Noah here. Managing your mood in prison can be tough, because the lows seem so low and the highs are never high enough.
Also, your patience and stability are tested at an hourly rate most days.
It can be a toxic environment full of negativity and narcissism. One thing treatment taught me is that I may not be able to control how I feel about certain situations cut I can control how I react to them.
Early on in my prison sentence I remember calling my Mom on the phone and my blood would just be boiling about something that happened and she would talk me off the ledge, or I wouldn’t be able to hide my disappointment. She would always sense that and try to tell me it’s going to be okay.
I think she knew I was a lot like my Dad when it comes to situations like this. But then I quickly realize I am over reacting as soon as I start talking about it.
Now, I am able to access the importance of these events and think about the consequences before I make a rash decision. I have also learned to pro-act by avoiding high pressure situations and including activities into my routine such as fitness and meditation, that help me stay centered.
I guess working out releases those endorphins. The same process I enjoyed so much when I was getting high, but obviously releasing them through rigorous activity is a much healthier process.
So as far as managing my mood in prison it comes down to maintaining a healthy balance in my lifestyle, which includes, hanging out with the right people, both inside and outside of work, getting a proper amount of sleep every night, working out 3-4 times a week, and a combination of different leisure activities that I enjoy. Also if something is not working for me and continuously bringing me down, I change it.
I also want to mention to be careful with who that person is you reach out to when managing your mood. My mom was the person I chose to reach out too, because I knew she could calm me down about any situation, because she was my mom and always had the best and my positive efforts at heart. Support is huge and you can get it from different areas, such as phone call, a weekly meeting, a therapist, talk to a friend or coworker in person.
Most of my biggest problems that I deal with, as most of us, start in my head because of how I feel about a situation that I am in. And then it just escalates in my head. How I decided to handle the feelings or emotions that I am feeling can also be influenced by the people around me. When I am in here and I am feeling down I used to not call home because I didn’t want you guys to think I was hurting or struggling, so I would try deal with it on my own, and it didn’t work out.
This also goes for when I was on the street, down in Minneapolis using and selling drugs. I didn’t ask for help, not because I didn’t want the help, but I just didn’t know who I could call that could actually help me. It doesn’t matter how little or big the situation is, today I first try talk to someone in here to see if I can get through it, but if that doesn’t work I either call my sister, my mom, or a friend from out there to look for some motivation, but I’m careful that these people are only people who will think positive and not jump on my negative bandwagon that I need to get out of. Other ways I manage my mood
1. Fitness (weight lifting, running, walking)
2. Meditation or Yoga
3. Writing or Journaling
4. Personal interaction or Phone calls
5. Weekly Meeting (recovery or treatment related)
Life is too short and you only get one go at it.
Another form of managing my mood has been sharing my story through my sister and brother-in-law’s blog. It has been a journey that has done a lot for me psychologically, by allowing me to work through my struggles or the battle within.
I am sure like so many others who have suffered failure or loss, it’s hard to forgive yourself and move on. This blog has helped me to express myself and share my feelings and emotions. To be honest, I didn’t think it would get a big response and in the beginning I was just doing it for myself. But over time I have now understood I wasn’t alone with my struggles and insecurities through your comments, letters and messages. I feel a sense of freedom every-time I share something personal, even if the topic borderlines shameful, because it doesn’t hold any power over me.
Many times I question if what I am sharing has any significance, or if anyone cares, or if it’s too much. I trust my sister will filter out anything that might get me in trouble, but I quickly found out she has no filter as well. ha!
Now that I know how others are benefiting from my journey it has given me a new sense of purpose, which in return has raised my self-worth, like all this time isn’t being wasted. I am now much more optimistic about the future and the path I will chose upon my release working with my sister and alongside Jamie. The feedback that my sister has sent me has helped me tremendously, when someone reaches out publicly or privately and I enjoy giving what advice I can. Usually from the point of view of the individual they are having issues with, and this also allows me to view my families perspective when they were dealing with me as well. The support and words of encouragement have allowed me to stay strong as I near the end of my sentence and continue to work at becoming a better man.
It has also kept me plugged into my recovery through my correspondence with my sister and it has motivated me to continue my treatment through weekly Narcotics Anonymous meetings. Another benefit is the relationship that has grown between me and my sister through increased email, letters, phone calls, and visits.
I can’t wait until I am released and working alongside her full time. Some people in here tell me that I shouldn’t work with my sister, because working with family is a bad idea. I will talk about that in the future. But for now I will keep sharing my story and my insight as long as there is one person who is getting something out of it.
I also encourage everyone else to share theirs, take a leap of faith, you never know who around you that is struggling as well if nobody speaks up. We live in a word now where school shootings are normal, kids under the age of 10 are committing suicide, and over 25% of our population has a criminal record. The way I see it is, the more people that are working together and helping each other out, the better our world can be.
Thanks for listening! Noah