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In her early 20's retreat manager – another poet - Sharon Black also experienced crippling depression. "I used to feel 'empty' and so fragile,” she said. “I'd picture myself as the most delicate of egg shells. The least bit of noise used to send me crazy. Probably the worst bit about it was the feeling of 'detachment' I experienced. I just couldn't seem to connect with anyone."

In contrast to my own experience of depression which led to insomnia, Sharon could sleep for Britain. "I seemed to constantly crave it," she added. "Maybe it was my body's way of blanking out the horrors going on in my head. I remember one particularly bad time in Japan where I was teaching English. I'd lie in bed for days, unable to move or motivate myself."

Sharon, 39, another sufferer of chronic depressive periods, learned to 'ride' through the bad times and when well again, made plans to try and prevent its recurrence. She figured the best way to accomplish that was to do what made her feel happy.

"My husband and I had talked for ages about going out to live in the South of France and setting up an Ayurvedic and Yoga retreat. Having depression taught me that you can't just sit around waiting until things feel right.

"Through the illness I experienced a 'carpe diem' mentality. Once I'd come through a particularly bad spell of depression we made plans and within the year had moved, with our baby daughter.

"We've been here at Gardoussel near Nimnes for 12 years now and love our lifestyle. I still get the odd wobbly day but it's nowhere near as bad - either in intensity or frequently - as I experienced back in Scotland. Maybe the sunshine here has something to do with it too..."

Chief Executive of Depression Alliance (Scotland), Ilena Day confirmed that working in the right environment (i.e. doing what you want to do) can help combat the condition.

She added: "Many women who experience depression can, and do, go on to make a full recovery, given the correct help and support. Having a meaningful and rewarding career or job can play an integral role when it comes to recovery.”


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