April 24, 2013

Your Imagination, But My Reality

by Troy Hendrix (author's profile)


Your Imagination, But My Reality

Imagine this:... 4 walls and steel doors... Being isolated to a cell 22-24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year... Being confined this way indefinitely... Being isolated for years upon years, until you are psychologically, and emotionally damaged... Being isolated for so long, that your thinking becomes distorted, behavior becomes irrational, and mood becomes unstable... Being amongst individuals who become so overwhelmed by this isolation, that self harm and suicide seems to be the only outlet... Being in isolation, where daily idleness results in lethargy... Being in extreme isolation, where minds are rotted out, hearts become frigid, and spirits become broken... This is your imagination, but this is my reality.

SOLITARY CONFINEMENT... Two words that ring loud and clear in your mind's eye, whenever you hear it spoken, or see it written. But solitary confinement is far more worse than what you picture in your mind's eyes, because the actual reality of this confinement is devastating. Everything about this environment is abnormal, but after spending the last 7 years in this environment, I have become a product of it. The abnormalities of this environment, that I once viewed as abnormal, now seems "normal" in my mind. I do not exactly know when I began to view my surroundings as "normal", but somewhere along the way, my thinking changed. This happens frequently in solitary confinement, because most of the time, you do not even realize that you are miserable, bitter, delusional, socially withdrawn, hypersensitive, and mentally and emotionally damaged. Someone usually has to point this out to you.

The abnormality of this environment is clear for everyone to see, but only those living, or working in it are truly affected. The following picture that I paint (vividly), will show you this abnormality... It begins with the cells and the structure of them. They vary in size at each facility, but they all have the same effect, and impact on the mental. The doors are steel, and the 4 walls that surrounds us, seem to close in at times. These same walls are painted a dull white, or beige color, which is a very depressing sight. The cells consist of a sink, toilet (some facilities have showers inside cells), and a mattress as hard as the floor we walk on. The definition of "bathroom", is "a room containing a bathtub or shower, and usu. sink and toilet". So the reality is that we eat, sleep, and spend 22-24 hours a day in a "bathroom". From the outside looking in, these cells give off the impression of a cage, used to confine a wild monkey. (The cages used for daily 1 hour recreation outside, give off this impression also). Long periods of time spent in this confinement, and one could lose himself, and actually become as wild as a monkey.

The barbarous and uncivilized behaviour, is a very big part of this environment, and many are a product of it. Arguments amongst solitary confinement prisoners, is the daily norm. Frustration, misery, and bottled up rage, lead to verbal degradation, and this is done at the highest level possible. Since there isn't any physical contact, verbal degradation is carried out instead. "Biological warfare", is another form of savagery that is done at the highest level possible. This "warfare" involves feces, urine, and/or saliva, and is one of the worst forms of degradation in solitary confinement, if not the worst. It is common for an officer or prisoner to have these things thrown, or spit on or at them. Another tactic in "war" that is used, entails depriving one of sleep, by kicking and banging on their walls whenever they attempt to sleep. I have not taken part in any forms of savagery, but when I witness it, or hear of it occurring, I am no longer disgusted because I've become numb to this type of behaviour.

Despite all the loud babbling, shouting, cursing, and banging, that occurs on a daily basis, solitary confinement is a very lonely place. In these cells, one's thoughts are in constant overdrive, and creating a fantasy world in one's mind, is most common. Escaping reality for awhile is necessary, but many become so engulfed in these worlds, that at times they find it difficult distinguishing fantasy from reality.

During the past 7 years that I've spent in this extreme isolation, I experienced, and still experience bouts of depression,hopelessness, loneliness, anxiety, bottled up rage, and mental anguish. Living in this extreme isolation for long periods of time, will take a toll on your psychological, and emotional well being. Whether you notice it or not, this confinement will take a part of you, it is inevitable. There is nothing beneficial or therapeutic about extreme isolation, it only breeds despair, depression, rage, loss of impulse control, anxiety, misery, distorted thinking, hypersensitivity, and mental illness. Spending your days, weeks, months, and years isolated indefinitely, in an abnormal environment... Is your imagination, but this is my reality.

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Replies (16) Replies feed

Kat Posted 4 years, 11 months ago. ✓ Mailed 4 years, 10 months ago     1 Favorite
Dear Troy! Thanks for sharing your experiences. I would like to send you some positive energy by giving you a comment. I know from a friend of mine who is in solitary, how hard this is and how much every single sign from the outside coming into these walls means.
I read all your posts on this site. They are very touching and well written. Keep on writing! and
Keep being strong! I wish you all the best.

endsolitary Posted 4 years, 11 months ago. ✓ Mailed 4 years, 10 months ago   Favorite
This blog post was featured in a 'Voices from Solitary' post on Solitary Watch (http://solitarywatch.com/2013/05/25/voices-from-solitary-your-imagination-but-my-reality/).

The following comments come from Solitary Watch readers:

"Another breakdown in the system that makes this scenario even harder to imagine, is there are instances that people can be locked in solitary for years, and then just released back into society. After living in such extreme conditions can one really function in society again? Dr. Grassian believes the extreme conditions create a distinct mental disorder."

"There are those who might believe that this guy is locked up in solitary confinement for a reason, and that he’s probably had ample opportunity to be released into the general population, yet always ends up back in solitary. One all too common practice corrections tends to do, is to release a prisoner back into the population for one day, and round him back up again. Staff gets to say that he was released, yet did something to warrant being thrown back into isolation again, for the good order of the institution. It’s a barbaric practice, as is the prison system on the whole, and is a form of torture that is commonly used in every prison everywhere in North America."

[removed] Posted 4 years, 10 months ago.   Favorite

Comment removed by staff

This comment was removed for violation of our community guidelines forbidding hate speech.

Troy Hendrix Posted 4 years, 9 months ago.   Favorite
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Kat Posted 4 years, 9 months ago. ✓ Mailed 4 years, 9 months ago     1 Favorite
Some more sunlight to you!

Dear Troy,
I was pleased to hear that your spirits got lifted and you experienced some kindness. That's rare to find where you are, I guess.

You know what? This little self-portrait you drew on top of this post of yours, I like it very much. Would you mind to draw more for this blog here?
I would love to see more of your artwork. You seems to be very talented.

I have nothing more to say, just keep strong and try to push away the black clouds hanging over you so the sun last a little longer. :)

With best wishes,

Calhoun25 Posted 4 years, 7 months ago. ✓ Mailed 4 years, 7 months ago   Favorite

I hope I can cheer you up by saying that I really care for you, and want only the best for you! If they let you, try reading and writing books; it can help alleviate some of the mental pain.

I'm exhausted, and am off to bed right now. Keep on writing! I'll stay in touch.

luckymissy Posted 3 years, 12 months ago. ✓ Mailed 3 years, 11 months ago   Favorite
“The sun shall always rise upon a new day and there shall always be a rose garden within me. Yes, there is a part of me that is broken, but my broken soil gives way to my wild roses.”
― C. JoyBell C.

Sometimes our inner strength is all we have. Even those on the outside feel trapped in our own prisons of pain and suffering. However, its up to us to push those clouds away to allow some sunshine in. You obviously have a lot of strength in you. To be in your position and still have the heart to share with the world. Those of us that are listening will always give you the push you need as long as you allow us. I send nothing but love your way.

Troy Hendrix Posted 3 years, 10 months ago.   Favorite
(scanned reply – view as blog post)

livbresnahan Posted 3 years, 10 months ago. ✓ Mailed 3 years, 9 months ago   Favorite
Hi Troy!
I really enjoyed reading your work. You are a very talented writer and I liked hearing your perspective on what strength truly is and how any weakness can be turned into a strength. I could not agree more that people often choose the easy road of weakness rather than being brave and showing strength in times that call for it. Yes everyone has weaknesses, but what you choose to do about them is only up to you. True strength is, (not to use a cliche) is being able to repeatedly get back up from the different punches that life throws your way. The people who are not able to continually fight fall and find comfort in their weaknesses where they ultimately suffer. From reading your post I could not imagine the amount of strength that you must have to be where you are on a daily basis. I hope that you continue to use writing as your outlet and I look forward to hearing more from you. Stay strong!

Troy Hendrix Posted 3 years, 8 months ago.   Favorite
(scanned reply – view as blog post)

selen Posted 3 years, 7 months ago. ✓ Mailed 3 years, 6 months ago   Favorite
Hi Troy,
How are you? I sincerely hope that you are fine. I am very impressed with the way you have described strength and determination. As you know people outside sometimes can feel trapped too. They just try to convince themselves that they are not trapped but can't stop feeling that way either. Here is a quote about determination may be you have heard about.
"Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan Press On! has solved and will always solve the problems of the human race."
-Calvin Coolidge-Former President of US.
Also I would like to ask you if there is any possibility of you getting out of solitary?What are the procedures for that?

Joy Posted 3 years, 7 months ago. ✓ Mailed 3 years, 6 months ago   Favorite
Thanks for writing! I finished the transcription for your post.

ToyToy Posted 1 year, 11 months ago. ✓ Mailed 1 year, 11 months ago   Favorite
Troy my sweetheart,

You are such a caring and compassionate person and a talented writer. I love to read your perspective because it's genuine. Your writing evokes such emotion from me as I read. I know that prison is a lonely, dark and depressing place, but with the love of me, your wife, you shall smile brightly and experience rare moments of rapture. With all my heart I Love you!

Calhoun25 Posted 1 year, 9 months ago. ✓ Mailed 1 year, 9 months ago   Favorite
Hey Troy,

I think your last piece about determination is a perfect gloss for the chess picture. We find ourselves in these difficult chess games, in which the opponent is none other than ourselves. At the same time, as you say, the key to our strength and victory is ALSO ourselves. We can, often at the same time, be our greatest enemies and allies. It's key to focus on our winning selves, and rely on that for determination. Afterwards are the spoils of winning! A spiritual growing for beating the evil and sadness in you. I think your honest admission about your heavy heart is brilliant. It's so natural for us to get down. Strength is not about whether we get down or not; it's about how we eventually conquer these feelings in the battle of "weakness versus strength". Let us know any other pondering on character you might have. Such is intellectually stimulating and spiritually invigorating. Take care.

leah23 Posted 1 week, 5 days ago. ✓ Mailed 4 hours, 25 minutes ago   Favorite
hello my name is leah god bless you

leah23 Posted 1 week, 5 days ago. ✓ Mailed 4 hours, 25 minutes ago   Favorite
this is dope

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