Vigilance – the action or state of keeping careful, watch for possible danger or difficulties.
Hyper Vigilance – is an enhanced state of sensory sensitivity accompanied by an exaggerated intensity of behaviours whose purpose is to detect activity. Hypervigilance may bring about a state of increased anxiety which can cause exhaustion.
“Hypervigilance is a state of increased alertness. If you’re in a state of hypervigilance, you’re extremely sensitive to your surroundings. Hypervigilance can be a symptom of mental health conditions, including: post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) anxiety disorders.”
Why the inclusion of definitions of the terms in our latest little ramble?
Well the term arose in a meeting with a potential client last week as we were discussing some of the aspects of prison life that some people will not automatically think of in terms of the prison environment.
I was explaining that, although entering prison at times seems like a blur, in reality it is quite the opposite. I can clearly remember every aspect of the entry process, from court to cell and all points in between, as well as the conversations and questions I had to endure in those first few hours. That ability to recall I was informed could be classed as hypervigilance and upon reflection it probably is the most valid tag. I had always thought that my observation skills were as average as the next man but in prison I soon found out that good observation skills would be part of the survival process.
That experience and recall of events contributes now to the ability to sit with others facing prison for the first time and offer them some insight into that early environment as well as being able to chat about the aspects of prison life that nobody prepares you for.
Prison requires you to walk a fine line, a balance of building community and keeping to yourself. You’re not alone in feeling helpless for example but you will feel isolated. It’s key from the outset to recognise that there are no friends but you do need to manage interaction. As I said there is a need for a balance of emotions, actions and interactions all of which can leave you feeling exhausted at the end of the day and daunted at the start of a new day.
The world inside the prison world requires at the very least heightened awareness and gaining a little insight prior to entry can only offer some benefit.
It is encouraging to read from various sources online and elsewhere that there is an appetite for change to a system which is largely devoid of humanity. Talk of a more holistic approach to criminal law and social media being alive with support for “presiding with kindness” offer a hope that in the future our system will create a better environment on the back of decisions made in a more creative or innovative way.
Our service ties in well with that refreshing approach. After all, given the opportunity to have a client sit down and learn about what they are facing why would someone choose not to make that available to their client?
The following verses were taken from a poem inspired by my peer group in prison.
Huge potential stunted by choices
Lost to those with convincing voices
Easy to follow the herd into strife
Tougher to break free and create a life
Surrounded by talent shorn of belief
Self respect in the wind like an Autumn leaf
Confidence in spades in negative direction
Fear of improvement as sad contradiction
We’ll perhaps include more of the poem later this week.