I Forgot I Nearly Died

Weird Synchronicities. This week I forgot I nearly died and then found myself at The War Inside, a play about that exact moment in my life.

13 minutes

It’s been one of those weeks where weird synchronicities occur. Forces or flows converge to provide – if not insight – pause to think.

Last week I wrote about how I’d been doing an ‘Insane amount of self indulgent introspection.’ Well, I’d been spending my evenings doing JBP’s Self Authoring program. I was gifted the course a couple of years ago, and finally had cause to do it. I really enjoyed it and its super useful as an exercise. I’d recommend it.

For me, all four modules came in at about about 16k words. Two really important things came up for me during the process.

I definitely have SDAM

SDAM (Severely deficient autobiographical memory) is a lifelong inability to vividly recollect or re-experience personal past events. It often goes hand in hand with people like me who have Aphantasia. My not-having-any-sort-of-visual-imagination results in an “inability to vividly recollect personally experienced events from a first-person perspective” as memories.

So I was merrily writing about events in my life that have impacted me positively or negatively. Things like being involved in hardcore punk community as a teenager, taking my 11+ and my decision to go to an all boys school, or going to NYC for TTW14. All sorts of stuff – good and bad! it’s a long exercise!

Later in the course it asks you to review, reflect on, and write in detail about the events themselves. At first I thought the prompts and questions were a bit weird, hard to square with what I’d written, but then it dawned on me that the course was just assuming I could recall singular moments from my past.

I had been writing about past events as things *that happened* to me, not as events that I had *experienced*. I mean…. I don’t remember experiencing school at all. I just know and recognise the emotions that come up for me now when I think about the period of my life. My memory of school is just a 7 year long streaky blur of events and intense emotions stretched across time.

Over the years in relationships, I’ve had occasion to upset people multiple times. Because I haven’t remembered events that meant a lot to us both: first kisses, first dates or whatever. I’m not talking about forgetting the date of a birthday like the embodiment some sort of walking talking sexist joke – thats what calendars are for! I’m talking about not remembering any details of the first time I said that I loved someone. I’m aware that it happened, but I don’t remember where, when, or what, we were doing when the words came out of my mouth.

Then they will remind me of some small detail and I’ll remember and say ‘Oh yeah!’ Some recollections will come back like the progressive population of the results of an SQL query. I’ve always assumed it was because I’m Aspie as fuck and forgetful, rather than it being a lack of autobiographical memory. In fairness, I can’t even picture the faces of a the people I love when I’m not looking right at them. None of them have known, I didn’t even know this wasn’t normal!

So this was somewhat of a revelation.

I wonder if this is why I’ve always been so interested in photography? Because I have no visual memory, nor visual imagination. I got my first SLR camera for my 16th Birthday in 2001 and haven’t stopped taking photos since. My Google photos library goes back to 2004 when I got my first digital camera and is literally how I remember a lot of shit. lol.

I Forgot I Nearly Died

I was about 90% of my way though the exercise when I wrote something about taking meds every day. In a flash, I realised that I had neglected to mention or even list ‘Being diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease and spending all that time in hospital at 17‘ as a major life event in my self narrative/autobiography.

This obviously was a bit of a shock. I had to stand up and pace around the flat for a bit.

How could I have missed such an important thing?

I’ve taken 5 tablets a day minimum since I was 17. I’ve had operations, been though horrendous pain like you wouldn’t belive. In my 20’s I had ongoing complications (still do to some extent) from a Seton stitch which had a major impact on my personal life. I’ve lived with chronic pain, dealt with constant inventory management of pills and prescriptions. GP appointments, injections and blood tests 4 times a year. Plus I very rarely, if at all, stayed the night in other peoples houses etc. I’ve even been in and out of hospital in the last few years!

I’m not writing the above because its a sob story. I’ve always just figured that I’m playing the game of life on hard mode. Like an RPG with an HP debuff or something. Sometimes in my more darker moments I’ve thought myself cursed.

Instead, I’m trying to get my head around how on earth I could have overlooked such an important part of my life story? I hijacked a box in the self authoring program to write up my initial thoughts, I’ve written about it multiple times in my diary this week and now I’m writing about it publicly here.

Maybe it’s because I think about it as stuff thats happened to me, rather than things I’ve experienced?

I dunno. Like a lot of disabled people with a non-visible/hidden disability, I tend to not talk about it. I’ve never made an episode of 301 about it for example. Now, I wonder why that is?

What is it about my current relationship to Crohn’s after suffering for 20+ years that meant I ‘forgot’ about it during the self authoring exercise? A program designed to surface important events in ones life.

I dunno. It’s something I’m literally going to meditate on. Seems important.

The War Inside

So yeah, back to the syncs and the point of this post. The whole ‘oh yeah, I have Crohn’s but I forgot about it‘ was last week. Then this week, I hung out with poet and performer Nick Von Kleist. We went for dinner in London Bridge and then went to the Albany theatre in Deptford to see the immersive play: ‘The War Inside’.

I was there in part to support Paul Freeman – the singer in my band – who did the sound design and has been talking about it at band practice for ages, but also because… The play is about – you guessed it – Crohn’s Disease.

It was fantastic.

Here’s the londontheatre1 review:

Inspired by Albany Associate Artist Camille Dawsonβ€˜s experiences of struggling with autoimmune disease, The War Inside tells the story of Marnie. Everything is happy, healthy and her body is functioning as normal. But before long, her body will be at war with itself. Undergoing the greatest struggle of her life, both Marnie and her organs will have to fight against the spiking disease and move forward with new perspectives on life, mortality, and identity.

This wild ride through the anatomy will uncover a rip-roaring story of bowel disease diagnosis with blood, tears, absurdity, hilarity, and humanity…all seeking to reveal what truly lies beneath.

The run is over now, but an immersive installation version is (I believe) due to tour. We arrived at the theatre and were ushered into a side room to don surgical gowns and hairnets to become ‘white blood cells’.

Nick and I looking very ready. Not apprehensive at all.

The play is set inside the body with various narrative trips and adventures to all the major organs. However the meta story, happening beyond the worlds edge (the theatre set) was very effectively told though ‘the eyes’, which in the theatre manifested as first person perspective film footage, projected onto a screen (see below).

I will admit, the early scenes during the play about a 16 year old shitting blood, getting drunk and trying not to shit herself at a party, was somewhat … triggering.

There is an emotional moment when laying on her back under a space blanket, she is admitting though tears to her mum (who was asking if she was on drugs lol) that something was wrong, and had been wrong for a long time, was super relatable.

The line “I think I’m dying” actually got a laugh out of me. I remember that exact thought!

The reason I found it triggering was because less than a week before I’d realised that I remember stuff like this happening to me too, but I don’t remember experiencing it. This is why the first person footage was so effective. I have no first person memories remember!

Re-experiencing the gut wrenching moment you wipe your ass and see the toilet paper crimson red (and then not telling anyone about it due to .. shame? fear?) via the film footage was really wild.

More importantly, my head was also spinning with the synchronistic fact that within less then a week of time I had overlooked this exact period in my life (and everything that came after) and then found myself at a play / immersive experience about that very moment.

Seems important.

Permanently Moved

Permanently Moved will be celebrating its 250th episode during this next run of 10 shows. I’m looking forward to achieving that!

Full Show Notes: https://www.thejaymo.net/2023/09/30/2331-season-10/

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Photo 365

photo-a-day 103/356

The Ministry Of My Own Labour

  • Started re-planning an old essay which already has a substantial draft
  • Writers Bloc, the writing group I’m in met for the first time in a while. Very helpful
  • Meeting in London with tonk.gg (ridiculous name for a company imo)
  • Met NVK in London bridge and went to the theatre
  • Received a book in the mail that I once owned and gave to someone
    • It helped me sort my life out in my 20’s. I’m going to read it again
  • Much faffing sorting out my zine layout
  • Call with an old client – no work with/from them right now πŸ™

Terminal Access

Huw wrote a wonderful post πŸ”’ about depression and anxiety. The essay is built around testimony he gave at a recent Quaker meeting he attended.

Highly recommend this 30min long deep dive into the current state of open souce note taking programs.

I love it for this brilliant quote alone “Emacs does not resemble software any human would use out of the box”. The video will be of interest who anyone who can parse this sentence: ‘switched from Emacs to Neovim’

Dipping the Stacks

We Might Have Accidentally Killed the Only Life We Ever Found on Mars Nearly 50 Years Ago – JSTOR Daily

We suggested that microbial life on Mars might have hydrogen peroxide in their cellsβ€”an evolutionary adaptation that would allow them to draw water directly from the atmosphere

Drawing on your Dreams – proto.life

β€œIn a dream, you behave very differently from waking life. Nothing’s stable for very long, [which is] especially noticeable,” says Green. If, for example, you’re looking at a piece of text and then you look away and back and the words have changed into something else, you can be fairly certain you’re in a lucid dream, says Green.

John Wick 4: Why each sequel references Buster Keaton.

Keanu says something really interesting to me on the first John Wick. He comes to me and he goes, β€œLook, just so you know, little bit of advice, when you edit, once a week, you should see the edit on the big screen.” And I’m like, β€œOK, we’ll try.” Later, alone with him, I’m going, β€œWell, why?” He’s like, β€œI’m a big-screen actor.”

The Marvel Juggernaut: With Great Power Comes Zero Responsibility

With this near-absolute domination comes the massive power of pop culture influence. Can products built for mass audiences present artistic challenges?

Figures in the Sky

Let’s compare 28 different “sky cultures” to see differences and similarities in the shapes they’ve seen in the night sky


by Y

I’m still reading the large chunk of my mates book draft. its very good so far! came across myself which was weird.

Chip War: The Fight for the World’s Most Critical Technology by Chris Miller

As if spending the alst few years reading about the history of computing and semiconductors wasn’t enough, I’ve just started reading Chip War. I’ve been meaning to read it for a while, but its just come out in paperback making it a much more manageable bedtime reading than the EPIC size of the hard back.

War in Heaven by J David Osborne

JDO shared the final copy of book two in his God’s Fare no Better with subs on the Agitator Discord. If fast paced ultra-violent-chaos-magic-animist-cyberpunk is something you think you might enjoy then consider reading book one Dying World in the series in prep for War in Heaven’s release. I Read War in Heaven in three sittings. It just clips along.

My favourite bit in the book is when a guy got his dick bitten off by a monster, and then he grew a new one with a high speed drill bit at the end and used it as a weapon.

Only Forward by Michael Marshall Smith

Re-reading this 1994 sci-fi classic for Ghost In the Tome. PKD award winner and stunning debut from Smith. I love this book. I love it for the reasons all the people on Goodreads hate it. The second part off the story (the weird bit) is the best bit. Just getting to that bit now.


Masayoshi Takanaka – On Guitar

I’m 6 weeks deep into discovering Japan’s City Pop genre. I haven’t been on an obsessive deep dive like this in a long time.

Coming up for air this week I’d like to recommend Masayoshi Takanaka’s 1994 album On Guitar. Takanaka is an absolutely phenomenal guitarist and has been making instrumental albums since 1976. His 1981 concept album The Rainbow Goblins is a jazz/psych odyssey thats also worth checking out. On Guitar though, is an album that is just groove after groove all topped off with some amazing guitar work.

Tracks 1+3: Breezin’ and Just The Way You Are are personal highlights on this LP

Look how cool he looks on that record cover too.

Remember Kids:

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One response to “I Forgot I Nearly Died”

  1. […] thanks to everyone who sent messages and emails about last weeks post on SDAM and autobiographical memory. It was really interesting to read all your own experiences of events and memories. Some vastly […]

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