Weekly Journal – Rehabilitation
A major focus of mine since getting to Milan has been on rehabilitation and lowering any chance of recidivism. One of the major ways of doing this is through programming and treatment. I’ve already written a little about my efforts for programming, but I wanted to write more about my current goals.
One way I’ve tried to work on my issues is through therapy. I was able to meet with psychology starting back at county jail. This was voluntary but I sought out any help I could get. I have continued this at Milan and the psychology staff felt I had improved enough to go from Care Level 2 down to the lowest level, Care Level 1. I had some counseling in a drug and alcohol class and I signed up for and am about to start two more intensive cognitive based therapy programs, one based on my offense and one based on drug and alcohol treatment. I also searched options for when I’m released and found a specialist to focus on my specific area of need.
The psychology department here also has an independent study class where you can read books and complete workbooks on various topics. In the last couple years I have gone through studies on depression, anxiety, stress, communication, parenting, addiction and others related to my offense and improving mental health. I continue to attend these classes and am reading a very interesting book right now called The Healthy Brain. I feel like this is a valuable way I can use my time and I plan to continue doing it.
I think self-reflection, whether through these journal posts, talking to family and friends or just laying in bed at night has been another important step. Seeing the fallout of my actions on so many people I care about has fundamentally changed me. I see daily reminders in my family and I constantly think about others who I hurt and the impact I had on them. This more than anything else makes me sure I will not re-offend, but I understand the importance of getting treatment, identifying and diffusing triggers and using other strategies to supplement my internal motivation to be rehabilitated. I’m glad to see that the metrics used by the DOJ show my efforts are having an impact. The BOP uses something called the PATTERN score where my case manager meets with me regularly to review my efforts and does a statistically backed evaluation for my recidivism. My score has consistently dropped and is now in the lowest possible category, minimum (5 out of a possible 114).
Another big part of my rehabilitation is to focus on being a better person. I’ve always thought of myself as a good person who did kind things for those around me and while that was usually true, my selfish actions that led me here mean I have to reconcile who I want to be with who I was. I am trying to use this as a motivation to improve going forward. One challenge is that I don’t want to lose the parts of me that were good. I know I am a loving parent. And to be able to be an effective father, I don’t want the challenge of this experience to break me.
I see it every day. I see people who have given up or have no ambition to change, and while that is depressing, I try to use it to remind myself I don’t want to be that way. When the opportunity presents itself I also try to share some motivation with those who are lacking it. I recently sat down with a neighbor who decided he was going to die before he gets out and tried to help him look for a purpose and reset his mindset. It’s very easy to start feeling sorry for yourself being here. But I don’t think that is productive, nor is it necessarily fair since we are all in here through situations of our own making. So i try to shut that line of thinking down as soon as I can.
Mental health is a struggle though and despite being a pretty friendly, outgoing and fun-loving person, I go through moments where I feel like when I leave here I won’t be allowed to be happy or be able to laugh, because if people see me that way, they won’t think I am remorseful for my actions. But if I want to be there for my kids and my wife and be a positive influence on their lives, I need to get over that line of thinking. Similarly, I struggle feeling that any of the good I did or tried to do in my career has been cancelled out by my actions. But one of the therapists helped me with this a little by saying life isn’t a math equation where the bad cancels out the good. So hopefully some of those I helped still benefitted and hopefully I can continue working on my rehabilitation to be the positive influence I want to be.