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JOAN’S BLOG – WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 19, 2007 – What To Do With the Anger?

My last blog discussed the anger many of you feel towards AD for robbing you of the life you expected to lead with your life partner. This disease also brings out anger towards family and friends who desert you, the caregiver, for a variety of reasons – they cannot bear to “see him/her like that”; ignorance of the disease; not knowing what to say to you. None of these are good reasons, of course, and I addressed them in Socialization and Friendships. The result is that you are consumed with anger. If you cannot find a way to relieve it, release it, or channel it, your emotional and physical health will suffer. Harboring anger will slowly destroy your “self”. You need to come out of this AD journey stronger, not defeated.

So what do you do with your anger……………how do you channel it?

I will be asking your opinions on the Message Boards today, but I know of three healthy, constructive methods for dealing with anger, depending upon your personality type:

  • Physical – punch, kick, hit – a real punching bag.  I am not kidding at all. My son, Joel, – you know him as the indispensable California technical advisor to this website – was, shall we say, an “angry” pre-teen/teenager. We hung a huge punching bag on a heavy chain from the rafters in the basement; gave him a pair of boxing gloves, and let him release his aggression on the bag. Any kind of heavy, sweaty exercise  - running, weight training , bicycling uphill  , that will get your heart pumping and release those “good” endorphins will relieve anger. Not to mention, exhaust you to the point of forgetting your anger.
  • Creative – for those of us who would rather sit than sweat, there is the opportunity to tap into your creativity – writing- a journal or on the message boards; drawing; playing music; quilting; woodworking; model building. When you throw yourself into the act of creating, it is a way of releasing all of your pent-up emotions, in this case, anger.


  • Pro-active – For those of you who are not particularly turned on by sweating or creating, there is the pro-active route. We have all heard of ordinary people who were almost destroyed by anger when an unspeakable tragedy suddenly shattered their peaceful lives. What these people have in common is that they took their anger and channeled into positive projects that not only helped themselves, but others.

The most prominent example is John Walsh - After his 6-year-old son, Adam, was brutally murdered, he and his wife lobbied Congress relentlessly, which helped lead to the passage of the Missing Children Act of 1982 and the federal Missing Children's Assistance Act of 1984. The latter legislation established the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

If getting involved and active appeals to you – GO FOR IT! Get involved in Alzheimer fundraising; call your congressmen/women and senators to lobby for more research funding. Those of you affected by EAOD – lobby the Alzheimer’s Association for more groups, information, and activities related to the younger victims of AD. When you channel your anger in such a positive way, it has side benefits – you feel good about what you have accomplished, and you have helped others as well as yourself.

Now the big question – WHERE ARE YOU GOING TO FIND THE TIME FOR ANY OF THIS?  One night or day a week. That’s all it really takes. If you do not work, take one day when your spouse is in Day Care. If you do work, get someone to watch your spouse, and take one night for yourself. Many of you report that your spouses go to bed early. While your spouse is sleeping, take time for yourself to pursue an activity that will channel your anger. You need and deserve the time.

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