I am a 50 yr old Muslim man of Afrikan descent that suffers PTSD
I am a 50 year old Muslim man of Afrikan descent that suffers P.T.S.D... Having grown up in Detroit, surrounded by violence, it is my belief that my condition began there. Externally, one became completely desensitized to violence and internally, one experienced demons which one failed to fully grasp were demons. My story is one of undiagnosed mental health issues and how prison(s) have exacerbated these conditions.
Over the course of a 17 year federal prison sentence, I found myself housed in a variety of isolation cells, for assorted prison rule(s) violations. Something about being locked within a concrete and steel coffin 23 to 24 hrs. a day...alternating between bouts of hopelessness, anger, rage, sadness...
As I sit here...back in prison, back within isolation, (going on 4 yrs. now) ... I honestly cannot explain how I got here?! I wasn't raised to be a criminal, a thug, a pimp, a gang member, a prison-gang member, a convicted abuser of a woman! None of the things I've been called by a state court of injustice @ various times. I was released from the Federal Bureau of Prisons in January 2009 with $200.00, a box containing my life in prison, the clothes on my back and P.T.S.D.! Over the next two years I did reasonably well: attended college, reestablished lost relationships with my (3) semi-grown kids, met (3) grandkids! Volunteered with local entities whom served the underclass in need, even got a steady girlfriend. Things were going OK... Then out of the blue, I found myself being pulled over daily by kops, for seemingly nothing! They'd ask for my license, registration, and proof of insurance...which I had and then simply leave?! Something about these suspicious stops, which took me back in time...being regularly harassed by Detroit kops just for walking down the street: having a cocked pistol put in my mouth just for asking why I was being stopped? Being told to "shut up nigger"...I truly believe this is when I began the onset of P.T.S.D. as I started acting out shortly thereafter, fighting and cutting classes! It was also the time that my father...barely visited as is, stopped coming around all together! The nightmares started then also... Fast forward back to 2009...I was getting ready to graduate w/ an A.A...Quite excited to be going to PSU and managing the insomnia and daily panic attacks fairly well. I mean, I exercised 2 to 3 hrs. a day and then sometimes ran at nite to physically exhaust my body to the point I'd go to sleep out of sheer exhaustion. This worked up until a fateful nite , where I attended an old friend's son's birthday party at a bar -- bad move! While I was smart enough to not drink (desig. driver), what I did not/could not have predicted that both my own son and my friends' sons would initiate an all out melee, which saw us being attacked by the whole club it seemed?!
At the end of the day, this incident was my catalyst for a steady mental deterioration, which saw me "flashing" regularly?! Meaning...any encounter I have/had went 0-100...seemingly out of my control?! I told the Fed. parole officer that I was experiencing nightmares and daily panic attacks, I did not mention the multitude of physical fights that I'd been getting into! Perhaps had I done so, he'd have taken my condition much more serious and gotten me some more in depth help?! As it was he referred me to a very good therapist, whom I instantly connected to and started to let out some of the many inner demons that I'd been holding in for so very long! The irony is that, just as I began to make some progress, the feds cancelled the therapist"s contract and she simultaneously began to have very serious medical issues so...back out into the wild I went! Watching movies as a kid, I used to laugh at characters that would see say, an asian person and flash out, as if back in Vietnam. Now here I was doing the very same thing... Every Black male who approached me, I'd get anxious! Palms sweaty, heart thumping ... I would brace for the combat which I "felt" was coming! I began doing surveillance around my apts. at nite w/ armed neighbor I'd convinced there were street-gang members trying to kill me! This was true, however! It was not for certain that these hooligans were lurking outside of my door! That was the PTSD talking it seems... My grades plummeted and at the end of the day, my financial aid was cancelled!! Not too much longer after this, one suffered a very major flashback and put my hands upon a woman I'd been cheating on my ex with. If it makes any sense, I did not see "her", but rather someone else?! All of that said...as my appeals move forward, the attys. believe that my case has potential to impact others', in as far as "mental health" goes! As my trial atty essentially aided state in suppressing all of my P.T.S.D. case file(s) and history, my trial was a farce and the end result predictable. The sentence however was not: 45 yrs!! No murder and no serious bodily injuries! Yet one has been given more time than a murderer! What I pray for daily is death honestly! Not as in some form of suicide, or pity party. More so...the thoughts of a better, just place awaiting one (i.e. Paradise or Heaven) is all that soothes my aching spirit, as I endure irreparable harm to my psyche, via indeterminate isolation! I hope for justice, however! Oftentimes this is "Just-us"...excluding those like me: folk of color and/or underclass socioeconomically, which are often one and the same in the US of A!
Prayerfully, something I have shared will touch somebody out there?! Perhaps a relative of someone who has experienced similar psychological breakdowns, as a result of longterm isolation?! A kindred spirit who can relate...will take the time to reach out to me and share a story...spark a dialogue?! Living in total darkness, one would definitely appreciate a bit of light.
With that, I am enclosing the permissions questionnaire with this letter.
(pen name) Kamau
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