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I’m sick and the medicine no longer works. I hurt and the therapy doesn’t heal. My soul is either broken or in the process of breaking. Life seems to be leading nowhere, just spinning my tires in the mud, pushing the accelerator, hoping to gain traction. It’s days like these living in a cell that I don’t want to do anything.

My past will always precede me. I face it each day when I wake up and every night before bed. My life and my character is stained and there’s no magic eraser for this. I can try everything possible, basketball, working out, school… it just doesn’t go away. Can I rise above it? Can I co-exist with this? If so, can someone show me how? I need to buy in. To trick myself into believing everything is ok. I need to have confidence and believe that I can still have a wonderful life. I am not happy although I smile. I can’t convince myself that anything is worth the effort. I just want to leave. I want to go home.

I’d love to disappear, to simply ease the pain. I’d love to not be conscious of where I am. This shit hurts and I feel there’s no other way for me to live. I find ways to numb the ache, to skip out on the daily activities called life. I’m here, but I’m not. I’m on cruise control, asleep at the wheel. There are other ways to live but are they worth it? I’m still doing well in school, but this place is driving me mad.

Give me something. A brief escape, something to ease my nerves and soothe my soul. I’m at the breaking point and can’t find a reason to stay motivated or to get through each day with my head held high. There’s an itch I can’t scratch. The nothingness of this place is draining.

Being on constant lockdown is eating at my insides, devouring me from within. What I enjoy doesn’t last and keeps me constantly searching for more. I’m running in circles. I have no place to enter. Getting lost is what helps me find myself each day. Does that make sense? It probably shouldn’t because I can’t make sense of the mayhem most days. It’s not the life I hoped for, but I’m making the most of it, right? I tell myself yes, but my dark side continues to drag me down into the mud. Relax and take the edge off, help me to pass the time, give me patience to deal with the politics and characters in this place. But I’m still miserable and sick. Lost, with no direction. 

Disclaimer: The views in this article are those of the author. Global Forum Online has verified the writer’s identity and basic facts such as the names of institutions mentioned.

Todd Mandoline is a writer incarcerated in Illinois. He is a 2022 graduate of the Northwestern Prison Education Program.