Dealing with depression at law school...

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Garinold
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Dealing with depression at law school...

Postby Garinold » Thu Oct 08, 2009 9:54 pm

I'm not going to go to deep into detail regarding the various reasons for my depression. I'll just say that I have been depressed and miserable for my entire life, or at least the amount of my life that I can remember. Based upon that amount of cynicism that I know exists on these boards I know this may sound retarded to most of you but I actually thought I'd be happy at law school. I thought the intellectual challenge & training I would be receiving for a professional career would be great for me (along with being away from family).

It turns out that I am more depressed and miserable now than I have been since childhood. Based upon what I know about the workload, exams, and the competition, I am certain that I more than smart enough to reach into the top 20% gradewise at least. However, I am so miserable at all times that its difficult to be even marginally productive. I'm barely do the readings and getting to class prepared, and I am really not making any significant headway whatsoever into working with supplements, hypoes, or outlining. I have more than enough time to do it, it just seems like my emotions have me completely paralyzed and barely able to breathe.

I know you guys aren't shrinks, but I was just wondering if there are some of you that have been through a similar situation as I am. I know according to a recent guest lecture at my school that legal profession was rated 1st in the country for depression and like 2nd for suicide out of 105 professions in some John-Hopkins study, so I'm betting that some of you law students may be struggling like I am.

How do you deal with it?

legends159
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Re: Dealing with depression at law school...

Postby legends159 » Thu Oct 08, 2009 10:13 pm

Dude I had the same problem, but that stemmed from the fact that I missed my family and my home and everything else that I left behind. I went from living my whole life in a large ass city to some tiny little "farm" and adjusting was very difficult. I've since gotten over it mainly by distracting myself with work (and the euphoria i get from getting shit done) but I know what you're talking about: when you have that empty feeling in the middle of your chest it's really hard to do anything but just lie in bed and wallow.

I set small goals that can be accomplished reasonably every weekend before the week starts and that helps me stay positive. I also take time to go work out which helps me feel energized.

"Law school is a marathon" you've heard that cliche many times and it's true. How do people deal with marathons? They don't start the race thinking about every single thing that they need to do because that will overwhelm them.

Instead, break up your law school semester into 15 weeks. Each week you want to accomplish x amount of work so that by week 13-14 you are finished and can start doing practice tests. And don't drive yourself crazy. If you've finished the amount of work you've assigned yourself for that day, go do something fun and relaxing.

If you've done the work you're supposed to do that day, which you assign yourself to do (and may be more than what is required by the syllabus) you should feel proud of yourself so that when you are doing something relaxing, don't think about what else you need to do in the semester. I know many of us law students have this problem. We have trouble enjoying the moment because we're so focused on what else needs to be done. But you have to stop that and deal with it now or end up being one of those miserable attorneys who hate being the office but hate being out of it too.

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chewdak
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Re: Dealing with depression at law school...

Postby chewdak » Thu Oct 08, 2009 10:23 pm

Garinold wrote:I'm not going to go to deep into detail regarding the various reasons for my depression. I'll just say that I have been depressed and miserable for my entire life, or at least the amount of my life that I can remember. Based upon that amount of cynicism that I know exists on these boards I know this may sound retarded to most of you but I actually thought I'd be happy at law school. I thought the intellectual challenge & training I would be receiving for a professional career would be great for me (along with being away from family).

It turns out that I am more depressed and miserable now than I have been since childhood. Based upon what I know about the workload, exams, and the competition, I am certain that I more than smart enough to reach into the top 20% gradewise at least. However, I am so miserable at all times that its difficult to be even marginally productive. I'm barely do the readings and getting to class prepared, and I am really not making any significant headway whatsoever into working with supplements, hypoes, or outlining. I have more than enough time to do it, it just seems like my emotions have me completely paralyzed and barely able to breathe.

I know you guys aren't shrinks, but I was just wondering if there are some of you that have been through a similar situation as I am. I know according to a recent guest lecture at my school that legal profession was rated 1st in the country for depression and like 2nd for suicide out of 105 professions in some John-Hopkins study, so I'm betting that some of you law students may be struggling like I am.

How do you deal with it?

There are all sorts of help available. Definitely talk to someone at Mental Health Services.

Tave
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Re: Dealing with depression at law school...

Postby Tave » Thu Oct 08, 2009 10:28 pm

I second talking to someone

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underachiever
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Re: Dealing with depression at law school...

Postby underachiever » Thu Oct 08, 2009 10:32 pm

Dude, I'm right with you. I tell people it sucks or I hate it all the time and they just laugh it off b/c im at a top 14, they say I should be so happy/I'm so lucky...but I'm not. There is a ton of pressure on us (those of us who don't have a rich parent paying for school) and ITE its even harder to justify doing all we do, knowing that at the end of the day none of it even guarantees a decent rank in class. Which I need so i can get a job I'll hate, to pay off my loans. My fellow students are intense and mostly annoying (but I can't even tell anymore if its that they are annoying or I am so frustrated that I'm pissed about everything). It sort of reminds me of high school expect replace athletes with super annoying and rich nerds. And I wish I could say it all stems from me not getting the material but I do get it, but whatever.

How do I deal with it? I keep a schedule that keeps me sane(class, workout, eat, relax, reading) and I leave the law school area a lot: I walk though the city, do some urban exploring and it really relaxes me.

Thanks for letting me vent. All I know is I have 3 months till this first semester is over and only 5 semesters left till I'm done with school forever. My patience with academia is about up and I just want a job or at least the chance to get one.

....but seriously go talk to someone, mental health services, that will definitely help!
Last edited by underachiever on Thu Oct 08, 2009 11:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.

legends159
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Re: Dealing with depression at law school...

Postby legends159 » Thu Oct 08, 2009 10:45 pm

I find talking about it with classmates help because you realize most people are just as scared about job prospects, about working 80 hour weeks, about not being smart enough or whatever other insecurities we as overachieving neurotic SOBs are blessed with.

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A'nold
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Re: Dealing with depression at law school...

Postby A'nold » Thu Oct 08, 2009 10:52 pm

I know this response will get flack, but have you ever been on anti-depressants? It will even your mood and put life into a better perspective and will eliminate that panicky feeling of darkness. Good luck and go talk with the free psychiatrist on campus.

pithypike
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Re: Dealing with depression at law school...

Postby pithypike » Thu Oct 08, 2009 10:58 pm

Good to know I'm not the only one who constantly feels like I'm not doign enough. i never felt that way in undergrad, but since law school started i can't relax for 10 minutes without thinking about what i should be doing.....even when i'm doing work i'm wondering if what i'm focusing on is the best use of my time, how effective supplement use is, etc. less than two months and i'm already 1,000,000 times more neurotic than i was.

although i do love law school and my studies so far. it's just stresfull. anyway.

OP, go talk to someone. Seriously. History of depression + career notoriously difficult on mental health = the perfect storm.

not that it isn't doable, you just need to be proactive. good luck man.

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Dialogue
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Re: Dealing with depression at law school...

Postby Dialogue » Thu Oct 08, 2009 11:07 pm

I am no physchologist, but here's what worked for me:

-Figure out what I'm miserable. For me, it was misplaced priorities. People weren't meant to be productive machines. Entrenched deep within the soul of many overachievers is serious perfectionism and the accompanying discontentment.

-Realizing this, I made an intentional effort to detach my individual evaluation of my self-worth from that which I accomplish. Value doesn't lie in good grades, becoming valedictorian, landing prestigious jobs, or securing a seat at a t14.

-Making a concerted effort at relationship. Not dating, but just loving people.

-The biggest key for me though was spiritual. I won't get into all those beliefs here, because many would find them nonsensical. But, though I don't believe in a "holy book" or whatever, I do believe in a god and the inherant value that such a creator instills. I think that we find meaning when we love and serve others. I'm not trying to get into controversial topics, but just responding to the topic.

I'm a 0L, but experienced similiar sentiment when I entered the workforce. Real sorry man, I second the advice about talking to someone.

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DavidYurman85
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Re: Dealing with depression at law school...

Postby DavidYurman85 » Thu Oct 08, 2009 11:17 pm

+1 for going to talk to someone...

I fell into a super depression during my junior year in college. For me, it should have been the best time of my life--I had "everything" going for me at the time. Yet, I was still so depressed. I had no idea what the problem was. Long story short, my roommate (a pre-med student) had a project to do where she had to interview someone and ask them a list of 50 pre-determined questions. I was the only person in the house and volunteered to be her guinea pig. Based off of my answers her professor ended up calling me into her office and suggested that I go to the school's mental health clinic. It ended up being the best suggestions ever. I was able to talk to someone about my depression and it really helped. I hope you feel better. At least your taking the first step by acknowledging the way you feel.

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CE2JD
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Re: Dealing with depression at law school...

Postby CE2JD » Thu Oct 08, 2009 11:18 pm

No offense to the 0Ls giving advice in here, but 0Ls don't really know what going to law school is like and hence can't speak for jack.

I've been through a lot of terrible experiences including barely surviving a horrific car accident, losing a surrogate (read: replacement) mother, and many others, but law school is a different kind of "difficult." It's a war of attrition on all your senses. It's dehumanizing to a certain extent.

You really have to experience it before you can compare it to anything else.

Also: post 4000!
Last edited by CE2JD on Thu Oct 08, 2009 11:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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mtyrikos
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Re: Dealing with depression at law school...

Postby mtyrikos » Thu Oct 08, 2009 11:22 pm

There are dozens of physiological reasons that could lead to the feeling of depression and since this has existed for as long as you can remember, it sounds like it could be a chemical imbalance that should be approached just like any other condition.

I would just first remember that it's not your fault, it may be a genetic, it may be environmental, but it's not your fault.

First - have you tried natural remedies? Exercise, for starters, could go a long way in correcting chemical imbalances and start regulating a more natural, sustained release of seratonin. Secondly, are you over-stimulated? Cut out the TV, noise, distraction, etc. If you're in school and focusing on law school I would try to balance how much stimulation you're receiving because your mind needs rest just like any muscle, etc. Third, seek out things that center you, inspire you, relax you and so on.

Lastly - have you ever tried Kava Kava? It's an herbal supplement... sold at any GNC, etc, and it's a pretty remarkable mood enhancer.

Hang in there man... even the happiest of people, if they look into how the world actually functions including the dynamics of the systems we're a part of, get depressed from time to time.

smalltown
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Re: Dealing with depression at law school...

Postby smalltown » Thu Oct 08, 2009 11:30 pm

While these are all good, compassionate answers, I think there is something missing here. I don't think the OP is necessarily depressed because of the stressful factors of law school - grades, jobs, etc. It seems like he can handle the workload and knows he is competent. It sounds like there is something deeper. Maybe that's me projecting, but I've always had success at most of what I tried. Yet I've always dealt with the feeling of the "hole in the chest." It certainly has returned, and I don't know why really. I feel quite comfortable with the material and my comprehension of it. As much as I hate to do it myself, I think talking to someone really helps. A lot of us tend to be excessive thinkers and live in our own head too much. Just getting those feelings out of your head makes a difference. Also, try not to sweat it too much. You hear all the doom and gloom stories, but that's a long way from now. No need to worry about it now too much. Medication has also helped me a lot. May have saved my life, actually.

Snooker
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Re: Dealing with depression at law school...

Postby Snooker » Thu Oct 08, 2009 11:35 pm

I am pumped up for law school everyday. I will be in my 8th hour at school and still be able to punch the air and yell "fuck yeah! promissory estoppel!" it helps a lot. you need to be pumped up if you are going to be terminating that legal work.

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Drake014
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Re: Dealing with depression at law school...

Postby Drake014 » Thu Oct 08, 2009 11:48 pm

Garinold wrote:I'm not going to go to deep into detail regarding the various reasons for my depression. I'll just say that I have been depressed and miserable for my entire life, or at least the amount of my life that I can remember. Based upon that amount of cynicism that I know exists on these boards I know this may sound retarded to most of you but I actually thought I'd be happy at law school. I thought the intellectual challenge & training I would be receiving for a professional career would be great for me (along with being away from family).

It turns out that I am more depressed and miserable now than I have been since childhood. Based upon what I know about the workload, exams, and the competition, I am certain that I more than smart enough to reach into the top 20% gradewise at least. However, I am so miserable at all times that its difficult to be even marginally productive. I'm barely do the readings and getting to class prepared, and I am really not making any significant headway whatsoever into working with supplements, hypoes, or outlining. I have more than enough time to do it, it just seems like my emotions have me completely paralyzed and barely able to breathe.

I know you guys aren't shrinks, but I was just wondering if there are some of you that have been through a similar situation as I am. I know according to a recent guest lecture at my school that legal profession was rated 1st in the country for depression and like 2nd for suicide out of 105 professions in some John-Hopkins study, so I'm betting that some of you law students may be struggling like I am.

How do you deal with it?


I don't know if your law school offers health insurance or not, but it sounds like you need counseling. I would recommend asking your health services for a referral to a psychiatrist (so they can prescribe medicine if needed) or a hypnotherapist. Usually they can give you a few sessions in house, but I'd just skip to seeing someone regularly because I think that's where you're headed. Once you start seeing someone, don't stop going to counseling (but do feel free to switch counselors if you're not jiving with yours).

Don't just go on like this. Even if you don't have insurance there are groups that can help.

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Dialogue
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Re: Dealing with depression at law school...

Postby Dialogue » Thu Oct 08, 2009 11:50 pm

CE2JD wrote:No offense to the 0Ls giving advice in here, but 0Ls don't really know what going to law school is like and hence can't speak for jack.

I've been through a lot of terrible experiences including barely surviving a horrific car accident, losing a surrogate (read: replacement) mother, and many others, but law school is a different kind of "difficult." It's a war of attrition on all your senses. It's dehumanizing to a certain extent.

You really have to experience it before you can compare it to anything else.

Also: post 4000!


I never said I understand law school. I've worked consistent 80 hour weeks in third world countries and experienced national revolution. That's a war on all your senses.

Frankly, I don't see what contribution you intended to make with your post.

There is a common denominator between people that have experienced depression. I'm sure you understand that.

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apper123
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Postby apper123 » Fri Oct 09, 2009 12:01 am

ntzsch wrote:this is uncalled for but, I would suggest smoking some pot, then realize that you are smoking pot and at T14.

I mean, there is nothing you can really do, we all know that life sucks, but no need for resignation.

if you talk to a counselor, you will soon realize that you are talking to someone (who is not as smart as you) reading from a script.

I dont think that any smart people are happy, and I'm sure that the smartest were incrediably unhappy at times.

if none of that works, I would read ecce homo, or anything else by the man:


"To those human beings who are of any concern to me I wish suffering, desolation, sickness, ill-treatment, indignities - I wish that they should not remain unfamiliar with profound self-contempt, the torture of self-mistrust, the wretchedness of the vanquished: I have no pity for them, because I wish them the only thing that can prove today whether one is worth anything or not - that one endures."


I implore you to ignore this post. It's awful advice.

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Dialogue
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Re: Dealing with depression at law school...

Postby Dialogue » Fri Oct 09, 2009 12:02 am

ntzsch wrote:this is uncalled for but, I would suggest smoking some pot, then realize that you are smoking pot and at T14.

I mean, there is nothing you can really do, we all know that life sucks, but no need for resignation.

if you talk to a counselor, you will soon realize that you are talking to someone (who is not as smart as you) reading from a script.

I dont think that any smart people are happy, and I'm sure that the smartest were incrediably unhappy at times.

if none of that works, I would read ecce homo, or anything else by the man:


"To those human beings who are of any concern to me I wish suffering, desolation, sickness, ill-treatment, indignities - I wish that they should not remain unfamiliar with profound self-contempt, the torture of self-mistrust, the wretchedness of the vanquished: I have no pity for them, because I wish them the only thing that can prove today whether one is worth anything or not - that one endures."


Ahh, the inevitable existentialist.

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apper123
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Re: Dealing with depression at law school...

Postby apper123 » Fri Oct 09, 2009 12:03 am

Nearly all schools offer free counseling and psychological services. These services are, surprisingly to most people, quite good. I implore you to seek them out. I have had many friends who have completely turned their lives around from depression with the help of a counselor. They aren't going to tell you what to do (although they may guide you at times), but they will help you through your own healing and strengthening process.

They may refer you to a psychiatrist. Regardless of your feelings on medications, at least go and talk to them. It can't hurt. Some people really do need medications, as there are legit chemical causes of depression that no amount of talk therapy can get under control alone.

You'll learn, over time, how to deal with the symptoms of your depression and heal. It will never go away, but you'll learn to manage it to a point where it doesn't bother you anymore. I hope that makes sense. It's hard to describe.

One thing to realize: people not suffering from depression will never understand. They'll never get it. Take their advice or words with a grain of salt. They may say "just get over it" or that meds "are for weaklings." Shake it off. They just don't know what they are talking about.

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Garinold
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Re: Dealing with depression at law school...

Postby Garinold » Fri Oct 09, 2009 12:09 am

ntzsch wrote:this is uncalled for but, I would suggest smoking some pot, then realize that you are smoking pot and at T14.

I mean, there is nothing you can really do, we all know that life sucks, but no need for resignation.

if you talk to a counselor, you will soon realize that you are talking to someone (who is not as smart as you) reading from a script.

I dont think that any smart people are happy, and I'm sure that the smartest were incrediably unhappy at times.

if none of that works, I would read ecce homo, or anything else by the man:


"To those human beings who are of any concern to me I wish suffering, desolation, sickness, ill-treatment, indignities - I wish that they should not remain unfamiliar with profound self-contempt, the torture of self-mistrust, the wretchedness of the vanquished: I have no pity for them, because I wish them the only thing that can prove today whether one is worth anything or not - that one endures."


I always preferred Thus Spoke Zarathustra. Haven't read ecce homo yet.

"To assume the right to new values-that is the most terrifying assumption for a reverent spirit that would bear much. Truly, to him it it is preying, and the work of a beast of prey."

In general it just seems that there is a storm of things going on in my head right now. Its kinda like all of my problems that I thought I might be able to leave behind when I essentially planned to start on a fresh path to a career have followed me and have all of a sudden become magnified. The experience of law school itself isn't what bothers me, it is that law school has created my uncertainty about life. I always wanted to go to law school, in part because of the intellectual challenge and development, but also because of the doors it seems to open in our society. Now that I am here and more miserable than I could imagine I find myself asking about the future. If law school is this horrible, are all the jobs that I look forward to all they're cracked out to be? Being a bigshot biglaw lawyer, being an appellate litigator, being an assistant U.S. attorney, working in the DOJ's office of legal council, getting elected to Congress.....will any of that shit really make me a happy person? I'm not so sure anymore.

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apper123
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Re: Dealing with depression at law school...

Postby apper123 » Fri Oct 09, 2009 12:09 am

ntzsch wrote:
apper123 wrote:Nearly all schools offer free counseling and psychological services. These services are, surprisingly to most people, quite good. I implore you to seek them out. I have had many friends who have completely turned their lives around from depression with the help of a counselor. They aren't going to tell you what to do (although they may guide you at times), but they will help you through your own healing and strengthening process.

They may refer you to a psychiatrist. Regardless of your feelings on medications, at least go and talk to them. It can't hurt. Some people really do need medications, as there are legit chemical causes of depression that no amount of talk therapy can get under control alone.

You'll learn, over time, how to deal with the symptoms of your depression and heal. It will never go away, but you'll learn to manage it to a point where it doesn't bother you anymore. I hope that makes sense. It's hard to describe.

One thing to realize: people not suffering from depression will never understand. They'll never get it. Take their advice or words with a grain of salt. They may say "just get over it" or that meds "are for weaklings." Shake it off. They just don't know what they are talking about.



how would you know who on here that has given advice does or does not suffer from depression?


Who said I was talking about you? That's part of the standard line of advice I give to people suffering from depression. It's a disease that's really taboo to talk about having (although that's slowly changing). Often times, the thing standing between a depressed person and seeking help is the fear of becoming some sort of social pariah because they are seeing a psychologist. They need to know that's just not the way it is.

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jack duluoz
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Re: Dealing with depression at law school...

Postby jack duluoz » Fri Oct 09, 2009 12:11 am

keep your head up man. think of something that makes you happy and focus on that when youre bummin out. and always remember no one is better than you!

Kant
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Re: Dealing with depression at law school...

Postby Kant » Fri Oct 09, 2009 12:11 am

Dialogue wrote:I am no physchologist, but here's what worked for me:

-Figure out what I'm miserable. For me, it was misplaced priorities. People weren't meant to be productive machines. Entrenched deep within the soul of many overachievers is serious perfectionism and the accompanying discontentment.

-Realizing this, I made an intentional effort to detach my individual evaluation of my self-worth from that which I accomplish. Value doesn't lie in good grades, becoming valedictorian, landing prestigious jobs, or securing a seat at a t14.

-Making a concerted effort at relationship. Not dating, but just loving people.

-The biggest key for me though was spiritual. I won't get into all those beliefs here, because many would find them nonsensical. But, though I don't believe in a "holy book" or whatever, I do believe in a god and the inherant value that such a creator instills. I think that we find meaning when we love and serve others. I'm not trying to get into controversial topics, but just responding to the topic.

I'm a 0L, but experienced similiar sentiment when I entered the workforce. Real sorry man, I second the advice about talking to someone.


Maybe you should become one.

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Garinold
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Re: Dealing with depression at law school...

Postby Garinold » Fri Oct 09, 2009 12:18 am

apper123 wrote:Nearly all schools offer free counseling and psychological services. These services are, surprisingly to most people, quite good. I implore you to seek them out. I have had many friends who have completely turned their lives around from depression with the help of a counselor. They aren't going to tell you what to do (although they may guide you at times), but they will help you through your own healing and strengthening process.

They may refer you to a psychiatrist. Regardless of your feelings on medications, at least go and talk to them. It can't hurt. Some people really do need medications, as there are legit chemical causes of depression that no amount of talk therapy can get under control alone.

You'll learn, over time, how to deal with the symptoms of your depression and heal. It will never go away, but you'll learn to manage it to a point where it doesn't bother you anymore. I hope that makes sense. It's hard to describe.

One thing to realize: people not suffering from depression will never understand. They'll never get it. Take their advice or words with a grain of salt. They may say "just get over it" or that meds "are for weaklings." Shake it off. They just don't know what they are talking about.


I should have been talking to someone for awhile now, but I just haven't had much faith in it. I've been to psychologists when I was a kid, in high school, and for a brief while in college and it was always the same message. I needed to have more joy in my life. I needed go and see a psychiatrist, I needed to take up more activities and hobbies. I needed to have a "loving" relationship with someone. I needed to have more balance. I'm not saying the message will be the same now, its just that I have my doubts about what the "professionals" have to offer me specifically. In law school at least, and especially where I am going, I don't have the resources to take up other activities or hobbies and really wouldn't have the slightest idea about how to add balance to my life. As far as a relationship is concerned, its never gonna happen.

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mtyrikos
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Re: Dealing with depression at law school...

Postby mtyrikos » Fri Oct 09, 2009 12:19 am

ntzsch wrote:
Dialogue wrote:
ntzsch wrote:this is uncalled for but, I would suggest smoking some pot, then realize that you are smoking pot and at T14.

I mean, there is nothing you can really do, we all know that life sucks, but no need for resignation.

if you talk to a counselor, you will soon realize that you are talking to someone (who is not as smart as you) reading from a script.

I dont think that any smart people are happy, and I'm sure that the smartest were incrediably unhappy at times.

if none of that works, I would read ecce homo, or anything else by the man:


"To those human beings who are of any concern to me I wish suffering, desolation, sickness, ill-treatment, indignities - I wish that they should not remain unfamiliar with profound self-contempt, the torture of self-mistrust, the wretchedness of the vanquished: I have no pity for them, because I wish them the only thing that can prove today whether one is worth anything or not - that one endures."


Ahh, the inevitable existentialist.



existentialism was not something i meant to envoke.


Speaking of Nietzsche..... "Truth and Lies in a Nonmoral Sense" is, perhaps, one of my favorite essays ever written. It's also relevant here insofar as this depression discussion is concerned. You'll know what I mean by the end when he's talking of walking from beneath the storm, etc. It's not long... google it, it's worth reading.




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