Times have changed, but has Henry County?

I love living in Toledo, Ohio. It’s very different from where I grew up even though my childhood home is only about forty-five minutes away in Henry County. 

I grew up in the country. My family wasn’t very religious but still, indoctrination was all around me. There were things that happened when I was little that was seemingly innocent at the time that I now see as very wrong as an adult.

For example, like every good country kid, I was in 4-H. We would have a camp every June and I remember praying before every meal at camp. We would sing our prayers and to this very day, those little songs pop into my head. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think 4-H is actually a Christian organization. I think I was around nine or ten years old and I didn’t question it. My family didn’t pray before meals but it still didn’t seem out of the ordinary. 

But it gets worse. I went to public school and I remember teachers discussing god and Jesus. My kindergarten teacher sat us all down on the rug and told us the “true meaning of Christmas”. Unlike the songs at 4-H camp, that felt awkward to me, but not enough for me to bring it up at home. 

In high school, prayer was everywhere – at many events and games. I was in the marching band and we had a chaplain. He would lead prayers at our banquets. 

My math teacher has religious posters on the walls of his classroom. I failed Algebra 2 so I was in that classroom twice. 

My proudest moment in high school is when my best friend and I walked out during the last prayer at a Friday night football game. We were in the marching band together. We got a detention for it the following week.

Times have changed, but has Henry County?

I can’t help but wonder if things are different now back home. All of these things that I’m describing happened twenty or thirty years ago. 

When I was in high school, many of us had internet service at home for the first time. It made that crazy dial-up sound and was slow and unreliable, but would it become a game changer?

I’ve heard the internet service still isn’t the greatest out there, but I’m sure it’s better than what we had in the 90s. 

What happens when you open up Henry County to the world? Does anything change? With Covid, we now can work and go to school from anywhere so hopefully, that gave a lot of people back home more opportunities. 

What does this do to the conservative religious views that so many people back home shared? Are they still cramming religion down kids’ throats? 

I’m curious but I don’t have the answers to these questions. I have a bad feeling though.

Country Girl, Atheist Woman

How did I escape my country home? I got in my car and I left. Higher education was calling. I left after high school and I’ve only been back a handful of times. When I got to college my friends called me “fresh off the farm” because sometimes I have a tiny twang.

I left country life and religion far behind me. I decided several years back that I will only live places within twenty minutes of a Target store.


Any other country kids out there? How has it changed over the years? Or has it?

Finding Motivation and Healing in This Mental Mess

It’s no secret – treatment tore me up and I’m pretty fragile. My mental mess has spilled out into every aspect of my life. Right now I’m just trying to hang on. It’s been one wild ride.

I have a good life but uncovering the root causes of my eating disorder revealed that it’s not as good as it seems. Now that I really see that, I know I have a lot of work to do.

I spend a lot of time alone during the day which unfortunately gives me ample opportunity to ruminate on hard feelings. Sometimes all I can do is write about it.

I cry every day and many nights I don’t want to go to bed because I don’t want a new day to begin. I’m holding on by a thin, frayed thread. 

But then I get some sleep – my body and brain get some much-needed rest and I find a tiny bit of optimism in the morning.

Every day I walk around feeling like I’m going to fall apart but for some reason, I still get up in the morning and do shit. Even after everything that’s happened – the trauma, the treatment, and the exhausting range of emotions – I still think better things are yet to come. Obviously, I can’t see the future, but I think my situation will improve.

I’m not blowing sunshine up anyone’s ass. This is truly how I feel and how I’m making it through the day.

Feelings are temporary.
Feelings are temporary.
Feelings are temporary.

I don’t need god. I know how to ask for help and I have the strength to heal myself.

I just have to hang on. 


What motivates you? How do you find hope when everything’s gone to shit?

How do you feel about aging?

I will be turning forty later this year, and while I don’t think that’s old, I am definitely noticing signs of aging.

I’m already shrinking. I’m under 5’ now. I didn’t know that that can start in your thirties. I was really shocked and blown away when they measured me at the treatment center. My grandma who lived into her 90s was tiny and frail. It’s hard to imagine that might be my future. 

I can see signs of aging when I look in the mirror which is more upsetting than shrinking. My face is dull, dry, and not as firm as it once was. In the last few weeks, I’ve developed rosacea on my cheeks. There are dark circles and creases around my eyes. I’m spending money on skincare products I didn’t even know existed.

Despite noticeably aging, I actually feel pretty good. Since getting treatment for my eating disorder I have more energy. The only physical complaint I have is that I don’t like it when my daughter wants me to sit on the floor with her. Sometimes it’s hard getting back up.

Looking at my face can be a bit troubling, but I’m not as upset about aging as people might think. I think I’ve done a lot for someone my age, and except for a couple of morbid blog posts, thoughts of my own mortality don’t really come up that often. 

We get this one life. That’s it. Since I don’t believe in an afterlife, should aging scare me more? Is it harder to accept aging when you’re an atheist? 

I’d love to hear your thoughts. How do you feel about aging? Does being an atheist affect that at all?

Eating Disorder Recovery — A Little More from My First Journal

I want to share a little more of my first journal. This entry was written two days after I found out I was going to a treatment center in Chicago and four days prior to my admission. I was starting to prepare to leave. It was incredibly difficult dealing with insurance and admissions but now it was becoming real.


A couple of days ago, my husband said he doesn’t know anyone who obsesses about food like I do.

He’s right. It’s an obsession, addiction.


3:30pm — Ordered Tropical Smoothie Cafe (again). Got the same wrap and smoothie. 

Couldn’t finish it even though it was the first time I’ve eaten today.

We order from Door Dash almost every night – mostly because of me. I don’t want to cook and fast food is gross. It gives you a lot of selection and variety but I tend to order the same things over and over.

But it’s very expensive. My husband said they’ll save money when I’m in treatment and not ordering Door Dash.


My Amazon packages came – new jeans, long shirts to cover my butt when I wear leggings, and extra toiletries. I still need to do some shopping locally before I go.


I’m still waiting for something to blow up – something has to go wrong. Finding treatment has been an absolute rollercoaster and I don’t think the ride has come to a complete stop yet.

I’m getting ready to go but I’m cautious.

I’m so nervous about having to eat food I don’t like.

My daughter is starting to get upset. She knows I’m leaving. She mentioned it a couple of times today. She cried a little this afternoon and tonight she said she wants to go with me.

Deep down I was thinking she’s closer to my husband so it won’t be as big of a deal if I leave.

This might be harder than I thought.


My eating disorder is so ingrained in my life and it has been for years. I don’t know how I’m ever going to overcome it. It’s every day – every meal.

I feel I will be focusing on minimizing symptoms rather than doing away with them.


I keep thinking about how I’ll introduce myself once I get there. Of course I will tell them about my family. Do I tell them my age? Do I tell them I’ve been through this before? Do I tell them I have schizoaffective disorder? I mean, they’ll see the muscle tremors from the lithium. I definitely want to tell them I’m a writer.


7:30pm — Got to get high now! I won’t be able to do this in treatment.


9pm — Ordered Pizza Hut. Had four slices and two breadsticks. I still want more.


Leah left a voicemail – possibly Thursday at 9am?

Will it be worth it? I’m going to be putting my whole family under a lot of stress in order to get treatment. It better pay off.

At the time I wrote this I was at a point where I knew I was really sick and I also knew if I ate I would feel better but my hunger and satiety cues were completely gone. Most days I felt nauseous. In addition to recreational use, I would often use weed to have an appetite. I would get high, eat, and for a couple hours, I would feel normal.

I had no idea what was in store for me at treatment…or that it would change everything.

Are meditation and prayer the same?

I have come to rely on meditation. When my anxiety feels out of control it is one surefire way to calm myself down. I am on several psych meds but sometimes it’s important to find other ways to help yourself — especially in a moment of distress. However, meditation has become a daily practice for me.

Busy day? Meditate.

Distracted mind? Meditate.

Big event coming up? Meditate.

Can’t sleep? Meditate.

You get the picture.

I have quite a collection of mala beads and I like to use them for chanting and breathing exercises. 

I often wear mala beads around my wrist and one day a relative said it looked like I’m carrying around a rosary. For something that’s so meaningful to me, I couldn’t help but be a little offended.

I’ve heard people compare meditation to prayer. Do you think they are the same?

Maybe they have the same effect but I can tell you my intent is different.

When I meditate, I’m not expecting some genie in the sky to grant me wishes. Nope. It’s all on me. It’s work that I do. It’s an exercise. It’s a way to keep me mentally resilient. It’s a part of staying well.

But do people feel the same way about prayer?

The one major parallel I can draw is that meditation and prayer are both for yourself. You may think your prayer is helping someone else but it’s really just a way to make yourself feel better. Meditation is something I do for myself. I never expect it to affect others except for maybe I’m more pleasant to be around (or at least more tolerable). 

I know there have been studies done on the effects of prayer and meditation but I’m really curious to get your opinion – do you think they’re the same?