Johnny Moore: Stop telling Cantabrians to 'get over it'

Johnny Moore is over being told to 'get over it'
David Walker

Johnny Moore is over being told to 'get over it'

OPINION: This Monday, Christchurch will remember that day five years ago when the ground shook and our lives changed.

I'm sure you'll see a bunch of coverage of the anniversary: Columnists opining on old memories, newsreaders executing sincere faces, politicians flying into town to kiss a few babies and survivors recalling harrowing tales.

Remembrance and grieving are part of the cathartic experience that Canterbury needs to go through until we find that elusive "old normal" one day in the distant future.

Just in time for the anniversary, Canterbury has had spending cuts in its mental health system. This should ensure the grieving takes a few more years yet. All the indicators suggest Canterbury is in pretty poor mental health, but I suppose the message is "get over it".

It's a refrain I've heard from people both inside and outside Canterbury: Get over it – time to move on.

Wouldn't that be nice to just get on with it? There's nothing I'd like more. Sadly, for plenty of people they're finding it had to move forward when they're still waist-deep in the quagmire that is the Rebuild.

I'd love to move on. It's just that my house sits unrepaired while I continue to have another EQC egghead show up every six months and look through the same old crap again. When the rain drives hard from the south, water runs down my walls. It's been patched up but ceiling leaks are the witchcraft of building and the best I can hope is that the virgin EQC promised to sacrifice on my behalf will get me through next winter.

My point here isn't to grizzle about my own situation, which is a very middle-class disaster when compared to others' experiences. What I'm trying to say is that if it's hard for me, a fairly together person, to get through this, then you can be sure there's a bunch of people really struggling.

Of mine and my wife's immediate family living in Christchurch, two-thirds of those affected by the earthquakes are not even at a point where a plan to fix their home has been made.

Add to the daily fight, the baggage that we carry from that traumatic period and it's no wonder plenty of us can't just move on. For me, it's the strangest things that triggers the trauma and turns me back into that scared individual who stumbled out of a fallen building five years ago and wondered if my family was dead.

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Organisations like the Allright? campaign have done stellar work in getting us talking about our mental health, but the problem is far from fixed.

I think about the huge whanau and support network I've got around me and wonder how-in-the-hell less fortunate people have done. I've eaten badly, drunk more than I ought to, made lifestyle choices that I shouldn't have and it's only having good people around me that has allowed me to move forward with small steps.

So on this, the fifth anniversary of the earthquakes, I ask those of you that think we should just get over it to reflect a little, put yourself in someone else's shoes and think about how tough this whole experience has been for a whole bunch of people.

I know we're past the peak of the rebuild, but for the wellbeing of the community, there's still plenty of work to do before we can all get over it.

 - Stuff


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