoming Craig’s Mother … | Life 1.0Note: Originally Publish in Feb. 2005 | A Journal Entry I Wrote and later became my first published piece in “Adoptive Families Magazine.” Would he love me? This time last year, while waiting for my son to be born, I worried that he wouldn’t return my love. I was certain that when he was a … Read more
- The Miracle Is Love | Life 2.0Note: This was originally a Facebook comment on January 1, 2020. OH my, how my activism has changed since 2008 (and my knowledge increased exponentially woot). My first campaign … and the first time I learned what that puzzle piece really meant. This was in 2008 my friends — and we’re still battling the bs. After … Read more
- When Does Humanity Stop? | Life 2.0[Originally written in my journal sometime in October of 2012] An old man sat on the blue bus bench. His teeth looked gnawed to half their size on his lower jaw. When he spoke, which was often to anyone, he sputtered. His hands made large gestures that interfered with passerby’s personal space. They walked around … Read more
- UCSF Says Psychogenic Non Epileptic Seizures | Life 2.0This is me in 2011 (?) I have a memory of this being a ‘Proof of Life’ check. I was so ill and wasn’t sure if I was really alive and not a ghost haunting my home. There are more photos like these over the years — where I’m needing a proof of life again. … Read more
- The Doctor Doesn’t Think I’m Competent To Handle My Finances | Life 2.0[TW: Suicide Ideation, Hope Lost, PTSD] My daughter and I playing. [written as an email on 5.19.12] Had some news. Approved for SSDI. The kicker is the doctor doesn’t think I’m competent to handle my finances. Listened to the lady call Jim at work and do paperwork so my checks, and the kids’, are deposited … Read more
- Unwell, undead and undiagnosed | Life 2.0[Written in an email on December 24, 2010] Sometime 2011,? my daughter and I Man, been a rough couple of days. Made sure to kiss my kids goodbye every time I left the house, not knowing if I’d see ’em again. Got tremors so bad Jim said I made Michael J. Fox look like a … Read more
- 2005: About That IEP …| Life 1.0Jun 20, 2005, 5:51 PM | From My Journal We are off to the library. Jared’s shoes slap-scuff irregularly as he trails me on the weather-cracked sidewalk. He has his nose stuffed into the already thrice-read “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” series book and slows his pace during the good parts. Craig is seated in his big … Read more
- Dear Gynecologist, I Can’t Get Married Every Month | Life 1.0[Aug 14, 2008 | From My Journal] My gynecologist is lucky. I wasn’t actually experiencing PMS on the day he told me that it didn’t exist. I had scheduled my yearly appointment with hopes he could help me find some monthly relief. I wasn’t expecting miracles — or my pants to fit – I just … Read more
- For The Mother That’s About To Rock, We Salute You! | Life 1.0[Aug 7, 2008 | From My Journal] There should be a warning sticker on the RockBand game box. It should state: Persons 35 and older should play with caution. Play may result in addictive, grand delusions of rock god-ery, which may be harmful to your health. That being said, I woke up yesterday morning with a … Read more
- Go Away! Mornings Aren’t Welcome Here | Life 1.0[ From My Journal | September 17, 2008] Dear God, mornings arrive too early during the school year. I vowed this summer to have a better attitude about. Even if I wanted to rage ’shut the hell up already’ at the alarm clock or bludgeon Mr. Coffee with a wooden spatula until he spit the … Read more
- I Don’t Know Why It Took Me So Long To Realize I’m Mentally Ill | Life 2.0[From My Journal | October 6, 2012] Home from psych ward. Mom picked me up yesterday. I was terrified to go, but know now it’s a good space if i ever need it again. We’re working together as as family to be more open about my illness with the kids and setting some family goals … Read more
- With The Death Of Grandma, My Family Has Fallen Apart | Life 1.0[From my journal | September 2, 1994] With the death of grandma, my family has fallen apart. Everybody has shined their true colors. At first I tried to be very open and not get angry. Even when N spoke against my mother. I should’ve spoken up then. I haven’t told my mother what she said … Read more
- Poetry, Prose, Words From Late 80s Journal | Life 1.0[From my journal | Sometime in the mid-late 80s] Totally outrageous. It’s this population and it’s investigation Who wants this kind of education and it’s retaliation? Oh no! Oh! Oh No! It’s starting again. This time I will win. This time I will win. Or Die in this close-minded society. Please! Please! Please! Please! Can’t … Read more
- 29 weeks pregnant and counting | Life 1.0[From My Journal | Feb. 26, 2009] Bed rest bites. Regardless of what some people think, it’s not a vacation. It’s hard work. Serious work. Slowing down, much less coming to a dead stop, isn’t easy for me. Between family and work I over schedule my life on a daily basis. Isn’t that what moms … Read more
- My Daughter Is A Miracle | Life 1.0[From My Journal Titled “A Mother of a Birth Story”, Part 1 | August 28, 2008] My daughter and I on an outing. My daughter is a miracle. From conception to birth she battled to be born. Even now, as we gaze into each other’s eyes when she nuzzles and nurses, I’m amazed she is … Read more
- Moving Again, New School and Still Working On An IEP For Jared | Life 1.0Note: This includes a journal entry of mine, and email exchanges between myself and my son’s teachers, counselors, and others involved with his school life in 2006. This is before he was found to be Autistic by the experts; and before I knew anything about Autism and how it related to myself and my child. … Read more
- Becoming Craig’s Brother By Jared | Life 1.0Note: Included are some early communications seeking a diagnosis to help Jared in school, suicide ideation and Jared’s story about becoming a brother in 2006. I’m referred here by my first married name: Mrs. Hinson. [TW: Suicide Ideation by a Child] Jared’s hero was Steve Irwin and he struggled greatly with his death. This is … Read more
- Emails To My Dad About Memories & Seeking Family Support | Life 2.0[Oct 26, 2014, 5:51 PM | Email From Me To My Dad] I remember the house on Ashlan, the black wall heater vents and hiding your cigarettes in the closet. Not sure why I erswanted you to quit then, because I didn’t understand it yet but it made mom laugh and you to play-look for … Read more
- Stanford Psych Ward: This Is What It Feels Like … A Journey To Home | Life 2.0At Stanford Hospital with a video EEG in the neurology department. I stayed here about a week before moving over to the psych ward. [Email from me to a friend | September 9, 2013] Getting help. Real help. That or I’m ready for Halloween. These people are amazing. They have treated this before*and already have me … Read more
- Diagnosed Autistic | Life 1.0[Tue, May 9, 2006, 12:25 PM | Email From Me To Resource Person] Hi Mary, I received your voice mail today. I was out of town last week and am just back into the office, sorry for the delay. I left a voice mail (I didn’t get a direct connect) and obtained your email address this way. What … Read more
- The dramatic, pregnant quest for caffeine | Life 1.0[From My Journal | December 3, 2008] I am a caffeine addict. My love has led me to devote many a Twitter , text message and verbal declaration to it. Seriously. I’ve stood on a mountaintop and sworn my unwavering I-would-die-for-you loyalty to Mr. Coffee – and pledged to run away with him if he’d … Read more
- Tales From The Boob: Breastfeeding Lessons & Saying Goodbye To The American Dream | Life 1.0[From My Journal | August 21, 2009] Nursing is natural. At least that was my silent mantra as I pulled up my shirt, unsnapped my bra cup and pulled Abby to me in the family room the first time. After a few attempts she latched. My boys were formula-fed, so pulling out a breast as … Read more
- What’s So Great About Happy? & Other Tales | Life 1.0[From My Journal | What’s So Great About Happy? | February 22, 2010] Happy. What is up with this one emotion that is valued above and beyond all others? And when did we get suckered into using it as a benchmark of success in our lives? Even more boggling, nowadays, moms and dads are responsible … Read more
- From Burden To Badass: How I Became An Activist & My First Vlog | Life 2.0[From My Journal | Circa 2014] My body was a coffin after the onset of Psychogenic Non-epileptic Seizures*, a mental condition, in 2010. It was a living breathing container for a dead person walking. Consciousness came with unending electric pain zapping through my limbs, back, head and left me exhausted and unable to do the … Read more
- Transition From Advocate To Activist | Jenny McCarthy, Sit The F#@! Down| Life 2.0[From My Journal | February 11, 2019] Just some thoughts … In 2014, I considered myself an advocate. My goal was to help break stigma of living with a severe mental illness, support peer projects and goals that helped bring support, services and a better quality of care and life here in Fresno, California. And … Read more
- Jared didn’t have a good day in my class today.| Life 1.0Jared as a young teen. [Email From School | August 24, 2006] Jared didn't have a good day in my class today. He actually got confused and came here first and I had to send him back to math, so maybe that set him off on the wrong foot. If you can have him study … Read more