– Dallington, Christchurch

September was the biggest shock of my life. Myself and all objects in the house were thrown across the rooms, and then it kept going, I didnt know what was going on. I was living alone. In a moment of quiet I ran to my neighbours house in dressing gown and barefeet and he and I stood in the middle of the house where we thought we were safe trembling and frightened while constant aftershocks pounded us. I thought I was going to die.

I tried desperately to manage over the next few months but by November I developed acute agoraphobia and couldnt get more than 1km from home only to neighbours and dairy across the road. I would start to panic driving or going too far from home. Had to resign from my job that I loved and go on a benefit which I find humiliating, although isnt it funny as I would never judge someone else in the same position.

In November I pleaded for help from every public health service (my doctor was great) and finally in April this year I was assigned a support worker to help me gradually get out and about. So the response was slow and as I waited for help I got worse and worse.

I could no longer stay at home alone and needed to move across town, my neighbours house split in half and he was red stickered so I told him my situation and suggested we find something to rent together, it is working out well.

In the last 2 months I have managed to be driven by my support worker to the mall weekly,and I have to do a few blocks close to home planned drive twice daily to gain confidence and gentle exposure to being out and driving, regularly extending the length by mostly one block at a time once I am comfortable to move to the next step. It is a very slow and exhausting process. I am unable to get a haircut, go to the dentist and many other basic things that we take for granted. I havent been able to put gas in my car for 14 months now (jan 2012). There are many others struggling with the same sort of thing and children who are traumatised.

I know there are so many people who have struggled and lost so much and in alot of ways Im very lucky. However this has been the most challenging 14 months of my life, I have lost friends who havent been able to cope with my health problems.

Christchurch is changed forever, I will stay.

This is my story.

PS – I forgot to say I had to be completely sedated in the car to move house, it was like a military exercise, carefully arranged and planned. I had pets at a cattery also. I am 38.

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