The road to recovery can be a long one but one local lady has had her life completely turned around since meeting a Siberian husky.
Sarah Shearer (45) has battled with depression for the past decade and in 2010 she hit a new low, feeling she was unable to leave the house or meet any of her friends.
Sarah who stays at Manuel Terrace, Whitecross, said: “I worked in the technical department at Sky in Livingston, but I was signed off work with severe depression. I went from bad to worse very quickly, and I wouldn’t leave the house unless someone took me out.”
But when a friend visited with her dog, she convinced Sarah that this could be the answer.
Sarah added: “I went to the SSPCA rescue centre and I was walking round the kennels, but it was only when I got to the last one that I knew I’d found the dog I wanted. It was love at first sight for both of us.”
Kia was a one and a half year old Siberian husky and she became the reason Sarah could look forward to the day ahead.
Sarah said: “She was mine and I was hers - she gave me back my life.”
But even more was to change when Kia became the inspiration for Sarah’s new career.
She said: “I always wanted to write. But life had always got in the way - there was never enough time. But I started in the house one evening when Kia and I were on the couch. She was next to me and I was telling her stories.
“She was always part of the story and soon other creatures started making appearances like dragons and unicorns - it was all fantasy based. Kia would listen to me, and then if she didn’t like a part of the story I would take it out. We ended up writing together.”
This was the beginning of what was to become Sarah’s new passion, and in November 2011, ‘The Adventures of Kia - The Unicorn’s Magic’ was published. Another book is in the pipeline, the Huskyville Winter Olympics, and Sarah is currently looking for a Scottish publisher. But in the meantime, Sarah is doing book readings around the region including the Sick Kids in Edinburgh and the Robin House Hospice.
Sarah added: “With Kia’s help I have a positive outlook on life - this is what my book is about - people coming together to help each other get through things.
“When I go to places like the Sick Kids to read, it makes the children beam with big smiles on their faces.
“It makes my day to see the kids light up as they want to know what happens next.
“I feel this is a great opportunity to show others with depression and those who feel like they are stuck, that with the correct help, there is in fact light at the end of the tunnel.”
Although Sarah will have to take anti-depressant medication for the rest of her life, she says it is only a quarter of what she was on before Kia came into her life.
“There is not a better cure for depression. I was in a place where I could not get out and meet people.
“It was a vicious circle as my world was getting smaller and smaller, but I am an example that you can do something and get back out there.”
Sarah is hoping that if her books take off she will open a Dog Rescue Centre where disadvantaged people could be given a dog to train with, before visiting places such as hospices or elderly housing where they could be enjoyed.