Marja Bergen

author, mental health advocate, follower of Christ

Do we have any rights at all?

When We Lose the One we Depend On

As a person with a diagnosis of mental illness, dependent on others for your everyday needs, have you ever wondered what would happen if your husband, wife, or other caregiver were to die? Will your rights be protected?

I fear for mine.

Were your husband or wife to pass away, could you trust your interests to be protected? Will your mental health issues be understood? Will you be respected as you were respected by your husband or wife? Will you be able to retain control over your affairs as you did in the past?

Or, if you were one day to become over-emotional as some of us do due to anxiety or mistreatment, would you be heard if you tried to explain why you felt the way you did?

Such over-the-top behavior is seldom understood. Many witnessing it—even medical staff—might assume we’re not in our right mind. Though there’s probably a good reason for such behavior and although it’s temporary, we might suddenly be considered incapable of making our own decisions. And then–let’s face it–though people love us, they might believe we’re better off if they had control over our affairs.

You are no longer trusted with the responsibilities you had. Your dignity is taken away. Your rights as a fellow human being are denied. You’re no longer allowed to be the person you always were.

Now, this is a situation I’m imagining right now. But I know it could happen.

I get overwrought at times when I’m upset about something that hurt me. Anyone would. But everyone who knows me will realize that these are isolated cases. My mind works well. I’m wise in how I handle life decisions. Not only that, I write almost daily to encourage my peers with problems they might face.

I’m reminded of the book I now have with a publisher. Justice for All shows how great individuals overcame injustices and how we can do the same. The book talks about racism, child labor, slavery, and many other wrongs that are committed in the world. Couldn’t this unjust treatment of people with mental illness, be considered almost as wrong as any of these? It’s far too easy for them to lose their human rights.

According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, “an estimated 26% of Americans ages 18 and older—about 1 in 4 adults—suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder in a given year.” How many of these individuals are being stigmatized, not considered worthy of having their rights respected?




  1. As a single woman with BP I do wonder what will happen when my parents are gone. It is honestly a deep fear that I try to bring to the Lord when it taunts.

  2. marja

    March 26, 2022 at 4:27 am

    Dear Erica,
    I know that fear well. What is needed is for you to have a power of attorney who will act for you in things when you’re no able–in the way your parents do now–for a time when your parents are no longer able to be there for you. Find someone you know well, someone who knows you well, someone close to you. A relative you like would be a good choice.
    I pray for peace for you, as you find security in your life.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


© 2024 Marja Bergen

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑