We are living during a global health pandemic where a friend’s whisper could be a death sentence. Covid-19 has upended our world by changing how we practice law, collaborate with colleagues, maintain friendships, be present for our families. Essentially, how we interact with anyone. It has put a significant emotional toll on me. To be blunt, I am miserable, and chances are, you may be too.
A Colleague and Friend practices in Wisconsin law. The editors granted this rare approval for anonymity because the author is concerned that this deeply personal admission might undermine client confidence in his/her representation during COVID.
Practicing law has always been challenging, even in good times. There is a reason why lawyers have higher rates of depression, anxiety, alcoholism, drug addiction, and suicides compared to other occupations. What we do is stressful.
We do this because we want to help our clients or pursue a cause greater than ourselves. And, many of us are rewarded well for our efforts with financial security that allows us more freedom to explore other aspects of our lives that nourish our souls. What happens when we can no longer do the things that bring us joy and have no energy left for our clients because we are existing in isolation combined with the fear of contracting a deadly virus from anyone we meet? We are left with mourning our many losses.
I recognize that many people are experiencing far more dire circumstances than I am. The fact that other people are suffering more than me does not bring me any satisfaction nor diminish my own experience.
You may not share my own fear and concern regarding COVID, but you cannot deny that the world around you has changed and your normalcy is no longer “normal.”
Why am I sharing this with you and not my therapist? Trust me. My therapist knows. I share it with you for two reasons. First, if you are feeling emotions of loss, isolation, depression, and disconnection, I want to remind you of the good news. Vaccines are coming. We just need to stay the course for only a few more months. When we measure a year against a lifetime, we can find the strength to persevere. We will come out of this stronger and with so much more gratitude for the “little” things we have had the luxury to take for granted until now.
The second reason is to let you know that if you are feeling pessimistic, irritable, or simply sad, you are not alone. When I have genuine conversations with other lawyers, they tell me that they are feeling similarly, which brings me some measure of solace. Lawyers are expected to always be strong and fearless. During this challenging time, allow yourself to be vulnerable and know that it is okay to be a bit miserable right now. There is light at the end of the tunnel. Hang in there. Despite our six feet apart, you are not alone.
WisLAP Can Help
The Wisconsin Lawyers Assistance Program (WisLAP) offers confidential assistance to lawyers, judges, law students, and their families who are suffering from alcoholism, substance abuse, anxiety, and other issues that affect their well-being and law practice.
WisLAP 24-hour helpline: (800) 543-2625
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: (800) 273-TALK (8255); suicidepreventionlifeline.org
Cite to 94. Wis. Law. 56 (January 2021).