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Dealing with Anxiety, and The Caretaker (v/vm)


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So this is about an issue I've been managing for most of 2022, starting with the first time I listened to Everywhere at the End of Time by The Caretaker. This is basically a long-term FWP so I'm posting it here instead of MD subforum.

This album fucks me up. I know it's famous for being disturbing but I've never had this reaction to music before. Music has been really important to me since childhood - I've listened to all kinds of weird shit, in fact I often use intense music (dark ambient/noise/industrial) to help regulate my emotions. I always thought of music as a kind of therapy, a solution rather than something that actually creates problems.

I get snippets of EATEOT stuck in my head every day, and whenever it happens it completely drains me. It plays in my head over and over again and interferes with whatever I'm doing. Stage 2 in particular is a nightmare - if you've ever struggled with loneliness and anxiety then you know what it's like. Stage 2 is like a fucking movie soundtrack to that slow, lamenting horror.

One day I noticed that the Stage 3 album cover is like an optical illusion - the bottom half is recognizable as a potted plant, but to a patient with dementia the branches coming off it are too confusing. So it shows the branches spreading out into abstraction, becoming intangible. This way of thinking - whether you're actually failing to recognize something, or just wondering about the subject - comes up in strangely ordinary places, like drink coasters or wallpaper. I've found myself more than ever just wondering what that's like.

This album plays on the ability to recall, and Kirby uses the six hour runtime to effectively distort memories. So if I get Heartaches stuck in my head I might not remember if it's the opening track, or one of the distorted versions. You don't name the sounds in your head. I start wondering, does this sound come in during Stage 3, or is from the confusions sequence later on? This album has dozens of different melodies that "progress" over time and it makes it distinctly difficult to deal with it. Usually you can fix a bad case of Vengaboys, or Tiny Toons, by simply playing the track in full. But with EATEOT that doesn't work - and if you do give into the temptation to spool through it on youtube, you run the risk of kickstarting the whole fucking thing.

(this post is too long so breaking it up with a spoiler)


This all started in December last year when I was staying in hospital. That was a horrible real-life situation which I've mentioned on here before, basically I was being mistreated a lot, and part of that was preventing my family for visiting me for weeks on end. By this point I was completely zombified, desensitized, no emotions at all. I was vaguely familiar with the youtube upload of EATEOT, so at 2am on Christmas morning I just said fuck it. I seriously wanted to forget everything - where I was, the months leading up to it, total brain bleach.

At first it didn't bother me at all. In fact, it was months before I had any problems with it - I was just browsing reviews of it on youtube. Then I started checking it out. Next thing I know it's playing on my mind 24/7.

Eventually I bought the album on Bandcamp, and I decided the best thing to do was give it a full, focused headphone session to get the whole thing out of my system. I listened to the first albums in three evenings, and I went into Stage 4 in bed, in the dark. Worst fucking decision I ever made. Obviously I drifted off, and the album immediately took me back to the hospital.

When you're asleep and you need a piss, you tend to avoid getting out of bed because it trips the bedroom light. So you can go over to the toilet and do a piss but the light stays on for ages. Another thing is that the staff will come to the bedroom door every fifteen minutes, so you can't really relax. They often shine a torch through the window of the door.

That was the moment I realised I could never listen to this album again. I'm half asleep and I think I'm right back in that fucking bed, that is not worth listening to a fucking piece of music I don't care if it's Drane3.


The reason I'm posting this now is because, after all this time, I might have found a solution. You see, I've been thinking about dementia more than ever. I can't watch a TV show any more and expect to remember the whole thing, and my ADHD is seriously kicking in when it comes to housework and remembering appointments (fyi, kids with ADHD grow up to be adults). But these thoughts always come back to The Caretaker, and EATEOT. It doesn't have to be this way - if I'm actually afraid of dementia, then I should be doing something about it.

Last night I dreamed that me and my mum were both about to get dementia, and we had to plan for it. We were in the middle of a stadium concert, in the daytime with no crowd. In the middle were six swimming pools. I had to lie inside each one and explain to my mum what each stage was like - and as she got into them, my brain started changing. I had to shout out to her, "you're in number two, but you're going to forget that! I'm in stage four, it's going to feel like this!" I could tell my body was losing sensation, but I knew I could explain that to my mum, and when I did this the water got warmer. I was ahead of her so I could tell her all this stuff.

Later on we found there was an extended version of EATEOT with fourteen stages. They were like islands. Leyland Kirby came to us and explained that each moment in Stage 1 to 3 is supposed to expand into its own 20 minute sequence (like Stage 4), and that this is what real Dementia would feel like, but he couldn't do that with an album which had to be a linear series of tracks. He also said that Stage 5 can go on for much longer and the detail can be expanded a lot more, however Stage 6 was perfect, and it would be exactly the same length even on an expanded version.

I felt so much better after that. I realize now that EATEOT doesn't need a place in my life, and I can deal with the fears I have by thinking seriously about dementia. Word up to Dream Kirby for that classic Dumbledore reassurance, and to the real Leyland Kirby for posting on WATMM several times during the project! This has been a really hard time but I'm thankful to Kirby, and Ivan Seal, for this creative masterpiece and for the youtube comments section alone, which might be the best comment section on the internet full stop. Take care of yourselves ♥️

Edited by Dragon
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