On a Sunday, two days before the submission deadline for this article, I went to a coffee shop to start my writing process. I was really struggling with my depression. Because I was suffering, I had a need to use that time to journal. I needed to write down what I was feeling to try to get some relief. So, that is what I have to share with you this time.
Within legal media, mental health made the jump from invisible to mainstream this year. There is now compelling evidence that it is OK for attorneys to talk about their mental health struggles publicly or disclose them to their employers.
I was introduced to the mental healthcare system 17 years ago when I was a senior in high school. Unfortunately, if you are a beginner, the process will likely be highly stressful for you, difficult to understand, and will involve a lot of trial and error over a long period of time.
People who have recently been diagnosed with a mental illness or who are in the beginning stages of recovery also have an opportunity to help others. You do not have to wait until you feel better to reach out to others.
I know that my desire to write and reach others who suffer is difficult for some people to understand. Many people view mental illness as a personal matter that should be kept private. I see nothing wrong with keeping it private. I do not think that anyone with a mental health diagnosis should feel pressured to disclose. Dealing with the disease in this way is just part of who I am. It was something that I tried, and it has worked for me.
Burnout is something everyone can relate to and learn from, especially in the legal field. Speaking to Tippecanoe County attorneys recently, I shared information that applies to all legal practitioners, not just to lawyers and judges battling mental health issues. Specifically, I concentrated on the idea of neglecting one’s own needs.
When I allow myself the time to connect — locally or nationally, face-to-face or electronically — I am instantly reminded of how good it feels.
The fact that publicly sharing a mental health diagnosis is still considered to be such a big deal is unfortunate. I hope people in our profession will realize that the idea that you must hide a mental health diagnosis to have a successful law career is absurd.
In this article, you will learn a mental fitness exercise that only takes three minutes. But first, I will share my experience with asking the Indiana Judges Lawyers and Assistance Program for help in May 2015.