Know an inmate being released within the year who's in need of a job? We are working with employers to help find inmates work before they're released. Post a free Employment Profile for an inmate here!

Depression and strugglings in MWI-relationship

11 posts / 0 new
Last post
Liw from Scandinavia
Liw from Scandinavia's picture
Depression and strugglings in MWI-relationship

I really need to vent right now. I feel very sad and worried.

I’m in a romantic relationship with one of my pen pals. We’ve known each other for 4-5 month and the relationship quickly went from platonic to muuuuuch more. He’s absolutely one of a kind and I love him dearly. Though, I’ve been holding back, trying to keep reality in mind. I live overseas and there isn’t really much possibility for me to share a life with someone in the US, since I have small kids here and a complicated relationship with their father. But he has let himself get completely carried away by his feelings anyway and I haven’t really stopped him. :) He wants to move to my country, marry me, start a family. He believes that everything will fall into places and that we will be together soon and forever.

The reality though (as if the situation wasn’t impossible enough already,) is that he has a LWOP sentence + 25 yr. He tells me his case wasn’t handled correctly and that he might be set free in just 1-2 years. I have no clue how realistic this idea is, since he can’t give me any detail information about the case. But I’m afraid that he’s living in denial…??

We use to keep in touch every day. Lately I’ve felt that he hasn’t been himself, more withdrawn, forgetting things, is very tired and doesn’t always feel present when we talk. Last week he was supposed to call me but never did, I messaged him but got no respond. I thought he was on lockdown, as usually, so I waited calmly. After 4 days of silence he sent me a very short message saying ”sorry for not calling” and that he is really messed up mentally and can’t cope with his situation anymore.

Of course I wrote back immediately, begging him to call me. This was 3 days ago. I’ve sent him a few message since then, but haven’t heard one word. I’m worrying sick… :((

I think reality has catched up on him and he has realized that he probably will never experience everything he dreams for. I feel guilt for coming into his life, messing mind up. He was fine before I came into his life. I think now he’s realizing his loss… It has all dawned on him.

I don’t know what to do. I feel absolutely helpless. I feel such rage at the US judicial system for looking someone as young as him up for life, breaking and scattering his (and his loved ones, he has a daughter) whole future into pieces. He caught his case only 19 years old. This would never happen in my country. But well, that’s another discussion…

I really worry for his mental health and of course, this whole situation really messes my head up as well… (All this is new to me and I have no one in my life to talk to that can relate.)

I'm grateful for any experience, thought, advice you want to share with me! Thanks! <3 

LotusBlossom's picture


Hey, Liv!  Sorry to hear you're going through all this.  I've definitely seen this type of thing before, some pen pals who have life insist "I'm going to get out soon!" And list some type of reason but the problem is they've already gone through their appeals and they aren't getting out soon, they're hanging onto false hope.  Also, a lot of countries won't let felons move overseas, or even travel there.  Sometimes people in prison are sort of seeking a fantasy world they can go live in and I've definitely seen this, when it's not what is actually happening...or most likely going to happen.  I'd give him some time, maybe a couple of weeks. distract yourself until then, and then send a message and letter and let him know you're always here for him, you care no matter what, and to give you a call when he's ready.  Prison is really very hard and with all these virus lockdowns it gives people way too much time to think and worry.  I've been a pen pal for awhile and people absolutely do drop off due to depression or anxiety on either side, or they get really strong feelings and then get sad they can't be with that person...again, on both sides.

People typically come back around.  I bet you'll hear from him again but let him heal.  It sounds like a situation where he knows it was him and his issues with handling all of it and there's no blame or shame on anyone here.  Maybe find a pen pal who just wants a friendship for awhile, if you love writing, as so many of us on here do.  


Jeanne555's picture

Hello Liw,
I am sorry that you have this difficult situation on your hands. In your position I would shower him with love. I would send him cute cards, maybe an uplifting book, some funny memes from the internet maybe word search created with him in mind. (Whatever makes you think of him could be the words that he needs to find. You can find these DIY word searches online). Send him letters where I would make it clear that I will always be there for him no matter what comes between us. I believe that he needs to hear these things now more than ever.
Of course you can give him space after you've showered him with unconditional love, see how it makes him feel.
Let us know how it goes.

ST4s's picture

Hey Liw, I think you Scandinavians have a much more constructive philosophy on criminal justice than us Americans do, but that’s another conversation for another day.

I can’t really comment on the romantic relationship thing as I already have my own out here (and my pen pals have zero chance of changing that), but it’s true that sentences can be overturned when new information, or new laws, or some technical/legal things come along. One of my buds serving LWOP is in the thick of that right now, and he just might get out.

As far as fantasizing about life outside the prison walls, I’ll admit to being a willing co-conspirator on just that. I try to bring my buds along on my adventures out here (and the normal, boring stuff too), and I think it’s a healthy form of escapism – or at least that’s the feedback I get, that I’ve been nominated as their proxy – and I’m fine with it. It’s an honor, actually. But where to draw the line? (if a line even needs to be drawn in the first place) Only you can answer that.

My M.O. is to be a firehose of support and encouragement and I’d like to think that all of us out here in pan pal land do the very same thing in our own way. Does romance change that? I don’t think it has to, at all. Just keep sending in that love (platonic, romantic, altruistic, brotherly… whatever fits). That's what it's all about.

Kirsten's picture


you are not guilty of what's happening with him right now. So, please, try to stop feeling guilty for coming into his life. Even if falling in love may have caused the broken hope that now might cause depression, don't you ever feel guilty for coming into his life.

He wanted penpals or friends, you wanted the same. You both fell in love. That happens, too. You didn't control your feelings and stop his, which is also natural when you're on cloud 9.

Yet, there comes a time when cloud 9 is making contact with Earthlings again. ;-)

This is now and your getting back to Earth has been a hard one. Mine (ours) was softer, but only because we took a break from writing before going further (and taking it too far).

So, what can you do now to let it be just bruises, but not being smashed?

A word on depression first: Living with a depression is like having tomove with weights of lead on your feet and arms, all four. Whatever you do, will take an immense effort of time and strength. Sometimes even getting up and having a shower is just an endeavour.So, you begging him to call, as understandable as it is from your perspective, nope. Not another demand, not another endeavor, not yet another thing to possibly fail at.

Write a letter or a jpay or at GTL or whatever you do, ell him that you're incredibly sorry for the pain he's in, that you wished he wouldn't have to go through it, but that, being as it is, you are confident he'll make it through this dark valley. Tell him you're there, ready to talk when he's willing and ready, but don't push the river.

Lady_TaTas's picture

Liw, Until recently I was in a relationship with one of my PP also. I will admit, things move rather swiftly and despite all the guards up, I went full on with my heart and planning a future. He too has life, however he has a minimal sentence of 25 years and it's been 22 years so far. All was going great until I ask simply his true intentions or actions that would have him end up here in Michigan with me. He's in an Ohio prison but from Arkansas where he has most of his family.

To my shock and horror his reponse was, he was planning to return to Arkansas and then someday come to Michigan. Mind you, he's 57 (today ironically), and his kids are 36, 38, 40. I was shocked that his plans were upon release to go to Arkansas. It was devestating and caused me some great depression. Ultimately, I decided I didn't want to keep pouring my heart and soul in to a man who refused to take into account my feelings. On top of he wanted me to love and support him for the next 3 possibly 9 years knowing he wouldn't end up here..

I share that all to just caution you to be careful floating on that cloud of possibilities, until you know the true odds of it coming true. Look into his case yourself, get his permission to speak with his public defender or attorney to find the real likelyhood that him being with you is a true reality. Keep in mind, some things I've learned in my own research. Compacts to have an inmate complete their parole in another US State has a lot of hoops and even with the best application, they can be denied by the inmates current state, or approved by the current state but denied by the potential destination state. There is no compact in place for an inmate to complete his parole in another country.

My further advice is for you to take care of yourself emotionally, so that when he is ready you can allow him to lean on you, to get through the doubts and dark times. But also help him work through these plans together. Miracles do happen, policies do change, regimes changes.. There are possibilities.. but just as much as the happy times are needed and wanted, and miracles, please also be prepared emotionally if your plans are dashed, or don't work out. Good luck.. 

mjuran's picture

Liv, I just wanted to say I feel I can relate to what you're experiencing here, and am sorry to hear about it.  I agree with the great answers you got from Lotusblossom, Kirsten, ST4s, and others.  It does sound to me as though he was letting himself stay in denial about some things, and it caught up with him, and giving it a little time for him to get his bearings while also letting him know you are still there for him,  while not allowing yourself to take it personally (because you are not at fault for anything) is a wise course.

VioletGrey's picture

Liv, when I met my pen pal who became much more than that, I was single and not looking and never married with no kids. Our relationship developed over about 7 months and until we finally spoke our true feelings for each other. 
He was sentenced to close to 70 years in prison. And would be 80-something if he was to serve his entire sentence. I didn't understand the mentality that gives you when I first said yes to becoming committed to one another. He had great hopes, dreams and ideas about our future together, in which he was soaring above the prison clouds and I was rooted firmly in the fact his sentence is so long. I denied him his perspective by bringing him back down to earth constantly, but for us, and for him, it just spurred him on further. Long story but I ghosted him for 3 years (it's in some of the posts on here) and last year picked up the pen to write an apology. We've been back in contact ever since and our connection is still undeniable between us, even though we have both grown a lot since that time. I actually learnt that he was so taken by our connection that it made him realise there was a life outside of prison with things to fight for, to be passionate about, and that he was willing to do whatever he could to be a part of the "free world" again. Even though I ghosted him, he bettered himself, fought hard and is still fighting to regain re-entry to society again. Without sounding arrogant, he told me our connection was the motivation and realisation, ultimately the push to try every avenue to reduce his sentence. Now I know that's not the story you're talking about here, that your PP has swung the way of having his illusions shattered. But I think in all MWI relationships that you really can't focus on the future, because it's so uncertain. That to be able to be in a relationship with an inmate you really have to be as present as you can, even though the slow communications/lockdowns/prison drama does not help that. My PP and I focus now more on what's going on in the present, not 10 or 20 years time, because there is no point - neither of us know what is going to happen but we live with hope in our hearts and share our love in the present moment. It may seem like he's letting his heart run wild with all these fantasies about moving and having a family with you, but if that's his coping mechanism to survive the situation he's in, why not allow him the room to do so. I was so practical and discouraged my PPs fantasies, because I didn't think he was being realistic, and thought he was setting himself up for disappointment further on down the road. But what I have learnt from that is that he needed those fantasies, dreams, hopes just to get through some weeks. That when everything around him was so bleak, and so hard every step of the way, that he could talk about our little house together and it would get him through the day. He's still in prison, but still hopeful that it's not going to be his future, and now I have a different way of dealing with that. I allow that space for him to plan for a future with me, to think of all the fun things he wants to do, and I can see the value those things hold for him, without having to overlay my "harsh" reality over the top and discourage his thoughts. It's not to say I join in and talk about future plans and play along. I just don't feel I have to rush to put out the fire straight away, I can just let the fire burn and watch the glow of the embers fade, observing it's beauty and let it runs its' course. 
I think theres some very good advice on here from several wise women, and whatever you do I'm sure it'll be the right decision. I second the advice of just being there and being open to him, to support him, to let him know that you're there still and thinking of him and will be ready when he is to talk. And difficult conversations will come up, there's no doubt, but if you can both be honest about your feelings then I think the majority of things can be worked through, just really depends on if you can agree on what a relationship will look like for you both together. 
I wish you the best going forward, I know it's not easy but there are supportive ears (or hands) on the forum which makes it a little less daunting to know there are others in similar situations. I hope you've heard something by now. 

Northernyank's picture

Sometimes you just need to be that soft place for someone to land.

rose_madder's picture

@VioletGrey, I just want to thank you for your great post. I am one of those who did not plan any romantic relationship when I started writing but things have changed. My LO keeps on talking about the future, too, when it seems so complicated and uncertain - next to impossible. I have been in a gloomy mood today thinking of all that stuff and come to this thread by chance looking throughj thread at the forums. You have said a lot that speaks to my heart and made me feel better; so just thank you very much. 

VioletGrey's picture

rose_madder happy something of my personal experience could help someone else. It's not an easy road, with so much to take in and learn all at once. Wishing you well on your path with your LO. 

Liw - I hope that you and your pen pal have had some conversations lately and he's not feeling like he's in such a dark place. Thinking of you!