Click to rate this post!
[Total: 0 Average: 0]
No Pie Podcast Episode Cover
From Surviving to Living
(09) NO PIE & 6 MONTHS NO SHOWER: Depression & Prison Parenting

<< List of Episodes >>

In 2012 I began my second year in prison. Facing another 7 years behind bars I wrestled with clinical depression as I struggled to maintain contact with my children while working a prison job. My oldest son, meanwhile, joined the Army and headed to boot camp, from where he sent frequent letters to me.

I discuss serious depression and its effects, with complete transparency including my inability to even shower for nearly 6 months. I share the joy of parenting, even in a difficult situation and the importance of family connections. Are you struggling with serious depression? Are you a parent looking for support? You’ll find steps you can begin today to feel connected to your children in every situation.


Are you parenting in a difficult situation? Do you need solutions and strength?  

Join me on my journey through prison as I learn being mom despite distance and incarceration. From daily challenges to pride as I follow my son on his own journey through the Army, discover with me the secret to powerful parenting in any circumstance.

Learn steps you can begin today! Listen until the end, you won’t want to miss a word. This is no pie and 6 months no shower.

It was January 2012 and I worked in General Assembly inspecting gaskets at base pay, 50 cents an hour. PIE work, given out on seniority, paid $4-$6 per hour. I set my sights on top pay and planned. I didn’t have long to wait.

One afternoon prison guards entered, strolled through the room and halted at a nearby desk. A co-worker doing PIE work peered up in surprise. I held my breath and waited. I was next in line for PIE work. All that stood in my way were the current employees doing the work. My hopes soared! Could this be the day coming sooner than I expected?

“Stand up,” they told her. My co-worker set down her work, resignation on her face. As she stood a guard clicked handcuffs on her wrists. The room, quiet before was now dead silent. All eyes watched the drama. Work was boring and this was something to talk about.

The guards led my co-worker out of the room and off to seg. Boy was I happy – delighted! I hoped she never came back! Thank God for the police! God, however, was about to teach me a lesson about rejoicing at another’s bad day.

The next day I came to work, eager to start earning top dollar for the first time. I was already spending future paychecks on imaginary canteen. Clenching three boxes of work, my boss left his office and made a path towards my desk. Humming happily I watched him as he dropped the boxes on my desk.

As he arranged the work in front of me, a phone began ringing behind him in his office. “Excuse me,” he mumbled, shuffling off to answer it. I stared at the work on my desk and waited, toes tapping, still shopping in my head.

A few minutes later he returned and began scooping the boxes back up. Confused, I watched as he removed the boxes he’d delivered only minutes ago. Reading my expression he announced, “I’m sorry. Our vendor just called and cancelled the PIE work contract. Please continue your regular work instead.” Lurching back to his office, he stopped to pitch my dreams in the trash by the door.

shocked, my head felt wooden. I could not believe that had just happened. What are the odds of that timing? It felt like a cruel joke.  Next I thought, What are my options? I quickly discovered the other half of General Assembly still earned PIE work.

I immediately requested a transfer. I felt it couldn’t happen fast enough. Transfer granted, I worked to learn this new job so I could do well. It was a weird job and I just wanted to understand expectations of me and how to do well so I could earn the most money possible. Praise was also welcome.

March 19th, 2012
email subject: we got the box

Email From: Tommy
Message: Hi Mom we got the box you sent us it’s really nice I love love my hat and ring the ring fits perfect and so does the hat I sent you a picture with me wearing the hat. I hope you like it. Vivi thought the ring was hers so good thing I got it first. Vivi loves the purse you sent her and I painted my rocket for camp casey navy blue. I will take a picture of that too and sent it to you. Tim likes his had too. I like the inside and I love you too.
Love Tommy

Struggling with depression, stability remained a challenge for me. Forty hours a week – bankers hours – an impossible task for me to perform consistantly. We were all permitted one day off a month, and I always took it. sometimes, ok usually, I risked an extra day. Due to my attendance record I was never given a raise.

As a result of my skill on the job, I was given the most difficult assignments. As I became a highly skilled technician I was refused PIE work, which required no skills. Here again I became frustrated beyond all measure – I was capable of great skill, and yet too depressed to show up reliably.

April 2nd 2012

Email subject: camp casey

Email From: Tommy
message: I went to camp casey on Monday I got back Wednesday camp was great….we took a tour of the town a crow tried to poop on the tour guide. All the buildings had false roofs, they still do because they want the old buildings to match the new buildings…Oh and guess what (I would make you guess but I can’t hear you) the docks got so crowded….Then I went to the candy shop. The best of course. I bought so much candy but had 5 dollars left. …I looked in the gift shop..there were swords in there, pirate flags and shirts it was cool….

The previous fall my oldest son Noel, just after his 17th birthday, had joined the Army Reserves. This summer, the summer before his senior year of high school, he headed to boot camp. Noel began to write me letters soon after his arrival.

Angry with my boss I became outraged and demanded PIE work. My boss refused. I decided to find a new job. I applied for 1 job, 2 jobs, 5 jobs, and waited.

 Noel’s letters, carried with him in his pockets over long marches and difficult exercises, often torn, worn, and sweat stained, started to arrive.

July 2nd

“Hey mom sorry I haven’t written the first 4 days we weren’t allowed to send mail out because it was reception. I’m writing this during my fireguard shift. I’m pretty happy to be finally able to write to you!…Nothing very eventful has happened here at basic besides, pushups, screaming and classroom time…I think about home. Here you start to miss even dumb stuff like nickelodeon and oreos, even just sleeping more than 5-7 hours, but I still do my best to push on…the food here is pretty good too but we usually have like 1 minute to eat it. Well my fireguard shift is over, so I have to wake up the next fireguards. I love you and miss you so much! I’m going to see you the first day I get back!”

July 4th, 2012

 “Hi mom! How’s it going? I’m writing this during my 1st personal time. Today is the 4th of July and god bless America! We haven’t done anything today! We’ve even got to eat everything on our tray! It’s been great! …I’ve also been really homesick today, though, but I think that’s because we’ve had so much time to think about home….I hope to get a letter from you soon. It sucks, as I’m sure you know, to see everyone getting letters and you don’t get aNY. …I love you so much! I miss you! Please write often! Love you! Xoxoxo”

Waiting for a new job, feeling denied a transfer, my anger began spiraling out of control. Spitefully Demanding a job change, I applied to the kitchen, rumored the worst job and always available. I was about to spiral into the depths of depression, again. Transfer was finally granted.

July 5TH 2012

“Hey Mom how are you? Today it’s been a good day mostly, I’ll be spending the night in the woods tomorrow!….could you save my letters? I want to reread them later on, thanks! I love you and hope you have a great day!”

July 6th

“Hey mom how are you! …we had to name our m16a2’s today I named mine after you. …I don’t remember if I put this in the last letter, but I’ve learned to shave with a razor! It’s fun to think that soon after I graduate [bootcamp] I will be able to have a contact visit with you by myself! I can’t wait for that day!… I’m excited to get my first letter from you, hopefully that will be soon!…I will write you tomorrow, I love and miss you sooo much!”

Working in the kitchen, I had never been so poor in all my life. I began my job in the kitchen $15 in debt for a package I’d mailed to the kids. I received no pay at all for more than a month, then began receiving a $3 paycheck every 2 weeks. Desperate,  I began to steal.

July 7th

“Hey mom! How’s your day been? Mine has been full of achievement! We completed one of our far foot marches around 2 miles with 15 pounds of gear all the way to the gas chamber dun dun dunnnn. The gas chamber sucked!!!”

July 8th

“Hey mom how’s your day? Mind has been pretty good! …Tuesday we have a combat lifesaver test then Thursday we have our 2-2-2, 2 minutes of push-ups, 2 minutes of sit-ups, and a 2 mile run and I think I can pass it!….I can’t wait to hear from you!…I won’t be able to send this until tues so I hope you are doing good just like me! I love you!”

July 9th

“I want the rest of my days in BCT to be like today because if they are then BLC will be a breeze . Our ds even started to show a hint of pride today! That’s almost like doing something great and getting your father’s approval! Well I gotta go to bed, I’ll write you tomorrow lov you tons and tons! Don’t forget to write back!”

When I was not working in the kitchen, I slept. I shut down. I slept 6 months straight nearly night and day. I never showered. Other women began to whisper. I didn’t care. I didn’t brush my teeth. I slept. I rarely went to work. Scheduled to work 3 days a week, I took so many days off I was shocked I wasn’t disciplined and fired. I didn’t care.

This time is a fog of sleep to me.

July 11th

“I got your letters today. I was so happy I read them first thing! And to answer your question the weather here sucks! It’s always 100 degrees and incredibly humid…”

July 12th

“..I hope you were able to read my letter, it was in my right shoulder pocket and got drenched in sweat. I’m sorry if my letters bounce around a lot, I’m just writing down my thoughts and emotions…”

July 13th

“Hey mom how was your day? Mine was a mixed day, mostly bad, but it had some good. My platoon managed to piss of our DS so much that they gave the entire platoon a counseling statement. 85% of the entire platoon also failed the land nav test, so everyone had to retest…”

July 16th

“Hey mom, today and yesterday have for the most part, sucked. Our DS quit on us because most of my platoon can’t shut up. So we’ve been forced to walk everywhere with our hands in our pockets and our heads down….everyone trying to tell us we are all failures…but what do they know?..I’m hoping this will be an easier day. I think it will be! Keep sending letters, I love you!”

The One thing that mattered most to me was my children. I feared losing my connection with them. This motivated me to get out of bed, get to work when I did, and try. I cried often and I struggled to the phone, wrote letters to them, and slept. I felt empty, isolated and withdrawn.

July 21st

“Hey mom, today has been pretty great! wE went to the range today…and guess what? I was in the top 10…there are 210 recruits in our company and I was in the top 10!…today they served us cookies at dinner chow, I was sooooo happy I didn’t take one, the people that did got smoked for an hour and a half! Talk about a trap!…. I keep randomly thinking of the days in the future where I’ll be able to come see you by muself in person, not through glass! I can’t wait!…I miss my siblings. I bet they look so much older since they left.”

July 23rd

“Today our ds split our platoon up between the ppl he could tell wanted to be here and those he could tell didn’t. the ppl he could tell did want to be here got to continue on some good training…I made it to the good side! I was one of the 1st ones he called out! I felt so great! P.S. Keep writing me back!”

July 28th

“ Hey mom, today has ben awesome! We got to fire our m16 rifles. We had to group and zero them. I got it on my first try! And you only get 30 rounds to do it! … If you don’t receive a letter from me for a few days, it’s because I’m extremely busy. I try to write every night but don’t always have enough time…love you”

My oldest son Noel was a great help to me, although I’m sure he didn’t know it at the time. I wanted to be a good mom and become a better mom in the future. The letters and emails from my children  kept moving me forward during the darkest times.

Aug 2nd

“…I passed my last PT test! As of right now, I’m completely on track to graduate BCT!…Today we got fitted for dress blues, man I looked good!When I get hom I send you pictures (can’t wear them to see you because it has metal buttons) but just know I look good in them! Also, I am getting your letters so keep sending them!

August 13th

“Hi mom, it’s nice to write to you again!…i’m starting to understand how homesick you must have felt when you first went to prison too, sometimes I remember for a moment of a time when we went out to a movie just me and you…. I also tend to think sometimes of other things I miss…”

August 24th

“Hey mom, I know I haven’t written in a long time, but I have a good time to now. By the time  you get this I will probably be home, so I guess I’m also writing this for me. I have completed all of my BCT training and have dawned my beret. …All I have left to do is turn in some equipment tomorrow and wait till next Thursday to graduate (I can’t wait!). I got stitched up on Wednesday during Victory Forge because during a riot drill I got tackled and my helmet slid down my face and a metal plate called a rhino mount dug into my nose. It’s only 3 stitches, and they are being taken out this Monday. Now my ds call me Lima Foxtrot for Lion Face, but my friends have combined it with my last name and call me Lionhart. …I can’t wait to finaly leave this place! It’s nice to think that this is my last Friday here. Well I gotta go to bed. I love you! Love, Noel”

In October 2012 Noel turned 18. I remember the first time I was able to hug him, sit with him and talk for an hour! Just him and me!

I urged him to wear his full dress blues to visit me. The prison said he could, and so he agreed.

I waited at the back of the visiting room, full of people on a busy Saturday. The door clicked open and I stood, waiting for the first glimpse. As he turned the corner, dressed sharply in dress blues, gold buttons shining, beret on his head, pants creased, shoes shining, I jumped up and down like a kid. I started clapping, I cried.

Walking smartly he navigated the room. A hush fell as heads turned to take in the smartly dressed soldier making his way to his mom. I was so proud of my son! Tears  return today just remembering that moment.

Listener, are you a parent in a challenging situation? I know how much you love your child, your children. You’re not alone.

Often circumstances like these can leave us feeling powerless and frustrated, searching for real help, maybe wishing for powerful friends or allies.

I remember when I first began reading the Bible  I thought of God as an observer, a spectator. I was wrong. I didn’t understand how powerful God is, how involved He is in each of our lives, in our hearts.

God says “I am the Lord” more than 150 times in the Bible. Why? Exodus 6: 8 tells us “I am the Lord – you have the pledge of my changeless omnipotence and faithfulness.”

God also says often, “My name is the Lord.” Jeremiah 16: 21 says, “Therefore says the lord behold I will make them know, yes this once I will make them know my power and my might; and they will know and recognize that my name is the lord.”

God says in Isaiah 52 “Therefore My people shall know what My name is and what it means.”

And what does His name mean? What does any person’s name mean? What does your name mean? There are many Tommy’s out there, but when I say Tommy, it means Tommy my loving son who at age 11 was emailing me, his mom, about camp casey. There are many Noels but when I say the name the name means Noel my son who wrote me, his mom in prison, every day while he was in boot camp.

Psalm 91 says

“Because you have made the Lord your refuge, and the Most High your dwelling place,

10 There shall no evil befall you, nor any plague or calamity come near your tent.

11 For He will give His angels charge over you to accompany and defend and preserve you in all your ways

12 They shall bear you up on their hands, lest you dash your foot against a stone.

13 You shall tread upon the lion and adder; the young lion and the serpent shall you trample underfoot.

14 Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore will I deliver him; I will set him on high, because he knows and understands My name [has a personal knowledge of My mercy, love, and kindness—trusts and relies on Me, knowing I will never forsake him, no, never].

15 He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him.

16 With long life will I satisfy him and show him My salvation.”

So who is God, to you? Make Him your co-parent today. He’s our most powerful ally, and he’s always with your children! Begin a prayer life today and talk to God about everything on your heart.

I know there are times when we can’t even be with our children, haven’t seen them in years. Do not give up hope. God is with them even now! You can pray, right now, for your children and know that you are talking to the very person who’s in the room with your child. What a connection! An immediate connection with a lost son or daughter! What a beautiful bridge, and a powerful one. Let’s start today.

Dear Jesus, I pray for the person listening right now, and I pray for me, that you will teach us your name and what it means by experience. Thank you that we can parent our children with you and through you. Amen

Now to Him Who, by His power that is at work within us, is able to do superabundantly, far over and above all that we dare ask or think beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, hopes, or dreams— to him be the glory!

Be encouraged today!

<< List of Episodes >>


Music by BackgroundMusicLab  from Pixabay

Music from #Uppbeat (free for Creators!):

License code: XMGOT4IPESM7FWOF

License code: JPUQOIA5HNDAMPZ7

License code: RTACCSGXPDG4OO6A

License code: B8SRCZBE4JVDSU1R

License code: TN5PWB2S3OS7MPIX

License code: 5M4WOG7VJVFCA4FO

License code: SWNWAORL6FLWZ2VH

License code: 4VVJJSK0XTKWOVI8

License code: 7VVJBENYOCMT72WT

Click to rate this post!
[Total: 0 Average: 0]