Mental Struggles

By: Joseph Green

In this post I want to be honest and transparent about my own personal mental struggles in hopes of shining the light on the struggles that so many others endure in my situation and even those who are not incarcerated. Yet they are apprehensive to talk about it. Prison is a very dangerous place but it’s main objective and design is to break the mental mindset of everyone that enters its doors.

Coming into this system I had no doubt that physically I could protect myself. I was equipped to handle whatever…so I thought. I didn’t know the amount of stress it would play on me mentally. I was tough on the outside but on the inside I was being mentally broken down. My reality was, I was falsely accused of a murder. I had to watch my beautiful black mother fall victim to her own mental illnesses and drug addiction. My younger brother was also serving a life sentence and it was a strong possibility we would never be face to face again. My niece was growing up without my physical presence. My grandmother was getting sick and had to watch her grandkids grow up in prison. And to top it all off my appeals kept getting denied.

These were my thoughts as the years, months, and days begin to pass for me in this prison system. And I was not prepared for this reality. As my appeals got denied I begin to see people in my life lose hope of my return, write less, visit lesser and financial support became non existent. I was now on my own to face this reality. Not because I wasn’t loved anymore but because when I got sentenced, my life was put on pause.

I never understood or even thought I could have a mental illness. I didn’t want to accept that I was dealing with anxiety,severe depression and PTSD. I tried to numb and mask my pain behind laughter and drugs. If you can relate then you know it only took me away for a moment but my reality was always present. For the first time in my life as a grown man I had to come face to face with Joseph. I had to acknowledge that I was not okay. I was hurting and I needed help. I had to regain control of my mental wellbeing and life.

I wanted and I knew I needed help but I couldn’t trust anyone. I made the decision to talk to a psychologist. This had to be done on the low because I didn’t want anyone to know my business. I knew that in order for me to grow and get better I had to face and address my illness.

Prison is filled with men who strive to keep their street image. Believing that their street rep is what defines them as a man. Yet many are wearing mask pretending to be something they not. Telling war stories and king pin stories trying to validate a image or enhance a ego to make themselves seem tougher, smarter and more important then the next man. And yet we all sit in the same unfortunate position here in prison.

Society forgets that we human beings that have emotions and feelings. I’m in love with a beautiful woman. Many believe that we are absent of such a intense and intimate yearning for another human being. Many men strive daily to express this emotion to their family, friends, children and the woman that sacrifices and supports him with her love and support. Everyone needs support now more then ever with all the stuff happening in today’s world.

Everyone is dealing with something that they may not speak about. If you have a love one or friend incarcerated they have moments of despair, loneliness and flat giving up. Your words of encouragement on any given day may be the spark needed to ignite change, hope, and optimism in a dark and demoralizing condition.

It is a huge stigma placed on mental illness so much so that it is rarely spoke about or addressed. Society tends to avoid or downplay the reality that many imprisoned men and women come from low income or impoverished communities. Where drugs, murder, and violence is a norm which causes us to become desensitized to these hardships and realities of life. We begin to accept these negative things as normal activities of the “hood” and ways of life. But none of these things are normal.
Many men are taught to be emotionless especially when your apart of the street life. Like the soldiers who fight for this country, they are taught to detach their feelings and emotions or risk death. No matter the race, culture, economical or social status we have all experienced some form of mental illness. We don’t have to allow ourselves to be controlled by it. Victor Frankle said,” Suffering ceases to be suffering at the moment it finds a meaning such as the meaning of sacrifice.”
We suffer from our mental illnesses because we fail to acknowledge they exist. Being incarcerated and battling a mental illness has caused me much suffering but it has also guided me and allowed me to share my experiences and my story in hopes of helping others going through tough times. Your suffering has a purpose and meaning. Remember everyone is going through something. Be that positive light that helps guide them out of darkness. Listen to their voice and help bring about change. Remind them that they are not alone……Things will get better. Have a blessed and peaceful day.

Exodus from the Democratic Party-Pt 1

By: Richard Dyer-Bey

In this article I will be objective to both sides — Democrats and Republicans. Although, in certain parts I will express in these modern days how the Democratic party has and are taking your vote for granted.

In the year 2016, the United States Democratic Party was dealt its greatest historical blow since 1860 when Abraham Lincoln (a Republican) won the election. But this time, it was a non-politician, authoritarian, xenophobic, who became president of the U.S.A., and he has also turned the worldwide up-and-down. How? First off, Those who were registered Democratics voted Republican. This also has not happened since the (Anti-Slavery Republicans vs. The Pro-Slavery Democratics in 1860). No! truly I am not comparing Trump to Lincoln, although they do share similarities. How so? 1) Reconstruction of (1865-77), when Americans tried to rebuild a stable Union after the Civil War (1861-65). The deadlock inherited by Andrew Jackson (1808-1875) on Abraham Lincoln’s death (1865) over who should control Reconstruction and the hardened with increasing congressional hostility toward restoring the south to its old.position (Look at what Trump is trying to do — even though he is for the North – [New York]). 2) Republicans wanted to press home the Union victory by following the 13th Amendment abolishing slavery (1865) with full Civil Rights for the (New Class Of People [the Negro]), including the vote. What is Trump trying to do? Repeal laws & suppress the so-called Black vote! 3) Also, while Congress was not in session, Johnson implemented Lincoln’s policy of “Lenience” by giving amnesty in return for a loyalty oath! He also condoned [Black Codes], which practically reintroduced slavery in another guise. With this last act, let me state; JOHNSON WAS A FORMER DEMOCRAT — SO WAS TRUMP. . . You get the point?.

Now how many of you are tired of and wish your community was clean and free of drugs, violence and sirens? Police, ambulance and fire trucks, rushing to an unpleasantness scene everyday? This is why many have left the Democratic part. And this is why many voted for Trump (change, thinking he was a Republican) Conservative yes, if you know what I mean (Read my article CONSERVATIVE MOVE). But once you really understand who the Democratic party is and why you are living in poverty, crime ridden neighborhoods, blighted and vacant houses, your children being denied proper education, school closing and mass incarnation of loved ones. (Ask Bill Clinton about his Anti-Terrorist crime bill).

The Republican Party was founded in 1854 by dissidents of the WHIG, Democratic and FREE SOIL parties to unify the growing anti-slavery forces. Its first national nominating convention was held in 1856; J.C. Fremont was adopted as presidential candidate. Campaigning for the abolition of slavery and of polygamy in the territories, he captured 11 states. But Lincoln became its first Republican president, and in spite of unpopularity of the subsequent RECONSTRUCTION policies and the secession of the “LIBERAL REPUBLICAN PARTY” in 1872, the Republicans remained dominant in US politics, winning 14 out of 18 presidential elections between 1860 and 1932.
In an era of scandal, the Republicans consolidated a “pro-business” and “conservative” reputation with the nomination and election of William McKinley in 1896. His successor Theodore Roosevelt adopted progressive stance; he defected to the (Bull Moose) party in 1912.

Before continuing, it must be noted that, the Democratic party in 1860 after its defeat to Lincoln and the Republican party was so determined to keep the so-called Negro in slavery, ceded from the Union, thus began the Civil War.

Remember, during this time, — (1865-1877), the Republican party were anti-slavery, however, in 1866, when Congress reconvened with a landslide victory, the Conservative [Radical] Republicans took control. Their first Reconstruction Act of 1867 divided ten Southern states into five military areas with a major general for each. Under army scrutiny, so-called (black and white) voters were registered, and constitutions and governments instituted. In 1868, six Southern states were readmitted to the Union, followed in 1870 by the other four. By ratifying the 14th Amendment (1868), on Negro civil rights. (Yes, the so-called Negro had “voting rights” coming out of slavery.)

Historical facts: However, this was not the case at the time of these events I am about to mention. These events caused “The Lost of the American Republic,” for, when the first seven rebellious Southern states walked out of Congress on February 1, 1861, their secession from the Union was followed by that of four States in insurrection on March 27, 1861, (this is what Lincoln was speaking to in putting down the insurrection), and this act happened only three weeks after Lincoln’s inaugural address March 4, 1861:—- These states were:

1. South Carolina — Fort Sumter, a fort in Charleston, S.C., where the first shots in the Civil War were fired on April 12, 1861. (This act was equivalent to 9/11 today). When S.C. seceded from the Union 1860, US Major Robert Anderson received a rebel summons to surrender has garrison. He refused, Sumter was fired upon, and the war had begun.
The fort was retaken when Confederates evacuated Charleston in February 1865. Then;

2. Mississippi 7. Texas
3. Florida 8. Virginia
4. Alabama 9. Arkansas
5. Georgia 10. Tennessee
6. Louisiana 11. North Carolina
Living a Life on Hold

I am unfinished. At fifty two, I am the owner of a life that feels unlived. There is a tension that runs through my days like a rubber band stretched from this moment all the way back through the years to that moment in August 1987 when two gunshots changed my life forever. At some point in each day I feel myself cringing in anticipation of that rubber band snapping! I fear that snap almost as much as I want it, because it is then (and only then), that my REAL life will begin again.

One of the most common mental tricks that men use in prison to keep their spirits up is to tell themselves that this, (prison) is not their real life, it is an interruption of their real life. Their REAL life will begin again when they get out. In fact the most common phrase you hear in prison at the begining of a conversation is; “When I get out of here I’m gonna…” And everything we do behind these walls is either aimed at getting us out, trying to maintain our community ties with family and friends, or finding ways to fill up our days and kill time while we wait on the other shoe to drop. Everything in here has a temporary feel except the place it’s self (which seems to perpetually consume the youth of our comunity).  

We live in a half dream, half nightmare, trying not to let any of the things we experience in here matter because; “When we get out..” it will all be behind us as if it never existed. We don’t say what we really mean or do what we really want because it might spark conflicts that will keep us in here longer when there is nothing in here that we value enough to make that sacrifice. What we do is opt for the least objectionable alternative in a situation full of unsatisfactory choices. But how long can a man live like this? How long can he go on treating the events of his life as if they are things separate and apart from himself? How long before he grows numb to the value of his life, when almost every choice available to him gives him no satisfaction? Creating that distance in your heart between yourself and the things in your life, ensures apathy. It fosters indifference, and often ends in an embittered soul. It’s the chief reason why so many men come home from prison seeming so “cold hearted”; because the emotional isolation required to successfully navigate long prison stays is killing their ability to become emotionally invested in the world around them.  

Without regular contact with multiple people in the free world, men in prison tend to become intellectually stagnant. They become frozen in time, relics of a bygone era. Often you can determine in the course of a conversation how old they were when they came to prison because they are often locked into that maturity level. They are living their lives in a prolonged holding pattern without the usual pressures and experiences that provoke maturity.

I came to prison at ninteen, if I left today I would leave with thirty two years of prison experience but hit the streets with the same real-world experience as that nineteen year old they locked up in 1987. With little idea of how to maintain a household, or an intimate adult relationship. All I would have are theories and supposition based largely on what I’ve read or seen on TV. Yet the people who deal with me will look into my fifty two year old face and expect more. When that rubber band snaps how long before the sting of it subsides, and what will the life that remains to me look like? Prison only prepares you to succeed in prison. It is a life lived on hold.

T. L. Thomas Bey #194430

Dear Friends, Family, and Followers…-Quentin X

Dear Friends, family and Followers,

From behind these walls. From the depth of our souls. From the place where GOD lives within us…., We chant so that our Ancestors hear US! “BLACK LIVES MATTER”.

May our voices echo loosening the Earth’s foundation where our ancestors are buried. We ask that they come and be with us, give us strength, purpose and direction. Because, if we live, it is only by the grace of GOD!

Sincerely, Your Son, Brother, Father and Friend

Quentin-X (Betty)

Family & Friend Support Pt 2-Joseph

Dear Readers,

The one thing many prisoners yearn for is support from family and friends. When many of us came to prison, we were forced to be alone. And for many of us that unknown experience is scary. Support in most cases is given in the beginning of our sentence but as the days and years pass things begin to change. Life continues to go on without us. Its a cliché quote that says, ” Out of sight, Out of mind” and sadly it plays its way out in our daily lives as the days and years pass. Its not that they love us less or they don’t care but life doesn’t stop for them and unfortunately were no longer present.

Nothing about prison is normal or humane. Prison is a abnormal environment. This is why support is truly needed. Family keeps a prisoner engaged with reality. Family reminds us that we are human beings that have emotions and feelings. Support is giving help and encouragement. 

Prison places a enormous hardship on the mental mindset. Its a daily struggle remaining normal in a abnormal environment. Some have the mindset of not changing and they accept the negative trajectory of their life.

For those who do seek change and accept that this is a positive trajectory to a new life. They now are seen as the abnormal individuals in this environment where the criminal mentality is deemed normal. So we seek the support of positive people to keep us focus and motivated in are journey of being productive citizens.

The support from family and friends is very essential to our mental growth and change. We need to be encouraged with positive words of hope and change. We need to know we are loved, missed and needed. This comes by way of letters and phone calls. Simple jpays that say I love you and stay focus go along way. A lot of men don’t like to write other men however understand that its needed. Men need to seek counsel from other men. Steel sharpens steel. Men that will hold us accountable to take our rightful place in this world as productive men. 

When many prisoners got incarcerated a lot of family members were young so bonds and relationships were unable to be developed. Now as they come of age into adulthood, they have no idea who we are but we have no idea who they have grown to be. I’m embarking on a journey to learn my family as we speak. When I left they were baby’s and teens now there mothers and business women. Who have no idea who I am as a man today. They only know what is told to them and somebody else’s perspective of you is subjective or bias. Especially if they haven’t had any contact with you to see your growth and evolution. I would like my family to get to know the man I am today because Im no longer the man I was 13 years ago. When I am released I will need their support more then ever. The parole board wants to know that prisoners being let back into the communities have some form of a support system.

Prison is designed to destroy family ties by way of systematically employing many tactics to discourage healthy and consistent relationships. For example, you may be from Detroit but instead of housing you within reasonable driving distance they house you up north 5 to 8 hours away. Knowing that this will discourage your family from visiting. They make the application process to visit complicated by denying applicants because they failed to put N/A in places that don’t apply to them. Making them fill the whole application out again only to deny them again for something trivial. These tactics are meant to discourage families from visiting. It has happen to me numerous times so I speak from experience. Physical interaction is another very important aspect of support. 

Friendships come in many ways. We cherish them because a true friend is hard to find. Everyone wants to be your friend when your doing good and on top but your TRUE friends will be by your side when your at your lowest.

The voice and message I’m sending out is this, if you have someone in your family or if you have a friend incarcerated reach out to them. Your support is truly needed. A simple, “How you doing” and Keep your head up goes a long way. Remind them they are human beings because this system is designed to dehumanize them. Its not all about money and food packages. We need to know somebody cares. Despite the mistakes we have made we still are human. If you truly love them know they need your help as they change. No one makes it to the top alone.

I thank you for reading my post. Please leave a comment and continue to visit for more thoughts beyond the wall.

Joseph Green

Family & Friend Support-Jerome Walker

My name is Jerome Walker, but most people call me Don’Jay or DJ for short.

I am here to talk about how essential it is to having family & friends support while being in prison.

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During my first 5 years in prison, I had little to no family support due to the crime I committed, or from their misconception on what had took place.

By not having any support, I let it dictate the way I did my time. I was considered what most called a hard ass. I didn’t listen and came in as if I had a chip on my shoulder. I began to lash out as I was catching unnecessary tickets and constantly getting in trouble and going to the hole. To me, it was like without family being by myside, I began to contemplate was life really worth living?

The saddest thing is when I got locked up, my daughter was only 8 days old. I didn’t have the support of her mother, nor did I had the support of my family.

I only could hear through new prisoners coming in telling me how such & such died, and how my daughter’s mother is out there struggling.

There was barley any pictures coming in, any money to buy the necessities.
A lot of people had to rob and steal because they were unable to have that family support that all people in prison needs.

5 years into my time, one close member in our family died from cancer. The family came together and reached out to me and decided that life was too short to harbor unwanted feelings.

I was reached out by many family members and friends.

Having family and friends write to you and tell you to keep your head up, and we are in this with you made everything felt like there’s light at the end of the tunnel.

I instantly changed my behavior. I put away my childish ways and became a man. I managed to get my GED, some certificates in Culinary arts, Custodial maintenance and many others. I started to interact with family more, and my dark days seems to have light in them.

Family support is so essential for us on lock down, because without it, it seems like we are fighting the world alone. Sometimes we become depressed and want to give up on life. It’s like, if they don’t care, why should I?

My happiest moment is when I had help from family and friends in finding my daughter 3 years ago. We have built an unbreakable relationship, and she is part of my support system.

My biggest support system now is my mother, sisters, daughter, uncles, father, cousin, and many of friends. There’s light at the end of my tunnel as I strived to be a better person for my family, myself, and friends.

I have a petition going towards my release in accordance to the change of law dealing with juvenile lifers, please go to my facebook page at Jerome Jay Walker click on the link and signed the petition I have on there. If you don’t see it, please send a friend request and I will accept you as a friend, you will then see the link and be able to sign it, and please, share it with your friends. Thank you for signing.

Sincerely,

Jerome Walker #277651