When My Great-Grandfather Lashes Out, I Know It's His Dementia, But That Doesn't Make It Easier To Watch

When My Great-Grandfather Lashes Out, I Know It's His Dementia, But That Doesn't Make It Easier To Watch

A heartbreaking condition

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My great-grandfather was diagnosed with dementia about a year ago. It was something that was hard to come to terms with, but we knew God had a plan.

As you may know, dementia can be treated, but not cured. It's there until the end of life. This dreaded condition rocked my family's life over the past year and still does. It's something you just can't help.

There are times where a person who has dementia may lash out and get angry. That's not them. That's dementia. I have heard numerous people say that people with dementia are mean. They just haven't stopped and thought about this one thing: a person with dementia is not the person they used to be. Their mind has drastically changed. You should never talk down a person with dementia. Instead, you should help them try to remember things that they really can't. Show them pictures, talk about memories, do whatever you can to help them remember the past.

There are days when they will remember who you are. Then there are days when they don't. It's truly heartbreaking to watch someone you love have to go through this.

There will be many restless nights and phone calls in the middle of the night. There will be tears shed from the eyes of the family as they try to care for their loved one. There have also been difficult decisions.

There are so many senseless and hurtful things said about people with dementia. That's just terrible. People struggle with this on a daily basis and it just keeps getting harder. Before you say something negative, sit and think about what that person is going through.

Things will not be what they used to be.

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To The Person Who Feels Suicidal But Doesn't Want To Die

Suicidal thoughts are not black and white.
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Everyone assumes that if you have suicidal thoughts that means you want to die.

From an outside perspective, suicidal thoughts are rarely looked into deeper than the surface level. Either you have suicidal thoughts and you want to die, or you don't have suicidal thoughts and you want to live. What most people don't understand is that people live in between those two statements, I for one am one of them.

I've had suicidal thoughts since I was a kid.

My first recollection of it was when I came home after school one day and got in trouble, and while I was just sitting in the dining room I kept thinking, “I wonder what it would be like to take a knife from the kitchen and just shove it into my stomach." I didn't want to die, or even hurt myself for that matter. But those thoughts haven't stopped since.

I've thought about going into the bathroom and taking every single pill I could find and just drifting to sleep and never waking back up, I've thought about hurting myself to take the pain away, just a few days ago on my way to work I thought about driving my car straight into a tree. But I didn't. Why? Because even though that urge was so strong, I didn't want to die. I still don't, I don't want my life to end.

I don't think I've ever told anyone about these feelings. I don't want others to worry because the first thing anyone thinks when you tell them you have thoughts about hurting or killing yourself is that you're absolutely going to do it and they begin to panic. Yes, I have suicidal thoughts, but I don't want to die.

It's a confusing feeling, it's a scary feeling.

When the depression takes over you feel like you aren't in control. It's like you're drowning.

Every bad memory, every single thing that hurt you, every bad thing you've ever done comes back and grabs you by the ankle and drags you back under the water just as you're about the reach the surface. It's suffocating and not being able to do anything about it.

The hardest part is you never know when these thoughts are going to come. Some days you're just so happy and can't believe how good your life is, and the very next day you could be alone in a dark room unable to see because of the tears welling up in your eyes and thinking you'd be better off dead.

You feel alone, you feel like a burden to everyone around you, you feel like the world would be better off without you. I wish it was something I could just turn off but I can't, no matter how hard I try.

These feelings come in waves.

It feels like you're swimming and the sun is shining and you're having a great time until a wave comes and sucks you under into the darkness of the water. No matter how hard you try to reach the surface again a new wave comes and hits you back under again, and again, and again.

And then it just stops.

But you never know when the next wave is going to come. You never know when you're going to be sucked back under.

I always wondered if I was the only one like this.

It didn't make any sense to me, how did I think about suicide so often but not want to die? But I was thinking about it in black and white, I thought I wasn't allowed to have those feelings since I wasn't going to act on them. But then I read articles much like this one and I realized I'm not the only one. Suicidal thoughts aren't black and white, and my feelings are valid.

To everyone who feels this way, you aren't alone.

I thought I was for the longest time, I thought I was the only one who felt this way and I didn't understand how I could feel this way. But please, I implore you to talk to someone, anyone, about the way you're feeling, whether it be a family member, significant other, a friend, a therapist.

My biggest mistake all these years was never telling anyone how I feel in fear that they would either brush me off because “who could be suicidal but not want to die?" or panic and try to commit me to a hospital or something. Writing this article has been the greatest feeling of relief I've felt in a long time, talking about it helps. I know it's scary to tell people how you're feeling, but you're not alone and you don't have to go through this alone.

Suicidal thoughts aren't black and white, your feelings are valid, and there are people here for you. You are not alone.

If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline — 1-800-273-8255


Cover Image Credit: BengaliClicker

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Kit Kat On A Rainy Day

My grandpa went missing one rainy afternoon, but what happened later is very heartwarming!

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It was a rainy afternoon in the middle of October. The road was covered in an almost invisible film of water, and mud seeped through the cracks of the sidewalk. The wind blew at a harsh and firm angle. The temperature was sharp and bitter. I was in 10th grade at the time and had just gotten back to school. I sat at my desk upstairs with my legs comfortably nuzzled against my chest. I admired the lavender fuzzy socks on my feet while very blatantly ignoring my homework and other responsibilities. I gently sipped warm apple cider, carefully making sure that it wouldn't burn my tongue whilst scrolling through my phone. This rainy afternoon in the middle of October was seemingly very normal.

I eventually picked up a pencil and reluctantly began my homework, but was very quickly distracted by the sounds of panicked yelling coming from downstairs. I quickly made my way to the scene so that I could figure out what was going on. My mom and grandma were in the kitchen crying and screaming. My grandma sounded agitated and afraid. My mom was barely able to make out coherent sentences as she scrambled to find my dad's contact in her phone. I shuddered and felt completely frozen when I was finally able to understand what was going on.

My 85-year-old grandpa who also has Alzheimer's was missing from our home. My stream of consciousness was abruptly interrupted as I heard the door leading to our garage slam shut. My mom was going to drive around our neighborhood to look for my grandpa, as he realistically could not have made it that far. I went back upstairs and sunk into my chair. My eyes were wide and I could hear my heart beating outside of my chest. I trembled and cried. These are the kinds of horrible and unfortunate stories that you read about or watch in the news. You never expect it to happen to a loved one. The gravity of the situation is heavy. It's a very obscure and different kind of pain, one that cannot be justified with words.

The next thirty or so minutes were a blur. I was not aware of how much time had passed, but I do remember hearing the slow creak of the garage open. I did not get up and I did not run down the stairs. Instead, I sat there. I sat firmly in my chair, numb and completely frozen. From where I was, everything was temporarily easier. The pain of sitting at my desk was less scathing than confronting whatever was waiting downstairs. And then, all of a sudden, I heard very slow and uneven steps coming up the stairs, accompanied by heavy breathing. It was my grandpa.

There he was, standing about three feet in front of me. I examined him, head-to-toe. He was soaked and there were remnants of mud on his pants and shoes. His glasses were covered in intricate droplets of water, and his light grey hair was disheveled. But that is not what stood out to me. What made me want to cry even more was the smile on his face that was beaming with love, as his eyes met mine. He steadily walked towards me, put his hand in his pocket, and I watched his fragile hands shake as he pulled out a Kit Kat bar.

"For you!" He said with a little laugh.

- - -

My mom had found my grandpa in a Walgreens right outside our neighborhood. To this day I still don't know how he got there, and I do not care to know the exact fundamentals of how he got from point A to point B. This is a man whose life and memories have been unfairly taken from him. This is a man who can barely make out a sentence in either Hindi or English. This is a man who, to this very day, cannot remember my name or who I am. However, what this disease has failed to do is strip him of his innate kindness. His mind might be impaired but his ability to love is immortal and unbreakable.

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