Have I found a way to deal with anxiety?

This they can

Have I found a way to deal with anxiety?


Welcome to Hello Computer. A newsletter about being different. I’m Pete Carr (they/them) an autistic(awaiting ADHD diagnosis) writer and photographer identifying as non-binary.


The photos in this post are from an arts project called “Identity” by Peter Walker. It was the largest display the Liverpool Cathedral has put on.

From an elevated vantage point looking directly at the rainbow colours of light.

Captain’s Log

Summer seems to be ending today. It’s not been the warmest of summers but at least it has ended well. We’ve had our final BBQ of the year, final big swims and sat out in the sun at a local cafe enjoying cake. Winter is coming. It will be cold but at last there are some good sunrises to come.

This they can

Last time on this ’ere newsletter… “Can I let it go? Could I swim 2 miles across the River Mersey?” I would love to say that in the week since then I’ve done it. I kicked anxiety out my head and swam across the Mersey. I would love to say that but the Mersey is dangerous and it is best swam with a safety pod and safety boats.

However, I can say that I swam the distance of the Mersey in the safety of our marine lake. It’s a 2 mile swim which I nailed on Saturday, and then repeated for funnies on Sunday. I’m fit enough to swim the distance of the Mersey but not within the window required to get across. Progress.

More importantly I swam for 2 hours each day in the lake where a few months ago I could manage minutes. My anxiety was triggered by a variety of issues meaning I couldn’t swim away from the boat launch incase I needed to get out. Swimming was mentally draining back then. Every few minutes I would knock something like a stick, a jellyfish, or Jaws. “Keep pushing” I told myself.

I pushed hard this week. The lake had a lot of seaweed in, and like jellyfish it is harmless but “AHHHH A THING!” Previously I’ve tried being curious about the water rather than fixating on the scary aspects, as I discussed a few months back about whether anxiety can be unlearnt. Stay focused on the beauty of the task rather than worrying about what I can do later to fix it. This is helping, a tiny bit.

Music has helped this week. While I don’t use waterproof headphones to listen to music, I do have memories of songs I like. I recalled some and repeated them over and over in my head. Michael Jackson’s (a problematic person I know) “Beat it” for example. Not a song about overcoming anxiety but I kept telling myself to just “Beat it!” I kept focusing on that. Only that. “Beat it. Beat it. Beat it.” Anytime my mind wandered I brought my attention back to those lyrics and carried on. Rage Against the Machine’s “Killing in the name” also helped. “Fuck you, I won’t do what you tell me.” I told my anxiety that over and over. I’m refusing to be anxious. Any time I bumped into seaweed I refused to let anxiety affect me. I kept swimming, kept pushing.

This they can.

Focusing on the songs was a form of mediation. Acknowledge something has happened, bring your attention back to the present. Don’t let your mind wander. I listen to the water, sing the songs and push on.

There is every possibility that this is all circumstantial. Maybe the water was calmer? Maybe there are less jellyfish triggering me? Maybe drinking less caffeine this week helped? It’s very possible I’ve not progressed at all. Except, I know I have. There are pontoons in the lake that some people swim under. For years I’ve feared them. What if I get stuck? No-one can see me and I’ll drown, obviously. In an effort to push myself and prove that I can deal with anxiety I swam under the pontoons, twice. Progress! Actual evidence to suggest I can overcome anxiety, face my fears and swim more.

I’ve often wished to be the kind of person who runs excitedly into the water instead of slowly walks in and acclimatises. Maybe there’s something to be said about running in instead of giving your anxiety time to get in your head? Should I start running into the lake while shouting “Fuck you, I won’t do what you tell me!” I should go all in and wear the thong too. Take that anxiety! This they can!

*might not wear the thong - but I should

Standing beneath a bridge in the cathedral there are people crossing it to get a good view of the rainbow columns.

Transporter room

Standing beneath the rainbow columns as the fill the cathedral floor to ceiling.

End program

“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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petes out 🖖

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A couple look at the pink columns of light from the elevated vantage point.

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