Not a Happy Valentine's Day

Valentine’s Day—handcuffed and removed from my home at 10:38 am.

“Success” had been attained—married, healthy, gifted children, financially secure, a steady stream of new clients coming through the firm doors. I had “made it”—a thriving, 65-hour-a-week litigation practice that consumed most of my waking energy, leaving little for everything else.

The depression had reared its head years earlier, which would manifest primarily against the ones closest to me. Short tempered one moment, reclusive at home, providing little, if any, positive support to my family, but all behind the closed doors of personal life. My arrest blew those doors wide open. Shortly thereafter came the inevitable custody lawsuit, with a DVPO sprinkled in for good measure, and a couple misdemeanor charges on top. My professional life and my personal life had finally collided, and it was way beyond the proverbial “train wreck.”

After bond was set and I was released, the utter panic set in, the “what ifs” and the realization that there was no going back or making things right. IT was over.

I called LAP the next day and was greeted with nonjudgmental compassion. They worked with me to develop my “contract” with LAP and the resources to move forward. I met with the cognitive therapist that LAP recommended, who was the perfect “fit” for me. She helped me admit to and learn to navigate my demons over a long period of regular sessions. Through cognitive therapy I am now able to recognize my triggers when the black hole of my depression fills my thoughts and avert to more positive thoughts with thankfulness.

My license to practice law was suspended by the Bar for two years; I am grateful that I was not disbarred. During that time I painted buildings, mowed lawns, did odd jobs, and realized way too late what the truly important things are all about.

My solo practice is different than before. No more working three weekends out of four each month. I actually leave the office at a normal time and look forward to spending time at home. I keep life much simpler and leave all the “what ifs” in the prior season of my life.

I also came to grips with the understanding that untreated depression, in and of itself, inflicts thoughts of worthlessness, feelings of hopeless, mood changes, and leads to that black hole in your mind. It need not include alcohol or substance use. And it isn’t just being sad once in a while.

I never took seriously the mantra of needing balance in my life. I’ve come to wholly subscribe to having my own personal time, taking vacations, not working weekends, and, most important, appreciating loved ones. To enjoy a life in balance doing the things that are meaningful is truly success.

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