A Lawyer’s Tough Tale: Depression at a BigLaw Firm

This a guest blog by a lawyer, who wished to remain anonymous, and his difficult journey with bipolar depression and his BigLaw firm.  

Once upon a time, I was a trial attorney at a personal injury defense firm. I was good at it.  I always pushed hard; always did the best job possible.  I won a good share of cases, and, of course, lost a few as well.  I was valued highly enough to be made a partner shortly after joining the firm.

But I had a dirty little secret.  I had bipolar disorder, which was well-controlled through a close partnership with a good psychiatrist.  Still, in my mind, if word ever got out, my employers would see me as weak, a liability.  To a degree, I understood.  If the insurance companies that paid the bills learned that one of the firm’s trial attorneys had such a condition, their mandate would be clear: if you want our business, get rid of him. That is what I assumed.

Throughout my career, colleagues would make offhanded remarks about someone “not taking his medication.” I would grit my teeth and ignore it.

Instead, I was able to construct an alter-ego, the “happy warrior.”  I had a smile on my face and a sardonic remark ready on cue. But I went about my daily business feeling like a secret agent in a Cold War spy movie.  If my cover was ever blown, I was certain that my career would be at an end.

Changing Is Hard

A Canadian blogger by the name of Michelle (no last name given) writes, “Changing is hard. Okay, lots of things are hard when you’re depressed. Getting up in the morning. Finding the energy to do everyday tasks. Looking for the will to go on. You know, all that good stuff. But changing yourself and your thoughts is especially hard.It’s a strange battle, isn’t it? Often, you know what you ought to do or have to do. And often, you just can’t seem to summon up the will to do it.” Read her entire blog here.

 

When I Was Diagnosed With Depression

Here’s an excerpt from blogger Amy McDowell Marlow who writes: “i began to cry. all the time. by myself. i would cry in my car, i would cry in my closet, i would even cry, silently, in the toilet stall. every night i would lay face down in my bed and cry myself to sleep, so quietly that my roommate never knew. i lost my appetite and stopped eating meals. i just wasn’t hungry. i couldn’t stop thinking about my mom being gone. that something outside of our control could take her away. that there was nothing i could do about it. and just like when my dad killed himself, i didn’t feel like i could relate to my friends. none of them had experienced (or shared that they had experienced) family losses and challenges like mine. i began to feel very alone.” Read this blog.

Is Self-sufficiency Making You Depressed?

Here’s an excerpt from Christine Stapleton’s blog about learning to let others help her following the death of her mom: “So, I dealt with my grief and didn’t ask for help. I threw myself into my work and believed the more I helped others, the more I would get over the deaths of my parents and my dog. I figured that sorrow was something that melted over time.  And while you are waiting for it to melt, work your ass off. That’s how I ended up on disability, antidepressants, and a therapist’s couch. The clouds finally parted and I realized that what my mother had taught me about self-reliance was wrong. You see, every time you deny someone the opportunity to help you, you deny them the opportunity to feel as good as you do when you help people.” Read her entire blog.

Depression and Anger: A Destructive Partnership

Here’s an excerpt from blogger John Folk-Williams excellent piece on anger: “It took me a long time to understand the connection between depression and anger. One psychiatrist I visited would often ask a simple question toward the end of a session: How’s your anger? I couldn’t understand why he asked. I hadn’t been talking about anger. Depression was my problem.” Read his entire blog.

 

When Words of Depression Block My Mind

Blogger John Folk-Williams writes, “The words I hear when I’m depressed are limited, negative and decidedly lacking in color, but they can all too easily block my mind and feelings. I’m stuck on “I can’t” when I want to do something important to me.” Read the Blog

 

12 Signs of Depression in Men

“While the symptoms used to diagnose depression are the same regardless of gender, often the chief complaint can be different among men and women,” says Ian A. Cook, M.D.  Read the Blog

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