Institutionalized? How To Avoid Long-term Effects?
Adjusting to prison is necessary for emotional stability. However, adjusting also means beginning the institutionalization process. In some respects this can be a good thing. For instance, cleaning your living spaces every day or eating three square meals. Staying busy… but there are far more negative. Like fighting over words. If you get called a punk or bitch you are supposed to fight immediately. Or if someone cuts in front of you for anything. Our bosses only wear guard outfits and don’t interact with us like humans, but like talking animals. Sometimes nicely, sometimes not.
There are other ones that are less complex. Like our food not touching each other on the tray. There are compartments and we don’t even think about it until our food is piled on against other foods. It bothered me to no end, in fact, I threw it away because it turned my stomach.
It’s silly things that have impacts that will divide me in the community. One of my own personal fears is shopping. I used to love it. Just adored walking through the grocery store or mall or whatever and just interacting with the place. Reading labels and comparing prices and talking to others getting recipes or tips. But I haven’t had to make a single decision about what to eat or wear for a long time and the idea of doing it now seems like a tall order.
I had a dream that I was in Fred Meyer and was confused by all the hustle and colors. So I went with my cart to the peanut butter aisle. I was shocked at how many choices there were and it confused me further. Not knowing which one to choose, I blindly grabbed all of one kind and headed to the checkout. There the cashier was asking what I was doing with all that and I got offended. In my mind she was an inmate asking me things that only police ask. I angrily left the store and refused to speak.
After I woke up I thought about what I was going to do to make sure that I am not like that. What do I have to do to leave this place healthy? Here is what I do; I shop, I let people call me names and laugh about it with them (even if they weren’t laughing to start, I turn it into a joke, letting everyone know I don’t take it serious), I think about clothes and outfits and imagine choosing my attire for the day. I take pride in my appearance and my day I try to keep organized for work but for free time I try to be spontaneous. I interact with staff on a human level. I don’t compromise my safety by doing so but when they interact with me they know that I feel and have remorse and want better. So does everyone around me inmates too. I take my job seriously and take whatever responsibility I come across.
Most importantly I remember that I had a life out there and will again someday. I think by taking this seriously now I have a good chance of overcoming it with ease upon release. Any tips?
Jeff Utnage 823469
To communicate you can leave comments and I will eventually get them, but the best way is to either email me on jpay.com (my doc# is 823469) or type a letter and mail me directly at
Jeff Utnage 823469
Stafford Creek Correction Center
191 Constantine Way
Aberdeen, WA 98520