Making Progress on My Mental Illness Book

Sorry, I haven’t posted for a while. 

For the past few months, I have been writing a book about my experience as an atheist with a mental illness. I’ve had a lot of ideas for the past few weeks as well as a lot of drive, so I just went for it — even though it meant neglecting my blog for a couple of weeks. I’ve been writing my butt off and I’m happy to say I’ve made a lot of progress, but I’ve also learned a lot about writing, myself, and recovery. I always think of myself learning from projects at work or school, but gaining knowledge and experience from writing this book, a project of my own doing,  has given me a sense of independence, and it’s empowering.

In the book, I write a lot about my eating disorder which has painful and at times confusing — like I just can’t put my thoughts and emotions into words. I gave a few pages to my husband to read hoping he could shine a light on the places where I was having difficulty, however, he thought it was really good, and to my surprise, those few pages gave him some much-needed insight. He didn’t realize the depths of my eating disorder at its current state. I’m not doing anything dangerous, but I have a lot of weird habits that range from annoying to dysfunctional. He said he’d be more gentle when reacting to my behaviors toward eating.

Then there’s writing about my schizoaffective disorder — which I’ve done so many times before. There have been points where I felt like I was just spewing out information, but now I working on telling a story — creating visuals and making it interesting. I try to give as many details as possible — especially when discussing psychosis — in hopes of showing the true nature of mental illness and recovery.

This book has been revealing — even to myself as the author. It’s really making me examine where I stand in my recovery. I didn’t plan this project too far in advance, but it really feels like it’s something I need to do right now, not just for writing, but also for my life — how am I doing and where am I going? This has been a very rewarding project and I can’t wait to see what the end product will look like.

I will keep you updated and post again soon. I hope you are all doing well!

Fun Sexy Thoughts

Hi guys! So sorry for the gap in posts. I’ve been focusing a lot on my other writing projects, and I’m really having a great time working on them.

I am sharing a poem from my erotic poetry book that I’m currently working on. Let’s think fun sexy thoughts instead of last night’s debate.

Peace

White knuckles
grasp the window sill above our bed.
Let the neighbors see
the love that we share.

The cool air caresses our naked bodies
individual but connected.
My knees hug your sides
as we rise and fall together.

My fingernails graze
your back and shoulders
as your powerful release
melts inside me.

Stardust in your eyes
and radiating from the sheets.
A release of frustrations
replaced by this satisfying moment.

World peace is impossible
but in our universe
of endless demands,
this is pretty damn close.

 

Initial Attraction – Person vs. Gender

I am having trouble putting my thoughts into words with the question I have.

When you are first attracted or become romantically interested in someone, which is more important — something that makes them interesting as an individual or their gender?

I consider myself mostly straight and I am married to a man. I fantasize about men a lot, but I fantasize about women a fair amount as well. Unfortunately, I do not have enough experience with other genders.

I guess I sort of have a type — I like men that are nerdy, smart, and older than me, but really I have been attracted to all sorts of people. I feel a unique feature or interesting personality pulls me in more than anything else.

I’ve just always felt that when you fall in love with someone that it’s with the person and maybe at that point, their gender doesn’t matter as much.

But what about when you first meet someone? What matters the most? For me, if it was person vs gender, I think person would win every time. 

Am I making any sense? Does anyone else feel this way?

Day Drinking and Writing – Erotic Poetry

With Covid-19 and a lack of work, I’ve been spending a lot of time day drinking and writing. I’m not going to lie — it’s kind of nice. However, I’m scared that when this is all said and done, I might be out of a job. The mental health board gives us the grant that funds my job, and I know they’re going to be making cuts. With everything going on, how could they not? My job is running an arts program and we all know the arts go first. I’m worried but trying to focus on the here and now. Right now I can write as much as I want, so I have several projects I’m working on. 

I’ve shared a couple of the projects I’m working on, and I’m making a lot of progress, but I don’t think I’ve told you that I’m writing a chapbook of erotic poetry. It is so much fun. 

I want to share a couple of poems I’m working on. (Don’t worry — nothing too raunchy, and yes, I like bald men.) 

 

Softness and Torture

Smooth head,
strong hard-working hands,
and a shy smile —
I love being naked
and watching him touch me
for the first time.
My body is full-fledged
but I’m a shiny new thing to him.
He teases
examining every inch of me
with his careful touch
from my neck
to my anxious hips.
The world dissolves around me
as my body spreads wide
in the nothingness.
We’re alone in the abyss.
He takes command
of my vulnerable state
as my fingers cling to the sheets —
my only anchor to reality.
My fantasies are outrageous
but the way he makes me smile
is genuine.
This stranger takes me
to another world
and I surrender to the
softness and torture.

 

Woman

I wonder what your blonde curls smell like
when I twirl them between my fingers —
beckoning vines pulling me in with every breath.

I wonder what your crimson pout tastes like
or what I will look like with your lipstick smeared on my face.
Give my sheltered life a little more color.

I wonder what it’s like to touch your powder-soft skin
or to kiss the secrets you hide from the world.
I wonder what it’s like to feel your warmth from the inside out.

I want to satisfy my teasing curiosity —
slowly, with all my senses.
I want to celebrate your curves and make you smile.

My husband doesn’t mind.
He’ll leave us alone
because he wants me to love without restraints.

I want my fantasies to be memories and not “what if’s”. 

Recovery Anniversary — Bulimic But Almost An Atheist

Monday was the 16th anniversary of my admission to an eating disorder clinic. I was only 21 and completely exhausted when admitted. With blood, sweat, and tears (lots of tears), the clinic kick-started my recovery, and after my five-week stay, I emerged as a grounded atheist with newfound curves and the potential for a future.

The clinic functioned on strict rules and schedules. Patients were monitored at all times — even in the bathroom. After a few weeks of healthy meals, my body began to change, but there were even more changes to come.

I met with a psychiatrist at the clinic and was diagnosed with bulimia nervosa. Soon after, psychotic and mood symptoms unrelated to the eating disorder prompted a diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder.

With bulimia, I knew I was sick. I knew the behaviors were harmful and did them anyway. It had been going on for years. But with schizoaffective disorder, I didn’t know what I was experiencing was a mental illness.

I had always questioned the existence of god, but at the same time, I was experiencing auditory and visual hallucinations that I assumed were spiritual in nature. I thought I could communicate with dead people. I was always looking for an explanation and that’s the best I had — the only thing that made any bit of sense to me. I never considered it an illness. In fact, sometimes I considered it a gift. 

I came to the clinic *almost* an atheist — I didn’t believe in god and the hallucinations were the only thing tying me to any sort of spirituality. Enter Risperdal — the first antipsychotic I was ever prescribed. It kicked in after a few days and everything became quiet and still. It felt unreal, but to my amazement, it really was real.

That was the final nail in the coffin to any spirituality I had and I declared myself an atheist. What a freeing moment.

Today I live a really normal life despite occasionally struggling with my eating disorder and schizoaffective disorder. My symptoms certainly don’t pack the punch they used to, and I can move on pretty quickly after experiencing them. I have lots of help — my family is always around and I have an amazing doctor that I have seen for over a decade.

Every year on September 7th, I find a small way to celebrate my clinic admission day. I’ve come a long way.

 

Road Trip: Field Museum in Chicago

I just wanted to share some cute pictures.

My daughter is really into dinosaurs right now, so we decided to go to the Field Museum in Chicago this past weekend. I was a little nervous to go with the pandemic, but the museum wasn’t crowded at all. They limited ticket sales and it was actually really nice.

I love having a four-year-old. She’s so curious about everything and always asks a million questions. I hope that never fades.

I’m proud of my home and country accent.

I am currently writing a collection of letters to my daughter that I can hopefully put in a book about secular parenting at some point. I want to share a letter I recently wrote. It doesn’t really have anything to do with a secular childhood, but it’s still kind of fun, nonetheless. 

 

Dear daughter,

When I first went to college, I was occasionally called “fresh off the farm” due to my country accent. I was embarrassed. I actually worked pretty hard at trying to sound like I was from the city or suburbs. One word where my accent was particularly noticeable was “again”. I would pronounce it “ah-gee-an”. I didn’t even realize I was putting a whole extra syllable in it until it was pointed out to me. I practiced saying “again” over and over and my accent became less noticeable. I now think it’s pretty sad that I was self-conscious of how I spoke and I regret ever trying to change it.

Meanwhile, I had a professor from Mississippi who had lived here in Ohio for decades and still had a thick Southern accent. He didn’t care. It was a part of him and even kind of charming. I should have followed his example. 

Today, I am proud of where I’m from and I know I can’t help how I speak. Now I consider it an endearing part of who I am — just like my professor from Mississippi. 

I know as a teen and young adult you will probably want to get the hell out of Ohio — I know I did. And that’s okay. You are free to explore and I encourage you to go.

Our ancestors were some of the first settlers to the Great Black Swamp of Northwest Ohio and our family has lived here for generations. This is my home and I hope you feel that way, too — whether you settle down here or not. I hope you will have many good memories to carry with you as you find your place in this world.

Wherever you end up, please always be proud of who you are and where you’re from. You will always be welcome here.

Love,

Mom

 

Who else here has a fun accent? Are you proud of where you’re from?

Destructive Four-Year-Old vs. Sensitive Atheist Mom

I know my daughter is only four, but she seems to be a bit destructive these days. Recently, she cut up two of her toys with scissors — an alien and a dinosaur. I really don’t know why and it was kind of impressive how much damage she could do with a pair of kids safety scissors.

My husband thought nothing of it but I found it disturbing. I’m very sensitive and tend to personify everything. I name my belongings and talk to my plants. I’ve always been like that. I would have never purposely hurt my toys when I was little.

It’s not just cutting up these two toys; my daughter throws things away with no problem. If she makes a drawing or painting she doesn’t like, she throws it away. I still struggle with that, hence the numerous paintings in our garage. 

It seems like I can find a personal connection to or sentimental value in almost anything so I find it shocking when my daughter doesn’t give getting rid of something a second thought.

I know my daughter is only four and this is way more about me than her, but I am really curious if there are any other atheists out there with this kind of sensitivity. Obviously, I know people and things don’t have souls but I still somehow feel connected to things and feel guilty if they’re not respected.

Are there any other super sensitive atheists out there?

Pandemic Projects

Like most people, my job has been greatly affected by Covid-19. Our office closed in mid-March, reopened in mid-June only to close again two weeks ago. I am still getting paid and I do what I can from home. While I love working for a local nonprofit, the disruption in our programming due to the coronavirus has given me a lot of time to write. 

During this time I completed my poetry book and submitted the final manuscript to the publisher back in July.

I have been working on other projects — a series of essays on being on atheist with a mental illness and a collection of letters to my daughter of lessons from a secular childhood. I also started writing a chapbook of erotic poetry. There’s just so much I want to do.

I don’t know if I’ll end up having a job at the end of this pandemic, but I feel I have to live in the moment and take advantage of every free minute I have to write and explore new projects. When will I ever have an opportunity like this again?

The seriousness of the situation is not lost on me. I barely leave the house and when I do I always have a mask on. The thought of possibly losing my job is always in the back of my mind.

But right now I just want to write.

Has anyone else picked up some new projects during the pandemic?

A Progressive Couple with Traditional Roles

My husband and I are very progressive when it comes to political and social issues and we are passionate about the causes we support. I’m proud to say we are founding members of the Toledo Chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America.

However, we have very traditional roles. My husband is the provider. I have a part-time job but I spend most of my time at home with our daughter. It has been this way for about two and a half years now.

We never planned this lifestyle; it was just how the pieces fell, but I like it this way. With my husband bringing home the bacon I have ample time to work on art and writing projects and my husband is very supportive of the things that I do. I’m extremely grateful for that. 

On the flip side, I know this puts me in a bad position because I am completely dependent on my husband. I trust him but if anything were to happen, I’d be fucked.

I also wonder what kind of effect this might have on our daughter. I want her to know that this is my choice and she can choose whatever kind of lifestyle she wants as well. I like my daughter to see the different projects I do and I hope one day she will be proud of my work. I want her to see me doing cool things because she can do cool things, too. 

I know if I wanted to work full time again, my husband would be completely supportive. But right now I’m really happy with how things are. I would never dream in a million years that I would be in this position, but it’s really working out for us.