Mental Health and Mushroom Hunting

This past weekend, Lindsay and I were out in Surrey, BC for a writer’s conference (Surrey International Writers Conference). Now don’t get me wrong, I was not actually attending the conference, but I loitered around and thoroughly enjoyed being a non-attendee. Lindsay drove out on Thursday, and I flew out Friday night to meet her. I had great plans of meeting up with friends and hanging around Vancouver while she did the conference thing, but when it came down to it, I couldn’t.

Hyperbole and a Half

See, I have social anxiety paired with depression, and served with a side of agoraphobia (not diagnosed, but suspected) that makes it hard for me to go out on my own sometimes. The thought of dropping Lindsay off at the hotel and then venturing out in to the world on my own did not appeal to me one bit, even though I knew I had friends to visit and would likely have a good time. I can’t really explain the feeling of excitement being overshadowed with thoughts of sheer terror, but that is basically it. Whatever the case, I sent my friends cancelation messages and decided to just hold fort in the hotel lounge. Normally I would regret such a decision later on, but I have to say, I am perfectly content with the decision I made. I met some wonderfully inspiring people in said lounge and I had time to work on my blog.
img_2443One of the friends I cancelled on (Maria) ended up coming to me and taking me along for a couple walks through a rainforest and an urban forest. The rainforests on the west coast are amazing, and I am certain that my health increased significantly within just 20 minutes of breathing in the rainforest air. It’s important to have friends that’ll drag you outside when you don’t feel like leaving your bed, or the lounge, or wherever you are. Lindsay forces me to go on nature walks too, as she knows that as soon as I’m actually out and in natural, I WILL feel better. It’s just the getting there that is the biggest roadblock for me.

I was so captivated by the lush forests and the sounds of img_2436running creek water, my mind
settled down and I just enjoyed wandering aimlessly. We went to Green Timbers and spent a good amount of time just reading the plaques on the trees, learning about the variety of vegetation and it’s origin. We even saw a Barred Owl! But my favourite things we saw was the abundant mushrooms. Under every tree, there seemed to be a path of unique mushrooms. There we tiny tiny mushrooms, huge mushrooms, yellow mushrooms, and super slimy mushrooms. One of the things I enjoy doing is taking pictures of mushrooms. I find them so unique and interesting, and therefore like to capture them. I would not eat one to save my life, but I do find them interesting.

I’m not sure what kind of mushrooms these are, but I’m thinking the ones on the right are edible. Maria used to forage for mushrooms in Russia while growing up, and seemed to be somewhat of an expert. I did find it funny though when she would exclaim, “that one’s poisonous, don’t eat that one!” and I’m all like, “c’mon now, I don’t care if I can eat it or not, I am not putting any mushrooms in my mouth.” Haha!

img_2438I loved this mushroom, it looks like a yellow Mario mushroom. Well, I say Mario mushroom, but it’s actually an “Amanita Muscaria.”

“Amanita muscaria is well known in popular culture for being one of those “trippy” mushrooms, the kind that make you have hallucinations.” – Source: This random blog post

After a simple google search, I discovered that the  mushroom we came across is in the same family as the Mario shroom, and is called an Amanita muscaria var. guessowii. I’m not sure if it’s a “trippy” mushroom or not, but the potential is there.


This one had us a little amazed, and we had no clue what it was. It appeared to be a simple blob of yellow jelly, but after closer inspection, we determined it was definitely a fungi. In fact, after utilizing Google, I discovered it is called Tremella mesenterica. Other names are more fun though, including yellow brain, golden jelly fungus, yellow trembler, and witches’ butter. This fungi is edible although apparently bland. I do wonder however why it’s called witches’ butter; I may have to look that up.

img_2439And here we have your everyday, regular, fairly large, slimy shroom. I took a picture of it because I liked the way the cap was drooping, but I didn’t even notice that water droplet until days later. I feel like I caught the mushroom at the beginning of it’s demise. The decayed mushrooms that surrounded this area made me think that this mushroom was a little stronger, but was still about to succumb to natures pull.

The weekend ended up being fabulous, even though I didn’t really venture out on my own. I met rad people, went on some amazing walks, saw these incredible mushrooms, and spent some much needed time by myself in the hotel lounge. I might even go so far as to say that the Surrey International Writers Conference was the best conference that I have ever non-attended.


2 thoughts on “Mental Health and Mushroom Hunting

  1. April

    I like having friends drag me out. I feel so refreshed at the end of the day. Like you, I have the same type of anxiety and self-diagnosed agoraphobia. I call it self imposed exile. Love the mushrooms. Your photos are beautiful.


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