A lonely world

Whitt, Lee

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A Lonely World "Out of sight, out of mind." That is the saying that rings with a lot of truth to it once you get locked up. When you come to prison you learn, rather quickly, just who it is you can count on to keep in touch from the outside. Whether it is by letter, by visit or even by phone call. A person's true colors eventually show through. lt makes doing time that much more difficult. I'm not saying that the time can't be done, just that it's going to take a little more of what you have inside to do it. There was a time when it was about having the physical toughness to make it. Now, although some physical toughness is still needed, it's all about the strength of your mentality. I've used, and still do, everything that I find interest in to keep me busy so that I won't put too much of a strain on my brain. There are numerous avenues to use that help me to make it through the emotional turmoil that comes from the loneliness that develops as people fade. There are also times when you don't have as much available to you to combat them. Usually it's the season of winter that has that time when you are pushed to your limits. The reason why is because you are stuck indoors with nothing to challenge yourself physically. Winter is a time of boredom when you're in prison. From boredom comes depression. There have been times when there were activities made available to slow the development of depression. They have disappeared as the time has gone on and the administration has tried to find ways to save money. When you have people on the outside to keep in touch with, it eases the misery because it provides you with things to think about other than your surroundings. The connection to the outside becomes an "escape" for you to use. Little by little, though, the outside begins to move on the pace of life that you are no longer a part of. You go from getting a letter every couple of days to one or two every other week. Eventually it becomes one a month, then one a year, to none at all and you're stuck trying to figure out how to fix it. You watch it as it develops, and you make the effort of trying to insure that it doesn't, but it comes to no avail. When it ends, like everything else in life eventually does, you go through phases of anger, shock, blame, fear, despair, disbelief, misery... Each occurring in no particular order, and none of which is good to experience while you're in prison and alone. The "trickle effect," as I have called it, happens to many of us. One minute you're facing it and making it through the day/week, the next your struggling to get through the next minute/hour. You turn in circles, trying to find something to ground you and explain what happened. Nothing comes ano the spinning continues until you crash. How you crash is what will tell of how your time will go. Being surrounded by four walls and locked doors doesn't make finding something to fill the emptiness in you easy. Not only is there an emptiness in your heart, but you also have an emptiness in your mind. Why? Because the pain of the people that disappeared on you caused a reaction or getting rid of anything that might reminedyou of what life was with them in it. The loss causes you to become overly critical of yourself. So much go that you entertain thoughts of suicide. Combating those thoughts is tricky. Some have done so by isolating themselves. The main reason for the isolation is so that no one witnesses what you're going through. Why don't you want anyone to witness it? Because of how you'll be viewed. Many would see it as weakness. The one thing that you don't want to be is viewed as weak. You show weakness and you open yourself up for people to take advantage. Whether it occurs through the process of extortion, forced to join a gang, becoming someone's "punk," etc. If you're weak, you're a victim. The isolation can be good or bad. Experts would say that isolating yourself isn't healthy. Maybe out in the real world. Behind these walls...it can be life-saving. Besides, you don't really want to give up any information about what's going on with your personal life on the outside because then you'll have given ammunition for that person to use against you. There are many who would say that only physical pain hurts. I can attest that those who think that are wrong. The mental pain of becoming non-existent is one of the worst pains that I have ever had to experience and then develop an ability to cope with. You learn pretty fast how to cope in here and the kind of tools to use as coping mechanisms. Of late I have turned to books to aid me. I have surprised many with being an avid reader because they make assumptions based on what they see. It gives credence to the "don't judge a book by it's cover" thing. Not that too many don't pre-judge. I've been guilty of that myself. Part of the reason that people out in the world can't grasp what I am trying to say about dealing with mental pain is because they can seek out the treatment that will help them when they suffer some kind of jolt. In here, you can't seek that kine of help. You can't even develop the kind of bond that one needs in order to be able to properly communicate with another about what you are enduring. One of the causes of that is due to how many of the people in here put on a facade to survive. They become who their stories of life on the street make them. I haven't run across too many who are "real". Many are under the misconception that in order to survive prison you have to become what you really aren't. They think that their survival depends on that. I guess that one could say that prison is about survival. I would like to disagree, but I can't because I have seen how one could argue that, and then I have also seen how one could offer argument about it is about surviving. Another thing that differentiates physical and mental pain is that only one of them really heals. Might leave a scar, but it heals. Nope, I'm not talking about mental pain. Mental pain never heals. It gets treated, but there is no fix. You learn that by looking at how much the "experts" try to push off some kind of medication on you. Just goes to show that no one really understands the mind as they would have you think. I know firsthand of how they try to fix the mental break because I have been put through the treatments. Some were voluntary. Others I had been "convinced" would be a good choice for me to make. None die. I even let myself be convinced that speaking with a "professional" would help. It didn't. The biggest reason why is that due to how, no matter how hard they try, the "professionals" make you feel like they are looking at you as if you were either the lowest form on earth, or that you rank in the lower class while they are upper class. Because an "expert" can't come down to my level, we can't communicate. Sure, we talk, but it is a time of empty words. I don't blame the specialists. They're only going by what they were taught from a book written by a person who experimented on a person who was supposedly suffering. What I have come to learn is that no matter what treatment you give, it'll never be the right one because the mind isn't really understood as some think. I mean, come on, they say that we only use 5-7 percent of the total capacity of our brains! If that is true, then how can anyone really say whether or not they're helping someone? Another reason why I don't blame the specialists for their mentality towards us is because of how many of us that they have to deal with who are trying to pull some kind of stunt just so they can get some type of medication prescribed to them. Everyone can come up with a reason as to why many seek out the medication. Some need it as their "fix" that they no longer get from the "street" drugs they became addicted to. Others need it to "escape" this environment that they have to adapt to. Sure, we have to be held here, but that doesn't mean that our minds can't take us to another place. I've been using books, music, writing, fitness training, and even a few of the different sports activities that they set up as my way to "escape." Then there is the process of the daydreaming that I have made a point to do every now and then. All of it is to help combat everything that goes on in this life. There was a time when you could count on one of the best ways to deal with this chaos... letters. Letters were information from the outside that sought your attention because the person who wrote would either be updating you about what was going on in life or they were coming to you for some answer that you might have to their issues. What slows the letters? There are many reasons. The biggest is that life doesn't slow gown for the people on the outside. So there is a lot that they are responsible for that fill their time. They don't have the kind of free time that we go. Funny part is that it only takes a few minutes to put together a couple of sentences to send to someone. Then there is the process of how technological society has become. Not too many people actually write now. It's all done with a keyboard and a screen. I'll be shocked if the art of writing doesn't become a forgotten practice. The feat of not letting my loneliness get the best of me has been tested at times. Mainly through the loss of a few guys that I came to respect over time. some were natural deaths, others... not. The shock of a couple of them were the worst. The answer that the professionals came up with for me to deal with it? Talk. Heh. I don't do well with talking. I choose, instead, to delve into reading, writing, listening to different kinds of music, and participating in some of the sports programs that the activities set in motion throughout the year. The exercise that I give to my body and my brain do some good for me. Physically, at least. I still go through my rollar-coaster ride with my moods. Having to constantly employ ways to combat the despair that is just along the edge of my sanity can definitely be a heavy burden. With all that tho administration speaks about when it comes to rehabilitation, they don't really have a format that works. I think that they need to initiate game kind of way that allows us to vent. They don't really know of the edge that we walk. With no way to properly vent, sooner or later all the stuff that we are storing inside is going to some out. No controlled flow. Just a straight explosion. Sure, they have profiting that they tell you to take in order to gain some kind of understanding about you and how you are supposed to be, according to their standards of what a person is supposed to be, but there is nothing that teaches you how to get rid of the negative stuff running around in your head. How can I be expected to live up to certain standards if I have no way to vent? There needs to be programs designed around being outlets for guys to unleash the burdens they carry without causing any harm. Between the despair of loneliness and trying to adhere to the expectations they put on you, you begin to separate yourself from everyone and anything until you are left finding solace in the walls around you. Some separation can be good. When you are surrounded by an atmosphere of negativity, isolation is good. That mind-set is not just from other inmates. You get it from the staff in the different departments as well. It's even worse when they bring their problems from home to work with tham. We end up as the ones who catch the brunt of their anger and aggression. Hell, it puts the thought in one's head of "who needs to be incarcerated to get a life-changing experience, just put me in a spot where I'm surrounded with people who bring their problems to work!" For any who might read this and possibly face any kind of incarceration in the future, find a way to prepare yourself for being alone. Submitted by, Lee Whitt JZ

Author: Whitt, Lee

Author Location: Pennsylvania

Date: October 25, 2016

Genre: Essay

Extent: 5 pages

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