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"They don't do much here for you. They say, 'We'll get to it when we get to it.' And they never get to it. They set you up to fail. How do they expect you not to be a recidivist when they don't actually help you get better?"

I’m having some trouble right now. I’m adjusting to this big sentence that they gave me; it’s taken a toll on my mental health. It’s brought depression and anxiety back into the picture and set my PTSD off a lot. I was healing from a lot that I’d been through. I was just getting good from my dad passing and addiction coming into my life, but this is bringing a lot of that stuff back up. It was just a DUI, I didn’t hurt no one. I feel like they threw the book at me for no reason. I feel like my existence matters that little that they want to throw me in a cage for seven years. My pod has a drug and alcohol therapist and I talk with her once a week. She’s helped me navigate through this conviction and deal with the depression. It helps talking with people; it helps me hang on to hope. 


Some nights I have trouble sleeping, but I’m on meds for that. I also have bipolar disorder. I have a good bit going on. Some days are better than others, it just depends on what happens that day. I put in a request for psych because I wanted to increase my meds and do something for the anxiety. I’ve been through a lot. I got tunnel vision and thought I would die in jail. If I got seven years, maybe I won’t make it seven years. I woke up every day with anxiety and panic attacks, but they told me I had to wait a few months between psych appointments. As long as you ain’t hanging yourself in your cell, they don’t care. The one thing I want is more rec time. I feel pretty isolated right now. I feel like I’m in solitary confinement because I’m on single cell status and I’m 23-and-1 [23 hours in the cell, 1 hour out]. I feel like I’m just alone a lot, and it hurts a little bit. That’s taken its toll on my mental health. It would be nice to get out and mingle with other people and build a support system in here. Being so restricted right now is hard. I know with this COVID stuff, who knows when I’ll get out more. They’re talking 2021. I’m making the best of it. I keep in touch with my ex-fiancée, mom, and sister, and I pray a lot. God answers a lot of my prayers and comforts me. He gives me the right verse in the Bible at the right time. Some days, I have that “what if” thinking, and wonder if I’m going to make it seven years if the judge makes me do it? What if my condition turns cancerous and I gotta die in jail? 

A grey silhouette of a standing person admidst black lines and abstract shapes.

digital illustration


I was diagnosed with Hep-C in 2018 but didn’t have health insurance at the time to get the medicine. Then I came to the jail, and I’m worried about how long my sentence is if they’re not going to treat my Hep-C. I also have advanced liver disease. The Hep-C attacks my liver all the time, so it won’t get better until the Hep-C is treated. It just gets worse, but they won’t treat me for it. It's been months since they checked my liver. I put in a sick call, but they said they’re not starting new treatments on anyone else; I had to have been on treatment when I came to the jail. They think it’s out of sight, out of mind, I guess. I still have some pain in the liver area, and they won’t check it out because they’re afraid they’ll find something and have to treat it. I put in a grievance, and they just said “invalid” on the response. I’m afraid to pursue another one because I don’t want to make them mad and have them come messing with me. 


The Hep-C hurts my energy a lot. I sleep a lot and have pains in my sides. I feel real lethargic and under the weather. I was working in the kitchen before and had a special job where I was only working an hour or two a day. I couldn’t physically do an eight- or nine-hour shift, but they started me at eight to nine hours. I was exerting myself a lot. They were pushing us. We did the tray line, and then they hurried us. I needed a break, but they said to get this done first. I got dizzy, light-headed, and my side started hurting a lot. I told the CO I thought I was going to pass out, and they wheelchaired me to medical. They gave me Pepto Bismol and Pepcid, which didn’t help, and sent me back to my pod. Then I went back to work the next day. It took a week for them to switch me to a shorter shift after I kept complaining about it. I said I’d have to quit; I can’t do this, it’s too much for me. I left the job after I got accepted to the drug and alcohol pod so I could stay in the program and focus on healing.

Against a grey background, a silhouette of a person. The silhouette is filled with abstract black shapes and lines. The edges of the silhouette are blurred.

digital illustration


They put me on Tylenol for a while for my pain. It takes the edge off but doesn’t alleviate the pain totally. Then they said they wouldn’t give it to me anymore and I had to buy it off commissary. It’s over the top. They said if they gave everyone in the jail Tylenol who wanted it, it would be an unnecessary cost. I buy them off commissary and get 12 at a time in travel size packets. They cost $2.79, and I take two in the morning and two at night. I’ve been ordering it for three months. I feel bad because I have an elderly mother at home. I feel like it’s a hardship on my family because they have to mail me money so I can buy the Tylenol. Every Tylenol I buy, it takes away from them. I feel like it’s a burden, and it shouldn’t be. It’s just a couple of Tylenol, why can’t they give them to me? They also haven’t given me an inhaler even though I have COPD. It comes on me, especially if I do something strenuous. Once a week, I have a spot where I’m out of breath. I put in a sick call once, but they said the inhaler wasn’t on the list of medicines I had on the street. I’ve been on albuterol and Ventolin before, but they can only pull up a month or two before I was admitted to the jail. I’m also on a heart pill for tachycardia. They won’t give me the Hep-C medicine, but the cheaper stuff - the heart pill - they give. If it’s an expensive medication, they don’t want to prescribe it. They don't do much here for you. They say, “We’ll get to it when we get to it.” And then they never get to it. They set you up to fail. How do they expect you not to be a recidivist when they don’t actually help you get better? 


I’m praying a lot because I’m supposed to be going to a drug rehab center, but I don’t know how long it takes to get there. I want to get a job and take advantage of the services they offer there: drug therapy counseling, mental health counseling, that kind of thing. Looking forward to the program really helps with positive thinking. As much pain as I’ve been through in my life, I want to help other people not go through what I’ve been through. I feel that I got a call from God to be a preacher.


beyza durmus

beyza durmuş is a 23-year-old queer disabled self-taught illustrator & graphic artist based in turkey. 


her works include bold colors, textures and childish lines along with some of her own writings inspired from everyday life, grief, depression and everything in between.

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