Coping with stress in prison

Elliott, Andre



Coping with Stress in Prison Living a restrained life in prison is very stressful and takes a toll on my mental well-being. I never imagined as a youth growing up in the Bronx that I would be sitting in prison serving a 55 year de facto life sentence for a crime I had no involvement in. The state of Maryland judicial system is categorically infected with unrepentant racism. The laws are enforced unequally, the courts are inherently racist, and the prison population illustrates the disproportionate number of blacks incarcerated. 76.2% of prisoners are black (15,386 of the states 21,194 prison population). Blacks are 18.9% of the state population of 5.1 million according to the 2010 census statistics. I have not abandoned hope. I believe I will regain my freedom when I have my post-conviction hearing. I've been incarcerated for 9 1/2 years. Every day is an emotional struggle for me on all levels. I am surrounded by individuals, primarily urban youth from Baltimore, who do not value their own lives. Most are members of street gangs, uneducated, poor social skills, and lack personal ambition. Living among these individuals serves as the catalyst for a portion of my stress. It took me a while to learn how to deal with the negative individuals who want others to share in their negative and counterproductive behavior. I do my best to circumnavigate their collective insanity. Early on in my incarceration I contemplated committing suicide, because I was determined that I was not going to spend the rest of my life withering away in a prison cell, death was a better option for me. I will never accept or resign myself to living a restrained life. I know several lifers including an individual who was 7 minutes from death courtesy of state-sponsored murder (death penalty) who adapted to living out their remaining days behind bars. Those lifers committed a homicide, I did not. I became good friends with a few of them. I never asked how do they cope serving life in prison, because I was afraid I would be asked the same question. Most are well-mannered, polite, courteous, and most importantly survivors. Recently I've experienced what seemed like unbearable stress. e.g. tension, excessive worrying, anxiety, insomnia, daytime fatigue, irritability, and muscle aches. At one point, my stress response system became exhausted I became so depressed I was ready to end my life. I hear people say suicide is a dastardly act, and life isn't smooth sailing. I never considered seeking from the Psychology Dept. because all they want to do is over medicate people, and if needed place you in a rubber room with a blanket wrapped around you. But eventually I knew I had to develop a sound, feasible plan to overcome stress and depression. I read a lot of self-help books. I don't fall victim to the constant lies disseminated by cable news networks, and I try not to think about my family. I only communicate with one cousin who hasn't turned his back on me. If it wasn't for him, I believe I would have carried out my suicidal ideations. I am glad I don't have any children to worry about. I also play video games to help mitigate stress. In conclusion, if anybody says prison is not a stressful environment they need to have their head examined. Prison is a psychological torture chamber designed [to?] handicap you from believing you're human. At the end of the day if I commit suicide due to stress my captors will achieve my unsought cheap victory.

Author: Elliott, Andre

Author Location: Maryland

Date: October 18, 2016

Genre: Essay

Extent: 3 pages

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