Mental imprisonment

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be imprisoned, physically detained? Most of us haven’t. We have never given any thought to it simply because it doesn’t have any direct influence on us. We are accustomed to, and embrace, freedom as a limitless commodity, taking for granted what is available to us at any given time. Above photo

But try to consider for a moment how someone’s life would change should they commit a serious crime that led to incarceration. The freedom that was once theirs, to do with as they wished, would suddenly be taken away from them. A delegated authority figure would be appointed to make choices and decisions for them regarding every aspect of their existence, without even a hint of consideration to how they felt about it.

Imagine the feeling of being held captive, like an animal in a cage, without the ability to think, plan and dream of the future, because there isn’t a future – not in their eyes. There is nothing to look forward to, no one to reach out to and no one that cares. They are alone!

They are surrounded by walls, walls that keep them confined, confined with the realization that they are now a prisoner.

They struggle to find a sense of purpose and for a time build up some strength to fight for a new identity, but soon decide that the barriers are far greater than the motivation. Even if they try to break free from the pain and suffering by shifting their focus to something other than their destiny, reality immediately reminds them that life no longer holds purpose or meaning, except for the sake of existing.

The outside world becomes a fleeting memory that begins to fade with the passing of each day. They begin to accept their fate as fatigue sets in, and eventually succumb to solitude, to the darkness and the isolation that imprisonment brings.

It is only a matter of time before they feel compelled to aggressively pursue a means of escape.

Although the above description paints a bleak picture of what a convicted felon might experience while in prison, the harsh reality is that, much like the convict, over 200 million individuals globally have lost the ability to thrive in their everyday lives. (inset photo unsplash/dev-asangbam)

They too, are imprisoned, held in captivity both physically and mentally, incapable of accomplishing even the simplest of tasks.

They are overwhelmed with virtually everything and as a result begin to withdraw from friends, family, activities and personal hygiene, becoming oblivious to the world and everything in it. Their mind becomes a battlefield, a place where every move, or lack thereof, is influenced and acted upon by what they feel and perceive to be real.

Although they are equipped with sufficient weapons to win the battle and escape the torment, oppositional enemy forces, better known as toxic thoughts, begin to apply such great pressure that they cause all defences to weaken to the point of complete surrender. All that remains is an incredible darkness, a place where lethargy immobilizes the body and intensifies the pain. They desperately seek for relief and turn to whatever is accessible to them, regardless of cost, and there is always a cost, be it loss of relationships, loss of health or loss of life.

The end goal is to either numb the sense of hopelessness or bring it to an end. It is important, however, to keep in mind that although suicide might be an end to your own suffering, it will be the beginning of it for all those who are left behind.

Symptoms of depression

If this sounds completely unrealistic and hard to believe, think again. Depression has captured the lives of many and will continue to do so until these individuals are provided with a lifeline, a sense of hope when all else is lost. Be kind to those who struggle; judgement only brings further despair. This is not something that anyone can just snap out of.

Whether it’s visible or not, depression can show up in ways such as:

  • feelings of sadness or emptiness
  • low energy
  • sleep problems, sleeping too much
  • feeling worthless
  • trouble concentrating or making decisions
  • loss of enjoyment in previously enjoyed activities
  • considerable changes in appetite
  • thoughts of suicide

If you or someone you know has experienced any five of the above symptoms consistently, over a two-week period, it is important to seek the advice of a professional who can work with you, to help address and manage your symptoms.

You hold the key to unlocking the prison doors, don’t allow fear to prevent you from using it. It may feel uncomfortable and take some effort but you are worth it! Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. You are important and deserving of love, acceptance and a fulfilling future. Make the decision to use that key!

Author’s note: If you need help, I will do what I can to make that happen. Prices per session have been discounted until the end of 2020.


About the author: Brenda Strack (inset), a Valley native, is a certified counsellor in Barry’s Bay practising as Madawaska Valley Counselling Services. She uses Integrative Counselling to tailor a therapeutic approach specific to the needs of each individual. For more information see

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