By Leah Bisiani MHlthSc/Dip Bus/Dementia and Aged Care Consultant/RN.1.
This is part 3 in a series of 5 articles. Please ensure you have read Parts 1 and 2 to appreciate this information in context.
The loss of joyfulness
When we anticipate or experience joy, it delivers intense warmth and pleasure, of which we hold close.
This pleasure stimulates gratifying emotions, delivering wonderfully dynamic sparkles of energy that dance with gay abandon through our minds and bodies, all the way down to our fingertips.
Visualize now, sitting and thinking about life, clutching frantically at these fragile and delicate memories that sporadically make your heart soar.
When possible, you can relive these recollections, played back in your mind, like an old-fashioned flickering film.
Sometimes you may even actually feel the power of the magic that once was.
It is as if your mind becomes the only reliable source of happiness and pleasure.
Nonetheless, as time passes, and human interaction changes or evaporates, this warmth and contentment begins to slowly dissipate.
This hostile sense of extreme loss, deflates you like a balloon releasing a last pathetic puff of air.
This excerpt from one of my previous papers captures the essence of what transpires when a person is dreadfully lonely, isolated and lost, whilst struggling internally, because they can no longer find themselves within the vast remote world that has disconnected from them.
“Imagine for a moment, searching for a distinct place within the world— the harder you search for that space, the more bewildering it becomes. Your innate desire is to connect, but your need for inclusion cannot be met. The tougher and more puzzling this search becomes, the more anxious and uneasy you feel.
“Those around you just don’t seem to appreciate your reality, nor provide you with the companionship you so crave and yearn for. You feel utterly alone, with an overwhelming sense of core suffering and misery— you withdraw into yourself. It seems sometimes that the people around you think you have lost your humanity. Those who look after you constantly stare through you with unseeing eyes.
“You sit in the chair in your room, alone, feeling overpoweringly miserable, frustrated, anxious and afraid.
“You can no longer put these feelings of unhappiness into words. You feel disheartened, and cry a lot over nothing much at all, because you do not feel your life has any meaning any more. Worthlessness intimidates you continually”.
Leah Bisiani, 2012, 2017
Now, imagine feeling this way and searching desperately for the sentiments that represent the happy, carefree times from your life.
Deep within your heart, you just know they were once part of your existence.
But no matter how hard you try, you never quite manage to grasp or revive those blissful and joyous feelings again?
“You were a wife. You know this. But all you have are pictures. But it was only yesterday wasn’t it?
“You want someone to care enough to save you from this fate. Surely someone is wondering where you are? You know you have children, but where are they? Where is my dear daughter who I showered with love and butterfly kisses from the day of her birth? Surely my darling baby boy was wanting a cuddle from his mama? So where are they now? Have they all left you?
“Have they taken them? Where they real? Where are all those friends you had always supported with every ounce of your energy, through your entire life? Surely the phone is plugged in?? Why does it not ever make a sound? Like a silent cruel instrument of torture, mocking you as you desperately wait to hear the sound of its annoying ring. You yearn to hear that blasted ring… where is everyone, anyone, someone, to pull you out of this quagmire and save your soul. It is sucking you under and you feel like you are going to suffocate… ’help me’ you silently mouth into nothingness…”
Leah Bisiani, 2018
A solitary tear is released from a sad clouded eye and falls to the floor unrecognised.
Human beings are proud and sometimes fickle creatures.
When we are in pain, or ill, or need assistance, this is when we are least likely to ask for help from those we love.
We all have that innate yearning and utmost faith in those who know us better than anyone else, to be there for us in times when we are broken.
We desire and wish for them to see when we struggle, through our eyes, so they may be there for us in our hour of need, without ever having to request it.
Because who wants to beg for scraps of attention after all?
When living through such dreadfully vicious inner pain, swiftly and abruptly, a person may come to the realisation, that they have waited too long, and it is possible their agony will now never be realized nor alleviated.
“Maybe I should have called and reached out to those who have so insensitively forgotten me?!
“Maybe they would then have beheld my sad eyes and witnessed the excruciating pain I hold within my crushed soul.
“Maybe if they had acknowledged my suffering, then this would have made the difference required to cease this devastating spiral into nothingness.”
Leah Bisiani, 2018
But they just continue to hectically rush around, totally absorbed by their own self-consumed lives.
A person may recognize it’s now way too late, because they lack the ability, emotional strength, fortitude and resilience, to even articulate how this turmoil has destroyed them.
The words may swirl within their head in a tangled mess.
Waiting for a rescuer that never comes can be emotionally draining and exhausting.
The evil sinkhole that inadvertently becomes a person’s biosphere, if not recognised, may continue to twist and turn downwards, shrouded by darkness, where every thought becomes caught up in a miserable vortex of pain.
“You have become so overwhelmed by this atrocious experience, you actually never manage to express your anguish, as your spirit continues to weep within the confines of your mind.
“Some part of you still forever waits, in solitude, for what seems like an eternity……….as your gentle, wavering spark is slowly, agonisingly extinguished”.
Leah Bisiani, 2018
Subsequently, we must loudly articulate and strongly emphasise to all of humanity the destructive effects of blatantly dehumanizing and disrespecting another by discounting the gravity of emotional distress and pain they experience.
Not only does this generate a negative and damaging atmosphere in which a person may feel powerless to preserve any meaning to their existence but can continue on to the more insidious path of eventual fatality.
The sad failure on our part to recognise this inherent weakness in our own natures, can inadvertently grind the feelings of those that are helpless, to a point where they may die from a loss of faith in humanity, and a broken heart.
This could be viewed as the ultimate betrayal in regard to the ‘meaning of life’.
The search for meaning
It has been established that solitude and remoteness may generate situations in which emotive needs may be overlooked, or these needs ‘assumed’ to be unimportant, thus individual rights may be pitilessly discounted, dignity dishonoured, and a person left to face extreme distress, pain and misery… alone.
This elimination of human contact, could, and often does, appear to older people and the person living with dementia, as a total disregard of their personal needs, leaving them feeling dejected, corrupted, miserable and desolate.
They are quite correct in this synopsis of why they suffer such inner chaos.
Furthermore, as soon as an individual has been diagnosed or acknowledged as having dementia, often a common and immediate reaction by those around them, is to assume they have likewise lost their right to define their own identity.
This is essentially yet another discriminatory postulation based from a cognitive vantage point.
As discussed, these rash and reckless attitudes harmfully affect and damage lifestyle, thus rapidly remove meaning from the existence of a person living with dementia.
This completes Part 3 of ‘Loneliness is the Ultimate Poverty’, written by Leah Bisiani. Part 4 to follow.