Is anxiety all in my head or am I being ableist?

issue/98

hello friend

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. 🖖


hello computer

The photos this week are from a trip to Colwyn Bay my wife and I took recently. Photography. Chips. Sea views. Home away from home.

You can get prints of the photos in this weeks newsletter on my print store or you can tip me on Ko-Fi so I can buy film for my camera.

Is anxiety all in my head or am I being ableist?

Last week I wrote about whether anxiety is all in my head. Is it something that I genuinely need to erm worry about? Is it merely a feeling before I do something that I need to learn to live with? Is there anything to fear?

After publishing the piece I started thinking about being autistic. I sometimes forget that I'm autistic. I almost always forget that I am disabled. Maybe there's some imposter syndrome there or even some ableism? I've spent a good portion of my life connecting a wheelchair to being disabled and now I'm doing my best to challenge that idea. Not all disabilities are visible. I have that on my coat. Yet I forget that I am disabled.

Is anxiety or at least are the feelings I have part of my disability? Are they something I should recognise and accept not as just every day anxiety but as a "feature" of my disability? Exposure therapy hasn't really helped me overcome the anxiety more recognise it is there and to be ok with it. Maybe these feelings are autistic feelings due to sensory issues or social issues. People with a genuine fear of something can learn to overcome it with CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy). If my anxiety is triggered due to autism, due to my disability then maybe I will never overcome it as I cannot overcome being autistic.

The other week I saw the amazing Rosie Jones on The Last Leg talking about her internalised ableism. She dismissed using an electric mobility scooter while covering the Japanese Paralympics because . She recognised that what she was feeling was ableism and it shocked her. Being disabled doesn't give you a sudden clarity through ableism. You slowly start to see it and it takes work to remove it from yourself. You may never see all of it because you never live everyone's life experience only your own.

This is why it is important to recognise it because it is everywhere. You could very easily be ableist while championing disability because it is so ingrained in our society. You hear people saying "I'm all for disabled rights." followed by "Oh but they're not disabled. They can walk just fine." Alright Judgey McJudgeface. If the person tells you that they are disabled then you need to listen to them and not throw your own judgements onto them. You have no idea how ableist your life experience is, even if you are disabled. You don't get to put your view of their life onto them. Ableism is that prevalent in our society that all of this is apparently ok in some spaces because those people have no idea that what they are saying is even ableist. They think it's normal every day ok conversation.

As long as we are questioning and challenging our actions I think we will, I hope we will make it as a society. As for my anxiety? I have no idea whether I am being ableist about it. I wonder if I am because if I forget that I am disabled and compare myself to neuro-typical anxiety I am not looking at my whole story. I am saying "Oh I'm not that disabled." I'm judging myself as not being that disabled by someone else's standards rather than exploring my disability in a positive way that benefits me.


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“Be bold. Be brave. Be courageous.” Christopher Pike, Captain USS Discovery.

Thank you for taking the time to read this newsletter. I’ll be back. Feel free to subscribe or send to a friend.

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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.

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