Christchurch had another earthquake yesterday; the biggest in quite a while and just another in the earthquake sequence which began on the 4th September 2010. I remember that first one well. It’s the reason we now live in Scotland. It was the middle of the night and we were all asleep. The sound is more terrifying than the shaking in some ways. It’s so loud you can’t hear yourself scream. There’s the noise of the house shaking, the furniture toppling over, and glass breaking, but there’s also the deep rumbling sound of the earthquake itself, of rocks shifting and cracking.
No-one was physically injured in this latest quake but the trauma will be psychological. This is why I think people, especially people from outside the region, telling Cantabrians how strong and resilient they are is counterproductive. I’m looking at you John Key. It’s akin to telling them, “you’re fine, get over it”. But this isn’t going to help them in the long term. I’m no psychologist but I believe that psychological ailments cannot be repressed and have a way of making it back to the surface where they will sometimes present as physical illness. It’s no surprise that mental health issues have increased in Christchurch since the start of the earthquake sequence and this includes anxiety, substance abuse, and depression.
I think it’s perfectly ok to admit to being terrified. It’s also ok to admit to being unable to cope. It’s also ok to talk about it and to expect the people who love you to listen. I don’t think anyone has to pretend to be strong and resilient if they don’t feel that way. Sometimes it takes more strength to admit to being afraid.