A BARGARA woman has shared her story of how a patch of dirt and a packet of seeds saved her life.
From her bubbly persona and infectious smile you'd never pick it, but in December 2009 Mandy Healey had fallen into spiral of severe depression and said she'd hit rock bottom.
"I believed my time was over and it would not be long before I became a part of the earth and become compost myself," she said.
Desperate to regain control of her life, Ms Healey said she had a realisation - that she had a choice.
"I could stay in my place of misery, or I could make the decision to live," she said.
Ms Healey decided to start an organic vegetable garden in her backyard as a place to escape.
"By creating the garden, I was actually giving myself responsibility and a reason to wake up every morning," she said.
"I had a responsibility to these little fragile lives, I could not let them down, I could not abandon them - they needed nourishment and help to survive and so did I."
She said at the time, she didn't realise but had created her own wellness program.
"My little plants would not survive if I didn't water and nurture them, but little did I know that was exactly what they were doing for me," she said.
"I spent my time outside in the fresh air, sunshine and rain; nurturing, composting, digging the soil and planting precious little seeds. It was the anticipation of them peeping their little leaves out of the soil that kept me going."
In the early days of her vegetable garden Ms Healey said she spent all day, every day in her garden and watered them manually, only using a watering can.
"The more I watered, the more robust they became. Their roots taking hold and before too long, they became stronger and stronger every day and so did I," she said.
"I felt relief every time I went there, it was like another world."
Ms Healey said the thought of going outside and watching her plants grow was enough to lift the cloud of sadness from her thoughts.
"And so I did return to the earth, just not in the way I originally planned," she laughed.
"Instead I placed my bare feet in the soil, and ran my fingers through the dirt, and ate the delicious veggies that I nurtured through rough times as they did in return for me."
Now four years on Ms Healey says her garden has taken over her yard and will always remain a big part of her life.
"Gardening was the first step I made towards my healing process from depression, and it remains a daily relaxing and energising routine," she said.