Getting things done at work is a top priority for any lawyer. This is all the more so when a lawyer is suffering from clinical depression because it becomes harder and harder to be productive: stacks of paperwork become of paperwork, deadlines begin to feel like when they’re not completed and time is running out, and the e-mail box is onto a cold tiled floor.
The failure to fix the lack of productivity problem spirals folks out of control. Not accomplishing things make’s their work problems – like their overall life problems – seem, essentially, unsolvable. Depressed lawyer can’t seem to remember a time before their depressive episode(s) when they were on top of their game. Author Andrew Solomon writes:
When you are depressed, the past and future are absorbed entirely in the present moment, as in the world of a three-year old. You cannot remember a time when you felt better, at least not clearly, and you’re certainly cannot imagine a future time when you will feel better.
When you combine lack of productivity and disorganization, you have a recipe for hating one’s self; a toxic self-condemnation that goes on throughout the day for the depressed lawyer: “I got nothing done this morning. I feel useless and out of control. I feel like crap.” They feel incompetent in a profession that prizes competence because they blame themselves to check things off their list of things they must get done. What they fail to see, is not they’re inept or lazy. .
Depression creates a real fuzzy dullness in the brain that prevents anyone within its gravitational pull from getting much done; a psychic disorientation that feels like you’ve been . The reason is that there is actually decreased metabolic functioning in the frontal lobes of the brain, which are responsible for initiating behavior. So even though we desire to press on the gas to get things done, our brains are running on vapors.
Lawyers – to get traction and get back on the path of productivity. In the insightful book Get It Done When You’re Depressed, the authors are dead-on about the types of things depressives tell themselves when trying to get things done – and how this actually leads to things not getting done: (1) You have decided that there’s if you don’t have the desire for the project, (2) you search for the even when you know that lack of motivation is a normal symptom of depression and (3) you about what you need to do that you never even get started.
Given this, how can we possibly get things done when depressed? Is it even possible? The three points I took away from the book are:
Lawyers are perfectionist and set high expectations on themselves. But that doesn’t work with depression; it only serves to fuel the illness because done that you customarily had gotten done when not depressed. So, be kind to yourself.