counseling/anxiety

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Polka
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counseling/anxiety

Postby Polka » Mon Oct 11, 2010 7:16 pm

I am excruciatingly shy, and somehow I forgot to consider this when I decided on law school. I blanked out the first time I was called on in class, but school had just started and everyone else sounded stupid too, so no big deal. I haven't been called on in a big class since then, and I had forgotten about my tendency to freak out until I had to do a mock interview thing a few days ago, and now here I am a month into law school, $20K in debt, and suddenly it dawns on me that this could be a problem.

Have any of you dealt with social anxiety in law school? Have you talked to your school's mental health people for that or other reasons? Are they generally helpful?

I guess I should make an appointment and maybe get some tips or some beta-blockers or something, but I worry that it might be a waste of time, and mostly I just want to dig a hole in the ground and hide in it forever. Or ignore it, fly under the socratic radar and aim for a career without client contact, but who is gonna hire someone who can barely squeak out answers to their questions? :| :| :| :|

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jesuis
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Re: counseling/anxiety

Postby jesuis » Mon Oct 11, 2010 9:17 pm

see PM :)

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kswiss
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Re: counseling/anxiety

Postby kswiss » Mon Oct 11, 2010 10:52 pm

This is exactly how I was when I first started undergrad.

Starting my junior year, I decided that I really wanted to be better. I made a conscious effort to get over it. I would prepare for class, and when there was a question or something that I knew I could handle, I would force myself to raise my hand. Answering a few questions right is a great way to build confidence.

It's still hard though. When law school started I felt out of place. I went from the comfort of long term friends and stuff to do constantly to a bunch of new people. I did the same thing though...started forcing myself to raise my hand, and preparing for class to make sure that if called on I don't get flustered.

Now, a couple months in, I'm relaxed again. I don't mind being clumsy if called on, so I don't have to study as hard.

I hope that you don't take this as a "suck it up." Social anxiety is difficult, and I can hardly say that I have real social anxiety. But I don't think I'm alone in that I'm self aware about it, and I've come up with a way to deal with it. Go see your student affairs dean, too. I'm sure they have dealt with similar situations and can offer some good advice.

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dood
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Re: counseling/anxiety

Postby dood » Mon Oct 11, 2010 11:04 pm

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Last edited by dood on Sun Oct 24, 2010 4:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.

slapshot01j
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Re: counseling/anxiety

Postby slapshot01j » Tue Oct 12, 2010 10:10 am

You are definitely not the first law student who has encountered this problem, and the counseling center/dean's office will likely have advice for you. Avoid the social pressure against seeking counseling in law school. It is not any sign of weakness to attack an issue head on.

And long-term, not all lawyers stand in front of judges and have to make their case. I have a cousin who is pretty shy, and therefore made sure to choose a field in which he would never have to litigate - tax law. And he is very successful there.

So I would definitely discuss this with the counseling center at your school who may have useful into, and also just know that not all lawyers spend their careers doing things that resemble the Socratic method (being hit with purposeful curveball questions in front of 100 people)

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beach_terror
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Re: counseling/anxiety

Postby beach_terror » Tue Oct 12, 2010 10:43 am

I suffer with this a bit (I get bright red, but I can talk more or less fine). A roommate in UG suggested breath exercises before you talk, as in when she's getting ready to cold call or before you put your hand up, and much to my amazement it helped tremendously. Long, deep breaths slow my heart rate considerably and help me to sort my thoughts in my head.

Simple and obvious, but I've found it extremely effective.

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annapavlova
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Re: counseling/anxiety

Postby annapavlova » Tue Oct 12, 2010 12:39 pm

Not that I would discourage someone who really needed counseling to seek help, but would say use your discretion about how necessary it is depending on what you want to do.

I'm currently interning for a federal agency, and had the most insane background check. I saw a counselor like four times during college to deal with stress only, and had to report that during the investigatory process. I had to get a letter sent from the counselor (in a different state, from four years ago) to send an official document on letterhead that I'm not crazy. On top of that I had to write multiple statements explaining myself. It was really frustrating and a little embarrassing because of course my supervising attorney was privy to all of this.

So...yeah...that's what I got. Let me know if you have any questions.

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reasonable_man
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Re: counseling/anxiety

Postby reasonable_man » Tue Oct 12, 2010 12:53 pm

I'd also use caution as part of your character and fitness requirements for admission to any State bar will require that you are sane. So i'd be careful about what you're being prescribed, etc. Not saying it will hold you back, just saying that you will likely have to be able to justify it on your C&F...

Also... You should work on getting this under control now. All law jobs require you to be able to speak and articulate a position/convey information. Even positions which do not entail litigation or "client contact."

CanadianWolf
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Re: counseling/anxiety

Postby CanadianWolf » Tue Oct 12, 2010 1:00 pm

Counseling is an option. Visit your local bookstore for self-help psychology guidance. Consider joining ToastMasters. Avoid drugs if not absolutely necessary. Get more involved in an activity at which you excel in order to build confidence.

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vanwinkle
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Re: counseling/anxiety

Postby vanwinkle » Tue Oct 12, 2010 1:33 pm

This isn't legal advice, and you should speak to someone who knows the law (maybe at your school) about actual C&F issues, but this is just what I recommend for your personal well-being:

Your school should have some kind of health services program that includes mental health services. You can seek help for problems such as general anxiety and receive counseling that is often incredibly helpful and can guide you in the right direction. They'll also help you determine if your problem is serious enough to warrant medication.

C&F can be an issue, potentially, but first and foremost should be your ability to thrive as a person and as a law student. If you need counseling or medication, you should be on them. You can deal with the C&F problems and still pass the bar a lot more easily than you can deal with failing out of law school because your anxiety is crushing you and keeping you from doing what you need to do. C&F will require you to disclose any diagnosis and treatment you have ongoing, but hopefully you should be able to make a case by then that you're a capable person because of your treatment and it shouldn't be a reason to deny you bar passage.

And that's assuming it's a serious enough problem to require a formal diagnosis/treatment. It could just be regarded as social anxiety they help you overcome, and you could be well enough to not need treatment anymore by the time C&F rolls around.

Take care of yourself and what will help you. Right now that should be getting the help you need for this anxiety problem. You can deal with C&F when you're better and less anxious and it's time to actually deal with it.

Lastly, I do second the recommendations on doing activities to help you overcome anxiety. ToastMasters is probably an excellent opportunity if you can find a local chapter, or a debate team, or a leadership role in a small student organization that requires some (but not too much) speaking from an authority position to other members. Counseling and medication are only tools to make the process easier; to get through anxiety you still have to confront it and teach yourself that the things you're anxious about are not as harmful as you think.

Bankhead
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Re: counseling/anxiety

Postby Bankhead » Tue Oct 12, 2010 3:54 pm

He is considering counseling for anxiety. To discuss C&F issues as related to this is simply ridiculous. You know how many lawyers/law students take anxiety/depression medicine?

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vanwinkle
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Re: counseling/anxiety

Postby vanwinkle » Tue Oct 12, 2010 4:14 pm

Bankhead wrote:He is considering counseling for anxiety. To discuss C&F issues as related to this is simply ridiculous. You know how many lawyers/law students take anxiety/depression medicine?

I agree that an emphasis on C&F is a bit ridiculous. The reason I brought up C&F at all was to try to rebut this:

reasonable_man wrote:I'd also use caution as part of your character and fitness requirements for admission to any State bar will require that you are sane. So i'd be careful about what you're being prescribed, etc. Not saying it will hold you back, just saying that you will likely have to be able to justify it on your C&F...

Warning "caution" due to C&F isn't a good idea, IMO, because 1) if he's concerned about it now he can address it now with someone at his school who knows C&F issues, and 2) he'll be in a better position to deal with any C&F issues that exist if he's less anxious by the time he gets to the bar.

Yeah, C&F is an issue, but a far easier one to overcome than severe social or general anxiety. My point (and I may have made this badly) is to try to defeat the anxiety now, because that's the real problem, and C&F concerns should be secondary to that as a smaller problem that can be dealt with later.

Polka
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Re: counseling/anxiety

Postby Polka » Tue Oct 12, 2010 6:18 pm

Thanks for all your input, guys. It's nice to hear that there are people who have gotten over similar issues and become capable lawyers.

I had thought about Toastmasters (my dad did it years ago and tried to get me to join), but I am concerned about the time commitment, although I suppose anything effective will take time. If joining clubs would help that would be fantastic because it would further both my legal education and the likelihood that I would be able to apply it. I will look into that.

I am glad people aren't raving about pills because I am a little wary of things that can mess with my head so easily.

Also, I think if C&F were a relatively serious issue law schools wouldn't advertise mental health services and mine seems to be encouraging their use.

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Marionberry
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Re: counseling/anxiety

Postby Marionberry » Tue Oct 12, 2010 6:29 pm

Counseling can be very effective in dealing with anxiety, allowing you to not only perform better in law school but also to just enjoy your life more. The only catch is that counseling, like medication, is not a magic bullet. It will require you to do work outside of your counseling sessions on developing new behaviors, cognitive processes, etc, that can at first be unfamiliar and unpleasant. As with anything, what you will get out of it is directly proportional to the amount of time and energy you invest in it. It's work, but it's worth it!

Also, meditation, healthy diet and exercise will work wonders for anyone, regardless of their situation.

slapshot01j
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Re: counseling/anxiety

Postby slapshot01j » Tue Oct 12, 2010 6:38 pm

Most counseling centers are completely separate from the administration, and can answer these questions re: C&F. But I really have a very hard time believing that State Bar Associations take actions that would directly inhibit law students from seeking help when needed. Especially with everything going on in the world.

The pamphlet I saw from NY's Bar mentions issues that "impairs the applicant's current ability to practice law." If whatever your issue is is clearly under control, then it shouldn't be a problem - but definitely do your research.

(I just can't imagine that a Bar Association would prevent someone being medicated for depression/anxiety from practicing law after 3 years of school, passing the bar exam, and taking on 100K debt. I.e. "Now you are in loads of debt, and cannot practice law because you sought help for depression. Too bad we didn't tell you that 3 years ago, sucker. " Sooner or later, the Bar would have someone's blood on their hands.)




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