Fra mandag 26.11.18 til onsdag 28.11.18 var jeg på Den europeiske konferansen for Fontenehus i Ålborg, Danmark, sammen med lederen av Fontenehuset i Drammen, Irina Greni. Da akkrediteringsteamet var på besøk på Fontenehuset vårt i mai tidligere i år, ble jeg spurt om jeg kunne tenke meg å holde et innlegg på konferansen, hvor jeg skulle fortelle om min historie, og mine erfaringer med Fontenehuset. Det takket jeg ja til.
På tirsdag holdt jeg innlegget mitt, som jeg hadde brukt over en måned på å skrive og forberede, foran en forsamling med over 15 fontenehus fra over 10 ulike europeiske land. Det gikk over all forventning. Nervene var overraskende minimale i forkant, aller mest kjente jeg på et adrenalinkick. Det var surrealistisk og absurd, fantastisk og utfordrende på en gang å dele historien min, og snakke om mine erfaringer foran en så stor forsamling. Men jeg klarte det, og gjennomførte bedre enn jeg noensinne kunne ha drømt om.
Responsen var enorm. Jeg ble rørt, overveldet og målløs, og uendelig takknemlig for den stående applausen jeg fikk. De gode klemmene. All takken. Alle de varme ordene. Støtten. Jeg vet nesten fortsatt ikke hva jeg skal si, annet enn takk. Takk for alle tilbakemeldingene. Det betydde mer enn jeg noensinne kan kunne komme til å beskrive med ord. Smilet jeg har på bildet kan kanskje bare i noen grad vise den fantastiske mestringsfølelsen jeg hadde på innsiden i akkurat det øyeblikket. Lettelsen. Følelsen av å ha tatt et stort skritt i riktig retning – ikke bare den dagen, men i bedringsprosessen min generelt.
For det å skrive dette innlegget om mine erfaringer og min historie var også en prosess, i positiv forstand, selv om det tidvis også var tøft emosjonelt sett. Med tanke på at innlegget starter helt i begynnelsen av livet mitt, og fortsetter helt til idag, var det mange følelser som kom tilbake, og minner jeg måtte forholde meg til, men på mange måter trengte jeg også dette. For kanskje etter hvert å kunne lukke dette vonde kapitlet i livet mitt, for godt. I perioden jeg skrev innlegget til konferansen og gikk jeg gjennom disse følelsene hadde jeg heldigvis god støtte på Fontenehuset, fra behandleren min på DPS, fra venner og familie og fra den psykiatriske sykepleieren i kommunen. Uten dem hadde jeg aldri klart det.
Jeg har planlagt å skrive flere innlegg om konferansen, siden det å skrive om alt jeg opplevde iløpet av disse tre, intensive dagene blir litt mye i det samme innlegget. Så de neste dagene kommer jeg kun til å skrive om alle de spennende, morsomme og læringsrike opplevelsene fra Den europeiske konferansen for fontenehus 2018. Selvfølgelig også med bilder. Stay tuned.
Avslutningsvis skal dere få lov til å lese innlegget jeg holdt på konferansen, siden det er så mange som har spurt. En enda bedre nyhet er at innlegget også er filmet, så det finnes muligheter til også å få se det live. Her er min historie, og mine erfaringer med Fontenehuset, på engelsk, som på konferansen:
My name is Liv-Christine and I am 23 years old. I have been a member of Fountain House Drammen for almost four years. It’s a great honour to stand here today to tell my story and to speak about my experiences with the clubhouse.
But let’s rewind time for a second, to where it all began. I was five years old, walking outside with my mom, when a group of older boys attacked me. This is the first time, but unfortunately not the last time I felt terrified and feared for my life during childhood. For over nine years I lived in daily terror, I was bullied physically and psychologically at school, and even outside my childhood home.
It felt like I was in a never ending nightmare. It was like being tortured everyday, not a single moment the bullies would leave me alone. They threw me to the ground, hit and pushed me, locked me inside toilets for hours on end. They screamed all the evil curse words at me you could think of. One of the bullies even screamed at me that I just should have killed myself because I was so ugly. As if this was not enough, my best friend at school, Marwa, died of cancer when we were just nine years old. I was devastated.
At the age of twelve I just wanted to die. I had been bullied for five years. In fifth grade I was attacked yet again just outside my childhood home, leading to even more fear, anxiety and stress. At that time I felt unsafe at all times. The school did nothing. They even told me it was my fault. At Christmas time that year I could not bear it anymore. I was severely depressed and exhausted. I refused going back to my school.
The year after I changed schools. Unfortunately the bullying continued for four more years. Through middle school I struggled with severe depressions and suicidal thoughts. I had daily panic attacks and had so much anxiety I could not even have a presentation in front of my teacher. As I thought it could not get any worse, it did. In my last year in high school I had to drop out of school because of how much I was struggling. It was when I was 18 I got help from a psychologist for the first time. She diagnosed me with a posttraumatic stress disorder, because of all the traumatic events I had experienced until then.
From then on there have been many times when I have felt completely lost and down in the deepest valley one can get, in a dark, dark place with only one thought in my mind: when and how to die, because my life felt so painful and unbearable to live. For long periods of time I was not nice to myself at all, in fact I was dragging myself through hell, self harming, starving myself and throwing up food, paradoxically as a way of surviving. I attempted suicide over ten times. On multiple occations it was only luck that I was saved in time.
Today I am so happy and grateful not only for being alive, but for the fact that I am living, doing things I love and being able to do things I am deeply passionate about.
Only a year and a half ago that was not something I imagined as possible. The voices of the bullies were present everyday:
You are useless, stupid, ugly. You will never accomplish anything.
I had massive flashbacks from when I was bullied and it was like it would never end.
Almost a year all together between 2013 and 2017 I was inpatient at several different pshyciatric wards -with both open and closed doors. At times I was in and out from psychiatric wards multiple times a week after self harming and suicide attempts. After being rescued from bridges and pulled out of waters. Both voluntary and involuntary inpatient stays in psychiatric hospitals. Ambulances and police. Gastric lavages and coal down in my stomach after overdoses, unconscious in the hospital, several days in the intensive care department and medical department with heart monitoring, blood pressure gauges, electrodes and a stewardess at my bedside.
I went through extremely tough times. All the pain and anxiety ate me up inside and out. All the painful memories from my past. The constant fear. Flashbacks from all the years with bullying and attacks. Never safe anywhere. Severe panic attacks several times a day. So depressed I could not get out of bed – too exhausted to get up, change clothes, prepare food or shower, totally isolated, alone, at home in my own apartment.
Fortunately, it’s not like this anymore. For the last five years I have been in intensive therapy twice a week, both in individual therapy and in group therapy, and learned to master my life better, but even more important I have learned to take better care of myself.
In April 2015 I visited Fountain House Drammen for the first time. In the beginning it was challenging just getting out of my house and to the clubhouse, as I was struggling with severe anxiety and depressions. I needed a lot of motivation and support from people, not only from the people around me, but from the colleagues working at the clubhouse as well. They called me and messaged me. Showed that they missed me when I was not there, that I was wanted, expected and needed. That is one of the many reasons I kept coming to the clubhouse.
Suddenly I did not feel as alone and lonely anymore, as I became more and more a part of a great social environment with people I after a while were able to trust. Slowly my confidence grew.
At the clubhouse I could let my mask go and finally be myself fully, for the first time in my life, without feeling judged for who I was. It was a relief.
It has been and still is a daily battle, but I am in a better place than I have ever been.
Because of the people at the clubhouse I started to talk about what I felt instead of keeping it all in. I challenged my anxiety and did things I never expected myself to be able to. In 2016 I was so lucky to join the collegaue training at Genesis Clubhouse in Worcester, Massachussetts for two weeks. I learned so much and had some of the best weeks in my life, despite the challenges I were facing at the time.
In July 2017 I had my last suicide attempt. This became my turning point, and from then on I took one of the most important decisions of my life:
That I wanted to live.
I would not have been where I am today had it not been for Fountain House Drammen, and for this I am forever grateful. Through ups and downs they have been there for me. The clubhouse has given me the space I need to build myself up. The opportunity to blossom and use my skills and talents. The clubhouse is one of the reasons why I was able to start at a writing school in August 2017. They kept me going and motivated me all the way. In May 2018 I proudly completed the whole school year with a book launch in Oslo together with my classmates. And now I am standing here in front of all of you, telling my story.
I can truly say, with all my heart:
That the clubhouse not only has changed my life. But has saved my life.
Thank you so much.