Leiba Lewis and I share the same alma mater, The University Of The West Indies, St. Augustine Trinidad (UWI). Studying at the UWI certainly solidified the passion not just for the written word but also stories that reflect our lived experience. When Leiba shared with me her desire to start blogging I was excited. At the time I didn’t know her focus would be about a topic close to our hearts, the MENOPAUSE. Now, Leiba is well on her journey to exploring and sharing the Caribbean woman’s experience of the menopause via her website MummyPause. I could not be more proud and thrilled. This is Leiba Lewis’ interview.
About Leiba Lewis
Tell us a bit about yourself.
As much as I tend to shy away from labels, I’d like to think of myself as a reader and a writer. I’ve been reading and writing for as long as I can remember, scribbling my thoughts on anything I can get my hands on, old bills, used envelopes, on the inside cover of my children’s notebooks.
I’ve come full circle because I’m currently writing my novel, which I will complete this year. I thank my parents for investing in me and buying me books as a child because it has fostered a love for reading which in my opinion, is the best hobby anyone can have. Whilst I don’t read half as much as I used to, I cannot imagine a life without books.
How did the idea for MummyPause come about?
Mummypause.com was borne out of a need to openly discuss my menopause story and in so doing give other women an opportunity to also share their stories. Menopause alone does not define who I am. So, I have decided to use this space because I can combine my love for writing and share other stories about things that I love and I’m passionate about.
When did you first suspect you were in perimenopause and how did the confirmation make you feel?
Although I had missed periods and was quite irritable and cranky on occasion, I knew for sure I was perimenopausal when I experienced my first hot flush. I felt this sudden heat radiating upward from my belly and then my face, neck and arms were covered in sweat and my clothes were soaked. When it happened, I said, oh this must be a hot flush, I was extremely uncomfortable even though it lasted for a few minutes.
After that first hot flush experience, I started getting them several times during the day for a few weeks straight and then it stopped for a while until I almost forgot about it. Now, when it happens, I don’t sweat as profusely as before but my face and neck get hot and there is mild discomfort.
Another thing was my low energy levels, I had no zeal to do anything and I mean anything. I didn’t feel like eating, no desire to even leave the house, and I was emotional about everything. I was quite neutral about it, I didn’t feel any particular way, it has to happen and that’s that.
Being Menopausal in Trinidad & Tobago
How do you manage your perimenopause symptoms?
I take it in stride. When I feel a hot flush coming on I slow my pace immediately. I stop what I’m doing and I try to make myself comfortable which usually means sitting down and taking deep breaths. You know your body best and I realize when I’m flustered and anxious things get even more intense, so I try my best to remain as calm as possible. I also take note of what I’m doing when a hot flush comes on and for me. I’ve realized it’s usually when I’m busying myself with some chore or the other. I also take note of how long it lasts.
Exercise does wonders in improving my overall mood and it’s a real pick me up for my energy levels. I try my best to incorporate it in my daily routine. I also read books and follow instabloggers of women and note their coping mechanisms as well.
In your experience, how are menopausal women perceived in Trinidad & Tobago.
For the most part, menopausal women are ignored in Trinidad and Tobago. It first must be talked about; it must become normal dinner conversation. I don’t have any sisters but I have a mother and several aunts who have gone through menopause and nobody talks about it.
I think it is still largely considered taboo in several quarters. Everyone should be sensitized about the symptoms of menopause and it should first start in the home with one’s family.
The Future for MummyPause
What has been the response to your content so far?
My website was officially launched on the February 21st, so, I’ve only just started but it has been well-received thus far.
What would you like to achieve with MummyPause in the next year?
I want mummypause.com to have a greater reach and for women to engage more by sharing their menopause stories and by so doing, build a support group.
Finish the sentence, Yuh is ah true trini fuh true if…’
Yuh is ah true trini fuh true if at the beginning of the year you check to see which public holidays fall on a Friday or Monday, so you can get a long weekend.
I hope you enjoyed Leiba’s interview and perspective about the menopausal experience in another region. You can find Leiba on Instagram and Facebook. To read her articles visit the MummyPause website . To read more on women’s health and menopause on this blog CLICK HERE.