When Keith Payne was in the fourth grade, he realized he was poor. The epiphany came to him in the cafeteria.
“We had a new cashier in the line that day,” he said. “And when I got to the cashier’s desk she asked me for, I think it was $1.25. That was the first time that anybody had ever asked me to pay for my lunch because I’d always been on free lunch.”
Keith had been blissfully unaware that many of his classmates were paying for their meals every day. But now, he began comparing himself with his peers.
“It’s not like I was poorer the day after that than I was before. Nothing objective had changed. But because of that subjective awareness, now everything seemed different to me.”
At six-foot-three, Patrick Mulvaney is a commanding force in his busy kitchen at B&L in the Midtown neighborhood of Sacramento. As staff prepare for a large dinner crowd, the chef strides through the restaurant’s narrow back hallways, where the scent of roasted chicken wafts over dishwasher steam and clanking cookware. His gravelly speech is peppered with curse words, and he’s quick to make adjustments to a tray of hors d’oeuvres or a specialty cocktail.
But even when it’s busy, he says the servers, cooks and bartenders treat each other like family. And as “captain of the pirate ship,” as he calls himself, he says it’s his job to make sure they’re staying afloat in the chaos.
The chef has made a name for himself on the local and national culinary scenes, both for his widely praised farm-to-fork menus and for his leadership on causes such as homelessness and domestic violence. Now, he’s channeling some of his energy into suicide prevention.
One negative behavior such as substance abuse or heavy alcohol drinking can lead college students toward a vicious cycle of poor lifestyle choices, lack of sleep, mental distress and low grades, according to new research from Binghamton University, State University of New York.
“We used a robust data-mining technique to identify associations between mental distress in college students with substance abuse, sleep, social behaviors, academic attitude and behaviors, and GPA (short-term and long-term as reflective of academic performance),” said Lina Begdache, assistant professor of Health and Wellness Studies at Binghamton University. “Positive behaviors such as abstinence from substance use, studious attitudes and responsibility toward work and family are reflective of a brain chemistry profile that supports mood and maturation of the prefrontal cortex of the brain. The latter matures last and supports impulse and emotional control as well as rationalization of thoughts.
“Interestingly, we identified potential cyclic behaviors that associate with severe mental distress that are linked to a change in brain chemistry that supports substance abuse, poor academic attitude and performance, poor sleep patterns, and neglect of family and work. The novelty of these findings is that we are proposing, based on the neuroscience of these behaviors, that one action may be leading to another until a vicious cycle sets in.”
If I think back to all of the most memorable and joyous moments of my life, my memories are laced with a dark, gripping cloak of anxiety.
Experiences that other people would celebrate, such as graduations, weddings, and promotions, are dreaded milestones for me — not the ferociously sought-after goals that they are for many people.
Sometimes, I think back to try to identify the defining moment that turned me into the anxious, paranoid wreck that I became for so long. I search for clues regarding what led me there. Maybe my mother was withholding, or maybe my father was too strict.