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.

Suicidal thoughts are thought of in such black-and-white terms. 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 there are some stuck in the gray area of 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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For Nana And Papa, Your Number-One Supporters Now And Forever

You guys are so amazing, words will never be able to capture the love I have for you both, but I can try my best.

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You guys have always supported me, and I am forever thankful for the support you have given me. Especially with me going off to college a couple of years ago, you never fail to tell me how proud you are, and you always make sure that I know I am loved.

You both have gone above and beyond in every aspect of my life, and I am forever grateful for you. From birth to now, I have never doubted that you guys are on my side and that you guys are the most amazing people to walk this planet. I'd like to say thank you for some of the things that you do for me (because it is actually impossible to cover it all).

Thank you for sending me mail.

Besides the constant reminders to set up accounts to this or that, you always send cute cards with sweet messages inside, and you never fail to brighten my day. Spending holidays away from home is hard, it takes every bit of strength I have to not make the trip home, but you make sure that I feel some extra love on those days.

Thank you for supporting me through all of my sports adventures as a child.

Baseball, basketball, softball, and any other sport with a ball. You were always there, cheering, bringing me snacks, and rooting on my team. You made sure that I was always on time and trying my hardest — thank you. Because of this, I know that to this day you are still cheering me on through midterms and finals and all of the group work in between.

Thank you for all the homemade cookies.

This is a joint effort for both of you, and I know that because one makes the cookies and the other saves a baggie for me. There is something about the drive back to school after a visit home, and I think it is a little easier when you can taste home. Thank you for passing along the amazing recipe that has fueled our family for years (I definitely don't make them whenever I am homesick...).

Thank you for giving me some great life values.

Sometimes I have to step back and realize that not everyone was raised like I was, and they don't know that what goes around comes back around. You made (and are still making) me a better person. Even if you are just telling me to calm down and that things will be okay; you continually make me a better and more understanding person.

Thank you for having an always open door for me.

That means more than you probably know, but I don't know who I would be if I couldn't constantly be surrounded by you both. You always welcomed me with love, acceptance, and usually a snack. To this day I find it so odd when others have to ask their grandparents if they can visit when I could burst through the door at midnight and nothing would be awkward.

You both have given me the gift of knowing that no matter what I am loved, and that no matter what I am always surrounded by people who care. You both are beyond amazing, I don't know what I did to deserve your amazing love, but I am so thankful that I have it.

I love you both so so so much.

Thank you!

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