Being Invalidated by a Bad Apple

Abuse is present in all kinds of relationships: from personal to professional, from sexual to medical, where ever there are humans, abuse exists. Unfortunately, no one is safe from experiencing it in any of its forms, especially in regards to mental health. In my own mental health journey, I have been fortunate with my connections, but I know so many out there have not. I know no two instances are alike, and abuse can take many forms in this world. My most recent experience with it has prompted me to bring this story to light. It is raw, and possibly chaotic in nature, but it is where I am at right now.

I am a young woman, a wife, and a mother, who just so happens to be diagnosed with Bipolar II. This diagnosis has been following me around for over eleven years, and it is not something I take lightly. I want to feel okay and happy. I want to feel normal, and if medication and therapy are required for this to happen, then so be it. I am worth the extra effort. It hasn’t always been smooth sailing, but I have never felt as if my team against me…until a few weeks ago. 

Back in August, my husband and I agreed we would start trying for baby #2, but I knew this meant I needed to get things prepped for my mental health ahead of time. When I was pregnant with my son, I struggled – because there was no safe medication for me to take at the time. Last year, my then psychiatrist told me if I was going to get pregnant again, there were options this time around. He knew me and knew intimately about what happened to me when I was pregnant. No one wanted to go through that again. 

Unfortunately, due to family circumstances on his end, he left, and I was given to someone new. He seemed nice and agreed to go off my previous doctor’s notes on my condition for starters and adding his own as we got to know each other. I saw no problem with this sentiment and was willing to give him the chance despite my hesitation because I was thrown to someone new so suddenly.  

As time progressed, I tried to trust him, but something always felt off and awkward with him. Sometimes a comment he made drew question marks in my head, but I brushed it off because we weren’t sitting face to face because of COVID. We only talked on the phone. Sometimes it was a ten-minute call, sometimes it was three minutes, but I felt we were on the same page.  

Before my husband and I talked about getting pregnant, I knew I wanted a game plan in place. I wanted time to get used to new meds and adjust as needed. My psychiatrist was an instrumental part in this plan, so setting up an appointment to discuss my options non-negotiable. Per instructions by my previous doctor and my own research, I already had an idea of what I needed, but I had to bring it up with my prescriber to get it. Simple and straightforward, right? WRONG! 

When the words of “trying to get pregnant” and “what are your suggestions” left my lips, the atmosphere of the conversation changed. Keep in mind, I have been diagnosed by four different psychiatrists, over the course of about sixteen years, that I have Bipolar II. I have been on the appropriate medication for that diagnosis for eleven years, and when I am consistent with taking the medication, I am stable.  

This man had the gall to let “Bipolar II is just a theory” and “many women find the symptoms go away during and after pregnancy” leave his pathetic lips. Despite me bringing up the recommended medication and explaining what happened the last time I was pregnant, he ignored me. Now, I refused to leave this session empty-handed, so he gave me two medications for “as needed” irritability and depression, low dosages with the possibility of increases. I am Bipolar, not irritable. 

I assumed this was better than nothing and began tapering my medication as designed and filled the prescriptions. After several days, I found I had to start taking more than the ‘low dosages’ to have any sort of effect, and I hit a major side-effect wall. I could either feel like I was drunk all day or be depressed. Since I work full-time and must be mentally sharp, I stopped taking the meds. I gave them less than 2 weeks, but they were not working in any capacity as he said they would.  

My therapist was appalled at his words but brushed them off when I spoke to her about it. She looked up my file and found he had not written anything he said to me, in my file (why would he?). Though she did not convince me directly, I put in a request to transfer psychiatrists the next day. Never have I ever been invalidated by a medical professional to my face like that, and even though I am struggling now because of him, I won’t let him win. 

My Journey to Stability, Pt. 3

by Shara Adams

A circle of blurred faces surrounded me, all talking at once. The level of chaos outpaced my own mind and I struggled to keep track of what was going on. Drugged and intoxicated beyond capable cognition, the world began to slip away once again. In the mess of voices, the realization of my fragile state caught the action of the paramedics and I was whisked down the stairs from the apartment to the ambulance. Because of the design of our place, a stretcher was worthless. They half carried, and half walked me down the precarious stairway. Once I was inside the bus, one of the paramedics joined me and began a pleasant conversation with me.

Blonde hair and blue eyes watched me intently. It may have been my lost mind, but at that moment, he had the most beautiful eyes that I had ever seen. Smiling, I was lost in his hypnotizing gaze. His voice was soft and inviting. I felt like I could listen to it forever, and I did listen to it the whole way to the emergency room. He conversed with me to keep me awake and cognitive of what was around me, and it worked perfectly. It also kept my mind off the fact my husband had not come with me. I did not notice this fact in the middle of everything going on; he was completely absent from my side.

Once inside the ER, I was forced to drink charcoal from a small cup, and it did not take long for it to make a reappearance. It was absolutely disgusting, and my toxic stomach contents were having none of it. Frustrated nurses yelled at me for throwing it up and then gave me another cup – but I never touched it to my lips. Without something to focus on, I was slipping away from the bright lights of the room. Metal walls of the elevator were my final memory before losing consciousness. I have no recollection of being in the ICU or being ‘asleep’. No dreams or thoughts; it was as if I went to bed and woke up the next morning but waking up this time was a much different experience.

Stirring in the hospital bed, my eyes opened several days after my arrival. I felt lost and confused at my surroundings, but my eyes fell on a familiar face and relief washed over me. I am sure she felt the swell of relief as well. My mom had driven about 740 miles in eight hours to be by my side. We later calculated that she had averaged about 95 mph the entirety of the drive, never being pulled over. There was always a driver going faster than she was, and they were the ones to get caught. Her foot never left the gas pedal, and I will never make fun of her panic.

Once awake and somewhat aware of where I was, I noticed the lack of a certain person from the room: my husband. This was something my mom attempted to fix, but it was only mildly successful. He came to visit me once during my entire stay, but never said a word and refused to look at me. He sat on my bed and I rubbed his back, but nothing I did to interact with the stone-faced body made any difference. His blatant resentment was more than I could overcome. I began to wonder if I went too far to prove my point, but it also seemed to be working.

The chaos from the apartment had compartmentalized in my mind, blurry and distant memories, just like that night.

by Shara Adams

For more stories by Shara Adams, visit http://pennedinwhite.com.

My Journey to Stability, Pt. 2

“…you’re the spawn of the Devil!” 

After watching the pictures fly across the room, my husband turned back to his screen, acting unfazed by my actions or words.  His response, or lack thereof, only confirmed my decision; I had to reveal him to the world as the true demon he was to me. Red flags waved the last four years, but I brushed them away, creating excuses for his behavior and words. He was a narcissistic bastard taking advantage of my ignorance. For all those years, I blamed myself for everything he did said, convincing myself it was my fault for the way he treated me. I needed to learn my place in his sick world. Being young and naive, I did not realize how I was being manipulated by someone who was supposed to love me.  

I wanted to scream, but the sound never left my throat. Instead, I staggered over to my chair, sitting down with an obscene lack of grace and nearly toppling over. My desk was a mess, but what I was looking for was within easy reach. The Jameson thudded against the wood as I snatched up a white bottle. Effexor was the anti-depressant I was prescribed after a questionnaire was given to me for the Bipolar diagnostic process in 2007, of which it was determined I had Major Depression, not Bipolar Disorder. Several attempts to find a medication were made to help me feel somewhat normal. None of them worked, but I stuck with Effexor despite the roller coaster. 

By Shara Adams

I did not feel suicidal, but the world needed to open its eyes and see him for who he was. The world needed to see me, to save me from the hell I was living. Rising to my feet, I opened the white bottle and poured out a handful pills. I reached for the Jameson without counting the capsules and set my reserve; I knew what I had to do to save myself and destroy him. My shoulders rolled back with determination, but my thoughts remained a jumbled mess from the alcohol and my inundated emotions. The world was spinning, and I did not know what to think or feel. All I knew was I had to escape the pathetic excuse of a man. 

“Is this what you wanted?” 

Turning to face me, I smirked with satisfaction. I had his full undivided attention, for once. The impact I planned on having with my actions, played over and over in my head. I did not know what was going to happen, and my mind did not consider the consequences which were possible. Blinded by the potential freedom, I could not back away from my decision. As I held the pills in my hand with a drink in the other, I threw them all to the back of my throat and followed them with the last of the Jameson.

Relief washed over me as I sat back down, ignoring him. I felt I had done the right thing, but after several minutes, the world started to disappear and I began to question myself – like always. I tried to blame it on the entire bottle of liquor, which I had consumed in a matter of a few hours. About ten minutes later, a knock on our apartment door brought the light back, but I could not move. Before I reached the count of three, five to six people swarmed into our small space and surrounded me both physically and verbally. I was confused as to who they were, why they were here, and what they were asking, but I responded to their probing questions as best I could. The realization hit me like a brick after several questions: they were paramedics.

My husband had called 911. For once in his life, he may have done the right thing.

By Shara Adams

More stories can be found at pennedinwhite.com

My Journey to Stability, Pt. 1

Excitedly, I join this blog’s wonderful team. I have been passionate about mental health for many years, and I hope to be able to share my journey as I continue to navigate through life with a mental illness. I was diagnosed with Bipolar II in 2009 (also in 2004, but I was a minor) and just like many others, my road has not been easy. I am a survivor of domestic abuse, so the hurdles I have jumped remind me of what I am capable of overcoming, no matter what life can dish out. Though I plan to write a memoir of all my experiences, here I would like to simply share my road to stability and beyond. It is not a lighthearted tale at first, but it is an important one. Just as the past is important, so is the future. We are amazing and the world needs to know all our stories.

My Journey to Stability, Pt. 1

With a bottle of Jameson in one hand, wedding pictures in the other, and a kitchen knife at my side, tears ran down my cheeks and frantic thoughts pounded in my skull. I sat, knees to chest on the bed, contemplating my next move. After being together for five years, I was beginning to understand the danger of our year-old marriage. You were an evil entity in my life and even my drunk mind believed the thoughts whispered in its ear. I spent more time intoxicated than sober when I was around you or thinking about you. The things you did to me, or made me do, were not normal for a healthy relationship.

After a Colorado courthouse wedding, we decided it was time to move to the state we shared our vows. I found a job before we moved, and you were taking your remote job with you to our new home. If I drank a lot before we moved, it only increased ten-fold with our arrival in the mountains. You were either emotionally absent or degrading me enough to force me to try and forget your words. It was as if our vows, the year before, meant nothing to you. Perhaps they did not, and never had, but I was determined to keep up my end of the bargain. I loved you, but I questioned my sanity because of it.

Another swig of liquor and my eyes thrummed with intoxication. Our blurry smiles made no sense to me as my gaze passed from distorted faces to the shiny metal of the knife. No, it was not for you. It was never for you because I was always the problem…not you. You made me believe I was destroying our marriage, not your flirting, sexual escapades, or even an unhealthy relationship with bottom shelf vodka. At an impasse, I sat on the bed for close to an hour, trying to sort through shifting thoughts and emotions. In my heart, I knew what I had to do, but my courage hesitated as I left the knife on the bed and stumbled to the living room, where you sat at your computer.

My face was set with a determination and anger I had never felt before. Perhaps it was a spark of hatred, but at the time, such a notion was wishful thinking. With the bottle in one hand, and the photo album in the other, I made myself heard. The words poured from my lips with ease, as if I had been wanting to say them for years and had lacked the courage before. I felt no regret and stood tall with a newfound strength. I watched the pictures float to the floor, smiling with a grim understanding of my next move.

“…you’re the spawn of the Devil!”

Your Shadow By Shara Adams

(More stories can be found at pennedinwhite.com)

All pictures by Shara Adams.

Loss of Innocence (Fall 1987-14 Years Old)

Guns N’ Roses Welcome to the Jungle blaring on my Dad’s state of the art stereo system.  A fifth of Peach Schnapps and two 14 year old girls looking for a good time.  We invited two 18 year old guys to come over since my parents were out of town. We had met them previously at Star World, which was a teen dance club/hangout at the time.  We were still young and somewhat naive, but we were oblivious to the desires and intent of 18 year old men.  Our definition of having a good time was completely different than their definition.  We were all hanging out and drinking copious amount of alcohol and it didn’t take long for me to become fall-down drunk.  Bipolar, which now I’m convinced I already had at the time, and alcohol are not a good combination.  The next thing I knew, I was in my bedroom with one of the guys and kind of in and out of it from all the alcohol coursing through my veins.  He proceeded to get me on my bed.  Next thing I knew he was taking my clothes off.  I was frightened, but didn’t want to seem childlike, so I just went along with what he was doing.  I just remember being in a lot of pain, dazed and feeling really ashamed and dirty.  When he was finished, I stumbled to the bathroom and noticed I was bleeding.  I was scared, crying and did not want to leave the bathroom.  I was spinning from the alcohol and remember vomiting several times.  Once I had the courage to come out of the bathroom, I asked my friend to tell them to leave.  I couldn’t even look at him.  They left and I confided in my friend what had happened.  She tried consoling me, but there was nothing anyone could say to make me feel alright.  I kept this a secret from my parents, as I didn’t want to get in trouble and I was scared of what they would do.  This one act would change the trajectory of my life and send me spiraling down a path of destruction, hurt and pain…

Bipolar Quote
 photo credit:mostphrases.blogspot.com

Prior to this event, I was already on a path of wild abandon.  I can remember me and my best friend at the time experimenting with kissing, touching and going down on each other at 10-11 years old.  Gasp!  I know, I can hardly believe it myself!  Our maturity and capability to understand what we were actually doing and the implications were severely lacking.  I also remember being suicidal during this time frame. I again, never told my parents, because I did not want to upset them.  I struggled internally on my own for a long time.  I would run away from home for days/weeks at a time.  I was running with the wrong crowd and was exposed to alcohol and drugs.  Not a good combination for someone with a mental illness.  I remember my parents calling the cops and they came looking for me at a friends house and I was hiding in a closet not wanting to go back home.  I don’t know why I was so rebellious, I didn’t have a bad upbringing.  My parents were both loving and worked hard for us.  Nevertheless, I always felt lost and like I didn’t matter.  I think that is why I was always seeking attention – even if it was negative.

Bipolar me
 Me at 14 years of age

In future blogs I will document the course of my life and all the crazy, wild things I have been through!  I am sad I did not have a personal relationship with Jesus during my early years.  I did not grow up attending church; although, I did go to a Baptist church with my cousins every now & again.  Those encounters just made me scared of Jesus – fire, hell and damnation were preached.  From there on out I just thought I was going to die and go to hell.  I now believe that Christ took me through this journey so I could be a testament to his love, grace and forgiveness.  It was not until the age of 25 that I was saved.  The events that took place until then are quite unbelievable and I’m very lucky to be here today to tell my story!  I strongly believe in living your truth and not being ashamed of your past.  I had a brain illness that I had no idea about at the time.  I try to give myself grace and compassion for my younger self.  I did not get the treatment that I needed, as my parents thought I was just being a rebellious teenager.  A lot of damage to my soul and agony ensue on my journey to forgiveness.  If you or anyone you know is lost and searching, please reach out to me!  I have been there tenfold and I am here for you!

2 Corinthians 5:17

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he/she is a new creation;
The old has gone, the new has come!”

Ephesians 3:20

“God has more in store for you than you can even imagine.”

Bipolar and Weight Issues

Imagine being on a roller coaster.  You sit down and you strap in – there is no turning back at this point.  You are stuck and face the inevitable.  Now you’re heading up the first big incline and it’s steep.  You can’t stop it and you’re feeling overwhelmed and scared.  As you approach the top of the steep incline, you are apprehensive about what comes next.  All of a sudden you are plummeting down the steep hill with wild abandon.  You feel exhilarated and unstoppable.

Such is my battle with weight loss amidst my mental illness.  When I’m depressed, I am on an extreme trajectory toward weight gain and lots of it.  I usually gain 30-40 pounds in a couple of months.  I eat everything that is bad for me – sugar, carbs and processed foods.  Then as quickly as I tumbled into a depression, I change direction and I’m hypomanic.  I am super focused on my health & weight loss.  I eat healthy foods and I’m very intentional about what goes into my mouth.  I exercise every day and I’m always moving – I can’t sit still.  And just as quickly, I lose the 30-40 pounds I put on when I was depressed.

It’s a vicious cycle and according to Medical News Today, “Losing weight for a short period and then regaining it bears the name of yo-yo dieting, which some people refer to as weight cycling.  Previous research has pointed out the potentially damaging effects of these repeated cycle of weight loss and weight gain.”  So not only is it frustrating, but it isn’t good for my health either, particularly my heart health.

Below is a picture of my weight fluctuating during 2017.  This happens every year, but I happen to put these pictures side by side so thought I would share!

Bipolar Weight Fluctuation
 Example of my weight gain & loss in 2017!

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord. “Plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Jeremiah 29:11

Stepping Out.

I have never made told anyone my New Years resolutions. I just think putting that kind of pressure on something is setting yourself up for failure. I wish I could say that I haven’t made superficial false promises to myself to change my eating habits, lose a particular amount of weight, quit a bad habit, find a new love, or win a million dollars. I have, and I have failed. I think these goals are too specific and that was my issue. Over the past ten years, I have lost myself.

Lost myself in relationships, both platonic and otherwise.

Lost myself in other’s expectations.

Lost myself in my own expectations.

My biggest sadness for others is watching them be hard on themselves because they aren’t keeping up with someone else’s success. You don’t have to be at the same point in life as someone else.

I still have incredibly practical goals. I want to pay off some debt that I have been tip toeing around. I want to finish grad school. I want to advance in my career.

This year, I resolve to be me. Whoever that is… I want to be impulsive in ways that I have not allowed myself before. I want to move out of my comfort zone. I want to find my playful and adventurous side again.

I dyed my hair purple. I have always wanted to but didn’t for fear of what others would think. I was most concerned that my job wouldn’t allow it. But apparently this job doesn’t care, so I just did it.

I feel like I am stable emotionally on my medication and now I can breathe. I can know that these big exciting decisions and adventures are me finding myself and not mania.

The stars aren’t aligned…


This August was a happening month for me. I got everything that I had my hands on, was at the peak of happiness and wellness. Probably I have never been so productive in years as I have been this August – slept well, ate well, started gym, wrote poetry and blogs, attended workshops, sang songs and strummed my guitar and what not! But as I always believe: everything is temporary, so was my phase of happiness. Soon things turned chaotic, I began to lose composure and also, lost the ‘happy’ phase.

Phases of depression are cruel, you know. It jolts you, breaks you, kills you within but doesn’t let you die (even if you want to). It makes you suffer to the core but doesn’t let you escape from it; much like eternal damnation in hell. You know it will always be there till the last breath and you sort of learn to live with it but, don’t want to live with it at the same time. It gives you a ride to your worst self and makes you believe that that’s all you are. It leaves you with feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness, discontent, and all that is negative.

Living with bipolar disorder isn’t easy, my friend. It throws the best and worst at you, and takes back both leaving you only with a feeble hope, hope that things will get better. As the ‘happy’ phase kicks in, it gives you all the positivity you could ever think of (or maybe, can’t even think of), fills you with so much vigour, vibrancy and enthusiasm, makes you feel like there’s nothing better but, soon depression ‘the sad phase’ slowly peeps in and takes away all at a gush. It replaces all the positivity with brutal negativity; all that was filled is now just a void, an endless void. You toss and turn, try to forget it like a bad dream but it throttles you by the neck and pushes you to the depth.

During the ‘happy’ phase you live with the fear of encountering a sad phase soon, and during a ‘sad’ phase you live with the hope of soon encountering a happy phase. Strange, isn’t it? But the best part about this swinging mood is, it gives you a taste of both happiness and sadness to the extreme. Just a consolation, I know.

Now that I’m down into the dumps, everything is a mess. My daily life is a big, big mess. My diet, sleep, daily activities, productivity, every single thing is messed up. Past haunts, present is clueless, future scares. But nevertheless, I’m living with the hope that ‘happy’ phase might soon kick in and my pain will then subside.

Maybe just the stars aren’t aligned….


Reclaiming My Love For Literature

I am guessing that most of you might have realized that I have been absent for quite some time. Despite me being an advocate for mental health, I too suffer from mental health issues and the health issues hinder my day-to-day experiences. Though I understand that I was diagnosed with Bipolar Mood Disorder, it doesn’t define who I am and who I aspire to be.

It takes a lot more effort though to manage and deal with what is expected of us, from our jobs, schools, work and family life. It can be quite taxing especially when one is currently having an episode. When I had my fourth episode this year, I was hospitalized for quite a while, longer than I have ever been before. I had suicidal ideation and had no recollection of anything that I was doing.

I lost a sense of who I was because, at the time, I had not found the right cocktail of medications that worked for me. It was all trial and error and I was frustrated since nothing was working and that I took longer to recover from episodes.

I lost so much interest in things that I used to love doing. I stopped journaling, writing code, blogging and of course, began despising literature. Mind you, I’m not a literature student, I am a computer science and engineering student. This may sound extremely weird for most people because most people in Stem fields have little or no interest in literature. Believe me you, there are so many of us, in stem that appreciate language beyond research purposes but for the beauty that the art of language portrays.

Before and during my hospitalization I lost my ability to read and retain what I read. I was infuriated by this because literature was my canvas, my form of expression besides science. I was lost and felt hopeless. While I was in hospital my boyfriend brought me novels and non-fiction books. I struggled to read more than 10 pages a day, but as time went by I picked up speed and began reading and writing. Before I knew it, I finished a 150-page novel in two days within the second week of my hospital stay. I progressed and read more books which were a bit longer than the first. My love for literature and reading was reignited.

I found me again. It’s through the little things in life that we know our life purpose. It’s not about the money or the physical things that fulfill us but rather the tiny little basic needs that we require to live our lives. The ability to have the freedom to express what we want and the freedom to be authentically ourselves. As I mentioned, I found me again and I couldn’t be happier!

Thank you for being with me. Let us rebuild a healthy state of mind.

Angel love and rainbows.

Love, Francesca.

Running Towards Hugs.

I am making moves towards my next goal of moving back home after moving out of state a year ago. I applied and applied for jobs until I finally found something that would suit me. I felt immediate relief in signing the offer letter. I know it was the right choice. It isn’t because I fear not having a roof over my head, a lease ending, a job I am at risk of losing or anything of the sort. I just am relieved to be headed back to something familiar. I let my mental health care fall by the wayside and that it has never been so apparent that what I had been doing was working.

I moved here to remove myself from stressful situations that I was in. I was constantly guilt ridden (because of my own issues) and putting a lot of strain on myself to appease others. I know that moving doesn’t solve all your problems, but being far enough away where I couldn’t volunteer to be the fixer did. What I didn’t know is that I would be moving in with family who don’t hug, who don’t really socialize the way I am used to, and to be frank have a drinking problem. Alcohol has never really been my scene. I have always been aware enough of my own issues to know that alcohol will only worsen them. Being around it is depressing and lonely. On one side, I have a dad who indulges often and I now know why the phrase “functional alcoholic” is a very real thing. He holds a job and he isn’t angry or anything, but it sure pisses off his wife and that negativity is stifling.

I haven’t been hugged or had human contact aside from a handshake it 93 days. NINETY THREE DAYS. You don’t realize the impact such a small gesture makes until you don’t have it. I only hear I love you occasionally (aside from when I call my mom). I don’t see anyone except on the weekends even though I live with them because our hours are so different.

All of this has just piled up and then I stopped taking my medicine. Most of us have been there and thought we were okay, but we probably also had people who said “hey, you aren’t yourself” or asked if we were still taking care of ourself. That doesn’t happen here and my self care abandonment has gone unmentioned if it was noticed.

12 days until I move. I am packing up my stuff and my cat and headed to the land of love.

Take care of yourself wherever you are. Take your medicine. Go to your doctor. Hug someone you haven’t in awhile. Ask someone how they are doing. It sounds so cliche and I really just want to punch people in the stomach when I see their half hearted post about being there for anyone who needs it on facebook. I get it though. I understand the sentiment. I just hope that we can all think of how we feel and how we hide it.