Jo Blackwell, 57, from Brixworth, created The Midlife Movement, an online hub of information and support, to encourage women who are fearful of ageing to see midlife as an opportunity, not a crisis. She was inspired following her own struggle with the symptoms of menopause.
It's a community of women who actively support each other to prove that there is life after 50. Members have access to virtual meetups, training courses, coaching and, most importantly, support from like-minded people.
Jo said: “When I turned 49 I started having panic attacks, developed insomnia, became forgetful and was extremely sensitive to noise and even the feel of my own clothes. For months I felt like I was going mad and I sunk deeper into depression until I didn’t even have the energy to get out of bed in the morning.”
Eventually Jo realised that she was experiencing common symptoms of peri-menopause. She sought treatment for her physical symptoms but what really lifted her out of her depression was the response to a blog she started, Project50, as a way to release her thoughts and emotions.
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Women from all over the world wrote to her to say how much they identified with what she was writing.
The blog was so popular that Jo later turned it into a book, 'Oh Crap – I’m 50!' which has rave reviews on Amazon.
Jo, who has four children and seven grandchildren, said: “At 50 I finally found myself with a new zest for life.
"I had worked as a bookkeeper for many years but decided to retrain as a photographer and launch my own portrait photography company. I really do feel like I’m thriving – I run my own successful business and feel better than ever.”
According to the British Menopause Society, one in five women going through the menopause has difficulty with memory and one in three feel they’re no longer good company.
Jo added: “I suffered for months before I got the help I needed and the support I received from strangers online who had read my blog and shared their own experiences helped to lift me out of my depression.
"Now I want to help others who are experiencing what I did and to show them that they’re not alone.
"We feel under pressure to keep quiet about menopause and our fears of ageing, but this outdated attitude needs to be challenged. I am living proof that there is life after 50 and while some doors may close, plenty more open.”