My names Tone Berg, Iam fifty plus and devoted to the mental health field, its been my main focus for 11 years now. I'm a writer for this magazine, and fight for a better health care system! In 2010, I joined NAPHA as an intern. (Our national department for mental health) To give mental health a experienced perspective. I don’t have a health degree, but i have been working for three years as an experience consultant on an ambulant team at Østmarka (psychiatric hospital in Trondheim, ed. anm) – where my skills and competence was to use my life experience with and mental vulnerability in a dysfunctional family.
Today, life battle is my "armor," I turn loss and sorrow into impetus. I used to hide my health history. Born in the preveous century, living decades with shame around mental health. Now I use it for all it's worth. My mother was deeply stigmatized and she broke down completely. My experiences are now turned in to a fight mode. My main concern is that we must avoid that my mother’s stigma repeating itself. Growing up, my father was away all the time, he traveled a lot with his business. The repellent words from my stepmother is attached as if it were said yesterday, my brother and I were teenages when she repeatedly said she regret to be in charge of us. We experienced a lot of rejections and discriminatory treatment as stepchildren. To grow up like we did, damaged our self esteem. It took me decades to repair.
The damage from growing up feels more damaging than my bipolar challenges, that I've learned to regulate. All the shifting and fostercare, resulted in bad sleep hygienes, its very energy depleting, and loaded my early upbringing . At the age of 55, I understand that childhood and adolescence caused my deepest scratches. From the time I was in foster care at the age of six, until I got my own home, I was a vagabond. My brother moved out right after his military service, so early establishment as possible. He had been depressed for a while, his marriage went west, he was near to lose everything. He had a young daughter, that our father and stepmother told him to never expect any babysitting or support, from before she was born. They never reach out as grandparents when she grew up. When my brother and his fiancé got a clear message when they visited our father and stepmother, with the pregnancy announcement.
Adversity is part of my strength," loss and sorrow converted to impetus. Growing up with a dysfunctional family turned me into a rebell. I ran away from home, hitchhiked with trailers and was wanted by Interpol throughout Scandinavia. Constantly on the run or admitted, until I finally moved home to Trondheim. My mom lived on 18 square meters, so I slept in a sleeping bag under her coffee table. We lived together for 9 months, three people on very little space. She found a broken person like herself, after many bad relations, she got married to a driver. He was a horrible period drunk, with scary behavior. I could told you more, but my goal is to describe a landscape of my step-parenting. Which my real parents chose to expose us for. I was admitted to the psychiatric ward when I was between 16 and 18 years old. In and out several times. It was a chaotic and dangerous time, psychiatry in the 80s It was not funny. No adolescent ward in the psychiatry hospital, an experiemental and soul stirring setting for a young soul. My mental state couldn't have been that bad, I still remember most parts of it like a movie. This upbringing has given me a bad self-image, I am a fragile person but find strength when i need it.
To this day, I still feel his despair and his fatal choice. He bought a hunting rifle and drove up into the woods. There he put a letter beside him, and fired the hunting rifle straight to his head. Growing up in a dysfunctional family, he gave up at the age of 32. As a child, we were told by the adults that our mom was sick, that she was dependent, unstable and unfit as a mother.
I remember her full of care and love. My mother came from an artistic family, published several short stories and was the best senior at «Katta» (upper secondary school in Trondheim, ed. anm.). She became pregnant already in last year of secondary school – so my parents had the first child far too early. I have many memories of my mother sewing and knitting, baking bread and making proper home cooked meals. The last holiday together, we drove up north in Norway, in a home-built campervan. We slept in tents and visited Saltstraumen. Unfortunately, my mom passed away abruptly in 2006. To me, she was the one who always had the love and support to give. On 18 square meters, she give me more love than dad in his big house with two bathrooms, double garages and two living rooms. I tell it to build my character, how life has shaped me. The understanding of not being whole. I’ve had a lot of “stings” in my life, sometimes accidents come close. During a period of three weeks in 2006, for example, I lost my mother and was close to losing my husband, the two most important people in my life. Iven in that period I didn’t need to be admitted to psychiatric hospital. I showed my strength and I came back. In situations like this, the «warrior» in me comes out, and I gather physical forces and mental resources. I tell it to explain my character, how life has shaped me. The understanding of not being whole. My scratches mean I don’t always react normally. I’m hypersensitive, in vulnerable periods, at times paranoid, suspicious, a little broken, it’s awful to say that about myself, but I don’t work as well as I want, purely emotionally. Life’s scratches are crawling me.
What do you want to say to the people who are going to help?
I want therapists who aren’t too clinical. When I was admitted in the 80s there were a lot of white coats, very much like in the film ‘Cuckoo’s Nest’. In order for me to open up to a psychologist, I need reassurance, and a person that really cares about the patient he is talking to. Not an academic, top-down academic figure. Psychiatric patients have long felt looked down on by the treatment system! Its about to change, and the goal is to remove this in psychiatry The somatic and psychiatric must become equal patient groups. The times are changing, thank god for that, my voice was load, but never heard, i was the bully, and since my stepmother was a nurse, se was mainly heard and followed. My rage and my rebellious beavoiur became my disability, and kept me on the run for a very long time.