Todays diary excerpt looks at Isolation and the mental challenge it presented to one first time prisoner and we have added a couple of updates on our wider activity.

As mentioned last week we have taken the decision to seek advertising/sponsor support to help develop the project of First Time Inside and the additions of new concepts under the banner of Prehabilitation. It is with great delight that we can share that this quest has been instantly and warmly received by a variety of potential partners.

The first supporter to appear on the First Time Inside website and at the foot of each blog post are the wonderfully talented and creative web designers at Creo Design. Their support will see two new websites being developed in the coming weeks and months both of which will be focussed on different parts of the prehabilitative pathway. More details on those sites coming soon.

Creo are part of the Solutions on Demand group of companies (SOD-IT) and Managing Director Martin Boyle has stated “It’s an absolute pleasure to support such an innovative range of projects all of which are being designed to make life better for those in real need. I’ve known Gerry at First Time Inside for a number of years now, through previous projects, and his talent for concept creation and development is exceptional.” We are thrilled to welcome Martin and his creative team to our First Time Inside family. Their can do attitude coupled to their obvious energy and creative talents make them a great fit to move our projects on.

News of two major law firms joining our supporting cast will be revealed soon.

On Twitter last week we saw approximately 5000 views, amongst over 70k impressions, of media items we shared and we really must thank all who engaged through social media for taking the time to watch and more importantly share with others. We really are humbled by the level of exposure you are helping us achieve and that culminated on Thursday of last week with a note on Twitter from the justice secretary Humza Yousaf opening the door to a meeting to discuss our work.

In the diary excerpt today, as noted above, the effects of a long lock up are mentioned and the mental anguish brought on by periods of isolation again mentioned.

It’s funny where your mind takes you when you’re stuck behind a steel white door for fourteen hours at a time with nobody to talk to but that little voice inside your head. A voice which seems to get louder and louder when the cacophony of verbal diarrhoea, present during opening hours, is largely muted by the simple turn of a key. I say largely muted because there remains the voices shouting from cell to cell from behind their locked doors about subjects that really do require a healthy dose of imodium to bring them to a halt. 

It’s Sunday night and the monotony of the day lingers like a painful reminder of unattended grief. It’s night two of a weekend of fourteen hours of isolation. What I wouldn’t give to have a phone in this cell right now. The release of other voices and conversation is wildly appealing at the moment.  

My new habit of attending the gym seems to help, albeit temporarily, with alleviating some of the symptoms of helplessness and shame you feel being incarcerated in this place but the indescribable ache – present in every part of your body – which is accompanied by a bewildering anxiety that settles on you when the door is locked is suffocating in it’s ferocity. Talking to myself in this diary of sorts is the only tiny release available at times. Forcing every syllable onto paper, through a fog so dense it feels like you’re in a physical battle to break through it, is like an act of defiance against an overwhelming urge to just curl up and admit defeat. I’ve set myself on a course of defiance and I refuse to be beaten even if all that stands between me and that defeat is this paper and pen in my hand.

But enough of this dreary tone. Ok I tried, it’ll take more than that it seems. My family visited today and discussed the holiday we had booked prior to this abhorrent turn of events becoming a reality. They wanted to cancel the holiday as they said they didn’t want to go without me and it was so obvious they meant it. I think I’ve managed to convince them all to go, although I must confess the thought of not seeing them for over two weeks is horrendous, with the hope that they will be able to relax and be free of visiting here for a short period. Their pain and suffering as a result of my being here is without a doubt the worst thing I’ve experienced in life. I’m supposed to be the guide and mentor of the family, safe to say I’ve dropped that ball.

I must have checked the ATM a dozen times today hoping that by dint of some miracle my HDC or release date would have been brought forward but of course it never will be. The battle to remain positive is a daily challenge and some days it just feels a little more difficult than others, today is one of those days. That in itself is funny because when I awoke today I was excited by the prospect of a family visit, of getting to the gym prior to that visit and had decided today was going to be a good day. Witnessing a scuffle and being served a cold lunch put aid to my optimism for the day. Crazy how seemingly small inconsequential things dominate your mood sometimes.

Looking forward to disappearing back down the rabbit hole of art class for a couple of hours tomorrow. It is the only time in the week I feel like time passes quickly, too quickly if I’m honest, and I almost forget where I am. Between this new found passion for writing and my apparent enthusiasm for pencil drawing I have created small windows of escape in the long days and weeks. Strikes me that creative activities have a greater calming influence on a lot of people here when compared to the sometimes bedlam riddled work placements. Nothing takes away the loss of liberty but surely engaging the mind is better than many of the mind numbing work details people have.

Ok so my wish list for tonight given that returning home is off the menu for now consists of a phone for my cell and a schedule of creative activities to engage the brain. It would also be good if they added Maynards wine gums to the ATM shopping options. OK I’m asking for too much but a man can dream surely and on that positive note I’m off to watch another old episode of Taggart on TV, surely that’ll help me sleep.     


Thanks for taking the time to read our Blog, we hope the messages within resonate with you and we welcome your feedback at any time.

Have a great day @firsttimeinside out.

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