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Palmer overcomes struggle with depression, encourages others to seek support system
Alex Morales
Antelope Staff

Invisible to others, yet overwhelming within. The word is heard throughout society as a murmur, yet the pain rings loud and clear in the lives of those affected.

In fact, if taboos were placed on a ladder based upon prominence, depression has scaled to the top and replaced other taboos like sex, which is now spoken about openly and most often, in a vulgar way.

For Cristianne Palmer, a family studies major from Hastings, depression is not a taboo. It is a reality she experienced and overcame. “Unfortunately there is a stereotype associated with depression, which makes many people regard it as a taboo,” she said.

According to the American College Health Association, last year, 12.9 percent of UNK students were diagnosed with depression. Depression, unlike many illnesses, cannot be measured strictly in physical terms. However its complications reach beyond any stereotype. Anyone is vulnerable.

Events trigger onset

Palmer’s experience with depression began her sophomore year in high school. At the time, her two best friends had moved away, and she started her first real job. Like many depression cases, Palmer’s experience began with an accumulation of life changing events.

The middle child separated six to 10 years from her siblings, Palmer found herself feeling alone, with heavy responsibilities. “It was difficult to have my closest friends gone all of a sudden, I didn’t have anyone to talk to,” she said.

Then came the first signs: overwhelming feelings of sadness and desire to sleep despite not being tired. This progressed to over thinking situations and emotional confusion. As Palmer began to whirl into depression, she even resorted to cutting, a form of self injury sometimes used in order to cope with emotions. Not long after however, she took the initiative to seek help and get treatment.

Counseling brings balance

After medical treatment and counseling, Palmer felt her situation progressively improving, her issues easier to handle. However, her battle with depression was far from over.

By the end of Palmer’s junior year her life took another abrupt turn. Within a couple of weeks she experienced a breakup, was assaulted and had a car accident.

For Palmer this was the breaking point. At the time it was the only car her family had and the aftermath of her breakup was long-drawn-out. For the first time, she began to have suicidal thoughts. “At this point I really didn’t care whether I lived or died,” she says.

This time around, the help Palmer found was beyond her medication. During her senior year she became part of a youth group. During this time, Palmer also went on her first mission trip, a powerful experience that led her to join campus ministries once she came to UNK. “Being able to work on myself spiritually really helped me,” she said.

However, acclimating to college in the midst of her depression would prove to be another challenge for Palmer. The spring semester of her freshman year things went downhill yet again. Palmer experienced another drawn-out breakup during which she was harassed and had family issues going on back home— all of this while being a full-time student and also working. At this point, Palmer found herself lost, suicidal thoughts returned and the cutting continued.

 “Once again everything was clumped together. It was hard to focus on anything with everything going on,” she said.

Towards the end of January that spring semester, Palmer had another breakdown, which led her to counseling and health care on campus. She knew she needed help. “I had a mental breakdown, every time I calmed down, I thought of something else, and it started all over again,” she says.

Coping skills allow healing

Palmer began counseling sessions and once again found peace outside her medication. In fact, this time around Palmer took herself off of medication. Throughout her sophomore year she developed a unique relationship with a friend she met through campus ministries who helped her get through the difficult aspects of her life. “There was just something about it I could tell the difference without medication, but it
didn’t affect me because for the first time in a long time I was feeling truly happy,” she said.

Soon after Palmer’s happiness was put to the test. Just as she was beginning to enjoy life without depression, her new best friend moved away. Despite being a similar incident that triggered her depression four years earlier, Palmer held her ground. There was no medication, and the cutting had stopped as she figured out different ways to cope with her problems.

“Sometimes you don’t know what’s wrong, but a good cry makes it better.Sometimes you just have to cry,” she said.

Now a junior, Palmer is focused on her academics and has set her sights on many goals. She also plans to travel again within the next year. She is thankful for those who gave her a hand during the times she struggled. “It is essential to have a good support system that you can talk to about anything,” she said.

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