Student challenges mental health stigma College can be tough time for those with disorders

Alexa Thornblad

photo by Hannah Panten

Studying at the coffee shop

By Hannah Panten

“I’m bipolar,” Chico State freshman Alexa Thornblad says casually, sipping her white mocha. Thornblad uses the tattooed back of her arm to wipe milk froth from her lip. Giggling, she holds up a No. 1 with her tiny index finger, then explains: “Bipolar 1 Disorder.” Tugging on her four-sizes-too-large corduroy pants, she sits in the corner of Naked Lounge — an eccentric cafe she frequents sometimes when she feels no drive to go to class.

Thornblad, an 18-year-old Los Angeles native, is majoring in sociology and liberal studies. Contrary to popular practice, she has no issue speaking up about her recently diagnosed mental disorders. Her first glimpse of depression came in 10th grade, soon after realizing she’s bisexual, but it wasn’t until last winter that she got diagnosed with Bipolar 1 and Borderline Personality Disorder. Thornblad attributes her late diagnosis to her parents not believing in mental disorders. She also believes that her parents’ lack of concern about mental health is not unusual.

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Meeting with a Chef on the Road to Adulthood

Chef Thomas Rider

photo by Gabby Miller

Chef Thomas Rider prepares Strawberry Caprese Crostini with local strawberries.

by Gabby Miller

He stood before a crowd of college students and alumni. On the table in front of him was a basket full of fresh fruits and vegetables displaying the colors of the rainbow. A grey Chico State Wildcats baseball cap sat on his head, and his black chef’s jacket was lined with red trim and embroidered with his name and title on the front.

It read: “Thomas Rider, Executive Chef.”

“I’m on the Food Network at Chico State,” he said, receiving chuckles from the audience.

On the rainy Thursday evening before spring break more than 60 students arrived at CSUC’s Bell Memorial Union to watch Rider—the executive chef for Associated Students—put on a show.

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Sick and Struggling in Butte County

Sugar Spot

photo by Leslie Layton

by Leslie Layton

Kenyatta Aarif knew her high blood-pressure reading had startled two student nurses from Chico State. The nursing students were conducting a public-health outreach project in Oroville’s depressed Southside neighborhood, checking the blood pressure of the willing every Thursday during their fall semester.

She assured the students, stationed across the street from her small soul-food restaurant, that she’d refill her prescription for medication right away. “I scared those kids to death,” Aarif said of her first screening.

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Guerrilla Network Forms, Delivering Health Care to Those in Need

photo by Leslie Layton

photo by Leslie Layton

by Leslie Layton

Thomas Lewry and Scott Marshall had stopped for a blood-pressure check on a November Thursday at the Fire House Certified Farmer’s Market in Oroville’s Southside.

A pair of Chico State nursing students wrapped the cuff first around one man’s arm, then the other’s, and started pumping. Marshall talked about his health problems, and as he did, the screening began to seem increasingly inconsequential.

Marshall, 61, has stage 4 bone cancer. He’s homeless. Some days, he says, his legs hurt so badly, “I get to where I can’t walk, straighten up.” UC Davis Medical Center has apparently offered him treatment, but he says that would confine him — at heart he is still a fisherman — to a hospital bed for whatever time he has left. He said he keeps on rolling, even when his body is wracked with pain, much like the song Ol’ Man River.

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Sickness in the 2nd District

by Leslie Layton

Butte and other counties in rural Northern California’s 2nd Congressional District suffer from higher-than-average rates of chronic diseases that would respond to prevention, and if it was more available, routine care. Our counties pay in terms of both personal health and emergency-room/hospital-care costs.

State Research Analyst Mike Kassis pointed out that access to primary/preventive care depends in part on affordability (which usually means having health insurance.) The recently-published study Kassis worked on for the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development shows that $3.5 billion was spent on “preventable hospitalizations” in the state in 2008.

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Cabral Spared Prison

by Leslie Layton

Reynaldo “Reny” Cabral was placed on probation Friday for an assault on his girlfriend that landed him in the Glenn County Jail – and ultimately, in a wheelchair.

Cabral, a 24-year-old Orland man who suffered a spinal-cord injury at the jail and is now a quadriplegic, was sentenced to four years probation and ordered to attend a class for batterers. The sentencing gave some closure to Cabral’s frightening 16-month journey in the Glenn County criminal-justice system.

“I’m very excited,” Cabral said late Friday. “It all turned out well and my family is relieved.”

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