Student of the Month

Chris Punchard

My name is Chris Punchard, I was born and raised in Minnesota, and I've been fostering my passion for psychology for over a decade.

For the vast majority of my life, I've dealt with depression on a daily basis, and as time went on. I am officially diagnosed with clinical depression, generalized anxiety disorder, bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder, ADHD, and OCD. Needless to say, living day to day within my mind is certainly an interesting experience. And yet, even though every day is a different battle or continued struggle, if given the chance, I don't think I would choose to relive my life without it all. Despite the physical, emotional, and mental cost, I really believe that the tools I've acquired through surviving this long are invaluable. I've been forced to learn how to constantly adapt, and I've gained a vital sense of self-awareness to be able to monitor my own mental health. The constant struggling and lack of progress has taught me to remain resilient and to persevere, even in the face of immense adversity. Through the need to both be patient with and listen to myself, I've not only found greater patience for others, but I've learned how to truly listen to them as well.

I've found that people struggling with mental illness seek friendship in each other - myself included. It's hard to explain how mental illness feels to someone who hasn't lived with it and so we find those who understand. From being a part of these groups of people, I've experienced firsthand what it's like to be in the field of psychology. I've helped numerous friends work through issues like depressive episodes and internal conflicts countless times, I've sat with and guided friends through severe panic attacks, and I've talked people down from ledges. This is what led me to wanting to pursue a degree in psychology. Through seeing and feeling how extremely painful untreated mental illness can be, and through having the experiences of helping others, I've realized that a career in psychology is a natural and appealing fit for me.

In the past year, constant and chronic nerve pain affects both of my hands and arms as well as the right side of my body from my neck to lower back. Progress to recovery or even symptom management has been frustratingly slow, if not non-existent, but despite this, I will not put my goals and aspirations on hold. I've spent the better half of my life growing accustomed to adversity and becoming intimately familiar with suffering. Be it mental or physical, I won't let my pain stop me from completing my associate degree in psychology next year, nor will I allow it to deny me the prospect of a bachelor's degree as I continue my education. Though I can't tell what the future holds for me, I have my sights set on a master's degree and I'll do everything in my power to get there.