Would I be happier if I were a Christian?

Let’s pretend for a minute that I wasn’t a skeptical person – that I didn’t ask a million questions. Maybe I was lacking common sense and needed a far-fetched explanation to squash my fear of the unknown. Maybe I was raised in a church and didn’t know any different.

I am constantly bombarded with Christianity and sometimes it wears me down. What if I just gave in? If you can’t beat them, join them, right?

As much as I’m cringing writing this, you have to admit, there are a few positive aspects to Christianity. First, many Christians feel at home at their church. That’s a sense of community I don’t have. Religion provides rules and a certain plan for life so many Christians feel they have a purpose. Not to mention, the thought of going to heaven when you die is probably pretty comforting. Maybe not having to think for yourself is a relief to some. If you didn’t know any different, wouldn’t Christianity feel safe? Also, Christians are the majority here where as an atheist I often feel ostracized and judged — silenced even.

What if I had these things? If I was a Christian with blind faith, would I be happier? Would my life be simpler? 

I imagine bonding with my coworkers, having a sense of community I’ve longed for, and maybe getting a little more sleep — after all, I’m going to heaven when I die. I imagine feeling safer and more confident.

What I am describing would require blind faith, and it’s in my nature to question. To be honest, I find it hard to believe that there are people who don’t question anything. I think everyone questions but few are willing to admit it. Personally, I couldn’t call myself a Christian and live with those doubts.

So would I be happier? We all know the horror stories that accompany Christianity and certain churches, but if you just consider the aspects I listed above, I think I actually would be happier. Comfort, safety, purpose – I mean, who wouldn’t want those things? 

But it’s just not me. I was even skeptical as a child and I don’t like being lied to. I will live a more difficult life if it means evidence and common sense are valued. That’s what’s important to me. I feel strong and grounded as an atheist which has positively impacted my recovery – that’s also very important to me.

What do you guys think? Would you be happier if you were a Christian with blind faith? What would that look like in your life? I live in a red state in the Midwest so that definitely affects how I look at religion. What would these aspects look like where you live? I’m sure there have been many studies done on religion and happiness, but I think it’s really interesting to consider scenarios on a very personal level.

Competition is fierce — Is it more important to be different than good?

Creative types, have you ever heard this before? “It’s more important to be different than good.” I first heard this quote when I was doing a lot of art shows in my twenties. I’ve actually been told this a couple of times and someone once explained it as millions of people are good at any one thing, so it is crucial that you stand out. 

At first, I would think this would work in my favor because I’m pretty damn weird. Maybe if I’m weird enough people will look past the fact that I’m not well-educated. 

I’ve been given a lot of opportunities as an artist and writer despite my lack of education, but of course, I’ve heard “no” way more than “yes” which is always discouraging. In those moments I always wonder if people with a degree have a leg up on me. 

What’s really interesting is when I was younger, other artists said I should consider myself an outsider artist because I was mentally ill and untrained. Some even suggested that I never seek any kind of training so I could always remain an outsider.

However, I went against their advice and took some classes and I am so glad I did. To my surprise, the training did not push me to conform in any way; they just gave me more tools to use in expressing myself and creating art. At times I complained in my drawing class – maybe I was a little frustrated or bored – but my instructor told me you have to learn the rules before you can break them. That seemed like much better advice than telling someone not to get any training.

This could apply to so many different fields and interests. So what do you think – educated/skilled vs. different/standing out? Is one more important than another? Of course, it would be best to have both, but if you had to pick one, what do you feel is more helpful? 

Psychosis, Religion, and Lingering Fear

Tomorrow afternoon I have a meeting at one of the oldest structures in the city which happens to be known as one of the most haunted locations in the state. In its current form, the structure is an arts center infamous for the many spirits that supposedly roam its halls. I am going there tomorrow because the arts program I work for is considering renting space there.

I’ve been to this building several times and each time I get a little nervous and hope I don’t experience anything strange – even though I’m an atheist who doesn’t believe in ghosts.

I’m returning to a question I’ve asked before: if you’re afraid of something you don’t believe in, does that mean you actually believe in it?

I don’t believe in spirits or people rising from the dead, but I still get a little scared.

I definitely have my reasons. As someone who struggles with schizoaffective disorder, many of my psychotic symptoms have been related to the paranormal. Antipsychotic medication changed my whole world and that’s actually when I decided to become an atheist. All of these unexplained things that were happening were suddenly explained when the medication worked. 

Even the revelations I experienced from taking medication don’t stop me from getting a little worked up about anything paranormal. Logically I know it isn’t real, but the fear is still there.

Can this question relate to anyone raised in religion?

I just wanted to ask this question again because I was curious if anyone could relate – perhaps a lingering fear from a religious history. For example, were you ever told you were going to hell, and even though you’re no longer a believer, you still get nervous that something bad might happen to you? Like an irrational fear you can’t shake? 

When you became a nonbeliever, were there any rules/sins you were still scared of? When you broke a rule or sinned and nothing happened, was it empowering?

The Evidence 

I bring up the paranormal thing a lot. I’m absolutely fascinated with it even though I’m a little scared. I don’t believe in ghosts or spirits but I do think there’s something to people’s experiences – we just don’t have a clear explanation yet.

As I mentioned above, I’ve already been to this building several times, and even though I get nervous, I have never once experienced anything weird there. That should be evidence enough to keep me calm. I know I’ll be anxious, but I also know that most likely nothing is going to happen.

Whether it’s mental illness, religion, or something else, I’m sure lingering fear can be trauma-related.

So what do you think? If you’re afraid of something you don’t believe in, does that mean you actually believe in it?

To Everyone in Recovery

In my hour of desperation, all I can do is write, but I’m keeping this short and sweet.

It’s been a rough day.

My eating disorder is an everyday battle. It’s so hard to keep fighting, but I don’t have a choice. There are tools I can use, but I’m exhausted. I need to use my last little spark to push forward. 

Society’s judgments and my unsupportive family weigh me down but I’m realizing my strength and learning I have a voice. I’m not looking for a normal life; I just want to be healthy and functional. You haven’t walked in my shoes – nor I in yours – but I don’t need your understanding; I need your kindness and grace.

To everyone in recovery – no matter what from – I see you and tomorrow is a new day. Let’s keep going. 

For better or for worse: How much are your kids like you?

This weekend we went to an all-in-one play center – roller skating, laser tag, gigantic jungle gym, escape rooms, etc. It was our first time going there and it was pretty impressive, but our first hour proved to be a little tense.

We started at the roller skating rink and my daughter was really nervous. She did NOT want to skate. I sat at a table with her and colored. I didn’t want to skate either. My sister-in-law and her four kids were all skating; even my out-of-shape, forty-five-year-old husband put on skates. I was certain he was going to break his leg but he didn’t even fall once. 

While my daughter and I sat and colored my family constantly pushed her to put on skates. They were relentless. My daughter eventually crawled under the table and I told them to leave her alone. 

She never did skate. We moved on to other parts of the center and she happily played with her cousins. The rest of the day she was fine.

Every time I see my daughter get nervous it hurts because I know what that feels like. I was a nervous kid who turned into a very nervous adult. This is one trait of mine I was hoping my daughter wouldn’t get. I want my daughter to try new things and meet new people enthusiastically. I don’t want there to be any missed opportunities for her.

Perhaps if I had put on skates, my daughter would’ve, too. Unfortunately, I’m dealing with my own anxiety and it is so hard to model some sort of confident behavior for her. It’s easy for her to sit and color with me because I always sit and color. 

Of course, my daughter has many more of my traits – we’re both very short and our eyes turn to little crescents when we smile. We’re both impatient and love cats. It’s fun and a little weird when you see how much your kid is like you, but I really wish my daughter didn’t have my anxiety.

So how much are your kids like you? Is it good or bad? What do you do when your kids inherit your shortcomings? 

An Atheist in a Red State: How do I make it better?

“How do I make it better?” is a huge question that probably has a complicated answer. But really, how do I improve the lives of atheists where I live?

I don’t feel threatened physically where I live, but I think being more open as an atheist would affect my job and relationships. My husband and I live paycheck to paycheck so I’m in no position to jeopardize my job.

I have schizoaffective disorder and I’ve dealt with my fair share of stigma surrounding mental illness. When it comes to mental health, the best I can do is tell my story, but it makes me vulnerable and I’m usually crushed when it doesn’t help. But most of the time, it actually does help. Either way, at least I gave it a shot. Nothing will change if no one speaks up.

With that in mind, I feel if I open up to the people around me that eventually, it will make things easier for other atheists. That’s how I feel at the moment. Do you think that helps? But I’m talking a big game here – at the moment I don’t have the guts to open up.

Will it get better with time? I’m assuming being an atheist in Ohio in the 1950s was very different from what I experience now. Isn’t it? Will we feel safer in the future?

I often ask myself, “Is it the organization I work for? Is it the field I work in?” I’m not sure but I doubt it. 

I’m way more open about my mental illness than I am about being an atheist. You might assume it would be the other way around. I’m willing to tell someone what psychosis feels like but I can’t even tell someone I don’t believe in god.

What do you think? Do you have any practical tips for right now? What about the bigger picture? Do you have dreams for the future? This is a short post but I’m really curious to read your ideas.

One Grateful Atheist

I was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder in my early twenties and my main focus at the time was recovery. After a few years, my symptoms were managed and I decided I wanted to help others, so I got a part-time job at a group home. I have now been working in the mental health field for sixteen years. I have had jobs at three different organizations and I’m passionate about my work.

I am a certified peer supporter and last year I also became certified in trauma support. The training in trauma support was intense and took several months. There were many hours of training videos and sixteen weeks of trainings via Zoom.

To my surprise, becoming certified in trauma support was less about taking care of others and more about taking care of myself. The main takeaway was that you can’t care for others if you are not well.

During my training, I learned about meditation, relaxation, grounding, and gratitude. Sometimes we started our Zoom meetings by writing down five to ten things we’re grateful for. We were told that happier people tend to show more gratitude. At first, it was difficult to come up with that many things. I would write down my family and job but it was hard to think of more. As time went on, it got a little easier.

I recently was feeling down and I remembered our exercises in gratitude. Does it truly make you happier? So two weeks ago I started a gratitude journal and I’ve been writing down at least ten things every day. I include the big things like my family, my job, art, and writing but also little things like good-smelling hair products, peacock blue paint, and my house plants. Those last few things may seem insignificant, but they really do bring me joy. 

I have to admit, it has boosted my mood. The last two weeks have given me a more positive outlook. I think I’m going to keep going with the journal and see if I notice anything else.

One thing I didn’t expect is that in a way my journal helps me celebrate my atheism. Every time I make a list of things I’m grateful for I realize I can truly appreciate my life and the world around me without having to credit a deity, and it feels amazing. 

My gratitude journal is really cute. It’s fuzzy and has a panda on it. I bought it at the book fair at my daughter’s school. Can I be grateful for my gratitude journal?

Gratitude exercises may seem a little cheesy, but I think it actually helps. I just wanted to share in case anyone needs a little boost and wants to give it a shot.


I would love to read what you guys are grateful for.

Last year I was at a treatment center for eating disorders. Here’s where I’m at today.

Last year I spent two months at a treatment center for eating disorders, and after I was discharged, I spent a lot of time writing about it. I even shared some of my heavy journal entries with you. It’s been over a year and things have settled down. I want to update you and show you where I’m at.

I see a therapist every week. That hasn’t changed except for a break for a few weeks – my therapist is on maternity leave. At every appointment, my therapist does blind weights and my weight has been stable for the entire time I’ve been home. My therapist says that’s proof that I’m doing something right.

Accepting my body exactly as it is has been the most challenging part. My therapist says I need radical acceptance – it is what it is. For once in my life, I don’t feel guilty for the way my body looks. Judged? Yes. But guilty? No. Unfortunately, this breakthrough didn’t come until I got away from some judgemental people in my life. 

I’ve struggled with eating disorders for nearly thirty years, but on top of that, I have schizoaffective disorder and my medications have caused significant weight gain. I almost doubled in size. I find body shaming very hurtful because you never know what a person has going on. It’s not always food that makes you fat and sometimes there’s nothing you can do about it. It’s incredible how narrow-minded people are when it comes to how a body should look. I know because I was once one of them. Bottom line – everyone’s different and you should mind your own business. If you can’t be supportive you shouldn’t open your mouth.

I’ve been feeling really good physically. I eat when I’m hungry and stop when I’m full but I still have trouble trying new foods. Something really simple that made me feel good about myself was just having clothes that fit really well. I’m not going to lie – I spend a lot of time in leggings and hoodies – but I’m trying to branch out a little bit. I bought this cute jean jacket that feels like it was made for my body. I want to wear it every day. This may be TMI – I recently bought a couple of really nice bras that fit well. Do you know how hard it is to find a bra that fits well? It changed my life! I feel good in my clothes and it boosts my confidence. 

I’ve spent so much time looking to the future – when I lose weight, I’ll look better. When I get this or that done, I’ll look better. But you know what? I look cute just as I am right now. No need to wait for the future; I’m going to enjoy the moment now.

My recovery journey has been long, gut-wrenching, heart-breaking, and life-changing. It can be really painful but I still feel I need to share my story with you. I find purpose in wanting to help others as much as I help myself. I want to stay honest and authentic to show you the real picture of an eating disorder and I really do hope it can promote some understanding.

It’s been a rough year and I want to thank you for your support.

How do you feel about body acceptance? What has your journey been like?