Jess Barnard is the Founder of The Hormone Hub, a private Facebook group where East Anglian women can reach out to a group of qualified professionals specialising in women’s health. In this month’s Press Pause feature, the busy mum-of-three explains what led her to set up the group
A close friend hit rock bottom and struggled with her menopause symptoms. Luckily, she was able to get help quickly as she went to seek private help. But this got me thinking: what if someone needed help and was unable to get the correct help via the NHS due to long waiting lists and short rushed appointment times? The NHS as we all know is wonderful, but it is so Incredibly busy. So, people take to online help. When I looked for help, most groups were one professional/expert giving their opinion. I felt there was a need for a free advice service where women could make an informed decision about their own wellbeing – asking the advice of several experts within this field. It was just about helping others the way I needed help. I’m no health professional but I knew there was a real need for a private group where women could bare all, privately.
Being repeatedly told I was too young to be perimenopausal was difficult. Everyone’s journey is different – and can be so easily misdiagnosed. Mine came on very quickly. The worst being crippling anxiety, joint ache, weight gain, fatigue, mood swings, my skin on my face suddenly went very sensitive and horrendous brain fog. I went from being a switched on, organised, confident woman into a lady who would put her car keys in the fridge and wondered why I couldn’t find them or was unable to string a sentence together without forgetting my train of thought or simple words.
We are really lucky – we have a group of supportive professionals: Sam Grainger Hypnotherapist, who I know you are already involved with; Nadine Weeks, menopause coach and women’s fitness expert; Sarah Marlin, women’s nutritionist and menopause wellness coach (whose help and advice on the group has been invaluable); Michelle Howard Yoga & Therapies, who runs the most amazing menopause yoga retreat sessions; Dr Emma Ping, the menopause health doctor – to name just a few. We also have a therapist who helps with employment concerns whilst go through the menopause. We have a broad spectrum of help: including stuff that makes us feel better about ourselves – massage, skin health, looking after our mental well-being, as well as women’s health physio and acupuncture.
The group is private – it’s a warts-and-all, bare-all group where there is no judgement. I try to keep things light-hearted with our popular feature Fu*k off Friday Rants – one day of the week where our group members can get it all off their chest, whatever it may be, doesn’t have to be menopause related it can be anything. Then on a Saturday morning I delete the thread. So, there is no trace. It’s been really popular.
I work as a Business Coordinator and Front of House Receptionist at Park Farm Hotel, Hethersett in Norwich. This is a demanding role, it requires professionalism, organisation and a can-do attitude; not something that always comes easy when symptoms are prominent. Thankfully I love my job. We have a great support network; I work with a very understanding group – many of the women are going through the same. It’s lovely.
My message to any woman struggling is seek help, don’t give up, and talk. HRT can be wonderful for some but isn’t the answer for everyone. Research as much as you can. It’s still quite a taboo subject. There is no need to feel embarrassed.