Lawyers and depression go together far too often. Learn how to help lawyers who are suffering from mental health problems.
In my previous post, I talked about why lawyers are so depressed and now we get to the meat: how to help a depressed lawyer. TL:DR – the legal world is an environment that leads to depression. It doesn’t provide meaning, creativity, the chance to build meaningful relationships, the opportunity to be in nature, security, hope, intrinsic values, etc. The good news is that there’s likely nothing wrong with you if you’re a lawyer and you’re depressed. The environment would be enough to make a lot of mentally resilient people depressed. Still, we shouldn’t feel content knowing the causes of depression – we should learn ways to combat it. The following are some ideas to help a lawyer with depression, even if that lawyer is you.
A month ago, I logged into Facebook and saw a suicide note. Through the comments, I found out, my friend had passed. The situation reminded me of the last suicide I had heard of – a young lawyer- and the mental health problems that disproportionately affect attorneys. While some commentators have tried to explain why attorneys suffer from depression, I wasn’t convinced so I looked into it myself. So why are lawyers so depressed? Here are my thoughts.
Ever since quitting my job, everyone has been asking me what I do with my time. And I feel embarrassed to admit that I work completely on my own goals. Yes, I use what would be my 40-hour workweek for my personal goals.
I was fortunate enough to graduate from college debt free. Then I had to go and attend law school where I racked up $112,000 in student loan and credit card debt. So you can add this to the unremitting list of “student loan debt payoff” stories. I will admit that my story is more boring than most:
My secret is that there is no secret: I got paid a salary that made it possible to pay off the debt while living a reasonable lifestyle. There are no magical tricks herein. My story is completely mathematically realistic.
At 11am on a nondescript Monday in February, I noticed that nothing unpleasant had happened yet. That was unusual. And noting that peculiarity seemed like reason enough to quit my six-figure attorney job.
I told people it was a spontaneous decision. I hadn’t picked a particular day, but I knew that day I couldn’t do it anymore. Rereading my journal, however, I came across this entry:
I just can’t continue on at my job. It’s never-ending [work]. I’m constantly stressed and crying and there’s no relief in sight.
I wrote this in March of 2017, almost two years before I gave notice.
They say it takes decades to become an overnight success, so maybe it’s also true for overnight failure. I remember for so long actually liking my job that I failed to look around and notice, hey I don’t like this anymore.
When you think of the most famous attorneys – it’s a lot of men. Even famous fictional lawyers tend to be men – Perry Mason, Atticus Finch, Bob Loblaw. But there are also a lot of great female attorneys – real and fictional. And it’s easy to forget that. So this is just a fun series to remind us of some of them, with an added personal finance twist And we’ll start with my favorite of all time.
Personal finance is different for each person, and that’s especially true for women lawyers. Factors like giant student loan debt, no work life balance, lack of financial confidence, the glass ceiling – are just a few things that make navigating finances as a woman attorney different from others.
Female lawyers face their own unique personal finance challenges. They call it personal finance because the principles are not universal. If you’re a lawyer, you will likely accrue a lot of debt and no earnings while attending law school. It might still be a good decision because you are pursuing the career you want and are potentially setting yourself up for higher earnings. If you take a pay cut so that you can care for your family, that also might be the right financial decision for you, even though you are not saving.
Personal finance looks different for each individual depending on their circumstances and the stages in their lives. You might ask why this site focuses on women lawyers and it’s because female lawyers have different financial circumstances than male lawyers or women in other professions, due to a variety of systemic problems and societal norms. These differences are not necessarily night and day from other people’s experiences, but it’s different enough to warrant different advice. Below I explain some of these differences.
As a lawyer, learning calming habits are a must. I’m a typically type-A nutjob. Now, a lot of people think being type-A means you’re a jerk, and there’s definitely a correlation. There’s just something about Type-A people that makes them think that they are in a constant battle with time. Because of that, Type-A people are prone to stress and stress-related illnesses. And that can easily translate into being a jerk.