This too shall pass – World Suicide Prevention Day

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One of Bess’ beautiful images

I’m a firm believer that people enter your life for a reason. Sometimes they carry you, sometimes they hurt you, sometimes they only want you for your endless cupcake provision, but nevertheless, I believe we can always learn so much from the people in our personal worlds. Writing this blog has taught me so much about the innate strength and resilience of the women I have in my life. And today’s Guest Post is certainly no exception.

I met Bess about 10 years ago (omg we’re old Bess!) when we were studying art together fresh out of high school. Something between us clicked and we began to navigate “adult” life together in between life drawing and café breaks. Bess is an amazing person who is kind and warm and gentle and sweet, but also strong, honest, resilient and brave. She is also an incredible photographer, highly creative, and super-duper smart.

Anyway, life happened and Bess and I didn’t see each other for a number of years, so it was only when we reunited recently that I heard of her struggles with depression and suicide. Suicide is something that is so scary and so stigmatized that it’s almost impossible to discuss without fear or prejudice. But, we have to try. And so that’s why today, on National Suicide Prevention Day, I am so very humbled and honoured to share Bess’ story with you.

Personally, as someone who has only touched the tip of experiencing depression and suicidal ideation (and *that* was horrific enough), Bess’ words have helped to give me insight into a world that I don’t understand, as well as tools to help me know how to respond. So thank you, beautiful Bess, for having the courage and the ability to speak so candidly about your journey. I’m certainly so so grateful to you.

X

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Firstly I would like to say that I am honoured to be asked to be a guest on this wonderful blog. The honesty and courage that has been shown on these pages is an inspiration.

Today is World Suicide Prevention day. In the wake of the recent passing of Robin Williams much has been said on the topic of suicide; we have seen compassion but of course we have also seen ignorance. His suicide has been labelled selfish. To label suicide as selfish is to completely misunderstand the extreme and unrelenting pain that person is in.

In our society, unless it is a celebrity, we talk about suicide in hushed tones it is blanketed in silence. The media doesn’t report suicides for fear of copycat behaviour. This culture of silence perpetuates the grief and alienation felt by those who are left behind when someone they love suicides and it isolates those people who may be feeling suicidal, further from society. We need to start being more open about Mental Illness and suicide and recognise that these illnesses are real and acknowledge peoples experiences without fear or judgement. We need to do this so people feel they can speak out, to seek help, before the tragedy that is suicide occurs.

I can only speak from my own experience but the decision to suicide is not one that comes lightly. For me, it came after many months of agonising emotional pain. It was not a rational decision. It came out of desperation and despair. Of feeling utterly useless and out of control of my own life and mind. It is a terrifying feeling to have lost complete control of your thoughts and emotions and not one I would wish upon anyone, even my worst enemy.

I have battled with Depression since my teenage years but not having a name for it I found myself trying to cope through self-harm and alcohol abuse.

When things in my life were going well this darkness seemed gone for good, however as I grew into my twenties I could see the slightest upset or disappointment and the beast of Depression would be stirred out of the shadows.

As a side note: people with Depression do not ask for it, they do not bring it on themselves and they are certainly not given a handbook on how to deal with it! I cannot explain how terribly frightened of these feelings I was and exhausted by them. Because Depression is not a tangible illness we look for ways to illustrate it for those that might find it hard to understand, the black dog, the darkness etc.

I like to think of the rain cloud overhead. At first it appears just a slight drizzle and you haven’t got a raincoat or umbrella. The cloud follows you everywhere, even inside so you are continually getting wet. You can’t shake it and the rain gets heavier. Your clothes get wetter and heavier. You keep trying to keep up with life, with work and you wonder why everyone else seems to find it so much easier. By this stage your soaked through and frozen to the bone. Sometimes there’s thunder and lightening that roars and cracks right through your body, causing pain and making it hard to hear what else is going on around you. Still you try to keep going. Until it becomes too much. And maybe you collapse under the cloud. Or maybe someone offers you their umbrella to share or maybe you ask someone to share their umbrella. Acknowledging the cloud is there and telling people is the only way you can learn to deal with it.

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My journey to understand my Depression and learn to manage it in my life is an ever-evolving process to say the least, and of course there are good and bad days. I am extremely lucky to have a wonderful network of dedicated friends and family who help to carry me along. And who have learnt to be patient with me. I know it can be frustrating for them, trying to understand and know how to support me. I know I can shut down and forget how to be honest and open. Of course this comes from not wanting to burden them but in the end not being open often worries them more and I, in turn, suffer alone.

Sometimes people worry about upsetting a depressed person by asking them if they feel suicidal. And I can sympathise with this. I have also had friends who are Depressed and felt unsure whether to ask them, but on the times I have and they have laughed and said ‘No Bess, I’ll be fine’ I have walked away thinking ‘Well better for me to be wrong and laughed at then not asking and being right.’

I also know the times when I have confided in someone that I was feeling suicidal, I felt a huge weight had been lifted and it was no longer just a taunting thought in my head that only I could hear, I was distanced from it by verbalising it.

It’s important for people to understand that people who are struggling with a mental illness are fighting a battle at every step. I try to acknowledge the little achievements. For me, some days, just to make it to work is one of these achievements. And I am lucky I often have a text from my Mum saying, ‘Just try to make it until lunch time.’

The smallest things become difficult when you are depressed so an offer of cooking a meal for someone or taking them out can make a world of difference. I also think in this busy world the ‘check-in text’, to tell someone you are thinking of them, can go a long way. But I guess the most important thing for both supporters and sufferers is patience. And yes, this is definitely still something I am learning! Like with most things in life: nothing is certain.

There is no quick fix for Depression. And whilst medication can help, for me and I think for many others it has not been medication alone. There is different therapies, identifying triggers and making life changes.

I hope that sharing this helps people to better understand the experience, helps them to feel confident in assisting friends or family they know to be suffering. I hope it also helps those people who may be struggling to feel brave enough to reach out and know you are not alone.

In the dark times I try to remember ‘This too shall pass.’ I try to remember that feeling of coming out of an episode. When you see the world with a new fresh gaze. When you can take comfort and see hope in the little things, a blue sky, a dog’s enthusiastic leap, a lie down in the sun.

What I learnt from grief

Today’s Guest Post is so inspiring and breath taking I wish that I could make the entire world read it. I wish I could swallow it down into my soul and truly embody it, and as the New Year approaches I am determined to meditate on Amy’s thoughts and *try* to apply them to my own life.

Amy and I went to Primary and Secondary School together and we weren’t always the best of friends. In Primary School she hated how I would “show-off” and do the splits everywhere and I thought she was annoying and a “teacher’s pet” – I mean, her mum worked at the school, what was with that?!

Somehow we managed to put these differences aside and maintain a civil relationship through out High School, but it has been in the years since then that I’ve really seen the depth of her beautiful character. Amy is now a Classical Chinese Medicine Doctor who works tirelessly to bring fabulous health and strength to her clients, and she absolutely loves loves loves her work!

You are about to read just a snippet of her journey – prepare to be encouraged, motivated and challenged! Thank you so much for sharing with us Amy!!!

x

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Three years ago I went out to play pool with my brother.

We’re actually not blood related at all, but Pat had been a part of our family since I was in primary school. He had been a weekly fixture at Wednesday night Changing Rooms and Roast Nights at mums since I was 12.

We would sneak off and play pool after dinner to avoid doing the dishes, and he would hang me upside down by my ankles over the slate floor, and then let go of one of my ankles until I giggled myself beetroot red and mum was forced to intervene with a stern “Ah… Patrick… I think it’s time you put her down…”

Pat picking me up in one arm + holding a beer in the other at my sisters wedding. So Much Fun!

Pat picking me up in one arm + holding a beer in the other at my sisters wedding. So Much Fun!

He was the gentle giant that made the whole room giggle, and he broke up the girl-on-girl sister tension with his bold and deeply cheeky ways.

So, three years ago, we went out on the town to play pool.

And two weeks later he was gone.

Because two weeks later it all got too much,

and Pat committed suicide.

He was 31.

I cannot express what it feels like to experience such overwhelming grief and deep sadness in every part of your body,

in every nook

in every cell

right down to your very wounded and fragile soul.

Those weeks are a blur. I didn’t go to work. I remember helping to choose the suit that Pat would be buried in. I remember sitting with my sister and Pat’s beautiful long term previous girlfriend sifting through photos for the funeral. I remember staring blankly at walls.

I wrote a lot. For hours each day I penned streams of subconscious thoughts and feelings.

And I gave myself permission to feel it all.

Deep, full body, heartbreaking pain. Numbness, shock and raw emotion.

I had a godsend of a beautiful counsellor to help support my path.

The big decision I made early on was to sit with each emotion as it arose; to embrace every moment for what it was.

I chose to feel the depth and breadth of it all in each moment because I knew deep down that even though the full experience of grief is so painful it’s almost debilitating, it’s also the only way to heal.

Every day was a big day.

Hard day after hard day.

But at some point, something changed.

The condolence flowers on the desk in my bedroom began to wilt and die in front of my eyes. Something shifted.

‘Don’t we all die at last, and too soon?’

I started wondering how it was that I had programmed myself to believe that I was always entitled to another day.

I owned up to the big elephant in the room…that some day each of us will have our last day.

Boom.

There it was.

The shift.

Instead of contracting, shrinking, blocking and controlling, I expanded and welcomed.

I stretched out on the river of change.

It was painfully refreshing.

Liberating difficult.

I distinctly remember walking around Brunswick and being overcome by a massive, whole body wash of deep gratitude for all that we have in each moment.

I remember not wanting to put my sunglasses on, because I wanted to feel and see the world in all its raw intensity.

The delicious rays of sunlight.

The leaves dancing on the pavement.

All such delightful miracles

And treasures to keep

If we only see it.

It caused a palpable and ever-present shift in my life – and it all comes back to how I changed my perspective on that day, lying curled up in my bed, staring at the red wallpaper of my Brunswick share house.

So what changed?

I am no longer prepared to live a life that is any less than breathtaking, amazing and deeply soul filling.

I am here to live the depth and breadth of all that I can be.

I am so clear about what makes me feel amazing, and knowing that I won’t be here forever somehow gives me the courage make big and bold decisions based on what I am here to do in this crazy beautiful life.

I invite big and scary change. I love them in fact.

I moved states

away from all my family and friends.

I found the love of my life

and created my very own business that I’m so deeply in love with that I can hardly call what I do “going to work”

I designed a life that I love

And I wake up every day with a smile on my face

at this crazy, beautiful life!

I’m no longer willing to compromise or falter when it comes to what truly matters

because I feel big clarity.

I work tirelessly to create a reality that is totally in line with what I crave from my life experience.

I give my brain, my ego, over thinking and over rationalisation a whole lot less credit than I used to. They’re more like backseat drivers to me at this point.

I listen to and act on what my gut/heart/intuition tells me, and I pursue the things that I am deeply passionate about.

I’m careful what and who I surround myself with.

I’m not perfect, but I no longer aspire to be.

I know what I am here for.

I know what matters.

And I am unapologetically myself.

I barely ever wear make up

And I smile when I look in the mirror at just how lovely and true to my deep nature I am becoming.

I am here to feel clear, light, vibrant, deep and whole.

I am here to experience truly amazing health,

to burst out joy and to radiate kindness,

to help others discover their own fabulous health.

I treat my body like it is the most beautiful vehicle for change,

Because I believe that it is.

I want to inspire, create, to live and to love.

So I do.

Every single day.

And boy it feels good!

I feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude on an hourly basis.

When I start to sweat the small stuff,

(And I do, because I am human)

I stop. I take time out. I ask myself what I really need.

I resist the urge to get swept up in it.

I ask my partner his honest thoughts.

I surround myself with notes that make me smile,

Peg my goals and desires above my desk.

And meditate each day to check in and realign with that deep clarity.

Because I know I am worth it.

Which is lovely in itself.

I still feel overwhelmingly devastated that the world lost such a cheeky and kind-hearted, beautiful treasure, but the feeling of loss has paved the way for the deepest sense of privilege that I was blessed to share those moments with him at all.

My life would be void of so many beautiful moments, adventures, giggles and fun without his presence.

At the end of the day,

I just want to learn all that I can from the deep experience that I was gifted.

So when it comes,

I welcome the pain.

And I am grateful for it.

Pain is beautiful because it reminds us of all that we have.

And it reminds me of the lasting and deeply beautiful effect you can have on your fellow life travellers.

Little things like walking past a pool table at a pub can beam joy right into the core of my heart, and make me feel giggly, full and grateful.

Other times it can open up a deep fragility.

And occasionally it overcomes me,

But I learnt to let go of judgement long ago.

If tears come,

I don’t mind,

I’m sure as hell not going to hold back anything that my body wants to feel, because that ain’t the path to fabulous health!

I simply respect the feeling, the beauty, the loss, and often I’ll say something in my head or my heart to my brother Pat,

I breathe, I embrace, and I gently move on.

I learn and grow.

Learn and grow.

I stretch out on the river of change.

Gentle tips for finding your way through grief

  1. Be gentle with yourself. Be kind. Be patient. Let go of expectations. The most beautiful and useful thing that no one ever tells you about grief is that we all deal with it in our own unique way, and that that’s okay.
  2. Find a brilliant counsellor to guide, support, and hold the space for you as you move through the complex up-and-down of it all.
  3. For all types of transition, my favourite book is ‘Broken Open’ by Elizabeth Lesser. Truly beautiful.

All the best with your beautiful journey. You’re doing a good job.

Amy

Amy O'Brien

Amy O’Brien

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What did I tell you?! I think everyone can take something from this amazing reflection! Thank you so much Amy for giving us an insight into your journey, I’m sure it will speak to many people.

Make sure you check out Amy’s website, Fabulous Health, and ‘like’ her Facebook page, Chinese Medicine + Fabulous Health, where she regularly posts tips to achieving (you guessed it) Fabulous Health!

I am truly so blessed to know so many beautiful ladies like Amy – we can all learn so much from each other! Thank you again Amy! xoxoxo

In Loving Memory of Pharaoh

Lady Breaks was created as a space for women to be real about their struggles and heartbreak, and to use those hardships as fuel to push themselves upward rather than down. Of course this is much easier said than done, and sometimes the valleys are so deep and vast simply choosing to take another step requires more strength than anyone should ever need to muster.

Losing a child is an agony that I cannot even begin to imagine or process; yet devastatingly one in every four parents experiences it. I feel so incredibly honoured to share Bianca’s story with you today. Bianca and I knew each other as teenagers, and reconnected again through the wonder of Facebook. Although our journeys have been extremely different, there is some sort of unspoken solidarity through shared grief.

I can’t really express how much I admire her strength and bravery through this time, it has inspired me to push on and keep sharing my own journey. Thank you Bianca for giving us an insight into your grief, and allowing us the privilege of meeting your son Pharaoh.

x

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A year ago, I would have never pictured my partner and I decorating our first family Christmas tree alone. A time that is meant to be full of joy and excitement is now overcome with emptiness. I had so many visions of what it would be like to have a new baby to spoil on his first Christmas day.

It has been 10 months since Pharaoh passed away, although I am now a lot stronger in my grief it still hurts to know all of my hopes and dreams for this year, and forever, are gone. I know each year I will grow stronger, but the first milestones and celebrations are always the hardest.

Pharaoh

Grief can be a very isolating journey. I know at times I have felt very alone and misunderstood. It can also be quite challenging for loved ones around me to really understand and accept all of the emotions and feelings that come along with it. I understand life has to go on for the world, but my world is only just starting to, very slowly, spin again. I feel I have literally been stuck in time, back with all of my hopes and dreams for our son.

I know to some it may seem like I’m being selfish but I can’t and won’t change my journey through grief. It is such a personal experience so who are others to judge or have false expectations? It is very easy for society to suggest we grieve in a way better suited to them. Unless you have been through what 1 in 4 mothers go through, there is no way they could possibly understand how debilitating it can be. Every experience is different, and people deal with things in their own way, in their own time.

When your baby dies, the world is put into a new perspective. Things that were once important now seem superficial and materialistic. It tests some relationships and makes others stronger. It helped me to be outward with my grief, and I found different ways to express all the emotions I was feeling. I created ‘Pharaoh’s Page‘ for this very purpose and I appreciate anyone who ‘liked’ our page and read an article or two. The page was never created to preach my alternative beliefs, and ways of living. It was a way for me to share the lifestyle I had planned for Pharaoh, and a way for me to still parent him. Every article that was read and acknowledged helped me to keep his memory alive. So I would like to thank each of you who have followed my journey through healing. It is far from over, and I know each day will be a new one.

Pharaoh 2

It amazes me how much you can grow and learn about yourself, just when you think you’ve got things figured out life hands you another load to deal with. All of these challenges and obstacles make me the person I am today, the person I am still growing to be. Although I wish my son was here more then anything, I am accepting why the universe has made things the way they are. I am different now, I can love, understand and empathise on a whole new level.

My new way of thinking, feeling and seeing the world would not be possible if it weren’t for Pharaoh’s short time with us.

Bianca quote

I just want to take the time to thank the few special people in my life. I know I have been absent this whole year, I’ve missed birthdays, engagements, and dinners. I’ve ignored phone calls and text messages – I’ve pretty much been a bad friend. It takes a lot of empathy to understand that my actions were not a personal attack on you or of my feelings toward you, more a reflection of my grief. I didn’t have the energy to maintain a friendship, and you all held me up by not judging me, and you kept the friendship alive even when it came across like I didn’t care.

So thank you for being so selfless and understanding, to me this was priceless and the best kind of support. I can’t promise I will ever be ‘back to normal’ or spontaneous and social like I used to be, but I am still me and I want you to know that I love you very much.

So even though I will feel the emptiness this Christmas, I will still feel enough joy to celebrate our baby’s life and our new little family. Christmas will be a very sad time for a lot of other families in this world. Instead of celebrating with their children by their side, they will be celebrating with them in their hearts. So please take the time to remember these families, I know they will appreciate your thoughts.

In loving memory of

Pharaoh Ireland Bryar – 26.1.13

Max Baker James – 17.12.07

Taya Joy Delbridge – 11.12.12

All the angel babies

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Thank you so much for sharing your journey with us Bianca.

Please don’t forget to visit and ‘like’ Pharaoh’s Page!

x

White Ribbon Day

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Chances are you know someone who is suffering violence in their home. Chances are that they haven’t told you about it, or maybe they don’t even know that what is happening to them is actually abuse. The statistics are astounding: One in three Australian women over the age of 15 report physical or sexual violence at some time in their lives. Yes, report, not suffer. This means that the actual rates are much, much higher.

Today I have the absolute honour of sharing one very courageous woman’s story. Corina and I have been friends since high school. She is a fabulous writer and journalist, and one of the most honest, genuine, crass and loyal cat lovers I know. She is also a tireless campaigner against abuse, especially when it comes to violence against women.

I’m constantly inspired by women who face fear head on and speak out about injustice and hardships. It breaks the silence and stigma around personal struggles, and it gives voice and hope to all those who have been silenced. Thank you Mena for putting in to words what so many women can’t. x

Corina’s story:

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In Australia, one woman is killed every week by a partner or former partner. The sorts of men who commit these crimes pass us every day in the street. Men in suits, men at the gym, the man in front of you at the checkout, the man walking his dog. Domestic violence is woefully under-reported, and it’s a sad fact that these statistics are probably inaccurate; the amount of women who suffer and die from abuse is likely to be much higher.

I am one of the lucky ones. I have not had a boyfriend hit me. I have however, been a victim of domestic abuse. Violence is not always physical. It can’t always be spotted with a black eye or a broken arm. Emotional abuse is even more common though, and it leaves a mark. I want to tell you about my mark, the one I got in my very first relationship.

*Alex was twenty five when I met him, and I had just turned eighteen. Ecstatic to have just come of age, I had the world to conquer, and conquer it I did, with a steady routine of driving my parents’ car, voting, having anonymous sex, and enjoying an almost daily dose of partying all night long with my friends. I was intelligent, attractive and confident. I was also naïve.

Alex had been raised in a violent house himself. His father was a recovering alcoholic and his mother, now living in a different state after abandoning the family, had spent much of his childhood years telling him how useless he was. Alex considered himself a fuck-up. And he wasn’t far wrong.

He fell in love with me on sight. In case you were wondering, this in itself is a massive red flag, but I was too innocent to know it. I believed that Alex’s devotion to me was pure, that I was special to him and that even though he had more experience than I did, he had never loved a woman quite like he had loved me and that we would be together forever.

Wrong, wrong, wrong.

Like with every other recorded case of domestic abuse, it began slowly. Subtle things, like feelings of insecurity when I went out with my friends, jealousy because another man had looked at me. Gradually though, it became more dominant, and I found myself watching my mouth, careful not to step out of line. If I said something to make him angry, he would drive recklessly, whipping his car around corners and darting in and out of traffic to frighten me into behaving. He refused to wear a condom when we had sex, and he would slyly try to coerce me into doing things that I told him I didn’t want to do. When I talked about returning to study, he forbade me to do it. He would stop speaking to me and refuse to talk to my friends if they interfered with our time together. He talked me out of exercising because if I lost weight, I would “be hot” and not want to be with him anymore. One time when I ventured the idea of overseas travel, he bashed his dog.

So why didn’t I “just leave”?

Because I needed him.

At the time, I was having a lot of trouble with my family. They couldn’t accept that I was in an adult relationship and they made their displeasure very obvious. They were rude to Alex, treating him like a second class citizen, and Alex, with all his hang ups about being a failure, needed half an excuse to fight. Soon they were alienated from my life, along with all the friends who told me that he was bad news. One person after the other was eliminated until I had no one left. I could see what was happening around me, but whenever I would stand up to him he would threaten to leave me, telling me I was too good for him and I deserved better. I was so scared of losing him, I stopped fighting. I gave in to his every tantrum and whim.

It’s true that hindsight is twenty-twenty. Alex picked me for a reason. I was young and foolish, in love for the first time and willing to do anything to keep my man happy. He wasn’t with women his own age, who were more likely to recognise his manipulation for what it was. He chose a silly little eighteen year old who wanted to defy her parents and fall head over heels in love. I was easy to control, easy to trap.

That relationship was not physically violent. Of course, the signs were all there that it would have eventually become so, but I don’t like to think about that. After a few months of lying, cheating and doing drugs behind my back, I became too much trouble to deal with, and Alex left me for someone more easy going. That relationship of course failed as well, and the last I heard of Alex he was living alone, unable to maintain healthy romances and with a fractured relationship with his family. He still does drugs and he is still verbally abusive.

I get asked a lot why I “dwell” on this story. Well, the truth is that most days, it is the furthest thing from my mind. I am grateful to the experience with Alex, it played a huge part in making me who I am today. But I tell this story because it’s important. Domestic abuse is not always a broken nose or fingerprint bruising. It is subtle. It can be sexual, financial, or physical. But most commonly, it is emotional. It bullies and belittles, leaving the victim feeling pathetic and lost, with only their perpetrator as a source of comfort. It happens to both men and women, to teenagers, to the elderly, to same sex couples, to children and even in platonic friendships. I tell you this story because it happens everyday. It is probably happening to someone you know right now.

Never tell her to “just leave.” Do not ask her why she stays. If you or somebody you know needs help, go to www.whiteribbon.org.au or www.wdvcs.org.au for services, counselling and how to provide help. You can stop it before it happens again.

Corina Thorose

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Thank you Corina for sharing this all-too-common story. Your honesty and bravery is inspiring!

To hear more from Corina you should check out either of her two (!) blogs. She reviews films, theatre shows, events and more on ‘In my Humble Opinion‘ and her newest venture is ‘Their own Bells‘, a blog that showcases the lives of inspiring women.

xoxo

This post just wouldn't have been complete without a cat gif. Thanks Mena! Source: http://canv.as/p/s0vna/reply/1307507

This post just wouldn’t have been complete without a cat gif. Thanks Mena!
Source: http://canv.as/p/s0vna/reply/1307507

Not Your Normal Family

I am SO incredibly excited today to share something special with you: It’s the very first Guest Post on Lady Breaks!

I am so inspired by this amazing woman and her family it’s not funny. Linda and Cam Bailey are about the funniest, warmest, giving and down-to-earth couples I know. Their personal struggle with infertility has only increased their capacity to love and love and love! It’s just amazing! I am honoured to be able to share Linda’s story with you today.

Thank you Linda, Cam and the rest of the family x

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“You look way too young to be a grandmother!”

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While I know this comment is meant to be a compliment – and as I am only 35 years of age, it is also very true – I can’t help but be reminded that people have a fixed idea of what family should look like.

A couple of children, two middle aged parents and a few grey haired grandparents thrown in; that’s what all families look like, right? Well, our “family” begs to differ.

Just last week I realised that my husband, Cameron, and I started trying to conceive nine years ago. We have not been successful in having children naturally but that does not mean our house is empty.

Seven years ago Joy joined our family. She was 13, in foster care and in need of a home to live.

Linda, Joy and Cam

Linda, Joy and Cam

My husband and I have always had the philosophy that we don’t open our home to foster children, we open up our family. Joy didn’t have a positive sense of what family really was and I think only now, as we help her raise her own child, does she understand what a healthy family means.

Don’t get me wrong, we’re by no means perfect! We just have a desire to help those in need. Sometimes we get it right and other times we just need to try again.

Joy became very independent when she turned 18, so we decided to extend our family a little further. Twelve months ago, two brothers – four and five years of age – joined us. These two boys have turned our lives upside down! They are so full of energy, laughter, cheekiness and questions. Every day brings new challenges but also new opportunities, as we help these young boys grow to the potential they were created for.

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Just when we thought we were at capacity, our family changed again. At the beginning of the year, Joy discovered she was pregnant, and with the father of the baby taking flight, we found ourselves as the support people for our daughter.

Her gorgeous son entered the world (and our family) one month ago and has brought forth more love than we thought possible.

I can confidently say, as a barren couple, our family is full! And my advice to everyone is to embrace your family, no matter what it looks like.

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While Cameron and I were childless we enjoyed taking holidays, throwing ourselves into our local church and providing cheap board for some young adult friends. As the kids have come along we’ve dedicated ourselves to be their advocate and to give them all the love and support a child should have. And now we’re grandparents we’ve enjoyed supporting our daughter while delighting in having a newborn in our house for the very first time.

None of this takes away the sting of being infertile, or the challenges that foster care brings, but I refuse to waste my life waiting for my “own” child when there are thousands on our doorstep needing the love and affection we have to give.

Linda Bailey.

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What a beautiful, amazing family! I’m so blessed to know them.

If you would like to hear more from Linda, she regularly writes about her life, faith and God on her own blog, Daily Devotional.

xo