The image, ‘Create Escape’, is, of course, the artwork created by Banksy which appeared on a wall at the former prison where Oscar Wilde served his time, HMP Reading. I am sure Banksy’s artwork depicts someone escaping from prison. However, I also see it from another perspective. I see the escape as escaping society and the man in the image trying to get in, and not out of prison.
There were many times I would view the prison wall from my cell and feel secure. It wasn’t keeping me in; it was keeping people out.
When being released from prison, as I was in June 2017, in a subject so eloquently delivered by a friend who lives in America, Shelia Bruno – ‘Wife after prison’, you don’t just leave the experience at the gate. Neither do you collect the emotions you’ve been suppressing for however long from reception on the way out. Below is a link to Shelia’s book, one I can highly recommend.
Post incarceration syndrome is real. The BBC covered the issue in the following link:
I have no intention of returning to prison to serve a prison sentence, however, that does not stop me from mentally popping back to my old cell whenever I feel like it, or I should say, when the need arises.
Prison is also an environment where if you always expect the unexpected, the impact is so much less when the unexpected happens. “It is what it is” frees up so much space in thought processes. In my cell, or in prison, a place I felt secure, was, and still is, where I made my most rational choices and decisions for me. Sounds quite selfish that and in a way it is selfish but if you don’t get you right, you then can’t be there for others. I don’t see doing things to benefit your mental health as selfish.
Over the years, a prison cell became my safe place. I didn’t need to think about it. I was in my safe place physically and believe it or not, even in that environment, it was still a nice, warm feeling. Think of when returning from holiday and sitting in your favourite chair, “It’s good to get away, but it’s good to come home”. That was how I felt mostly when banging my cell door shut. You HAVE to go behind the door, so why not take some control back and close the door yourself. I should point out although I’ve doubled up and also served time in a four-man, I was mostly in single cells. The first time in a four-man at HMP Blundeston was a whole unique experience, and one I would not want to go through again. It was always potluck who you end up with in a double. I’ve been fortunate more than unfortunate in the pad-mates I shared with, but a four-man took some political skills to keep it civil sometimes. Get the right pad-mate in a double and time can really fly. In the main though, single cells for me, especially the older I got.
I mentioned about taking myself back to my cell whenever I wished or when the need arises. Sometimes, though, I get little choice in the matter. Certain music/songs immediately take my mind back to prison. On certain occasions, it’s down to me, because I regularly listen to National Prison Radios’ friends and family request shows which get uploaded online. Plus, I love listening to The Friday Night House Party from LDC Radio 97.8FM Leeds which they upload to SoundCloud. You don’t get many radio stations these days doing shout outs to people in prison and LDC Radio are a station that seem to encourage shout outs. In fact, I’m listening to it now and is why I’ve written this blog. Great show to listen to and most definitely takes me back.
And why not? It works for me.