I started practicing Judaism before I came to prison, however I never converted. While in prison I continued. I would feel so weighted down with the stress of everyday prison life, the misery of loss, and the pain of suffering. Every Friday evening I would light the Sabbath candles and say the prayers and by the end of the night I would leave feeling lighter, refreshed and ready to handle just one more week. My religion became my main coping skill. In 2017 our chaplain left and a different one arrived at my prison. All of the other women in the Jewish group went home or transferred to a different prison. I was the only one left practicing. The new chaplain made practicing my faith very difficult and I could no longer fight. I dove into a deep depression and would often think about killing myself.
My favorite book is The Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon. I have gotten lost in the series 6 times and was trying to get some of the spinoff books she wrote. However my friend sent me the series by mistake. I got lost in the series again. Every day I would tell myself that I could end my stay in prison by taking my life. I would plan on hanging myself that night, but every night I would pick up that book and read about Claire and Jamie. I could see the countryside of 1800s Scotland. I decided to wait until I finished that book. Then the next book came in the Mail and I followed Claire and Jamie to France. By the time I finished Written In My Own Hearts Blood for the 7th time, I learned that the next book was soon to be published and released. I am still waiting for that book. But reading any of the books in that series has helped me get past a crisis and back on firmer ground. When things get rough here, when I get so bored I could scream, I pick up that series and get lost in time all over again.
— Nichole F.