I wasn’t sure how I should approach returning to work on this site. I didn’t know quite what to say in my first post back. Or more specifically, quite how much to say. But so many of you have been so supportive that I feel like I owe you a bit of an explanation.
I have suffered from depression for most of my life and the last few years have been some of the hardest I have ever gone through. But this time last year it all started to look like it might work out.
I had worked hard on my studies with the Open University and was finally getting grades that reflected it. I was a few months into running this blog and began to get emails offering me opportunities to have my writing published. I had finally worked my way towards a point where I have a pretty good argument in support of getting recommended for transfer to an open prison at my next parole hearing. And then a woman I fell in love with, but then fell out of contact with years ago came back into my life and we formed a relationship. It was all going really well and for the first time in years I allowed myself to believe that I might be able to build a really good life. To do some really positive things. To finally be happy.
But then it all started falling apart.
First I witnessed a fight and was accused of being involved and placed in the segregation unit for months. The police were called in to investigate and still I believed that common sense would prevail and I would be vindicated. But time dragged on and, as it did, my studies suffered. I had no access to my Open University books and very nearly lost all of the grades I had worked so hard for.
After returning from segregation to the wing I faced a period where my letters (and blog posts) were routinely delayed by the prison and it became very hard to continue running this site. It also meant that many of the opportunities which had been offered were thrown into jeopardy because I was struggling to keep contact. I patiently awaited the conclusion of the police investigation, sure that they would see that I was not involved and take no further action, but I couldn’t go ahead with my parole hearing whilst it was hanging over me and I had to apply to defer the hearing to a later date again.
But I tried to stay positive. I got my Open University studies back on track, I threw myself into the Enabling Environments initiative I have spoken about before, and of course, I was over the moon that I was finally with the woman of my dreams and falling deeper in love with her every single day.
Then it got worse. Somehow, despite the evidence being entirely in my favour, the police decided to charge me. I can’t say much about the case just yet, but if and when I am found not guilty, I intend to make the entire case file public to highlight just how farcical the whole thing has been. In the meantime, my parole board had to be further delayed and, to date, it still cannot go ahead until the court case has concluded one way or the other. The prison decided to remove me from the Enabling Environments initiative because an officer said that it wasn’t appropriate for me to be part of it whilst facing charges. Forget the fact that I have not been found guilty of anything, and the evidence (including statements of prison staff) completely backs up that I was not involved in the incident, forget the principle of innocent until proven guilty, forget the fact that the fight had occurred months before the Enabling Environments initiative was launched anyway, I was sacked. Added to this, my relationship began to fail. It was a combination of things but it didn’t help that both she and I have complicated lives and whilst I still believe that the two of us fit together like hand and glove, our lives as they are at present do not. I won’t go into too much detail, but we couldn’t sustain a relationship and it had to end.
Faced with all of this, faced with my parole falling apart, with losing the woman I love, with realising that I have only one person in my life who has consistently being there for me from the very start of my sentence (my mother), I sank into the deepest depression I have ever encountered. I simply didn’t want to be here any more. I considered a lot of different things. I came close. But the last thing I wanted to do was work. I stopped writing. I stopped studying. I had to defer my Open University course. I had to fall back on the blog posts I had written as a safety net weeks earlier. And these soon ran out.
When I hit rock bottom I reached out to a friend, hoping she would just care enough to offer some kind words. But none came. I knew she had her own problems, and I really didn’t want to be a drain on her, but I also knew if the situation were reversed I would undoubtedly want to be there for her and I hoped that she might feel the same. When I spoke to her she pushed me to open up, and then, to my surprise, when I did, she stopped me dead and said she didn’t want to get involved. There were no kind words. No message of support. No concern. And she wouldn’t come and see me. It was her choice and I had to accept it. But I couldn’t understand how someone could say they cared, push me to open up to her, and then slam the door in my face. I knew she must have had her reasons. But it just confirmed everything I was already feeling. I was alone in the world.
That was when I suspended my blog. I just couldn’t face it. I couldn’t face anything. And if I’m honest, I didn’t plan to.
The fact is this. There is only one reason I am still here. Still able to write this. It all comes from one thought. This is what I deserve.
I put myself here. Granted, it was years ago, when I was still a kid, and yes, I do believe I have changed and that I should have been released by now. But I haven’t been. And I can never take back my past. So maybe I don’t deserve to be happy. Maybe I need to accept that I will never have the life I want. I will never be able to build anything from this rubble. I have to face these troubles and this pain, because it is the only way to truly understand and experience the trouble and pain I am responsible for myself. Doing something to escape that may seem easier sometimes, but I don’t deserve easy. I deserve exactly what I am getting.
When I realised that, I thought I would never blog again. I thought that it was pointless. But then I remembered something I said in a very early blog post from when I first started this site. I said that even though I know it is futile and I can never take back my past, not even trying to do something positive is almost as bad as doing something so negative in the first place. I have a responsibility to put as much positivity out into the world as possible. And I also have the responsibility to accept it when I fail and it all falls apart. And so that is what I will do.
Parts of this may have sounded like self pity, but please understand, it isn’t that at all, I am at ease with my position now. I accept it. I embrace it. This is my lot. And I will carry on, simply because that is the right thing to do. All I hope is that something I do helps someone else in some way. At least then it will all have been worth it.