I silently experienced anxiety and depression from the age of 12 and thought it was just ‘me’. I learned to just about live with it through my 20s, using junk food as my crutch along with frequent bouts of retreating from the world when it got too much.
However, my wobbly mental health was really put to the test in 2012 when my husband was unexpectedly diagnosed with cancer at 31. I still remember the sick feeling of shock and my pounding chest on the day we received the news, instinctively wanting to shut myself away and never come out again. I felt intense dread and anxiety about what the future held, feeling incredibly fearful of the responsibility on my shoulders to potentially bring up two small children on my own.
Thankfully, the medical team were excellent and got my husband into remission after many rounds of chemotherapy. However, naturally as a mum, everyone else came first and I forgot to look after myself. Despite the expectation to feel joyous by this point, the prolonged mental and emotional strain meant that I burned out.
I seriously struggled to get up each morning, feeling exhausted, overwhelmed, and suffocated under a huge dark cloud, whilst simultaneously feeling a heavy burden of guilt that I could not simply ‘snap out of it’. I would go through the relentless motion of my days like an empty shell, forgetting things and unable to keep on top of anything. I will always remember the guilt of realising that my daughter was the only child in the entire school who was not dressed up for a themed day, or when my son’s teacher suggested he might be less anxious if he could get to school on time.
It was a turning point when I realised that, for the sake of myself and my family, I could not go on like this and discovered that I could significantly improve my mood naturally with diet and lifestyle changes. I had not appreciated that what I choose to put in my body could have a profound effect on how I feel able to manage my day and, although it is absolutely ok to have a bad day, we do not necessarily need to accept feeling constantly tired, anxious, or depressed.
I can now view the whole experience as a gift. It prompted my family to reassess our lives in a way that never would have happened otherwise and enabled me to follow my passion to retrain as a nutritional therapist, with a special interest in mental health. My husband unfortunately relapsed more recently, yet this time I was able to focus on keeping my mental and physical health on track to calmly steer and support the family. I simply would not have been able to do this if I had fallen back into my old diet and lifestyle habits.
My goal now is to guide and support as many people as possible struggling with their mental health, helping them to understand their bodies and provide them with the tools to enable them to mentally thrive, not just survive.
My Mission & Goals
I want everyone to thrive physically and mentally, not just survive, and ultimately feel much calmer, happier, and more optimistic.
Educate and empower people to take control of their mental health and work in harmony with their body.
Provide empathetic and pragmatic support as we naturally rebalance the body towards optimal mental health in manageable steps.
Motivate and inspire an interest in seeking hope, joy, and calmness as they nourish their bodies and reconnect with life.
Why work with me
As a non-judgemental and empathetic practitioner, who understands what real life is like, I take great pleasure in supporting clients to improve their mental wellness through manageable and sustainable steps.
Offering one-to-one, evidence-based personalised programmes, I help people address their health issues and reclaim their lives back, helping them to feel better today than they did yesterday.
I am BANT Registered Nutritional Therapist, with a First-Class Honours degree and a Distinction in Clinical Practice.
Gemma Barnes BSc (Hons), BA (Hons), Dip BCNH, mBANT, regCNHC, MHFA.