I feel it is my duty to share with the community and any prospective law students the experience I have had in law school. I am probably not the only one.
Law school had always been my dream, and I did everything I could in my life to be able to one day attend. Ever since I was young, I wanted to be a lawyer. Note that I have no lawyers in my family and identify as a minority.
I suffered from anxiety problems a few years before law school, but before I left to attend, it had been quite a while before I had experienced any anxiety (i.e.: a few years). My life was good before I left to law school. I was happy, excited about life, close with my family, I had a decent job, I was healthy, travelled and enjoyed good relationships. Once I left for law school, I had begun to lose myself in 1L. I let myself be subsumed by the extremely and overly competitive culture at my law school. The pressure piled and piled on. I eventually fell into the drinking culture which I'm sure you're all aware of, but still, I did not drink much at all compared to my classmates... just more than I would have wanted myself to. The quality of my relationships were horrible. I didn't find it particularly easy to build strong friendships in 1L, though I got along with everybody. I was well known around the law school and people liked me, whatever that counts for. Of course, they liked the 'me' that I put forward that was not making me happy. Law school in 1L is incredibly difficult, and I think this is understated. It is incredibly stressful and isolating at times. Your 'friends' are competing against you, and this can breed an extremely unhealthy and toxic environment. In 1L, I got caught up in it and barely realized what was happening to me.
By the end of 1L, I was burnt out. I had no energy to do anything during the summer. I should mention that during 1L, I had no support system whatsoever around me. Having a support system will likely help. I should also mention that being a minority made me feel isolated, and that not having lawyers as parents or within my family also isolated me amongst those who already knew much about law culture going into law school. In 2L, I tried to change things up for myself. I started to do what I wanted to do and shed the fake friends. I'm proud to say I've built some sincere relationships with some classmates since then. These friends have helped me through the tough times (indirectly, I have not told them about my anxiety but have discussed other issues)... they are my 'support system'.
Anyways, long story short, I developed a serious anxiety disorder in 2L. This anxiety order was so bad that it started to literally 'disable' me. I always felt like I was being judged, I felt like I was being watched, like I was being talked about, and like I did not fit in. Walking into class became a struggle. As soon as I realized this, I had to go get help... I felt I was under tremendous pressure even in 2L. It does not really get 'easier', as they say it does. Law school is forever stressful and generally has a toxic environment (of course some people still enjoy law school, I am merely providing my experience). I am now better but I would say that my anxiety still comes pretty strongly every now and then. Law school worsened my anxiety. Some suggested that this was going to happen before I attended, but I never had any idea what law school would be like so I ignored that type of advice. I am writing this to share with those who have had anxiety and depression issues. Law school worsened and brought back my condition. I am not saying it will do this for you, but it has happened to me. I should also share that an alarming rate of I believe 1/4 law students struggle with mental health issues... This makes me ask, what is up with law school? Why do so many students struggle with mental health in law school? Why has law school been such a horrible experience for me? Maybe it's not just me and there is something fundamentally wrong here...
I have decided to complete my degree, mostly because I am stuck... I have to. It would be irresponsible for me not to. I do not have my parents paying for my costs. If I could do this all over again, I am not so sure I would attend law school... My anxiety is sometimes unbearable, I have grown grey hairs (and I am young!), I certainly do not feel as young as I did coming into law school, I am stressed way too often, I worry too much, I have grown more cynical and for what? I don't know... The feeling that I am experiencing right now is not a good feeling to have. For now, I just have to be strong and push through.
Anyways, take this all with a grain of salt of course. Your experience may be different than mine. I am simply sharing mine in case anybody else is going through the same thing, or in case anyone considering going to law school is looking for another experience to reflect on, especially minorities, those without strong support systems, and those who've suffered from anxiety or depression.
I should also mention that people in my school have no idea that this is how I feel. I still get along with everyone just fine and chat with my classmates regularly. This is something that I suffer on my own...
EDIT: Also, I had good grades in 1L in case that has any relevance.
Edited by SoCal, 10 January 2017 - 08:44 PM.