How do you respond to “I’ll pray for you”?

I’ve never been shy about sharing my struggles with mental illness. Good, bad, and ugly — I put it out there through artwork, speeches, and writing. I would occasionally get an “I’ll pray for you” to which I say “thanks” and walk away. It’s annoying but that’s probably the safest response considering where I live.

Don’t even get me started on “thoughts and prayers”. That’s a bunch of bullshit. Every time I see a column of “thoughts and prayers” comments on Facebook I cringe. Then I go back to see if there is actually any way to help the situation — not by prayer but by action. 

Praying is a way to pretend to care but actually do nothing. Prayer doesn’t help anyone; it only makes the person praying feel better about themself — like they’re being so caring they might score a point with god bringing them one step closer to heaven. Wow. Putting it like that explains just how selfish praying is. The person praying helps themself while others continue to suffer.

When I was growing up I remember all of the prayers at school functions and I was always infuriated about it. (I went to a public school BTW.) So maybe I already had a chip on my shoulder about this topic.

How do you respond when someone says they’ll pray for you or offer you thoughts and prayers?

A Painful Lesson When You Have a Mental Illness

I’ve been feeling really well and my medications are working. I’m on a good streak right now symptom-wise, but still, on this beautiful summer day, I came home early from work and puked (unintentionally). It’s been a stressful week and apparently, I had met my physical limit. My husband was in a car accident two days ago, and while he’s okay, there’s still a lot we have to take care of. On top of the accident, we had some unexpected expenses this week causing financial stress. As soon as I puked I felt better, but that doesn’t erase everything hanging over my head right now.

I have painfully learned that medications don’t make life easier; they are there to improve your functioning. Hopefully, with better functioning, you can face stressful situations from a more stable place, but medications will not protect you from the unexpected ups and downs of life.

Sometimes it’s hard to see the line between mental illness and the normal human experience, but today it was quite clear. When my head ends up over the toilet it’s time to take a step back and breathe.

Even though medications aren’t going to make my life easier right now, they are still working and I am grateful for that. Symptoms are often caused by stress so if I wasn’t taking my medication, it could be so much worse. This is that place of stability I was talking about.

It’s a common problem among people in recovery — identifying what’s situational and what’s symptomatic. I don’t have a good answer for that, but chances are you will experience both.

I know in my case, taking my medications without fail will give me a better shot at overcoming whatever life throws at me. It’s just I realize that life won’t ever stop throwing things at me. It’s not just me. It’s everyone.

Have you ever tried to force yourself to believe?

This might sound a bit silly, but when I was younger I thought there was something wrong with me because I couldn’t believe in god. It was almost like I was left out. What’s everyone else seeing that I’m not?

I went to church with friends on a pretty regular basis as a young teen. I thought if I went to church enough, I would understand what everyone else cared so much about. 

I just couldn’t force it though. After months, the things that went on at church seemed just as ridiculous as the first time I went. 

I think this just proves that no one is born religious. My parents skipped out on the indoctrination part when I was little, so I remained a skeptical blank slate.

Has anyone else tried to force themselves to believe?

Is is okay to let your kids swear?

A couple of days ago my daughter was working on an art project when she dropped a plate full of sand and glitter onto our rug. She froze for a minute and then looked at me and let out the most adorable and innocent “fuck”. My husband tries so hard not to react when she blurts out a swear word, but I can’t help but laugh. How could I ever be mad about the mess she made after that?

I honestly don’t intervene when my daughter swears. I know she gets it from me. I just think in the grand scheme of things it’s really not a big deal.

My dad really doesn’t like it. I laugh and he tells me it won’t be funny when she gets in trouble at school.

Do kids still get in trouble for swearing at school? I mean, maybe if it was every other word. But for an occasional exclamation? Schools around here do active shooter drills on a regular basis so I would think they would have bigger fish to fry.

I always assumed that keeping your language clean was a WASP thing. Is it different in other areas?

How do you feel? Is it a big deal if your kid swears?

The Current State of the US

It’s hard to describe my feelings about the current state of the US.

Anger at the dangerous, incompetent asshole in the White House.
Confused as to how he even made it to that position.
Disbelief that my fellow Americans actually voted for him.
Disappointment in the lawmakers who sit idle and do nothing.
Pride in the many people who are now standing up for what’s right — including right here in Toledo.
Regret that I haven’t joined them at a protest.
Shocked by the injustice.

I wish I could say, “I can’t believe it”, but unfortunately I can.

With all of these emotions, I feel the very least I can do is share information from a fellow blogger at Freethought Blogs, Pervert Justice. Please check out and follow their blog. They have personal stories of what’s really going on in Portland. It’s so important that these stories from the protest are distributed to a large audience so that people know the truth.

I truly believe anger can fuel progress and I know the people speaking out are going to make a difference.

6 Lessons Learned from a Secular Recovery

In my early twenties, I sought help for an eating disorder. I spent five weeks at a treatment center where I went through a refeeding process and can to terms with my illness. Later I was also diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder. I still take medication to lessen my mood and psychotic symptoms, but it’s actually been a long time since I’ve had any symptoms. 

Today, after years of recovery, I have a very nice life. I’ve been working in the mental health field since 2006 and I tend to be a cheerleader for those in recovery. If I can do it, they sure as hell can.

One thing I don’t get to talk about very often is how being an atheist has been beneficial to my recovery. I run into a lot of vocal religious people in this field and I’d really like the chance to share my story.

So I’m writing a book! Here’s a little taste.


6 Lessons Learned from a Secular Recovery

  1. Mental illnesses are medical disorders that require medical treatment. Taking my medication is a very simple thing I can do to give myself a better life. 
  2. Give yourself credit. God didn’t do it — you did. While you’re at it, give your doctor, science, and your support team credit, too. There’s so much that goes into each individual recovery and god has absolutely nothing to do with it.
  3. Humans are strong and resilient. I don’t find strength in god, I find it in myself. I’m independent, capable, and responsible for my actions. When it comes to recovery you can praise god or curse the devil, but it doesn’t really matter. Ultimately we have to rely on ourselves.
  4. A belief in a higher power is not necessary for recovery (even though many say it is). I’m doing really well despite (or maybe because of) the absence of spirituality.
  5. There is no guilt, shame, or punishment in having a mental illness. Recognize the illness for what it is — a medical disorder. Receiving a diagnosis is absolutely no fault of your own. I am responsible for my wellness — not my illness.
  6. Be open to change. In recovery, we explore, evolve, and find what makes us happy.


Before coming to Freethought Blogs, I was writing for a popular mental health site, There were strict rules there and I wasn’t able to share my story as an atheist in recovery. I’m so glad I’m now at a place where I can open up about my recovery and not leave any of the important parts out.

How important is it for your partner to have the same political/ religious/ social views as you?

I dated so many different men — I mean, from all walks of life — when I was younger, so it’s pretty amazing that I ended up marrying someone who is so incredibly similar to me. 

My husband and I are from the same area, from German-American families, secular, and fiercely progressive and passionate when it comes to politics and social issues. We’re both pretty short — I’m 5’0” and he’s 5’5”. We’re both overweight and love road trips. We the exception of a few of our different hobbies and interests, we typically do everything together.

There’s only one thing I can think of that we truly disagree on, and that’s gun control. My husband thinks assault rifles should be banned in the US, but I think gun laws should be even stricter. My husband owns a gun but it’s at his cousin’s house because I won’t let him keep it at ours. 

How common is it to find someone so similar to yourself? Does it even matter? 

How close do your views align with your partner’s? How do you make it work if you’re different?

Are there some issues that are deal-breakers? I’ve dated men from a few different religions, and depending on how devout they were, that always seemed to be a deal-breaker for me. I just couldn’t look beyond that.

I’ve noticed that a few people that comment on my blog have partners of a different faith. How do you make it work?

New Projects!

As I was finishing up the final manuscript for my poetry book, I started two more books. I am feeling ambitious and very excited about writing so I decided to dig right in.

I’m taking a little break from poetry.

The first book is about secular parenting and it is a collection of letters I am writing to my daughter. The letters are for my daughter to read when she is a little older and I’ve already addressed a number of different topics. They are lessons I want my daughter to learn from her childhood without god.

The second is a book about being an atheist and recovering from a mental illness. I have schizoaffective disorder and I’m a certified peer supporter. I’ve given a lot of presentations about my story but I’ve never been given the chance to tell how being an atheist has been a very important part of my recovery.

I am happy to be moving on to new projects and I hope I can keep my momentum going.

Conservative Christian Roommates

I don’t know why, but today I was thinking about some roommates my husband and I had early in our marriage. Spoiler alert: It didn’t work out well.

I really don’t know why my husband and I thought this was a good idea, but several years ago we rented a house with another married couple. My husband and the other man were coworkers. They were only in their early twenties — about ten years younger than us.

All of us were hurting financially and living in the suburbs. The plan was to rent a house in Toledo where the cost of living was considerably lower and split all the bills. The idea looked good on paper.

Problems started not long after moving in together. Besides being arrogant Christians, they were disgusting. I can handle a cluttered house, but they were leaving trash and dirty dishes everywhere. What was even more disturbing was their poor personal hygiene. I wasn’t expecting any of that.

Back to the Christian part. They were that kind of people that talk about the “sanctity of marriage” and how it’s a holy institution. They weren’t shy in sharing that they were virgins when they got married.

My husband and I lived together before getting married in Las Vegas. We’re not Christian (obviously) and our marriage was just a fun celebration of our love. It is a great memory that we share, but it wasn’t a necessity for our relationship.

Our roommates were just so staunch and arrogant in their beliefs that we were surprised to find out that they got married so that they could get more financial aid money. They were both in college at the time. They had planned a big wedding but got married at the courthouse just in time to be considered independent students on their FAFSA for the school year.

What happened to that holy institution and getting married in your family’s church? Apparently that all goes down the drain when you wave money in front of them. This wouldn’t have bothered me if they hadn’t spent so much time talking about how special and holy marriage is.

The arrogance and hypocrisy were relentless. There were lots of comments made that bothered us, but the marriage thing was definitely the most annoying.

Kinda weird — when they prayed before meals it really bothered me. They spoke so highly and were so proud of their beliefs, but when they prayed before meals, they held hands and quickly and quietly recited a short prayer in a monotone voice. I honestly couldn’t make out everything they were saying, but it seemed like the same thing every time. It was obviously just a meaningless routine for them. I guess I was expecting more from them since their Christian beliefs were so important to them.

Needless to say, they moved out and we all moved on. I learned later that they got a divorce soon after. No surprise there.

I sometimes think about them and wonder what they’re doing now. Are they different? They’ve been through a lot and they were so young back then. I’m just curious if their beliefs have changed.

Have you ever met people that are so ridiculous that you can’t believe it’s real? That’s how I felt.

I still wish them well. I remember what I was like in my early twenties and I wouldn’t have wanted to live with me. Chances are they’ve grown up.