I talked to my Legal Research and Writing Professor for an hour and a half. She is amazing! It turns out that she struggles with depression. We talked about depression, anxiety, perfectionism, medication, therapy, premature birth, support systems, and coping mechanisms. My professor asked if there was a family history of mental illness (there is a minor history, but no one as bad as me) and whether I thought my struggles were genetic or environmental. I said both, but that was why we talked about prematurity. She didn’t say anything new, but she phrased some ideas differently than other people. It was helpful.
What especially stuck with me was “Wow, no wonder you’re a fighter. You have always been a fighter…but you don’t have to fight anymore. I was proud, amazed, that you passed last semester. You’ve clearly proven you can do it and you’re smart enough. Leaving doesn’t equal failure. You need to do what makes you happy. I worry about you because law school is making you this miserable. The first year is tough, but I know many people who struggled with depression in their 3rd year. This, no degree, is worth being suicidal.
But then again, I feel like I still have something to prove. Like this: (4:44 – 5:09)
Is this what you really want? I know it is hard to know this early; if it is, maybe you should fight for it. If it’s not, the degree isn’t worth the pain you’re in. Maybe a leave of absence would help. If you’re much better out of law school that maybe your answer. Also, just because you leave, doesn’t mean you can never come back. I know students who failed their first semester, reapplied, and returned. I see no reason why you wouldn’t be accepted; you have a solid C average. You’ve proven yourself.”
She also said I can help people without a law degree. I said I wanted to do child advocacy; she said there may even be better ways to make a difference because with the law, you feel like you’re fighting unwinnable battles against this giant system. She used to be a child advocate and a juvenile defense attorney, but she became a professor because she burned out.
She said I deserve to take care of myself. I deserve to be happy. I shouldn’t do things because like her, “I (she) was the intelligent person who didn’t want to take the MCAT. It was expected because everyone said I’d made a good lawyer…and I made a great lawyer. My perfectionism worked in my favor, but I was miserable.” Also, on one hand, I am depressed and that wreaks havoc on motivation, but on the other hand, is it possible I waited until the last possible moment to do every assignment, barely read the casebooks, and skipped as many classes as possible to still pass because this is really not were I want to be?
I have a lot to think about. If I become suicidal again, I will at least take a leave of absence. Short of that, I don’t know what to do. I am inclined to stay…today.