Editor-in-Chief of Genevive Magazine Betty Irabor in a tell-all Interview with the magazine talks becoming a known brand, looking fabulous at any age and turning 60. She also opens up about her personal battle with depression and her journey to conquering it, how she met her husband Soni Irabor and a whole lot more!
Read excerpts of the Interview below
On turning 60: Hello 60! Give me a hug!! I feel great, fulfilled, I feel blessed on all fronts though a while ago I found myself hyperventilating about turning 60. I looked at my life and thought, “What have I achieved?” I was told that it was the burden of an over-achiever. That didn’t placate me but digging deep into the recess of my soul provided some answers. I began to look at success from the perspective of the impact made and lives touched in anyway shape or form. That took me into the gratitude mode. 60 is a huge number but to be frank, I don’t know how to be 60, I only know how to be Betty! When I look at my life all I see is a beautiful story of a woman who came from nowhere to make something out of her life, I love the woman I have become.
On being afraid of starting Genevieve at 45: I wasn’t afraid until it dawned on me what I was up against, then I began to panic. It was when the first few copies came out and I realised the enormity of the pressure that came with the job that fear began to grip me and I began to look for a way out. I was so afraid that I would fail and join the statistics of quitters in publishing. I was just doing something that I was impassioned about. I wasn’t doing it for fame or money. If my motivation was money I wouldn’t be here and we wouldn’t be having this conversation.
On what triggered her depression: Insomnia and Menopause! This is something women don’t talk about but the reality now is that people go into menopause as early as 37. I went into menopause on the other side of 50 but the depression came later. It wasn’t diagnosed in time. I was simply told I was under severe pressure and was advised to close down or take two yers off. I lost a lot of weight and people thought it was intentional. Thisday Glitterati wrote I was anorexic.
After two years of going back and forth on the root cause, one day I asked my doctor if it was menopause related. He was surprised I was 50 and admitted that it was likely to be menopause. I suffered depression for years until I made the decision to get out of it. In the morning I didn’t want to open the blinds. I did not socialise for two years and the depression took its toll on my skin as well as my emotions. I would be having a conversation and randomly burst into tears. People were insensitive and made comments about me losing weight because I wanted to stay young but it was all based on ignorance. I am sharing this because we hide what could be helpful to others.
On overcoming depression: Family Support, Will Power! Change of outlook towards everything. I woke up one day and decided to get out of it. I decided to fight and get my life back. I didn’t like where I was and I realised no one could get me out of this dungeon except me. I didn’t like the effect it had on my family so I began to fight back. I fought against the dominance of overwhelming negative emotions. I began to find reasons to be happy. I lived in the NOW. I looked for joy in everything around me and started to read the bible again. I travelled. I went to both London and New York fashion week and stayed abroad for a while. I took time off and went to health farm outside London. The minute I stepped into my room I just zoned out. I slept for 4 hours straight, the first time in nearly 18 months. Before then I was sleeping 2 hours a night.
At the farm, I got to read “The Battlefield of the Mind” by Joyce Meyer and I could see that I had been in a battlefield which only a change of mindset and prayers could deliver me from. I blanked out negative thoughts. I listened to praise songs and danced. I fought for my sanity through positive affirmations, I also had my family’s support which is priceless! I began to see a counsellor back in Nigeria and gradually we began to make a headway. We worked on my sleep hygiene and a more holistic approach to treating depression.
On meeting her husband Soni Irabor: It wasn’t love at first sight. I remember when I was at the University of Lagos, Soni would come around Matthew’s buttery and every girl wanted to talk to him and be seen with him and I used to think; “who does he think he is?” Years later when I was working as a public relations officer, I needed to put together an event and I was clueless as to how to go about it. I spoke to the company’s Singaporean receptionist about it and she promised to introduce me to a man who could help me; a man she described as Robert Redford. When he walked into the office days later I was like… “Is that not the celebrity radio and TV guy?” Anyway he put me through the event and I rewarded him with a date and we were married 9 months later.
On how she manages to stay in top shape: It’s down to genes but also my background as a former athlete. I used to represent my secondary school at national athletics events as a hurdler. From that age, I was conscious about staying fit because I went through a lot of training. Over the years I neglected fitness for a while but when I turned 40 I knew I had to take responsibility for my wellbeing. I eat well, get as much sleep as I can, no alcohol for me, I work out a lot and go for massages anFacialsls. I try not to over-indulge, I try to maintain a healthy lifestyle, I listen to my body and what it’s telling me. When I feel my body’s engine is slow I go for detoxification and colonics. The Body works better in an alkaline, not an acidic state. I have days I do salads and protein but I have cheat days too.
On what motivates her towards the future: After going through what I did with my health, I realise that just waking up in the morning is a gift. Many go to sleep and never wake up, people are battling one disease or the other so we must bless God for each new day. There is joy in waking up and knowing that waking up is not a given. Everything else we have in life, after, good health of mind and body, is a bonus.
On how she will like to be remembered: The thought that I might be remembered at all is very humbling although pre-sumptuous. I will let the world decide what they choose to remember me by. I am more focused on the good I can do while I can. I can’t influence how people choose to remember me but I hope I have impacted some lives for the better. Turning 60 is a privilege and in the words of Maya Angelou ‘Still, I Rise’
For more from her interview pick up a copy of Genevieve Magazine’s March 2017 Issue.