I Am Not Here And This Is Not Really Happening
The picture above, of a stick figure with a single arm, a disproportionately large head and disproportionately short legs and feet next to the phrase "I am not here and this is not really happening" has come to mean a lot to me this year.
The picture was drawn by Radiohead lead singer Thom Yorke. He stuck it on his hotel room window during the promotional tour of their third album Ok Computer. Yorke suffered a mental breakdown during this tour, overwhelmed by the amount of shows, the demands of the record company, the constant interviews and dissociation with his music.
Earlier this year I started a little personal project. I decided I would listen to the entire discographies of bands I had "neglected" (I like them but don't know much, or want to listen but haven't gotten round to it yet) over the years. Radiohead was the first of these bands to be checked off this list. The first album Pablo Honey was great. Kind of like a stripped-down Nirvana, it was really good. I loved it. Without hesitation I moved onto The Bends which I loved even more than Pablo Honey. Eager to listen to the album that cemented their place in the music industry, I immediately moved on to Ok Computer...and that's when things started to get weird.
I had read about Ok Computer being one of the best albums of all time. On my first listen, I didn't really get it. But as I listened to it again and again, it began to weed it's way into my mind. I couldn't get it out of my head. The sound, the themes, the concepts within the album, they all bled into me.
This was a bad thing, because for the past x amount of years I have been carrying around the doubt in my head that I'm sane. I mean people that are insane believe themselves perfectly normal, what's to say that us, the "orderlies" of the world aren't the crazy ones. Not only that, but I seem to remember things differently to how they actually happened, and I also think several concepts that have been deemed "weird" by the only people I've had the courage to talk to them about.
So with Ok Computer largely dealing with themes of insanity, of not belonging to the current world and of being weighed down by a career and social hierarchies, the album brought all of my emotional instability to the forefront, and before long I was falling.
What followed was one of the most terrifying experiences of my life. Every morning as I woke up, I felt that I was somehow smaller. Throughout the day I would question whether anything was real, whether I was real, if we were reflections of some bygone era or some kind of perverse digital simulation. I felt like I was constantly being watched, I was stressed about everything, I was afraid that I was going crazy. One particular incident had me crying into my girlfriend's neck and shoulder in the middle of a city train station saying "I can feel my mind slipping". This isn't the worst of it.
This continued for a month, maybe more? Then suddenly the thoughts started to get smaller and I became more...me. Whatever was going on in my head didn't bother me as much as it used to, and a few weeks after this period of time, I finally mustered up the courage to listen to Radiohead's next album Kid A.
Now I'm not saying that Radiohead caused me to experience a nervous breakdown. But what I am saying is that their music caused me to look inwards, to toy with my views of...well...everything, and on looking in and comparing it with what I saw outside of myself, I was ill-equipped at the time to handle it.
Anyway, during this period, this image and it's words "I am not here and this is not really happening." became something of a catch-phrase for me. It summed up everything I was feeling in a single sentence and whenever I needed to feel confirmed I would repeat it to myself. It a lot of ways, it made what was happening worse, but the main thing is that it served as an anchor, and when my mind was chaos, it focused me.
Since I got better, this image has helped me creatively a lot. It serves as a constant source of inspiration, and I've managed to conceive and start writing a comic trilogy based on the aforementioned events.
I'm not sure why I'm writing this. I guess because for some reason, at this point in time, I wish I could kind of go back and talk to my breaking-down self. To make a record of everything that was happening. I was keeping a journal where I was writing about the things getting into my head, but it doesn't even explain half of what I was feeling.
Anyway, this is why the image in this post means a lot. It represents a mental fall and rise for me. One day I want to get a tattoo of it.
ritaabrol October 04, 2015 05:10PM
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ritaabrol October 04, 2015 05:10PM
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