Following is one of many insightful blog posts by Daniel Lukasik, creator of the website lawyerswithdepression.com. You can get to this post, “Stress, Depression and Our Bodies,” by clicking here. I have excerpted below.
Working as a lawyer and struggling with clinical depression is tough. I know, because I deal with both every day. In a peculiar sense, it’s really like having two full-time jobs that absorb all of our time. As we know, the daily demands and stress of our jobs as lawyers are often unremitting: Deadlines to meet, phone calls to return, and that motion to argue in Court the next morning. We often feel that others who aren’t lawyers really don’t understand us and our work because they haven’t walked in our shoes.
The “job” of being depressed seems to parallel my experience as a lawyer. A common experience of feeling depressed is feeling alone and isolated. When people who care about us reach out to help, there are times we push them away out of a sense of bitterness, thinking: “You really don’t know what it’s like to be a lawyer”.
Yet, there may come a time when we might want to begin seeing depression and our vocation as lawyers a little differently. Not as two jobs, but really one. The one job is to find a way to take care of ourselves. Mother Teresa once said that what God expects of humanity is that we be “a loving presence to one another.” Taking that further, I would suggest what God equally expects is for us to be a loving presence to ourselves.
In any law firm, the barometric pressure of stress rises and falls frequently. Consequently, we often find it difficult to be a “loving presence” to ourselves: to eat well, exercise, get enough sleep, and nurture a support structure of good friends. The gale-force winds of stress, burnout and depression can begin blowing and disconnect us even from this basic agenda. Yet, if we are to regain our health in the midst of chronic stress, burnout and depression, we must return to these basic concerns because these maladies afflict our minds and our bodies. Our physical state -our precious bodies- gets hammered by the unremitting punishment which they dish out. I have often described my depression to friends as “wet cement running through my veins.”