If you suspect you may have depression—even if you think it’s just because you work in a hellhole, and you will be FINE once you leave—go ahead and get help. Because unless you’ve got a job offer in hand, you’re going to be there for at least a couple more months. And take it from me, those “couple more months” often translate suddenly into 6 months or 9 months or a year, between workload and inertia. That’s a long time to be depressed, untreated, and miserable.
Stuck in the office for the rest of your life? Time to create beach reading time for yourself, even if your only travel plans are to and from the office for the foreseeable future. If you really want to embrace the idea, put on your bathing suit and find an umbrella to sit under. At the very least, get a cold drink, stick a tacky paper umbrella in it, curl up on the couch, and put your nose into a book for a few hours.
When the work starts to pile on, lawyers not only fail to put on their oxygen masks, they head for the cabin door, rip it open, and jump out. From 5,000 ft. And then they wonder why they end up drained, dispirited and depressed about their jobs and their life. The ironic thing is that those 80-hour weeks don’t produce higher quantity or quality work.
Even when those 500 lawyers finished talking about the email, it still left an emotional mark on those who already were unhappy about the firm and the profession. Emails like Morrison’s are a trigger. They set off waves of unrest and dissatisfaction, if not outright plunges into depression and anxiety. Focus gets lost, and it’s hard to regain. So you have a bunch of lawyers who are not thinking well or clearly. They may end up doing substandard work, which means that other people have to review work and catch mistakes (cha-ching!) that they wouldn’t have had to do otherwise. And the distracted lawyer has to fix stuff (more cha-ching!). Plus it makes it hard for many of them to even drag themselves to the office the next day, or get to work at all, if the experiences of me and my clients is any indicator.
So it’s Friday, and high time for a little fun. I’ve concocted a poll that might make you smile, just
There are so many of you out there who are utterly convinced that staying in law is a path of safety and certainty, and that you would be wildly irresponsibleto leave. The fact that staying in law is contributing to your chronic health problems, and triggering or worsening your depression and anxiety, are simply risks that you ignore as blithely as getting into your car daily.
Compassion is the antidote to judgment. If nothing else, lawyers typically operate as master judges of, basically, everything. Judgment is often what makes our lives unhappy and unsatisfying. We judge ourselves as less than, because we fall short of some standard that we imagine will unlock the key to happiness. (Newsflash: The key to happiness and a satisfying life is connection with others. Ask Brené Brown.)
So when I hear clients say, “But I’ve put so much time and effort into law, I don’t just want to walk away,” I quietly gnash my teeth. In my head, that statement translates to “But I’ve put so much time and energy into killing my soul, I can’t stop now!”
But guess what? The paths we think are clear and logical often don’t work out, either. We just delude ourselves that they always will, if only we can squeeze ourselves inside someone else’s cramped, soul-killing box.
If your dream job and life seem like a million miles from where you are, your next job probably won’t be your dream job. But with some dreaming and then some thinking, you can make that next job one of the bridges that gives you more of what you need to get you there in the end.