Marja Bergen

author, mental health advocate, follower of Christ

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Psychiatric care denied

WRONG-DOING ACKNOWLEDGED BY THE ER In November 2021, my file was closed by a mental health department at a local hospital after I had been a patient there for eight years. Treatment for my bipolar 1 disorder (first thought to be schizophrenia) began at Riverview Hospital in 1965 where I was a patient for ten […]

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“Our human rights are non-existent” – Mental health activist

“MY FIRESTORM OF FRUSTRATION” Human rights for people with mental health issues are almost non-existent. This is shameful and beyond the basic understanding of what I had thought it meant to be considered human. I know what it feels like to be thus treated, and can truly say that I, and others like me, don’t […]

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Equality between mentally ill and healthy

WHEN BOUNDARIES NEED TO BE APPLIED I’m sensitive to being treated with disrespect. Isn’t everyone? I’m as human as the next person and believe I deserve to be treated that way. And yet, so often, even amongst people who I had thought to be kind, this sense of equality seems not to be understood. I […]

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Are we really so “crazy?”

PSYCHIATRISTS SHOULD LISTEN BEFORE DIAGNOSING I was regularly abused for a year by someone I had least expected. It left me with emotional damage wrongly diagnosed as borderline personality disorder (BPD), the most stigmatized of all mental illnesses. This diagnosis assumed that my reaction to the mistreatment was simply due to over-sensitivity. The psychiatrist did […]

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Mentally ill? Who will protect your rights?

HOW CAN WE TRUST THAT OUR INTERESTS ARE SAFEGUARDED? It’s a sad day when you learn that you can’t trust a daughter or a son with your affairs, were your spouse to die. It’s sad when they disrespect you because of your mental health issues, not regarding you as a person like any other. Sad […]

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The dangers of psychiatric medications

I DEVELOPED PHYSICAL DISABILITIES In many—if not most—cases, people with mental illness need medication to help them cope with life. That has certainly been the case for me. In 1965 I was diagnosed with schizophrenia because of my struggles with psychosis. That diagnosis stayed with me for twenty years until it was changed to bipolar […]

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Misdiagnosis tears my life asunder

PSYCHIATRIST’S POWER ABUSED Unfortunately, I’ve been like an innocent child, trusting the person at the helm of my mental health care for years. I believe most of us who live with mental illness do lean on our psychiatrist, especially when we live with low self-esteem. After all, we think, the doctor knows best. I was […]

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Putting a human face on madness

  OUR PAIN – BEYOND UNDERSTANDING In the 1800’s, at a time when “the insane” were kept in jails and almshouses, they were horrifically mistreated. Social reformer, Dorothea Dix, did much to change this. While touring such places throughout the U.S., she drew the government’s attention to “the state of the insane persons confined within […]

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We need more than acceptance alone

MENTAL ILLNESS AND EQUALITY Much has been done to build better mental health awareness in the church. Yet there’s room for better understanding. And a lot more needs to happen than acceptance alone. People with mental health issues are no different than others in wanting to be considered to have equal worth. And yet it’s […]

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My claims of abuse – a symptom of my illness?

MENTAL ILLNESS AND ABUSE Graham Thornicroft, in his book Shunned: Discrimination against people with mental illness said this: “Once a person has been defined as mentally ill, his or her protests are often discredited or, even worse, labelled one more ‘symptom’ of his or her illness.” I have – for a very long time tried […]

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