Marja Bergen

author, mental health advocate, follower of Christ

Wrapping up (2019)

It’s time, really time, to put an end to my story. I’m glad to have found better wellness through the telling. But today I’m tired of thinking about so much sadness and ugliness. I want to start enjoying the new me. And so, I’ll wrap up with this:

I strongly believe this account had to be told, not only for my well-being but for the good of people who are stigmatized and need to have their pain recognized. I hope that reading about my experiences will have given you a better grasp of how it feels to live a life where you’re thought badly of, looked down on, and treated hurtfully simply because of illness.

After leaving the church I still suffered intense and frequent emotional distress, as I would for at least two years. A couple of dear friends made themselves available to listen when I needed to talk. I also called the Crisis Line many times. My counselors were a blessing – so good to help me sort through the many puzzles and emotions. I don’t know if I’d still be here if it weren’t for all these caring people.

I tried hard to reconcile, to forgive and to receive forgiveness. Did my utmost but hardly ever received a response. That made me feel like I wasn’t considered – or didn’t deserve to be considered – a normal person. And yet, despite the suffering, for the most part I remembered what Jesus taught – to love my enemy.

On November 12th last year (2018) I was in the ER, wanting to die more than ever. Thinking and praying through the night, I felt led – by what I believed to be God – to tell my story. I didn’t want to die until I’d done so. The life I once had was lost. Everything that had given life meaning was gone. I wanted people to know that I wasn’t the person who had left the church three years’ earlier, humiliated. I wanted the good in me remembered. The good I had done. I needed to reclaim my life. Because if I didn’t, within my mind I couldn’t see a reason to carry on.

At home I spent a couple of weeks transferring posts from an old blog to my current one. Reviewing the memories of my Living Room days gave me joy. I was surprised to see all I had accomplished in 2006. My mood started lifting.

But depression soon returned. The blog posts showed the good I once had but also reminded me of how much I’d lost. I started adding new writings – comments, reflections, and stories of how I was treated. I talked about what stigma can do, what it did to me, and what it does to so many who live with mental health issues.

When I described the ways I had been hurt, I began to find healing. Every time I was troubled I went to the computer and told more of my story. This gave me comfort. Knowing that others might be helped was gratifying. I wrote every night – becoming obsessed, as I so easily do.

Healing came quickly. It was remarkable how the writing helped me recover after suffering four years of poor functioning. My mind cleared, I was better organized, I wanted to get out more. It was as though I had been roused from a long sleep. Most importantly, the traumatic memories and the wish to die stopped almost completely. I had become a real person again, ready to start life anew.


NOTE: A story like this could not be truthfully told without affecting others. Please know that I did all I could to hide identities and to minimize hurt.

I have many more old Living Room blog posts I may be sharing with you. Actually, some of those aren’t so bad.


1 Comment

  1. Catherine Drake

    March 2, 2019 at 8:36 am

    Dear Marja, thank you so much for sharing your story. I will be forever grateful for you, you have taught me much.
    Love Catherine

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