I am really proud of this piece. Not only is it my first published piece in a national publication, I spoke from the heart about my autoimmune encephalitis story, and my own mental health story while a practicing trial lawyer.
My story is not easy to tell (especially in 1200 or so words) because while I was led to believe I was having a mental breakdown, it actually wasn't that, it was AE. HOWEVER, the fact that a few of my closest friends and my family were so convinced of my burnout and health decline that they helped me hospitalize myself in the psychiatric ward, speaks volumes about how I was a reckless workaholic, was burned out, and was suffering by bottling up any discussion of my own mental health.
One of the most beautiful comments I've ever received, came to me just the other day after the release of my "My Girl" podcast. My colleague and close friend, Chris, (absolutely one of the smartest people I know and smartest lawyers I know) told me, "Most people will probably never deal with AE, but many are dealing with anxiety and depression. What you are doing, is making a difference." I almost cried when I read it. And there has been more. People have shared with me their own struggles, and how my openness encouraged them to seek their own professional help. (Thank you God, for giving me the grace to share, and I hope it continues to make a difference)
And heartbreakingly enough, just after I found out the ABA chose my submission for publication, I learned that a local lawyer had died from suicide. While I did not know him or his family, I knew his law partners, and I heard beautiful stories about him. I was absolutely devastated for his family, as I am for any family when I find out they've lost a loved one to suicide. That news, helped me rewrite the ending for the piece, where I was asked to share any advice I could with other lawyers who may be struggling.
Depression and anxiety are very real, and if left untreated, can be very scary and deadly. The AE convinced me I had them when I didn't, but then I began to feel their ugly effects in a very real way, upon my AE diagnosis, and most recently when I began having panic attacks and became depressed. Mental health is very real for lawyers, but it's also there for all others in any other walk of life. So is burnout. But the good news is, there are tools and help around you, so you can lead a happy and productive life.
Quite honestly, all of my newfound work on my mental health (books, podcasts, sharing with others, professional treatment) has not made me weak or weird, but it's made me super self-aware, and that's awesome! No shame. No stigma. There is no health without good mental health!
If you believe you are suffering, know the warning signs (sleep or appetite changes, mood changes, withdrawal, loss of interest or hope, problems thinking, nervousness, and more - Follow Transitions Healthcare on FB or Instagram - I took this from its post) and get help!
Stephanie (the woman who saved my life) Transitions Healthcare manages my medication: 701-699-4052
I go to counseling with the absolutely amazing and brilliant Dr. Juliana Nevland at Chambers and Blohm (they have tons of great people there): 701-323-0924 (she also has a YouTube page, Self Therapy Tips, filled with amazing videos about mental health)
My one of my dear friends and colleagues, Andrea, whom I routinely worked with in private practice, is an amazing counselor and runs Soul Survivor Counseling Services P.C. which is also full of great people: 701-258-2008
The Bismarck Sanford Hospital and CHI/St. Alexius Hospital both have psychiatric units. 701-323-6543 and 701-530-7500
And if you, or anyone you know, is having suicidal ideations, act fast and call for help. The number for the National Suicide Hotline is: 800-273-8255
Click here for my "Don't argue with your health" piece in the American Bar Association's "Your Voice" publication.