People often ask me what it’s like being in prison, and how I have managed to maintain, physically and mentally, over 20 plus years.
Sometimes I have to ask myself the same question.
I guess it comes down to a number of things. I guess, for me, it started with not accepting that this is it. It’s all about waking up with a purpose. I’m sure that we can all say that. I try not to overthink it – it could be something as simple as filling out a card, or sending a short note to bring a bit of joy to someone else’s day. My main motivator is the drive to be better. I’m far from perfect, and have enough flaws, so I have something I can improve upon every single day.
Having people that care about you also makes a big difference, and is very important. I have some amazing people in my life that I am very thankful for, and I wouldn’t care what the future holds if it wasn’t for them. Of course, no-one knows what the future holds, but seeing their future unfold is enough for me to get excited about the future, and I want to be around for the ups and downs.
Even though I’m in solitary confinement, I try to stay as active as possible in my tiny space. The least I do on a daily basis is pace back and forth in my cell for an hour. (To give you an idea, I can only take 4 steps before I am at the back of my cell and have to turn round). I can also attest that working out is one of the best stress relievers.
I’ve had to adjust to going without visits since covid and, in the process, I’ve realised how much of a difference having a visit to look forward to made. Having something to look forward to makes a huge difference. I still have letters, emails and cards to let me know that I’m not forgotten, so I’m managing without the visits.
I guess that it was expected of me to go to prison, because as a child I was given advice as to how to survive in prison. Now that I think about that, it was messed up and far from normal. It didn’t make sense to me back then, but it does now. The advice was to mind my business, avoid gambling, and avoid homosexual activities. Follow these rules and you stand a better chance of surviving in prison.
Everybody’s experience is different but, for me, it’s about trying to stay in a good space and make the best of today.
Keep in mind, a lot of people didn’t wake up this morning, so it would be wrong of me to take it for granted.