- Be informed.
- Help your friend get help.
- Join supportive, informative organizations.
- Keep healthy boundaries.
- Do not work harder than your loved one.
- Take threats or comments about suicide seriously.
- Find help for yourself.
You can find the entire, more detailed article by clicking here.
I wrote this piece for Lawyers With Depression, a website founded by Daniel T. Lukasik, Esq, an attorney who has battled depression himself. He "established this site to try to be a loving presence to my fellow attorneys, judges and law students who suffer from this terrible disease. Part of my attempt to be that loving presence is to establish, in one place, articles, materials and research that may help others in the profession with depression."
How much courage it takes to speak truth to a tradition that is all about showing no weakness, I can only imagine. For that alone I admire Dan a great deal. When he asked me to write an article about depression for the site and I was more than happy to do so. Below is an excerpt:
When I was in college, a close friend of mine went from being a free spirit to confining herself to her bedroom. She ate breakfast, lunch and dinner on her bed, if she ate at all. She stopped going to classes. When I visited she expected me to be happy sitting on her bed with her watching something on TV. She made sure the volume was too loud to allow conversation. When I asked her how she was, she said, “Fine.” When I told her I was worried about her, she got angry, “I told you. I’m fine!” So I shut up. The whole scene made me uneasy but I rationalized my fears by telling myself she was smart, that if something were truly wrong she would get help.
A month later her brother told me my friend was hospitalized after trying to kill herself. Thank God she survived. There was no hiding her depression any longer. Her family became involved and she got proper treatment and recovered.
Could I have done anything differently? Every single person who knew my friend asked themselves that question. We each had to deal with our feelings of anger, guilt and responsibility in our own way. Back then I was young and naïve. Today I know better. That doesn’t make it any easier. In fact, it is hard to face a demon like depression, whether you have it or a law student or lawyer you care about does.
Just know that you do not have to stand by and worry helplessly. There are some helpful things you can do to help yourself and your colleague, friend or loved one. Here are a few tips that I hope will help.