1. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): I remember taking a class at USF called Theories of Criminal Behavior. The professor told us that one of the most under-diagnosed disorders amongst people who move away from “high-crime neighborhoods” is PTSD. I wondered if PTSD had anything to do with the behaviors that landed me in prison. I also wondered if, after moving away from the Bronx (in the late 80’s and early 90’s) and after serving 9 years in prison, I had a more severe case of PTSD. Of course, my next move was to go online and search for some of the symptoms, and they jumped out at me: IRRITABILITY, flashbacks, OUTBURSTS OF ANGER, DIFFICULTY CONCENTRATING, emotional numbing, SLEEP DISTURBANCES, EXAGGERATED STARTLE RESPONSE, avoidance of anything that would trigger memories, DISSOCIATION, REDUCED CAPACITY TO TRUST. I recognized many of the symptoms in myself. My self-diagnosis came in quickly. I most likely have PTSD. The even crazier thought was that “I’ve probably been suffering from PTSD for the last eighteen years.” It was a jarring revelation. It helped me to understand more about myself and my past behaviors. My self-diagnosis is still unconfirmed by a professional. I’ve never visited any therapist or psychologist, but I’m fairly certain they’d arrive at the same conclusion.

Have you spent time in prison? Are you experiencing any of the symptoms of PTSD? I’m not saying you need to be professionally diagnosed, because you know more about yourself than anyone, and I’m definitely not saying you need to be medicated, but, in order to address the problem, you need to be aware of it. There’s no shame in admitting that you may suffer from PTSD.

 

2. Anger Problems: I’m talking about those outbursts of anger mentioned above, but you don’t have to have PTSD to suffer from anger issues. After my release on June 1, 2002, I found myself getting into arguments at clubs and bars (places I should not have been) over the silliest and slightest “offenses.” One second I’m having fun, enjoying myself, next second I’m screaming at someone, full volume, ready to send my fists flying. I had this idea in my mind that I had gotten sentenced way too harshly (and unfairly) when I was a kid, and decided if I wound up in front of a judge again It’ll be for doing something deserving of the ridiculous penalty I would surely receive. That was a dangerous mindset to be in, both for myself and anyone who I perceived as acting aggressively toward me. It’s obvious now that my frame of mind then was born out of anger. If I had paid more attention, at the time, to God and Jesus and biblical instruction I could have saved myself from many potentially combustible situations. So, understand that after a lengthy prison sentence it is natural to be angry at something, or many things, but you should recognize it, be patient with yourself and others, and take steps to rid yourself of that disadvantage. I know those quick bursts of anger probably served you well in prison, an advertisement that demonstrated your willingness to engage anyone in combat, but if you don’t relinquish that anger on the outside it’ll be the reason you wind up back in prison.

 

3. Addiction to Pornography: I wasn’t that teenager who hid porno magazines under his mattress. I was never into pornography of any kind back then, never owned any of it. I was more into real live girls from class, ones that I saw walking the halls of my high school, not ones I’d never know, see, or speak to. Pornography just didn’t make sense to me. But then I went to prison, and the memories of my teenage sexual escapades faded into the past, no longer providing me with…images. More lively and colorful and “realistic” were those “paper dolls” that I once considered very Un-realistic. It’s crazy how something so foreign to you can become so normal when you’re placed in a different environment. It became something to do, something to pass time with. Porno magazines are traded on prison compounds the way kids trade baseball cards (Yuck!). They are sometimes bought and sold for 5, 6, 7 times what they’re worth on the street. I became a “fan,” finally, and continued being a fan for years after my release from prison. The internet made it really easy to access, the easiest its ever been. It was years before I realized it was a problem, and a few years after that realization before I was able to break the addiction. If you’ve just gotten out and you don’t think it’s a problem, it is, or it will be. You may have even convinced yourself that you’re acting naturally, just a man indulging his desires, expressing genetic predispositions, or that your brain is hardwired to need that kind of release. That’s bull. You’re just rationalizing and making excuses for your addiction. It’ll ruin your relationships because the women you meet will never measure up to the fantasies you’ve created in your mind. Do away with it and do something more constructive with your time.

23 thoughts on “3 Serious Issues That Affect Ex-Cons

  1. You have a lot of wisdom. I have PTSD from past abuse, my husband has it from his prison experience. What you shared is spot on. God bless.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Just stopped by to thank you for your recent follow on Shift Key and look at your site. Interesting indeed! I’m very familiar with PTSD (although our sources are different; mine from long term sexual abuse as a child). Point being, I have had excellent success seeing a counselor certified in the use of EMDR to help with PTSD. No room to expound here, but look into EMDR–amazing results. Keep up the good work; keep moving forward!

    Liked by 3 people

  3. So honest and real. I recognize those symptoms of PTSD. Someone I care deeply for has it too. His come from the military though. And its, from my glimpse of it, a terrible thing to suffer from. I wish I could say ‘it gets better’. I don’t know. But I hope. I hope it will get better, for you and anyone else identifying with PTSD.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you for reading and commenting. As I stated in the post, I’ve never been officially diagnosed with PTSD but, either way, anything affecting me, physically or psychologically, I leave in God’s hands. I truly trust in Him to be my everything, my provider, my healer, my physician, my father, my comfort, my peace, everything. Thank you again. God bless.

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  4. Nice to see you writing. Been praying for you, because God has burdened my heart. I understand these things about which you speak, and will ask God to please let you see His grace face-to-face, and seek deliverance from all this. Exercise is key!

    Just so you know, I write from various levels of experience: personal, voluntary, corporate, professional, etc. My recommendation is to stay out of another system. God is our Great Healer. He gives us Wisdom to seek His Face.

    You’re on the right narrow road! Onward and upward we march. God bless you.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. You’re welcome. I’ve since changed my main name while it’s still early, but I wrote something on Paul Harvey (it’s what sparked the change in me). It may not resonate with you due to the era, yet at the bottom is a short video of something he predicted back in 1965. You may want to have a quick listen. His words startled me somewhat, because I had written about something which he had spoken having worked in the “profession”.

    You can envision “The Rest of the Story”.

    Until later.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. It’s a pleasure to meet you. You have a remarkable story. Your resilience, motivation and courage are commendable and have served you well in changing your life story to one of positivity and wellbeing. I wish you every blessing on your journey and a heartfelt thanks for the follow 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Your statements on PTSD are spot-on. You are also absolutely correct that people know themselves better than any professional ever will, and I’m a professional. In all reality, the diagnosis itself isn’t as important as finding ways to reduce symptoms and the impact on every day life.
    Complex and generational trauma are so prevalent in high-crime neighborhoods and the general population doesn’t seem to understand the impact of these experiences (and let’s not forget about systematic racism). I’d be interested in your thoughts on what it will take to reduce these traumatic experiences in those neighborhoods.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Hello. Thanks for reading.
    I’m honored that you would like to hear my thoughts on what it would take to reduce highly traumatic experiences in high-crime neighborhoods, but I’m not sure I’d be able to address the issue to your satisfaction, not sure if I’d be able to expound upon the topic in a truly enlightening way, however, I’ll try.

    I believe that, more than anything, “what it will take” is time. Right? Because we’re talking about specific types of traumatic experiences happening over and over again, to generation after generation. I’m still trying to undo and reverse the effects of my 9-year prison stint and I’ve been out for 15 years. But I think I’m answering the question of what it would take to reduce the negative impact of those traumatic experiences, rather than the experiences themselves. To that, I’d say education. If there was a movement to educate people in high-crime neighborhoods on trauma and traumatic experiences, what trauma is, what makes an experience traumatic, the negative impacts of traumatic experiences, the long term effects, the signs of trauma, you know, all that stuff. If there were some sort of Trauma Education Movement in high-crime neighborhoods, I think that would be a good start.

    I went on a bit and I’m still not certain I answered your question. Lol. 🙂 I tried though.

    Thank you for stopping by, for reading, for commenting.
    God Bless.

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  9. Aloha, I just came to this post because I saw the word PTSD and I appreciate that you’re writing about it so much. The causes of this illness from person to person may be different but the way you wrote about it is so clear and absolutely real that it’s universal. It’s my opinion that media has made it very very difficult for people with PTSD to get help who are not soldiers. Trauma has many forms and faces which the newspapers do not show but as more people come out I can see change for the better in the cards for us. In relation to myself I’ve had severe PTSD for about two years now and what you wrote about some of the symptoms I absolutely identify with. I hope you get the help that you need and move on to better things.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m always honored when people stumble upon my words, then stop, read, and comment. Thank you. PTSD, to me, is exactly what it’s name states: Stress that is felt in the aftermath of some traumatic experience. There will always inevitably be stress that follows any traumatic experience and, since everyone in the world has had a traumatic experience, my belief is that everyone in the world has suffered from PTSD to some degree. I also believe that if there are a million different ways that people experience PTSD then there are also a million different ways of coping with PTSD. My way of coping with anything is to avoid leaning on my own understanding and trusting in God. I am certain that, without Him, I wouldn’t be here writing these words. And, if any good comes out of my writing then to God be the glory.
      I want to thank you for sharing some of your own story in your comment. I am, as stated earlier, always honored when someone reads my words, doubly honored when someone chooses to share a piece of their own life with me. Thank you so much.
      Keep your head up.
      Keep moving forward.
      Keep progressing.
      God bless.

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  10. I’m honored that you would like to hear my thoughts on what it would hire to concentrate highly traumatic experiences in high-crime neighborhoods, but I’m not indisputable I’d be able to destination the take to your expiation, not indisputable if I’d be able to expound upon the subject in a truly enlightening elbow room, however, I’ll hear.
    I want to thank you for communion some of your own(a) tale in your gossip.

    Liked by 1 person

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