Sometimes your job makes you sick. Sometimes, it really makes you sick. I realize that stress induced illness is not unique to the legal profession, but I really would like to compare notes with my readers to make sure that I'm not alone in thinking that the legal profession is hard on your body (and your soul).
When I first started practicing, I really loved what I was doing. My first firm job was at a general practice firm where I had many clients, made court appearances, drafted motions--I really felt like I made a difference in their lives. They were very satisfied with my services and thankful. Some of them even gave me Christmas gifts. However, I was very stressed. My boss had me on a short leash and put me in some unforgivable situations. He yelled constantly. He had meetings about collecting--all the time. He didn't pay us on time. It was a volatile work environment. While I was there, I had a chronic stomach ache for 3 years. Every day... all day. I went to numerous doctors. I had no insurance at that time. I just wanted someone to diagnose it and fix it. Finally, a doctor told me it was Irritable Bowel Syndrome. He said that he didn't know what caused it, but he could prescribe Prozac because a mood enhancer was the best cure. I declined.
Also, while at the same job, as the months and years went--I literally felt the mobility in my back and neck decline. One day, I was sitting at my desk with my back to the door. A secretary came in and said, "Angel, I need you to review this for me." I tried to turn my head--and I couldn't. I couldn't turn my head and neck for the next two months. I went to countless chiropractors. I got massage therapy, took muscle relaxers and got acupuncture. Everyone who touched my neck said it was likely stress. Eventually it worked itself out.
So, we're years later. I worked at Big Law--which I didn't find stressful. After listening to people cry to you about their real problems, I really could put the problems of the Corporate World in their place. Nothing seemed that serious because only money was on the line. Yes, I worked late hours--but I would slip out to the gym regularly. I ate well. I had money. It wasn't that bad. I was just tired. Until the layoffs began. Then my stomach began to hurt me again... I wanted to increase my performance so that I wouldn't get the axe and my stomach was not cooperating. Well, we know how that story ended.
Now, I have my own practice and the stress is getting to me. It's not the same stress as when I was a newbie or working late hours for Big Law. I have different stress now. Whether or not I'm going to collect my legal fees. Whether or not I'm making enough. Whether or not I'm doing enough. How I can be in 3 places at one time, all the time. These days, I get these massive headaches. MASSIVE. My brains starts to burn and hurt for hours and hours and nothing seems to make it go away. I feel like my brain is burning my hair from the inside out. Every time I have one of these massive migraines, I see that a few more grey hairs have popped up. Correalation or causation? I don't know. Neither of my blue collar parents had grey hair at my age. And the gym? Forget about it. I simply don't have time. I wish I did. I'm sure it would help.
I am not sure what the job satisfaction of being a lawyer holds up to other careers, but I can't be alone with all of my ailments. I have plenty of friends who suffer migraines, fluctuate greatly in weight, have high blood pressure, IBS, etc. etc. etc. A look around any given courtroom shows me my future and it ain't looking too good. We, lawyers that is, seem to be rundown. We really resemble meth heads.
Have you suffered any physical ailments you feel are attributable to your job? Or is being a law student affecting your health? What about being unemployed? What about your mental health?
P.S. Harry's Law is right on point today with Prosecutor Puck talking about how he is a ball of nerves and lost all his hair because of his job. I wish I could post a clip, but it literally just aired. I wonder how many guys lost their hair a little too fast because they are lawyers. Hmmmm.
In case I haven't mentioned it; Harry's Law is the only legal show out there that is semi-realistic. I hear Lincoln Lawyer is too--but it's a movie. Should I go and see it? Or will I hate myself for contributing to the glorification of the legal industry again?
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