March 2014 Dicta
by Meyling Ly, DAYL President
A few weeks ago, I read an article from CNN.com, entitled, “Why are Lawyers Killing Themselves?” A bold title, perhaps, but chillingly true. The article deeply resonated with me – partly because I know what it’s like to be a depressed lawyer, but mostly because I lost a friend from law school unexpectedly a few years ago. That loss is still heavily felt in our legal community today.
I am absolutely no expert on the matter, and I certainly don’t want to be trite — but I want to focus my president’s article this month on this topic because quite frankly, I am tired of the fact that depression and its side effects (alcohol and drug abuse and suicide) is actually more common than we think, yet as a profession, we simply don’t talk about it. It’s obviously, for lack of eloquence, a “big deal,” yet it’s only brought up when we need ethics CLE. Forgive me, but I think it’s time we start keeping it real.
Don’t get me wrong – I get why. The four-letter word “help” is difficult for us type-A, control-freaks to use (I’m obviously using broad brush strokes here). We don’t want to appear weak because we are supposed to be “sharks” or “bulldogs” for our clients. Our worth is measured by how little sleep we get because of how much we bill. Our success is measured by how much we can take on our clients’ problems and fix them – often ignoring our own. Our fear is that if anyone knew…we would get less work, less referrals, and less respect. I admittedly have no answers, but I have to believe that if we, as a profession, could at least talk about it, we might find some.
Regardless of the why and the how, it comes down to this: one loss to depression is one too many.
If you agree, I hope you’ll come to our panel discussion on March 7 at the Belo at noon. Not only will we have experts share best practices on how to cope or to help others, we will also have panelists who have first-hand experience. And even if you can’t attend, I hope my collaboration with one of my friends, Drew, which manifested in a short Q&A article, is enough to at least get this important conversation started among your family, friends, and colleagues. Let’s keep it real.