Four craptastic years

It appears that the past year of failing the bar twice and taking the bar three times, not to mention three confidence-destroying years of law school, along with other factors, have taken such a toll on me to the extent that it’s been recommended I start taking anti-anxiety and antidepressant medication. I was really shocked to learn that I’ve been diagnosed with depression. I don’t feel SAD all the time, but I’ve admitted that I am NOT good at managing stress, pressure, and anxiety. I just figured that people who had depression, stayed in bed all day and basically withdrew from society, but I haven’t done that. However, the diagnosis does explain a few things. I feel like a totally different person than the person I was before starting law school. I feel like the last four years have done a brutal number on my self-esteem and confidence, especially this past year. I used to be an easy-going person, but now I can get upset easily. I can’t even enjoy being a law school graduate because the damn bar is still standing in my way. And even if I pass this one, it’s likely I’ll have to take this state’s bar in February.

I started going to a counselor here a few weeks ago because I knew I’d probably have to take this state’s bar again and I was sick of dealing with the months of misery and stress, and basically feeling like crap. I was sick of being a walking pressure cooker the last couple of months before each bar exam, ready to snap at any second. It doesn’t help that my shoulder injury is much worse now and I’ve had to give up swimming completely. Swimming has always made me feel good about myself, and it’s also a relaxing way for me to unwind, and now that has been taken away from me. I’m frustrated with the doctors who still can’t figure out what’s wrong with my shoulder even though it’s been over two years since I started complaining about it. I know not being able to swim has definitely added to the depression. But going to the counselor has really helped, especially since it turns out she’s seen quite a few attorneys and law students with the same issues as me. That made me feel better, like it was actually normal for me to feel this way.

It was really hard for me to get up the nerve to go see a counselor. I had tried to go during law school, but I was so afraid of what it might do to my character and fitness check, especially after hearing rumors that if the bar association found out you’d been seeing a counselor, it would be a red flag on your application. I went to a counselor once back then, but never went back. I guess what finally compelled me to go now was that I was sick of feeling like I was expected to just suck it up for the last four years, when no normal person would be able to withstand the crap we’ve gone through, and come through unscathed. I don’t give a flying leap about the bar anymore – I needed and wanted to do this for me. And I’m glad I did it. I’ve always been leery of counselors and especially medication, but I’m willing to give it a try.

I’m supposed to start on the medication the week after next week. I wish I had the medication on hand for when bar results come out, but I suppose that’s what alcohol is for, right? Oh wait, alcohol’s a depressant isn’t it? Scratch that then.

I know this probably isn’t something that I should post about so publicly, but I wasn’t going to pretend that if I just passed the bar, then everything would magically and suddenly be okay, because it goes much deeper than just the bar exam.


5 thoughts on “Four craptastic years

  1. Oh, I completely feel your pain. I want to cry when I read your post. I have been there. My entire life I have dealt with depression, though it wasn’t ever diagnosed until college. I have been in and out of counseling for the past 15 years. Each time I go back is a new challenge and new growth. Law school made everything worse. I also happened to be in a very emotionally abusive relationship with someone who was addicted to various substances, which made me drink far too much myself. I drank to deal with the misery of law school, loneliness, and a boyfriend who sucked me dry both emotionally and financially. Then I started having panic attacks. I stopped going to school for a month in my first semester second year because of them. I still think that maybe that was a sign to get out, both of the relationship and law school. Nothing I can do now. I have been through all of it, plus was studying once upon a time to be a counselor myself. I never believed in meds, either (I thought that episodes of depression indicated a need to “go within” and make some changes); but they can help, as I found out. My counselor in law school said that a large percentage of the people going to the campus health center to be treated for anxiety were law students. Pretty amazing that on a a campus with over 20,000 people and only 500 or so law students, the law students made up the majority of those seeking treatment for anxiety. If there is anything I can do to help, please let me know. Somehow, I really believe that knowing that you are not alone in what you are feeling is the most powerful medicine.

  2. Thanks for sharing. Just the other day I was diagnosed with ‘mood disorder,’ not quite depression but same family. One would think that passing the bar would have opened the door to newer and better things, but it wasn’t. I hated working in a law firm. Anyway I’m also working with a non-profit organization now.

  3. I’ve been there myself, but once the stress from the exam is over, hopefully the veil of gloom will lift. It’s just the test pressure, get outside and be thankful for living in Colorado!

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