Editor’s note: This is the third story in our Texas Lawyers’ Assistance Program "Stories of Recovery" series, featuring attorneys in their own words on how they have overcome mental health or substance abuse problems. The State Bar’s TLAP program offers confidential assistance for lawyers, law students, and judges with substance abuse or mental health issues. Call us at 1-800-343-8527, and find more information at texasbar.com/TLAP.
I am so grateful that my life is headed in a positive direction. Actually, it has been headed in that direction for a few years, slowly, one day at a time, but it took a while for me to get some real traction.
For years I have struggled with depression. It became so bad it destroyed relationships and ended my legal career as a practicing lawyer, or so I thought. I had tried various methods and sought help from time to time, but that hopeless feeling just seemed to get stronger and stronger. When things really got bad, I was desperate enough to listen seriously to suggestions for help, and to take small actions over time.
Surprisingly, one of the first things that really helped me was yoga. As a former athlete in high school I thought the very suggestion was silly. I was encouraged to attend a class, and the exertion after a long period of inactivity and the emphasis on breathing kept me engaged just enough to get my thoughts away for the negative spot where they had been stuck. It was worth another class, then another, and now I attend regularly. The focus on body-mind health has changed my thinking.
It has taken the help of many folks to help me stay on track, and the volunteers at TLAP with monthly support groups and camaraderie of meetings have made a big difference. I take the time to say thank you as those folks are there when I need them, and I am now doing my part to be there for other lawyers in need. That feels good.
I found a good fit with a therapist, and it was not my first attempt. In those sessions I am frequently reminded that I have accomplished a lot, and to do something new for me in taking credit for the actions I have consistently taken, not discounting them or expecting even more of myself.
Recently I returned to the practice of law in a less adversarial setting and in an of-counsel sort of practice. My job is a blessing. Being productive, without having to “go out and bring in business that will pay on time,” without having to deal with all of the adversity that accompanies most law practices, without the daily worry to cover the overhead, and working with just plain good folks who are kind, helpful, and interested in each other, has been so good for me. I found a practice that is a good fit for me, and other lawyers can do the same.
TLAP’s Lawyers Concerned for Lawyers Convention, held annually in June, has been a helpful opportunity to enjoy other lawyers, learn what is healthy for lawyers, and see how lawyers can practice wellness.
A few months ago I lost a close family member with whom I had reconnected as I came out of my depression. That family support made all the difference in my efforts to get well. It is a closeness I treasure.
Because of my willingness to take action and with the support of other lawyers, therapy, yoga, a job, and family support, I’ve turned things around. I have accomplished a lot.