I’m Pete Carr. I'm a photographer and this isn't a photography newsletter. This is a form of "Rubber Duck Debugging". Writing helps me process thoughts and work through problems. So I write to my computer about issues relating to mental health and being autistic. I then share it with you fine folk. There's nice photos too. 🖖
I'm streaming photography in various forms on Twitch.tv/petecarr. Stream schedule is Tues/Wed/Fri at 7:30PM GMT and Monday at 2PM GMT. Photography focused but accessible. Friday is a look at art events I've photographed. You can also ask me about autism and there's cat cam too.
If you are reading this on Friday 2nd April between 11am and 11pm you can come join in on my Twitch.tv/PeteCarr charity stream. I'm raising money for Autistica. They are the UK's leading autism research charity. This year for Autism Acceptance Day/Week/Month they are focusing on anxiety in autistic people.
You don't need to be on Twitch to support. You can give money via Tiltify. Every little helps. Thank you.
This week's photos are of the artwork by Luke Jerram. The Moon and the Earth installed as giant balloons in the Anglican Cathedral in Liverpool.
Nearly 3 years years ago I was diagnosed as autistic. I was glad. The diagnosis confirmed my life long feeling of "I feel different." It confirmed why I felt like I don't fit in. The world isn't made for people like me. 2.something years later and I've learnt to accept myself and to push back against the bland boring views of others to push for acceptance of neurodiversity, of autism.
I felt good when I was diagnosed. It explained so much about my life. All those issues with food, noise, the need to wear sunglasses every day, the arguments, the continual loss of friends and the fear of trust with new people. It explained all that. I felt great. I had an amazing summer of music, discovery, learning and travelling. After our early autumn trip I crashed because I was back in the real world having to make decisions about cameras. I couldn't make the decision. A path that seemed so clear became foggy. It took another 6 months to resolve the issue but I eventually made the decision. 6 months. Really?
That threw me a little. I thought I was good now I had my diagnosis? I had read some books, watched some videos and listened to podcasts. Am I not good now? No. Sweet chocolatey fudge. No! It... it just doesn't work that way. The diagnosis and the learning can inform but I wasn't accepting this new reality. There's knowing the path and walking the path. I was only looking at the Apple Maps data instead of going outside and experiencing life as an autistic person. It wasn't enough to pop noise cancelling headphones on and wear a rainbow pin badge. I needed to fully come to terms what this meant and what that meant was I needed to go through a system crash.
The diagnosis made me happy because I had a thing to learn about. An explanation for why. Being totally open about it to everyone I knew over the summer made me feel accepted by friends. Not everyone has that experience so I am very lucky to have good friends, even if I forget you exist from time to time which may be ADHD. Sorry. Crashing after all that into depression because I couldn't make a decision and felt like a failure made me realise that I need to accept myself. I needed to almost stand in the mirror and tell myself that this issue isn't me. This issue is depression brought on by analysis paralysis. This can be an issue for autistic people. An inability to make a choice.
I had to come to terms with the fact that issues don't magically disappear with a diagnosis. I am autistic. There is no cure. I had to ask myself would I want a cure? Would I want a break from the sensory issues, the social issues, the executive function issues and so-on? Honestly? Yeah it'd be pretty nice to just do something now and then. No struggles just do. The price though. I'd lose who I am.
Would that be so bad? I'd eventually become someone else and make a new life. Would that be so bad?
It would. It absolutely 100% would. As someone who thinks a lot about a lot of things I've done a lot of thinking. For some reason I've had a bit more free time over the past year do so. I've come to the conclusion that human bag of mostly water that identifies as Pete Carr is worth keeping around. He's ok. I'd like to keep being me even if that means I have to keep my issues.
That's what I started doing after I crashed. I started to realise that I seriously need to learn to spot triggers and issues before they drag me down into depression. I needed to accept my autistic issues, traits and characteristics. Good and bad. I needed to really accept that this is just life. Knowing who I am doesn't instantly cure me. I will fall. Have you ever not fallen?
But what about my autism superpowers? The media kept telling me I had superpowers. You mean I don't? I just have issues and talents? You mean I'm basically human? Huh ok. Fine. Guess I'll return this Superman outfit. Doesn't quite go with a beer belly anyway.
It's been nearly 3 years since I was diagnosed. July 2018. Understanding. Time. Support. They've all helped me to accept and more amazingly like who I am. That acceptance gives me confidence to fight for others to be accepted because I know how empowering it can be.
Be good to yourselves. Accept who you are because you're pretty cool.
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“Be bold. Be brave. Be courageous.” Christopher Pike, Captain USS Discovery.
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