Mental Health

2020 Year in Review: Health & Life

2020 year in review: Health &

I’ll be doing a few year in review posts this week, and I’m starting off with what’s happened in my own little bubble (not in the social distancing sense).

While COVID was massive, it didn’t have all that big an impact on my day to day life. I hadn’t been well enough to work since November of 2019, so I was already spending most of my time at home alone anyway.

I didn’t get COVID, but I had a sinus infection and then atypical pneumonia around the same time COVID got going. Aside from that, there hasn’t been much going on with my physical health. I rarely have migraines since I haven’t been working, so that’s something positive.


In terms of my mental health, it’s been a lousy year. Very slow body, and very slow brain. Earlier in the year, I tried a few medications that had shown some positive results for psychomotor slowing in some small clinical trials, but that didn’t accomplish a whole heck of a lot. The slowness was continuous through the entire year, and would worsen whenever there was any sort of stressful event.

The mind/body slowing has had a big impact on my functional ability. I’m not critical of or disappointed with what I have done, but the depression has really limited what I’m able to do, and there are clear, tangible markers to show that functional decline. I’m curious, at least in an abstract way, what the future pattern will be. I’m doing what I can to manage my illness as well as possible, and the rest will be what it will be.

With no indication that I’m going to be well enough to work anytime soon, if ever, I applied for disability benefits in August. At that point, I was having quite a hard time speaking as part of psychomotor retardation. I thought it would be easier to communicate with my doctor in person, but his office staff were not prepared to allow that. It’s been a fight with them and my doctor ever since, and I’m pretty unimpressed with them. The disability application process was overwhelming because I don’t have that much cognitive power available, but aside from that, the problem hasn’t been the disability application itself, but rather my doctor and his office being a pain in the ass.

I think, once COVID is over, it will be time to try to find a new doctor. Things had previously seemed to be working with this GP, but I’m probably better off seeing a psychiatrist. It could be rather difficult to find either, but we shall see.


In other news, my brother’s first kid was born in the spring. She’s a cute little thing. I’m pretty indifferent emotionally, but cognitively she’s important to me.

I saw my parents in the summer for the first time in a while. I just don’t feel any kind of connection to them anymore. At this point, they’ve pretty much given up. Not given up on me, but just accepted that this is what our relationship is now.

I used to work with my one in-person friend, but that came to an end late last year. This year has been very challenging for our friendship. We talk/text every day, but there have been a lot of rough patches.

I rang in 2020 with a dead guinea pig in my arms. At the end of the year, my other four are still with me, and have been happy and (mostly) healthy. I’m not sure how people manage life without animals.

My northern flicker woodpecker first started roosting on my balcony on a snowy night four years ago, and he’s still with me. His lady friend was around too for part of the year, but I didn’t spot any babies.

That’s a look at my world in 2020. What has stood out for you this year?

34 thoughts on “2020 Year in Review: Health & Life”

  1. Lack of space and loss of therapists were major external influences on our life in 2020. Still mourning loss of T-1 after what would’ve been our 6-year anniversary working together.

    Bonus time with Older Child because college closed was unequivocal highlight.

    Mixed bags include rough patches with Younger Child, who spurred us to rethink our role as parent. This has led us to be less trying for “power over” and more “power with,” but YC is less open to any changes on our part and reflects on them as too little too late. Our intentions are to be pro-human rights, so it’s still positive in that regard.

    Speaking of human rights, George Floyd’s murder galvanized our own unease with racial relations into action: protesting with Younger Child, family emphasis on ways to promote equality (which is a daily topic now). Younger Child is a thought leader in our home on this topic, which is exciting to watch.

    Younger Child is in iop for OCD after PHP and iop for eating disorder. This could be hopeful but YC has excluded parents from being part of daily healing. We don’t see healing happening at a meaningful level and are discouraged about YC’s health and future. The parenting changes mentioned earlier have left us unwilling to be forceful, especially because we don’t trust us. College for YC in 8 months is hard to envision. But still possible. Life can take other paths, so we are open to those.

  2. Ohhh yeah, I remember your sinus infection! That was worrisome!!

    2020 hasn’t been hard for me either in the coronavirus sense. We’re talking minor inconveniences in how I already live my life. I feel genuinely sorry for everyone who suffered more aptly from a social, ecomonical/income, or other perspective. It just didn’t really affect my life at all, except that I’ve been picking up on deep levels of societal unhappiness, and that’s just hard to empathize with because there’s been so much suffering. 🙁

    I’m so glad you have your guineas!! They’re wonderful friends!! I’m saddened that your psychomotor issues are so severe! I wish I could help!! Here’s hoping 2021 is a great year!! (If it isn’t will everyone blame 2021’s problems on 2020? Because 2020 has become quite the scapegoat!) 😮 I hope you find a much better doctor in the new year, too!!

  3. A good doctor is key imo. Hope you can find a better one asap!

    My year was okay. Have a new grandson to go with my granddaughter, which is great, but I’ve hardly seen them. I feel good about writing and painting, but the chronic pain plus meds keep me slow and low on energy…

  4. How isolated we truly are.

    I know many people who have said that aside from having to wear a mask when grocery shopping, their lives have remained unchanged by the pandemic. Some have even stated that they were relieved to have a valid excuse to not interact with others.

    We no longer live in the world I grew up in — where we knew our neighbors intimately, and had each other’s backs. (I don’t even know what my neighbors look like!)

    So much of our lives have become solitary. I suppose it’s been this way for a very long time; but this year brought it into sharp focus… and I find it tremendously sad. 💔

  5. So sorry to hear your GP is essentially useless. There’s nothing worse than someone who is supposed to help you completely ignoring you. I’m glad your piggies are doing well and I hope the new year begins on a positive note for you xxx

  6. Happy New Year, Ashley! I’m crossing my fingers that you’ll find a psychiatrist who will support you more than your current doc.
    Maybe it’s a symptom, I’m not sure, but I admire your ability to look at your situation frankly and without much emotional judgement. Being hard on ourselves doesn’t do much other than beat us down. Here’s hoping that 2021 is filled with even more guinea piggie snuggles. <3

    1. Thank you! I’ve always been pretty self-reflective, plus my illness has always felt like something that happened to me rather than being inherently part of me, so I’m usually able to separate out what’s illness and what’s me. I feel lucky that way, because I know depression so often leads to beating oneself up.

      Happy New Year to you too! 💕

  7. “I’m pretty indifferent emotionally, but cognitively she’s important to me.”

    You’ve summed up what I’ve been trying to explain about my nature in 10 words what I’ve spent hundreds of thousands doing and failing. Guess now you’ve cracked the code I can move onto other things.

  8. Hi Ashleyleia, Happy New Year ❤️ I’m glad that you have made it through for 2020 with all the daunting challenges. no doubt that 2021 will be challenging too. It is good that you are speaking up about your challenges. As I listen to your story, I feel connected in the way that every one of us does have our own challenges. I hope to send you some energizing vibes to boost you up cognitively ❤️ ❤️ ❤️

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