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throwaway987654

Is it possible to get help for being depressed and suicidal without ruining your career?

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I need help. but I'm too afraid to tell anyone how bad it is because I don't want to lose my career and everything I've worked so hard for up to this point. how do you tell a firm that you've only been an associate at for a few months that you can't come to work because you checked yourself into the hospital to stop yourself from jumping off a bridge. Even if they say all the right things, I don't expect them to really want me around afterwards. Does anyone have experience having to leave work for a serious mental health crisis and being able to recover their career afterwards. I'm so afraid that getting help is just going to make my life worse after its all said and done.

(I know throwaway accounts aren't allowed, but how can anyone be expected to talk about something like this if there's a chance someone could figure out who they are)

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I received assistance here: https://www.lapbc.com/

I don't know the answer to the question about your firm because I don't know your firm.  What I do know is that your life is more than your job.  Your career is more than this role, it is a marathon not a sprint.  If you work on getting well your career will be better because you are better.

Send a pm if you would like to talk.

 

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Yes, it is absolutely possible to get help without ruining your career. It may change your career. You're more likely to destroy it by not getting help.

Sent you a PM.

Edited by BertyBewp
Edited to clarify sentiment
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LSO members have access to Homewood Health. You can also speak to a crisis center for some immediate help.

I'm in a small firm so YMMV. My position was largely created to balance the managing partner's burnout. There are many MH checks here so some firms are definitely trying to incorporate checks and balances in. It's always scary to come back into a work environment following a mental health break as not everyone appreciates mental health. Many firms are supportive,  however, even if it is more because they don't want to be labelled as "that firm".

In any event, you have a long and healthy career ahead of you. Your job may change and you can have a healthy and good career ahead of you. As @BertyBewp says, you're more likely to destroy your career by not getting help. It's ok to put your needs ahead of the firm.

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I am so glad you posted. There is no concern about throwaways for this purpose. 

You matter. You are more important than any job. And there are supports to help you. Reach out to the people the other posters have mentioned. You aren’t alone!

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As an employment lawyer, I deal with a lot of difficult cases involving mental health, accommodations and leaves of absence. I can tell you that it is not easy, but there are people in all manner of careers, including law, struggling with these things while successfully building a career.

One of my very best friends was an associate at a big firm and needed time off to deal with depression. They took the time, returned, and are now a partner.

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2 hours ago, throwaway987654 said:

I need help. but I'm too afraid to tell anyone how bad it is because I don't want to lose my career and everything I've worked so hard for up to this point. how do you tell a firm that you've only been an associate at for a few months that you can't come to work because you checked yourself into the hospital to stop yourself from jumping off a bridge. Even if they say all the right things, I don't expect them to really want me around afterwards. Does anyone have experience having to leave work for a serious mental health crisis and being able to recover their career afterwards. I'm so afraid that getting help is just going to make my life worse after its all said and done.

(I know throwaway accounts aren't allowed, but how can anyone be expected to talk about something like this if there's a chance someone could figure out who they are)

I don't work at a law firm right now but I went through a similar experience.. Does your employer have a short term sick plan? You need to put your needs before the firm. I didn't because I was afraid, I was self-conscious, it made me feel like a failure.. But not getting help only made everything worse--my mental/physical state worsened, both my work life and my private life suffered. I eventually sought help, took time off work, and it helped me tremendously. and yes I was able to return to work. The only thing I regret is being afraid initially to ask for help/go on leave/ take time to recover.  Good luck.. 

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I sincerely hope you get the help you need. You career is absolutely not more important than your mental or physical health. Worst case scenario, your firm doesn't want to hold on to you because of what you're fighting - then that's somewhere you don't want to work, anyway. You're absolutely doing the right thing to get yourself help and I wish you the best. 

I'm feeling some burn out too, having just finished articling, and I can tell you that people at my firm have been very supportive. These employers and lawyers do exist - don't sell yourself short. You deserve to be mentally healthy. 

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As others mentioned, LAP and the whichever EAP is associated with your law society might be a place to start. 

If you are not safe right now, I would suggest that these two resources may not be enough assistance for you and that your instincts about a hospital are right. 

If you are working with a psychiatrist right now, you should report your suicidal ideation to him/her/them and come up with a safety plan. Your GP may also be a good starting point but, generally, GPs lack  the necessary training to deal with severe mental health issues. 

Law fosters black and white thinking, perfectionism and hypervigilance towards negative outcomes. These are extra toxic lenses through which to view your life.  Take care of yourself with the compassion you deserve. 

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4 hours ago, throwaway987654 said:

I need help. but I'm too afraid to tell anyone how bad it is because I don't want to lose my career and everything I've worked so hard for up to this point. how do you tell a firm that you've only been an associate at for a few months that you can't come to work because you checked yourself into the hospital to stop yourself from jumping off a bridge. Even if they say all the right things, I don't expect them to really want me around afterwards. Does anyone have experience having to leave work for a serious mental health crisis and being able to recover their career afterwards. I'm so afraid that getting help is just going to make my life worse after its all said and done.

(I know throwaway accounts aren't allowed, but how can anyone be expected to talk about something like this if there's a chance someone could figure out who they are)

Throwaway, here's the most likely worst-case scenario.  You call an assistance line.  You wind up on short term disability.  After awhile you return to work.  Everyone is excited to have you back.  And six months later you receive a without-cause termination giving you payment in lieu of notice.

They're lawyers.  Even if they want to get rid of you, then know they can't fire someone for a mental health issue.

It's not great... but it's not terrible either.  The couple people I've seen this happen to were still able to continue on with their legal careers.

But that's the worst option.  They could be very supportive, welcome you back, and you continue to work for that firm for a number of years to come.  I've seen that happen too.

Good luck and look after yourself!

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9 minutes ago, throwaway987654 said:

Thank you for the thoughtful messages and kind words. This morning I accepted that I was in crisis and a danger to myself, so I reached out to some resources for help. It's been a long day of sitting in waiting rooms and explaining myself to health professionals, but I am safer than I was earlier. There's a tough road ahead and I'm still anxious about my career. But I do feel that after months and months of falling into a hole, I maybe took a small step back up today.

I''m proud of you.

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Not much to add other than to say I am so sorry to hear that you are going through this. Please take care of yourself. You are more than your career. You can do this! Get well soon, OP!

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57 minutes ago, CoffeeandLaw said:

I''m proud of you.

So am I. It will get better. Hang in there.

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2 hours ago, throwaway987654 said:

Thank you for the thoughtful messages and kind words. This morning I accepted that I was in crisis and a danger to myself, so I reached out to some resources for help. It's been a long day of sitting in waiting rooms and explaining myself to health professionals, but I am safer than I was earlier. There's a tough road ahead and I'm still anxious about my career. But I do feel that after months and months of falling into a hole, I maybe took a small step back up today.

Thank you for the update. You've done the hardest part and I'm really proud of you, OP.

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9 hours ago, throwaway987654 said:

There's a tough road ahead and I'm still anxious about my career. But I do feel that after months and months of falling into a hole, I maybe took a small step back up today.

You did the right thing by coming here and asking for help. It's been 17 years since my first depressive episode at the end of HS. The only thing that ever works is connecting with other people. Even if it's online, we're still a community. Keep posting. Or send direct messages. This is a subject I have all the time in the world for. 

Your career will be fine. I was at the CLA conference (Criminal Lawyers' Association) two weeks ago, and a member gave a presentation on his lifelong battle with depression. So many of the people I work with are obviously depressed. I am. My closest friend in the defence bar is. It's a reality for anyone facing the difficult circumstances of life, debt, practice, and general insanity. 

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I had issues with depression/suicidal ideation during my articles due to illnesses in my immediate family and personal issues (a continuing work in progress). I told my articling principal everything and he provided me with a significant amount of extra vacation days about 3-months into my articles. People are surprisingly understanding and it did not really effect the rest of my placement, except my articling principal did begin to regularly check in on me to make sure I was fine. 

Although I don't know what you are going through, it might be worth just taking a week off and have a stay-cation of some sort to help manage some burn out, instead of up and quitting. I just started a new associate position with my firm a few months ago and I can tell you I'm feeling the extra stress that a new work environment brings to the table. If you are worried about backlash, I would just frame it as run-of-the-mill burnout due to the job switch and see how you feel after a quick break. If you don't feel better, then is the time for a bigger decision such as an extended leave of absence/resignation. 

For what it is worth, (again) because of the stress of my new job, I had a nervous break down at work about a month ago and proceeded to bawl my eyes out for a good 3-hours straight (everyone knew). Although I freaked out the responsible lawyers that day, at the end of the day it was something that needed to happen for everyone to understand that I'm only human, and no one has mentioned it again. I'm sure my reputation has suffered a bit, but the great thing about billable hours is that if you hit/exceed your targets, you will be given more flexibility than you think to recover and get back to your normal (whatever that is).

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