High Rates of Alcohol Abuse, Depression Among U.S. Attorneys, Study Says

The Chicago Tribune reports, “A large new study showing high levels of alcohol abuse, depression and anxiety among U.S. attorneys aims to put data behind long-standing concerns about problem drinking in the high-stress legal profession, in hopes of propelling action”This is a mainstream problem in the legal profession,” said the study’s lead author, Patrick Krill, director of the Legal Professionals Program at the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation, and a lawyer himself. ‘There needs to be a systemic response.'” Read the News

Upcoming ABA Webinar on Batting Burnout and Depression

This ABA program to be held on April 18,2016 between 1:00 p.m. and 2:35 p.m. (EST) will focus on stress management and emotional balance, peer-to-peer support groups, workaholic behaviors and proactive approaches to accommodating and supervising those at risk. Register Now

How Lawyers With Depression Disappear

One of my favorite things to watch as a child with my dad was The Ed Sullivan Show; an extravaganza of bands, comedians, and ventriloquists all hamming it up in front of a live audience and folks across America glued to their first generation color T.V. sets.

magicianI once saw a famous magician perform, right after Liberace.  He stepped into a giant box onstage that he had set fire to and then . . . disappeared.  To my six-year-old eyes, that really was magic. Older, and perhaps a little wiser, I now know that it was a trick: only the appearance of disappearance.

It seems to me that lawyers with depression seemingly disappear from life.  They have the appearance of being present, but they really just aren’t.

They sit at their desks and look like they are doing their jobs, but inside they are someplace far away, a place where depression has taken them to, a dark cave beneath a turbulent neurochemical sea.

Why do lawyers so often hide when depressed?

Fear

They are scared to death.  They know that there is something seriously wrong with their lives and that it’s not going away. Their life, on a fundamental level, isn’t working. It is broken.  They can’t concentrate.  They are getting behind in their work. “What if other people realize that I’m not really as together as I seem to be?” they ask themselves.  “What happens if my job falls apart?”  Driven by these fearful redheaded demons, they go into hiding.  They disappear. They close their doors and surf the web trying to distract themselves from the pain of depression and the long list of things they need to do for work which just aren’t getting done.

Lack of Energy

Depression is a disease of inertia.  There is a limited supply of energy. It also seems as though the tank is nearing empty with no gas station in sight.  Anything that isn’t judged absolutely necessary gets left behind.  And make no mistake about it.  Depression is a killer and most in its clutches feel like they are just trying to survive it: sometimes a day at a time, sometimes from moment to moment.

Shame

Many lawyers disappear because they feel a deep level of toxic shame; that they are to blame for their depression.  They feel as if they are a big fat zero and deserve to disappear into . . . nothingness.  Shame isn’t the same as guilt.  Guilt is usually understood to involve negative feelings about an act one has committed while shame involves deeply negative feelings about oneself.  Embarrassment deals with exposure to one’s peers or society at large; shame can be experienced secretly – and often is.

If you were to look into their eyes very carefully, you might see a very deep level of sorrow.  A searing pain that they have tried to numb with food, alcohol, drugs, zoning out in front of the television to keep them going, a pain that haunts them.

They Want to Be Alone

One lawyer told me that suffering from depression and being in a room full of people was simply too much for her.  It was, as she described as if the depression in her head had “turned the volume in the room way up” and she couldn’t take all the stimulation; the noise of other people.  All that she wanted to do was be by herself.  She didn’t want to talk to anyone.  She just learned to be alone.  To go to bed, pull up the covers and drift into sleep’s merciful unconsciousness.  Author Ned Vizzini, author of the book It’s Kind of a Funny Story, wrote:

“I didn’t want to wake up.  I was having a much better time asleep.  And that’s really sad.  It was almost like a reverse nightmare, like when you wake up from a nightmare you’re so relieved. I woke up into a nightmare.”

What kind of magician are you?  Do you go into hiding when you’re depressed?  Please share your stories with fellow readers of this site.  In my next blog, I will talk about what steps we can take to “reappear” in our lives.  How we can become re-engaged with the conversation of our lives.

Copyright, 2016, Daniel T. Lukasik, Esq.

 

What It’s Like to Have Your Severe Depression Treated With a Hallucinogenic Drug

New York Magazine reports, “Everyone’s depression is different, but Ted, a 40-year-old resident of Portland, Oregon, describes his as a “continuous dark veil — a foul, dark, awful perspective that informs every moment of your whole life.” He’d tried to treat it with antidepressants, therapy, visits to psychiatrists, “the whole nine,” but although the antidepressants kept him functional, they by no means offered relief. He finally got relief from the hallucinogenic drug Ketamine.”  Read the News

Lawyers, Drinking, Depression: A Problem That Isn’t Going Away

A landmark study by the American Bar Association and the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation depicts a profession troubled by problem drinking, depression, anxiety—and abiding fears about seeking help. In a pair of interviews, Joan Bibelhausen of LCL and study co-author Linda Albert discuss the findings and what the profession can do to address them. Read the News

Anxiety Management for Lawyers

Lawyer Jenna Cho writes, “Many lawyers view anxiety as a necessary part of life. It’s what fuels their motivation. And at the same time, it’s also an annoyance. This sort of unwelcomed feelings of anxiety, which frequently shows up coupled with other somatic complaints such as insomnia, backaches, headaches, etc somehow becomes an acceptable state of being.” Read her Blog

Cautionary Takes of Personal Burnout

Lawyer Megan Zavieh writes, “My purpose is to encourage attorneys to stop buying into the “Superman complex” — the idea that nothing is going to hurt you — and consider the ramifications of not taking care of yourself.”  Read her Blog

The Happy Horizon Keeps Unhappy Lawyers Stuck

Lawyer Jennifer Alvey writes, “I’d be willing to bet more than 80% of you live with a Happy Horizon in your head. The Happy Horizon is the fantasy you use to convince yourself that all your angst over your job is just a temporary blip, rather than the actual contours of your daily existence.” Read her Blog

Built by Staple Creative