I make no secret that I have suffered from the unseen illness and that it has had a massive effect on my life and this year has been the pinocle starting with me spending time in a mental health hospital .
The fact is I was broken and broken is the only way that I can explain how I felt every emotion and feeling I had was centred around ending my own life no amount of reason could adjust my thoughts , I find it extremely difficult to talk about my dark days but one single moment changed me in a way beyond expression .
I meet numerous people in hospital all who shared a common feeling of emptiness and searching for peace and one who will forever have a place etched into my life , Jenny a young mother probably in her mid 30s took her own life whilst in hospital I had minimal interaction with Jenny but the morning she passed I recall asking her if she was ok she simply replied ” I am now ” and walked away what seemed like minutes later the alarms bellowed and a feeling of panic enthralled a normally quiet and slow moving environment I don’t have words to portray the next few hours just that no words were spoken yet I knew that she had passed I could feel it , like an emotion filling the air a loss I could emotionally feel on a level I’ve never before experienced .
At that point I realised that my own path had changed and finding a way out of my rutt was my new focus , I have always felt a level of belonging when at one with nature even in my darkest days I could find ease upon being removed from modern day living if I could explain my depression in words then it would be like traveling a path in the cracks of a pavement some days moving forward but others just sideways never at the same level as others even when with people always alone .
Your probably wondering what this has to do with foraging well it’s quite possibly the reason that today I am in a good place , any forager will know that the act of foraging changes your perspective you move slower and become more aware of every detail and in doing so you become part of something very special and it leads to what I call “smiles ” the tiny things that are always there that in normal everyday life we don’t take the time to appreciate things that simply make me smile because some days that smile is enough .
Many people who suffer from depression will express a need to take one day at a time even hours at a time it is a way to enable coping ,for me depression did not come in the form of feelings of low mood it manifested in an inability to feel at all sadness , happiness were out of reach just a very flat constant dull almost numb feeling and then I noticed something that has been key in me finding myself again .
Those little things that I had been noticing where making me smile , like a crack in my numbness I was experiencing a feeling of enjoyment this was sometimes joined by a feeling of unimportance when looking at the tiny beauty’s from nature I would realise how tiny I was in the scale of things and how unimportant those past demons are it’s with the connection to nature that I have found peace I’ve been able to become happy and enjoy just being .
For me foraging has given me my identity back I find smiles everywhere and feel a connection to the food and medicine I forage I take great pride in how I forage with nature and conservation my top priority and giving back a positive impact is something I whole heartedly promote my knowledge and experiences through nature have made me a better person and for that I give thanks , the people I have assisted and joined in all manner of foraging and fungi topics I thank as some days just your interaction got me through and it’s because of that I want to share some of my favourite smiles .
A tiny forest of Biting Stonecrop – Sedum acre seemed like the floor was glowing with gold .
This woodland patch of penny pies Umbilicus rupestris reminded me of coins in a treasure box .
I visited a woodland specifically to see these autumn crocus Colchicum autumnale the colour is almost luminescent extremely beautiful
A true work of art the water Lilly never fails to make me smile it’s complexity is truly breathtaking and equally complex is the stem , Nymphaea alba
The morning searching for fairies with my little girl under the grand fly agaric. Amanita muscaria
A tiny forest of pleated inkcaps look like hundreds of little umbrellas ,Parasola plicatilis
One of my favourite fungi to see the shaggy scalycap I can see a comfy bed for a woodland elf , Pholiota squarrosa
The blossom of the catalpa tree are truly majestic .
I find water not only powerful but peaceful this is a favourite spot for me to brew up during a forage .
Finding this woodland ruin was surreal like a scene from the hobbit a truly spiritual place .
This is my favourite fungi find this season the dripping bonnet so small yet perfection , Roridomyces austrororidus.
This is my best wild herb foraging spot so many fantastic wild edibles a wild garden worth visiting .
The set of the sun on a winters eve across the mendip hills , calm and freeing .
I posted this picture with the comment “this is what foragers see when we die ” I’ve not felt so whole as when I’m in the woods .
Smiles have got me through taking a moment to appreciate the small things as together they make a big difference I find myself not only looking forward to tomorrow but making plans for a future I wish every one happiness on the rise of the solstice sun .