Experiencing the 2015 Nepal earthquake and its aftermath sent me into early menopause and shook the foundations of my marriage.

I lost so much. I was an empty shell wandering aimlessly looking for answers. I just tried to get through everyday with no sense of being and no sense of worth. I remember thinking that one day everything would be okay because I was with my partner, my best friend, my lover, my husband.

I met my husband when I was only 16 years old and he told me he would always take care of me and he did a great job of that for 27 years. Twenty seven years isn’t a chapter in anyone’s life, it is often the whole book. We raised our son, sent him off to college and began traveling the world. We were so incredibly happy… Could it get any better? 

All was good until Saturday, April 25th 2015, the day neither one of us were prepared for—the day our world was shaken. 

We were in Nepal enjoying life and embracing their culture. It was a seemingly normal situation visiting our friend’s family’s house, but everything was about to turn bad and change our lives forever. Like a freight train rushing towards us, the ground began to shake softly, but the shaking gained strength quickly until it was full throttle. Within a few seconds, it sent us running down a long hallway, trying to get out of the house. It was a massive earthquake measuring 7.8 that ended up being the biggest, deadliest, and most destructive earthquakes in Nepal’s history. 

The quake was followed by hundreds of aftershocks, and only 17 days later, there was another major quake, 7.4. Fundraising, supply shopping, village runs, hotel aftershocks, landslide delays, river crossings, narrow dirt roads with death defying cliffs under the tires, accounting and thank you letters, translators, truck drivers, tarp hunting and tin roof distributors, huge bags of rice, oats and dahl, blankets, solar lights and rope, hospital runs with IV stands and crutches—I felt like I was in a snow globe…settled and calm and at any moment I could be shaken into a whirlwind with everything spinning around me. When it was all done, nearly 10,000 people had died.

One month after the initial quake, we went home to family and friends that had no idea what to say to us and no idea how to help. So what was the answer? We left and went to the Philippines to learn how to surf! A good plan in theory, but looking back on it, perhaps a wellness retreat would have been more productive. 

It was there I found myself lying in bed next to the person I love the most on a beautiful island in the South Pacific, but it feels like it’s the loneliest place on Earth. “Where did I go?” Something had taken over and wouldn’t let go! “What is wrong with me?” I’m just not myself anymore. It did cross my mind that it could be menopause, but I was only 43 years old. “It can’t be that.”

I couldn’t stop over-thinking EVERYTHING and focusing on nothing. I couldn’t express my feelings. I had fits of rage, jealousy that I never had before. I couldn’t sleep and I hated the person I was becoming. 

After one full year of these thoughts and actions, I actually questioned. “How he could leave me?”

I was lonely. I wasn’t used to eating alone, shopping alone and all the aspects of everyday life.  Sleeping alone was definitely the hardest. I hadn’t slept alone in 27 years, the nights were long and I saw the sun come up many mornings. 

I remember the day we met at the doctors for the results, he was shocked. My doctor said it was more than likely the result of the traumatic event of the earthquake that brought on early menopause—the perfect storm. 

Once it sunk in that I was in menopause, I actually felt relieved to know I wasn’t losing my mind. I sat in my room doing research and learning everything I could. This was personal. I had to get my husband back. I had to take back control of my life.

It had been two weeks since my husband left, the hardest two weeks of my life. I made lists, notes, researched, and even received some happy pills from my doctor. I thought I would be more focused and would start to have answers and direction. Perhaps I was too optimistic. It took me three more weeks, but I had finally discovered a sense of hope. Although my room looked like a scene from “A Beautiful Mind”, it worked for me. I had a schedule, reminders, and inspirational notes taped around my room. I stopped taking the happy pills as I had to conquer this on my own.

Here’s how I did it:

First, I would get up at 7am and the first thing was to do my 5 tasks before getting out of bed.

  • Forgive myself for yesterday’s shortcomings.
  • Smile for no reason.
  • Name three things I was grateful for.
  • Plan my goals for the day.
  • Take five deep relaxing breaths.

I would then drink a large glass of water and prepare myself mentally for the day. I read Deepak Chopra’s 21 Days of Inspiration. This was a good time to meditate and pray. I never prayed so hard and had such successful meditation sessions—it was working!

Before having a light breakfast, I would do Tibetan exercises to increase mobility and flexibility and help my body stay energized while having more mental clarity. My goal was to lose weight and get my head right…I was on a mission! At breakfast I would give myself a pep talk and prepare for the day.

I started my online work day at about 10am until 3pm at which time I would go to the gym and workout. In the evenings, during dinner I would listen to “The Power of Now” audio book, it really helped! 

After doing this schedule everyday, eventually I found me again, but I’m still a work in progress. I don’t sleep alone much anymore thanks to the universe bringing my husband and I back together again. We are working on things and I am hoping things will continue for the best.

In conclusion, I encourage you to reboot, focus on the now, and to have hope that this change in our bodies does not mean we are doomed.

Because of my experience, I fully believe a healthy routine will help you through the tough times and can show you the light at the end of the tunnel.

Written by:
Elizabeth A.
Elizabeth is a Digital Nomad seeking new adventures and cultures. She can't imagine living her life without her husband's smile of 30 years whom she loves with all her heart and has grown with, learned from, and lives for. Their talented son lives in his world of music. Elizabeth is blamed for this as she kept headphones around her belly during her pregnancy.