About Depressed Lawyer

I am a lawyer. I am depressed.

That’s all you really need to know to read this site. I’m an overeducated, late 20s woman in a secondary legal market suffering from serious clinical depression. I have good doctors, but there’s very little out there for professionals suffering from depression. I worry about my job if people find out; I worry about getting clients if they know I’m depressed. Will they think I’m unstable? Untrustworthy?

The mental health people look at me a little funny when I have professional concerns like these, but they consume my life.

You can check out my intro post for some background.

Regarding Golden Handcuffs

To answer certain questions before they are asked:

No, we do not live extravagantly. We live in an area where our neighbors are solidly middle class or blue collar. We do not eat out a great deal. I clip coupons. I am not stuck as a lawyer because I can’t give up the $300,000 lifestyle (I’m in a secondary market. We don’t make that much.); I’m stuck as a lawyer because we have six figure student loans to be paid off.

No, I can’t do something else. Well, I’m trying. But in a secondary market there are often limited industries driving the local economy, and I am unforunately not trained for the engineering and technical jobs in my local area. I currently work half-time as a lawyer and freelance the other half, trying to find a career (or a freelancing gig) I can do full-time. Between the mortgage and the student loans, that is the best I can currently do.

No, student loans are not discharged by bankruptcy. Trust me, I’ve thought about it. Student loans can be discharged in case of permanent disability; I’ve thought about that too.

I am not willing to give up all my earthly possession and live on a commune. Well, maybe if it was a really kick-ass commune. I realize that by choosing to live a middle-class lifestyle with my husband, I am taking on certain financial obligations that, at present, can only be discharged if I continue to work as a lawyer. I accept that. I also know that if I suddenly did a bunk and copped out on my husband, my mortgage, and my student loans, I’d hate myself, and that would really make the depression worse. We are frugal. I have a great deal of confidence that we will pay off our student loan debt; we’re paying it down faster than scheduled. This does not stop it from being a hellish miasma of stress hanging over my life.

Regarding Whining and Weltschmerz 

If you don’t know that depression is a serious mental illness, go the hell away. Everybody whines. Yeah, I recognize that I’m “lucky” to have the problem that I “have” to work as a professional. That doesn’t make my mental illness any less real, or my fears any less frightening.

While I suffer from a lot of mundane fears (debt, bills, divorce), I also suffer from a lot of really exotic fears. I lie awake at night absolutely terrified at the prospect of the collapse of the American middle class in the face of rising petroleum prices or ecological catastrophe, and what the sociopolitical consequences of that would be. I frequently worry about the fact that I’m producing something with no intrinsic value and anything without intrinsic value (like FOOD) is not, in the end, a stable industry. This kind of thing leads me right into weltschmerz, or world-sadness, where I’m depressed not just for me but for the entire world and I can barely move because there is literally no point.

I firmly believe this is a direct result of overeducation and an overactive imagination.


One Response to “About Depressed Lawyer”

  1. 1 omzhaara

    I can’t tell you how much my stumbling across your blog brightened my entire outlook for the day. I was gritting my teeth, entering timesheets (I love Mondays), and decided, on a whim, to google “i hate the billable hour” and see what came up.

    Thankfully, your blog was one of the first hits, and here I am reviewing all your prior entries. I too am an attorney; I’m in early 30s (you infant you), in a primary market, and my experience includes practice with both a boutique and a MegaFirm. I also struggle with depression, though I’ve finally come to the conclusion that private practice may not be for me. This recent revelation has energized me and I’m currently exploring options for transitioning out of the billable hour, er, private practice. But it’s a daily struggle, and I can’t emphasize more with the feelings you’ve expressed herein.

    Anyway, if ever you’d like to talk (write) let me know, and I’d love to exchange email addresses with you.

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