A (Diss)Appointment

Apologies for the brief hiatus, I will admit I have not been feeling well over these last few weeks. A combination of disappointment, health related issues and my inability to cope with anything has made for a difficult time, one I am still trying to move on from.

For those of you that has followed the blog for a while, you may be aware that last year I sought professional assistance for my mental health as it had declined rapidly and to dangerous lows I had not felt in a long while. Presently, mental health services are under a massive strain, probably more so since the outbreak of Covid, with a rise of health related anxiety, depression from isolation/loneliness.

With the increases of demand I had to wait longer than usual for my first assessment consultation, completely understandable, I had an appointment that was all that mattered, it gave me hope, I was on the right path to get help.

That is until the date of the appointment came, these consultations are carried out over the phone at present due to the pandemic. I was allocated a time, pre-filled the questionnaire you are given beforehand and just had to wait for the call. The call came…..but not one I had expected. Ten minutes after my consultation time was due to start, I was told my appointment had been cancelled due to lack of staff.

I was told to expect more communication for another appointment and that was that. I was devastated. I know that the person on the other end of the line is not at fault, I know that these services are doing the very best they can sometimes on very little support, but for me personally this was a massive blow. I had geared myself up for this appointment, having to keep myself calm as I knew that I would be going through all the gritty details of my mental health. It completely winded me that it was not going to happen. In my unbalanced mind I blamed myself, perhaps I do not deserve the help.

This is nonsense, I see that now but at the time my anxiety was heightened and the irrational sets in. I hope with the increased need for the mental health services comes a new appreciation for them too. That they receive the funding and support they need to run efficiently.

It did make me wander how a cancellation could effect someone who does have the support of people around them. To sound dramatic, I had held on for my original appointment, when I was feeling particularly low in the back of my head was the reminder I had reached out, I was on the right track. I was lucky when the effect of the cancellation knocked me for six, I had family around me who supported me through it.

A brief suggestion, if you haven’t spoken to someone in a while maybe just check in on them with a message or a call, or if you’ve been feeling despondent/low/unmotivated reach out, I know that is easier said than done, but honestly it could be the difference between feeling low for months or just a few days.

I did receive my consultation recently and am hopefully now on track to be seen by the right people, there may be more waiting but for the moment I feel heard and grateful for the chance to get help.

To end the post on something more positive, although some of you may debate of it is a positive. I got a pet jumping spider, a Phidippus Regius to be exact. A beautiful male I have named Yeti.

As a little girl growing up, if you had told me that as an adult I would have a pet spider I would of definitely thought you were lying. I never had a strong aversion to them like some people do, but equally I did not appreciate them from a young age.

I do sometimes wander if the original lockdown had never occurred would I still have found my love of macro? Would I have thought to research spiders? The answers are probably not, or it would of taken me years to get there. I will always be grateful for coming to macro through the lockdown. It is a firm passion, I get so excited when I find new spiders and mini beasts.

Anyway I digress, back to Yeti, I am absolutely smitten. I did some research about the Phidippus Reguis also known as the regal jumping spider, being the responsible spider owner I am, I’ll share some of what I’ve learnt already.

Jumping spiders when they want to propel themselves, they suddenly change the blood flow in their bodies, increasing the blood flow to special muscles, which fully extends the legs and causes the spider to leap. Apparently some jumping spiders can jump up to 50 x its body length!

Even though jumping spiders don’t make webs to catch prey like the orb weaver family, they do use their web string as bungees, in case they fail a landing after jumping or to make their own hammock to sleep in. These spiders are diurnal (active during the daytime and inactive at night).

Jumping spiders have four sets of eyes, they have some of the best vision among arthropods (an invertebrate with an exoskeleton, a segmented body and jointed appendages). Their field of view is a staggering 360°.

I hope you’ve found these snippets as interesting as I do. I hope in the past couple of weeks you have all been in good spirits and keeping well. Until next time, take care.

Winter Macro

One evening last week, all of a sudden, I had the crazy idea to go out into the garden with my macro set up and see what I could find in the dark. I cannot explain why I felt compelled to go out at that particular time of day, I am just very grateful I did. I surprised myself with what I managed to capture.

The weather was mild and dry for a January evening. Taking a torch, I scanned along the garden boundary. It didn’t take me long to find spiders, busy building webs in the dark. It was fascinating to watch as the spider handled the thread it had produced, scaling along one piece of thread to move forward, while placing another thread behind.

You can see why in Greek mythology the first spider was attributed to a weaver.

Arachne was an incredibly talented weaver who challenged the goddess Athena to a weaving contest. Athena crafted a tapestry depicting the Greek Gods as heroes, full of majesty, Arachne choosing to illustrate the many injustices the Greek Gods had carried out. Arachnes skill was undeniable but the subject matter enraged Athena who destroyed the tapestry woven by Arachne and transformed her into the spider.

Venturing further in the garden I came across two varieties of spider I have not knowingly come across before. My new spider field guide coming in extremely useful in identifying them.

The Walnut Orb spider, although quite a common spider, hide away during the day and emerge at night being the first of the new finds. Followed by Anyphaena Accentuata, also known as buzzing spiders (named due to the way the males vibrate their abdomen against the surface of leaves to attract a female). Managing to capture both of these filled me with such delight.

It is no secret how much I miss macro, so getting results in the colder season just fills me with such joy.

Another surprise discovery was finding a pair of moths in the gravel, procreating. I have not been unable to positively identify them as of yet. I am not sure if this behavior is out of season or expected. If I am able to find out I will provide the information in a later post. I find the more I learn about the natural world, the more interested I am in it and become more eager to learn all I can.

I look forward to more night time macro adventures during the year (regardless of lockdown) to see what else I can discover and learn.

How have you all been coping with the latest lockdown?

I have to admit my mental health has had a bit of a lull recently. New routines and being confined to the house has taken its toll. Although, doing something different, as simple as taking the camera out in the garden at a different time of day, made such a difference to break up the monotony.

Is there anything you have found helps you when you start to feel low?

I recently caught up on the series A Perfect Planet (BBC IPlayer) which I would highly recommend viewing. Some parts are not an easy watch, in particular where the effects of climate change and our part in it is discussed/demonstrated, which, in truth, should be uncomfortable to watch. Hopefully it will change peoples attitude and aide them in making better decisions in the future regarding the environment. Its not all doom and gloom though, the rain frog being a personal highlight.

Getting cosy, with a cup of tea and watching something like this really helps to calm me, especially if I cannot concentrate my mind on reading. Winterwatch (BBC) has returned to our screens this week and is another nature series where I know I can watch, learn and be calmed by. Its comfort watching. Are there any series’ or films you turn to when you need comforting?

I really hope you are all well, until next time, take care.