I did it though. I started law school. I did my work. I put on a face during the school day and flopped on my bed at the end of the day, exhausted from pretending I was ok around my new classmates. It sucked. I didn’t tell anyone at school that I was struggling with depression. I started seeing a therapist and I liked her, but sometimes I just did not want to talk, so I stopped attending my sessions. I felt like my medicine wasn’t working anymore and my depression worsened as my period came around. I didn’t know how to help myself but what I did know how to do was function exceptionally well on autopilot. I had been doing it for years. I put a smile on for my students every day as a teacher. I got up and did my job, some days better than others. Law school was not different in that regard.
The truth is I actually enjoyed law school my first semester. But as the school year progressed and I experienced academic challenges that made me question my intelligence and abilities, my feelings started to change. Slap on depression and with it, a huge lack of motivation. Having 100 pages (literally) to read for class the next day which I couldn’t afford to postpone. Knowing that unlike teaching, no one was going to suffer if I gave into my lack of motivation. At least when I had my kids, I was working with and for other people. In law school I was only going to hurt myself, and that didn’t seem like such a bad thing. It wasn’t a crappy feeling a few hours of sleep couldn’t take away.
I wouldn’t say I was completely apathetic, but there was certainly a time at which I had a “you-gon-get-what-I-give-you” attitude towards my work. At one point, I showed up late for class often, truly just grateful to be there. I did some work fully, some partially, again, just proud that I did anything at all. Quite simply, it was hard to care about anything. There were times when I was motivated and many times when I was not. I would get so overwhelmed sometimes and think to myself “where can I go, for free, where I can just get away and not tell anyone? Maybe leave a note or something, so they will know I’m alive, but that’s it.” I never followed through, mostly out of fear of all the work I would come back to if I left.
By the grace of God, I have done well in law school. However, I attribute this to allowing myself to not be perfect. I put law school into context. Yes, law school matters, but I was not about to let it drag down my mental health. I was determined not to let any social or professional venture I embark on rob me of my sanity. I practiced grace. I am the type of woman who likes to have a plan all of the time. However, extending grace to myself taught me that I am not a machine, and if I fell asleep because I was tired, that was ok! I also accepted the grace that my family and friends extended to me. Lastly, I took things one day at a time and tried my best to put self care first. Sometimes it meant getting a manicure, other times it meant taking a break from reading to watch mindless television. These self care practices gave me the peace of mind that I craved, even if it was for a moment. This newfound peace allowed me to renew my focus, resulting in more consistency in my daily tasks.
Depression is still difficult. Every day is its own battle, and some days the battle is easier than others. As much as I wouldn’t mind not suffering with depression as I navigate law school, I am so grateful that I have managed to put one foot in front of the other and will be graduating in May. I have learned that knowing myself and listening to what I need in small moments goes a long way. I thank God that He has given me the faith to know with absolute certainty that things will get better; I am just trying to play my role in my healing.