In this edition of This Was Me, we’ll look back at times in my 30s when I was unwell, although you wouldn’t know it just from looking at the picture.
This photo was taken in December 2011, only a week or two after being discharged from a 2-month hospital stay. I was better in a relative sense, but still quite unwell. I decided to go to my work Christmas party. A few milligrams of Ativan allowed me to tolerate a short bit of time at the party.
This is in June 2012 attending a ballet in St. Petersburg, Russia. I had thought that maybe doing a short trip would lift my mood, but that wasn’t the case at all; quite the opposite, really.
I’m at a really low weight here because my appetite had disappeared because of the depression. I’ve posted this photo before to show that skinnier does not necessarily mean healthier.
Two hospitalizations later, here I am in either January or February 2013 at an all-inclusive resort in Mexico. It was a fairly last minute thing to just try to take my mind off of negative hospital experiences. It was okay, but didn’t really do much to change how I was feeling.
This is from a 2014 trip to central Asia (Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Kazakstan). A couple of months before this I’d told my doctor I wanted to try going off of quetiapine (Seroquel) to see if that would stop the weight gain I’d been experiencing. He thought that was reasonable since my depression was in full remission at that point, and so I tapered off of it.
Not long after I stopped it altogether, I got hit by the Mack truck that is depressive psychomotor retardation. When I left on the trip, the slowness had improved a lot, but my energy was still pretty low. I needed a lot of rest breaks during the trip, and I ended up cutting it short by a week. Moodwise, though, I wasn’t too bad at this point.
These photos are at a popsicle stand in Nowheresville, Kazakhstan, near the Uzbek border. I spent several hours there waiting for a bus, and several kids decided they wanted to be my friends. The girl liked looking at my guidebook and writing notes, while one of the boys liked carrying my backpack and taking photos with my camera.
This is in Venice, Italy in the fall of 2018. This is the oldest sidewalk cafe in the city, and they had a fancy classical ensemble playing.
This was an experiment to see if travelling would help with my depression. In keeping with past experience, it didn’t. I was indifferent to all the things that I would have loved in the past. After that, I decided there was no point blowing a bunch of money on doing any more travelling in the hopes of a magic wand to make me feel better, because it just doesn’t work that way.
There were certainly some positive times in my 30s when my illness was in remission, including these trips while feeling well to the Middle East, Peru, and Kenya and Tanzania. However, compared to the year I spent unwell in my 20s, my illness was present much more of the time in my 30s.
All photos © Ashley Peterson 2020, all rights reserved
The rest of the “this was me” mini-series can be found here: