My Daily Journal in Federal Prison

Day 21

Happy Memorial Day, everyone.  I got the morning off to a good start with breakfast (oatmeal, orange, cake, 2 cartons of skim milk) and then marched down to the rec yard to enjoy the weather and to read my book.  It was supposed to be in the lower 90s today so I wanted get some sun while the heat was still bearable.

Yesterday, I started reading “Madness: A Bipolar Life” by Marya Hornbacher (author of the Pulitzer-prize nominated “Wasted: A Memoir of Anorexia and Bulimia“) and it has been a fascinating read.  While a lot of advancements have been made both medically and in the area of social acceptance, I believe that we still have a long way to go before society fully comprehends how debilitating a mental illness can be…and how it is not something that one could just snap out of.  I, myself, was recently diagnosed as bipolar, but it was of the less severe Type II variety (mixed), and I have never experienced a full manic episode (nor would it be very likely at this point).  The author was very lucky, as am I, to have such a strong support system in her life and it makes me cringe at the thought of all those who are left behind simply because they become an inconvenience.

The rec yard was fairly empty this morning, so I popped a squat on the softball bleachers; I soon found it difficult to concentrate on my book.  I decided to get my exercise routine off to a slow start by walking around the track…I have yet to purchase gym clothes, so I had to suffer the heat wearing my institution-issued khakis.  My celly was kind enough to loan me a pair of size 11 cross-trainers until I am able to purchase some running shoes.

I stripped off my shirt so that I would still have something clean to wear after I showered; the laundry was closed today and I have run out of fresh clothes.  I did a brisk 15 lap walk around the regulation-sized track, which I believe equals roughly 5.5-6 miles.  After “recall,” (the command over the loud speaker instructing all inmates to return to their units), I took a shower in the gym, I mean, shower room.  I said gym because, contrary to what you may see in the movies, there are no free weights in Federal prison…at least not in this joint…which seems to make sense considering that they could easily be used as projectiles…or blunt objects for raining pain on my gourd.

So what does this have to do with the shower?  Well, the inmates in my unit (and I’m assuming the other units, as well) set up a make shift gym in the shower room…using the top bar in the shower stills for pull-ups and then, more elaborately, set up a make shift weight-bench with a trash can, a broom handle as a weight bar, and sacks of laundry (or at least laundry bags with heavy foreign objects inside) dangling off either end of the broom handle as weights.  There’s something mildly disturbing about all the grunts bouncing off the walls while you’re trying to take a shower.

Oh yeah…and the showers themselves?  They are actually quite nice.  (No more jokes about dropping the soap, please.)  Each stall is private, much like a toilet stall, but roomier…the water pressure is solid and the temperature just right.

Lunch today was a Memorial Day cook-out…although it was still served in the chow hall.  Each inmate received 2 hot dogs, 2 burgers, potato salad/cole slaw, baked beans, and chocolate ice cream (yum).  That’s a lot of food, right?  Well, it didn’t take very long before that ugly sense of entitlement came marching through.  Back at the Unit, I was making small took with my neighbor, just commenting on the lunch and how it was pretty decent.  Some buttinsky dropped by and interrupted, “Is this your first bit??”  (Translation: Is this the first time you have been in prison?)  He continued, “Man, that shit was GARBAGE.  I remembered back a few years ago each dude would get FOUR hot dogs and FOUR burgers…” (and on and on about the wonderful paradise that used to be prison).

For dinner (considering it was a Federal holiday), we all lined up for sack dinners around 2:00 p.m…just a couple hours after we ate lunch.  Within that brown bag was a bologna sandwich, a PB&J sandwich, a tube of banana creme cookies, a bag of chips…and a can of cola from Sam’s Club. USA!USA!USA!

Tomorrow I go job hunting.



  acrazybeautifulmind wrote @

Hi I have bipolar II. I recently started a blog about it everydaybipolar.WordPress.com You might like it

  DH wrote @

You are going to wind up a fat ass with all that food they serve, not to mention the amount of sodium you are ingesting.

Perhaps you can ask for a low sodium or pre-diabetic meal plan. I’m serious, they must serve something else to the inmates if you can just get a doctor’s note.

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