Woman’s Day (Australia)


Melinda overcame her darkest times and went on to support people who are doing it tough


When Melinda Carbis-reilly saw people walk through the door of her health and wellbeing retreat Redhead Wellness Sanctuary, which she founded in 2015, she identified with them immediatel­y.

The mum and stepmum from Redhead, NSW, knows only too well the pain and suffering that comes in the grip of depression and what it feels like to hit rock bottom.

Battling suicidal thoughts, her depression became so bad

she had a breakdown. It was at that pivotal moment that Melinda vowed to seek help and turn her life around.

“I’d always lived life in the fast lane,” 41-year-old Melinda tells Woman’s Day. “I met my husband at a very young age and when we had our darling baby boy, Braith, he was the most magical thing that ever happened to us.”

Yet in a heartbreak­ing cruel twist of fate, tiny Braith was born with health issues and, too weak to fight, pneumonia took him from his doting parents in April 2003.

“He was only seven months old,” Melinda recalls, with tears in her eyes. But in the short time she had with beloved Braith, her baby boy enabled her to discover the person she wanted to be.

“I had a desire to nurture and care for people,” Melinda says. “My dream was to open a wellness retreat one day. My husband and I had two more children, Oscar and Banjo, but things didn’t work out for us and later we divorced.”


Aged 30 and a single mum, Melinda was juggling work as a dance teacher, personal trainer and Pilates instructor, as well as studying for a degree in naturopath­y and bringing up her boys.

Then one Friday night while enjoying a game of Laser Tag with her sons, she met Glen

– a single dad with three kids. The pair exchanged numbers and soon fell in love.

“We all moved in together on a 2.5-acre property in Redhead, NSW. We converted a huge shed and finally my dream came true – the Redhead Wellness Sanctuary opened in 2015,” says Melinda.

But running the retreat, beginning a new relationsh­ip, bringing up the boys, becoming a stepmum, studying and teaching became overwhelmi­ng.

“I lost my drive and lust for life and descended into a deep depression, but I was too ashamed to tell anyone,” admits Melinda, who hid her pain behind her smile. “I was supposed to be the healer not the one in need of healing!”

“Dark thoughts consumed me – I turned to alcohol and didn’t care about my life any more and it scared me! When I was at breaking point, I confessed to Glen.”

Her loving husband was unconditio­nally supportive and with medication, profession­al help and family support, Melinda found herself again.

Soon after, her business flourished as she connected with clients on a completely new level.

“I’d walked around in their shoes and made the sanctuary more than just a place to relax and unwind, it became a safe haven for those in need and those with broken souls,” she says lovingly.

Just as things were looking up, Melinda’s depression returned worse than ever, rearing its ugly head at the same time her stepson was also doing it tough. Sadly, hearts were left in tatters when in March 2020, he passed away having lost his battle with depression. For Melinda, the extreme grief and sense of loss that consumed her was the wake-up call she needed to face her own demons.

“It made me view my demons differentl­y and see the effects of what not being here had on people,” Melinda says, openly and honestly.

“I know now that giving up is not an option, the world doesn’t just go on without you. Life is a special gift we were given... without you the world will have a piece missing from the puzzle.”


Having recently parted with her sanctuary, Melinda’s enjoying family time – Oscar is 17 and Banjo 15 – and focusing on private wellbeing coaching through her website melindarei­lly.com.au.

She’s also writing, having penned health, nutritiona­l, motivation­al and self-help books, including Becoming and Diggin’ Your Dark Side

– another about her personal journey and battle with depression.

Her quest now is dedicating her life to helping others get their smile back. “It takes time, but you have to keep going,” says Melinda.

‘The sanctuary became a safe haven for those in need’

 ?? ?? Melinda has written two books about her struggles with mental health.
Melinda is inspired by her family every day.
Melinda has written two books about her struggles with mental health. Melinda is inspired by her family every day.
 ?? ??
 ?? ?? Inspired by her own fight, Melinda built a safe space for others to heal.
Inspired by her own fight, Melinda built a safe space for others to heal.
 ?? ??

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