Being Bullied For Being Different

Photo courtesy of Angel Fately                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           by Dennis Townsend

Angel is 17 years old and she gravitates to the beat of a different drummer. She likes Roy Harper comics, reading the Hobbit, and choreographing dance moves to Korean music. She lives in the world of panda bear tattoos and rainbow colored hair. life should be a never ending song of happiness for Angel yet she has had to overcome bouts of low self-esteem due to being bullied. Low self-esteem is a by product of being bullied and if there’s one thing that’s known about self-esteem is that there’s nothing innate or God-given about it and that it must be learned along life’s way. Those who are unique like Angel are often a target of those who possess limited intelligence and are opposed to change. Sometimes the changes that they see are a direct result of a bullied person who felt that their self image needed improvement in order to belong in a society that’s forever unforgiving. When a person is bullied, their lives and their happiness have become restricted and it often leads to fundamental feelings of inadequacy which in turn leads to other problems such as overeating, alcoholism, and depression. In women, low self-esteem is viewed as an epidemic and causes some women to make unwise choices such as marrying unworthy men, making bad career choices, and going from substance abuse to tolerating being abused. Some believe that women are more vulnerable to the symptoms of low self-esteem because the world as a whole is seen as a male dominated society.

It’s hard to have self-esteem when society as a group is constantly defining you, and in your eyes, you view it as not being good enough. You acquire all the symptoms of the dreaded “if only” syndrome. You begin to think if only I was prettier or smarter or had a better body. We all have been amazed at the runway models who look like they eat no more than two flakes of Wheaties and a glass of lemon water. That sends out the wrong message and starts some women on a never-ending perpetual journey trying to “fix” themselves to gain societies approval. You weren’t born with low self-esteem, it came from overbearing parents who told you that you were worthless, or being the one who never gets picked to join the “in” crowd because you choose to color your hair red. How does one change those “worthless me” messages? Sometimes it requires counseling and or a support group. It will also require the best weapon of all, family and friends. Angel has her good days and her bad days, and when she feels overwhelmed, she reaches out to family and friends and we are there to keep her spirits up. You must take the time to identify the good things you have and don’t put so much emphasis on the bad points. The greatest victory in life is the ability to live with yourself and to accept your shortcomings. You may be a long way from where you want to be, but if you really take a good look at yourself, you may realize that you’re not so bad after all.

The Double Edge Sword Of A Stroke

Photo courtesy of Tina Dusseau

by Dennis Townsend                                                                                                                    Do we take life for granted? When you’re young you have the feeling of invincibility and you see yourself living for a long time and retiring at an age where you can still enjoy the fruits of all your labor. You expect your health to be at a point that while you may feel the early stages of arthritis, it’s nothing that’s going to incapacitate you. But what if life throws you a curve ball and right at the time you were ready to retire, you have a stroke? My sister-in-law was the unfortunate victim of a apoplexy, better known nowadays as a stroke, at the age of 67. On November 21, 2013 the person that we all knew, the person that was so full of fun and laughter, the person who kept us amazed at the way she could emulate Patsy Cline at her impromptu concerts at the kitchen table, was unable to communicate.

Sandra Gaye  Lambdin was the last person we thought would become a total invalid and as a matter of fact, we thought she would be the one rocking on the front porch telling the old stories to the grandchildren. There were no signs of trouble prior to the stroke so needless to say we were all caught by surprise. Truth is, more than 200,000 Americans die of strokes each year and hundreds of thousands are incapacitated by this sudden “striking down” affliction. It’s times like these that we really come to grips with our vulnerability and realize just how fragile the human brain is. Each part of the brain is involved with a different part of human activity; one part controls speech, one part controls the arms and legs on one side of the body, another controls the muscles in the mouth and so on. A stroke is the stoppage of blood to certain parts of the brain and it can be caused by a number of disorders or malfunctions in the blood vessels. There are different kinds of strokes and they go from mild, little strokes, to massive in which it may not be fatal, but it will immediately be reflected in some parts of the body. It is said that a non-fatal massive stroke patient has a life expectancy of 3 to 5 years of unrecognizable faces, lost memories and constant seizures.

Sandy was the one spoiling all the grandchildren and knew exactly what each one wanted for Christmas. Grandchildren who were now just shadows in her mind. She spent her days straining to understand what her daughter Tina is trying to tell her, but after a while she becomes so frustrated that she lashes out in what can only be described as a damnation of her solitary confinement inside of a now irreversibly damaged brain. She could not speak and for her family and friends to watch someone who spent her life as a saleswomen and who possessed the proverbial “gift of gab”, plus a singing voice that would have given Dolly Parton a run for her money, it was heartbreaking to watch her steady decline. And even though it seemed like Sandy’s brain was permanently afflicted, there was the thought that she could still think clearly but she just didn’t have the ability to communicate. That could have been the main reason for her bouts of anguish and despair that had become her constant companion. Recovering from a massive stroke sometimes requires months or even years of intensive physiotherapy to prevent the deterioration of muscle. Sandy requires constant care which required moving her out of her home where she lived alone and into her daughter’s house where she could be easily cared for. That officially gave her daughter Tina the title of caregiver and we all know, especially military families, the gamut of difficulties that goes with that title.

Are there warning signs that a stroke is imminent? They say that many of us have warning signs in the form of “little strokes”. Dr Walter Alvarez, an authority on these little strokes once stated ; “One of the commonest diseases of man is that in which, over the course of 10 or 20 years, a person is gradually pulled down by dozens or scores of thromboses (clots) of the little arteries in the brain .” In reality these little strokes are common but physicians are not familiar with all the peculiar things that happens to individuals who have these little strokes, and therefore, they go unnoticed. Little strokes are an indication that all is not well inside the blood vessels that feed oxygen to the brain. Recognizing little strokes and acting swiftly could prevent the “big stroke”, the one which leaves the permanent injuries including paralysis.. Strokes do not discriminate and age makes very little difference so everyone should be familiar with the warning signs of a possible stroke. The American Heart Association uses the acronym F.A.S.T., (Face drooping, Arm numbness, Speech difficulty, Time to call 911.) Time is the enemy here, and you want to get medical attention immediately if you feel any symptoms that you think is associated with your heart. Whether one recovers from a stroke depends on the severity of the stroke and how long the brain was without oxygen.. Sandy survived the stroke in a sense, she was still breathing, and her heart continued to beat, but how do you define her quality of life after the stroke? We were all happy that she was still alive,, but you could see it in her face everyday that she was not. We may have called it a blessing, but knowing Sandy as I do, she would have been quick to call it a curse. On August 3, 2016, Sandy left this world and I for one believe she is happy to be free of the chains in her mind that held her hostage for two and a half years. And that voice will stay with me forever.


Obey The Police Now, And Complain Later

Photo courtesy of 

by Dennis Townsend

It seems to me that some people just don’t get the big picture when it comes to the proper way to interact with police officers because common citizens are still being shot dead first and the “how comes” being asked afterwards. Have you ever noticed when you’re watching police being overly-aggressive on camera, the first thing I notice is how many times they “dribble” the persons head off the pavement while shouting, “stop resisting!!” When you make a sudden move while being handcuffed, it qualifies as “resisting arrest”, which in turn gives the officer the go ahead to give you one or two lumps on the head if you’re lucky, a coffin if you’re not. You would probably expect a stupid move from a real life “desperado”, but we are talking about normal Jane’s and Joe’s who make a bad decision due to being either drunk, hopped up on some narcotic, or they could be just your normal psychopathic delusional individual having a bad day that got worse once they saw the red and blue flashing lights in the mirror. Whatever the reason, you should remember one thing, police are human beings first, and as such, each has his or her own individual level of courage. Only those who have been under fire with the possibility of losing their lives really know what goes on inside the mind when in danger, but it’s been said that our subconscious kicks into preservation mode and our body reacts accordingly.

Back in the late 60’s there was civil unrest through out the land also, and police shootings were commonplace and it got to be a street saying that labeled the police as “trigger happy”. Today, that label seems to be coming back, and you can use the same definition, and it’s become even more likely that a knee-jerk stupid reaction when dealing with a law enforcement officer will result in you getting to the next world sooner than later. You must comply to whatever he or she ask you to do, not argue and become belligerent and confrontational. Some seem to think that they can win an argument with a police person even when they are clearly in the wrong. Never going to happen. What I find really disturbing is the number of people who seem to think that they can outrun a police car. There are hundreds of innocent people who are killed in high speed police chases every year because someone thinks he can elude a high speed county cruiser with officer Roscoe P. Coltrane in hot pursuit. You may outrun the car, but you will never outrun that radio, or a bullet.

These are troubling times in our nation and law enforcement is on high alert and on edge, and with the recent wave of police ambushes one can’t really blame them for being overly cautious. That’s why it is so important that when you have to interact with the police, always comply with their demands. Even if you think they are wrong and can prove it, wait to make your concerns known after you get to a court of law. Proving they were wrong and you were right is a whole lot easier when you are still breathing.