Do you ever wake up and look and think there are a million things I could be doing today but when you start to decide what to do your mind shuts down and you decide to write in your blog instead. Or do you ever walk up the stairs to the toilet and as you reach the last few steps you think is this as good as it gets? What I just experienced whilst navigating and negotiating unresponsive and unhelpful advice and information was the same feelings of ‘Hopelessness’ I had in prison. It sweeps over me like a warm blanket and I normally feel it in the pit of my stomach before it reaches my brain. I’m lucky enough to recognise it and trained in how to deal with it. I hope you get this message, it’s a bit like de ja vous but the most important thing is to recognise that these feelings remain and I suppose they always will. At the Roger Waters gig the other night, on several occasions I had the urge, the need for chemical intake and alcohol. I discussed this with my traveling companion as he was supping away at his Carlsberg and he told me that he thought it was great that I could recognise these thoughts and stick to my guns. It comes it goes it passes it stays but for me the trick is to recognise it and deal with it in the moment and at that moment. At one stage we stopped of for a pit stop on the way to the ground and my mate had another pint. During our stay a lovely girl came up to the bar ad asked my advice on what was a similar drink to Tullymore Dew. We went through the top shelf and I could taste every single one of em in my memory. The funny thing was I’d forgotten about it by the time we got out the door.
What is it?
It – is every positive and negative thought that you can and can’t remember which triggers a switch which triggers ‘IT’.
It – most importantly, is a process. It will come, be assured it will come, but it will also pass if you know the signs and can breathe and let it go.
I’ve visited this process a hundred times in prison but could never really tell anyone. I was a ‘Listener’ I get it, I really do, but in prison the words ‘suicide’ and ‘depression’ cannot be used in the same sentence to authority. These words automatically set in process a chain of events that will leave you spinning out of any semblance of control you previously were clinging on to. It’s called a SPAR or PAR in England – Suicidal Prisoner At Risk or Person At Risk of suicide or self harm. I’m not going to tell you what this involves, look it up, find out about it and read how plausible and helpful it sounds, you’ll find it under Safer Custody in the Prison Standard Operating Procedures.
The men I know who come off a SPAR do not do so because they have lost their suicidal tendencies. I’ll tell you if you are interested but not here, it’s way too personal.
It breaks my heart to see how the threat of culpable manslaughter has allowed the system to legally administer abuse. The reason I started all of my work in Criminology and prison shenanigans was because of a lady called Pauline Campbell from the Howard League I met in Brixton in 2007 along with Francis Crook and Lord Carlisle. Pauline’s daughter killed herself in custody. Pauline killed herself at her daughters graveside, on her birthday, in 2008. This chain of events left me with a burning rage in my soul. This is state sanctioned abuse – resulting in hopelessness – resulting in action/suicide – causing a ripple effect on others – resulting in solution which equals suicide.
I lost count how many times in the last couple of years I wanted this for myself. I was able to tell a person who worked with me in the prison my true state of mind. The person was physically moved and shocked ‘but you always come across as…’ Yes, I did but only out of fear from authority if I went looking for help. Thankfully I survived.
Suicide is a solution, but what most people forget, in the heat of the moment, is that they will not be around to see its outcome. I sat in the sun yesterday, in my massive back garden and watched a big fat, battle scarred, one eyed Tom cat, nonchalantly but stealthily walk past me. He kept glancing at me with his good eye and in a moment of clarity I thought – he’s just like me Mr Tom battle scarred, wounded and traumatised but he still walks the walk and seeks out his prey, he’s fat so he must be doing OK.
In my view we need to teach people how to deal with this moment; these moments when they come. This is the key to desistance and abstinence which ensures desistance for many. I will always win because I’m a survivor and people are starting to listen to my experience and learn from it. Compliments from friends are nice but thanks from fellow vulnerable is much more rewarding. In prison all prisoners are classed as ‘Vulnerable’. A prison colleague of mine once stated through clenched teeth and froth “If we are all so fucking vulnerable. Why are we treated so fucking badly?”
Suicide is a solution but it’s not the answer.