I think it’s still a stigma in our society to admit that one’s chemicals are a bit off… you know, just to admit that your brain just doesn’t regulate quite well enough.

If I had to estimate, I’d guess that around 80-90% of my classmates take some sort of drug, whether it’s a prescription anti-depressant or simply self-medicating with alcohol or weed. The terrible thing is that I think there’s still a stigma against taking something prescribed… so more people self-medicate than seek actual help. This is such a ridiculous thing for me to be writing about. I’m not a psychological professional. I mean, I took abnormal psych in undergrad (it was a useless class, believe me) and that’s about the extent of my expertise. But really.

If I had horrible heartburn, I mean, keep me up in the middle of the night, can’t eat anything tasty, excruciating pain kind of heartburn… I’d go see a doctor. I’d tell him what was up and when he said “you know, your stomach can’t regulate its chemicals quite right, so take this med” I’d be grateful and I’d let everyone with heartburn know that there was hope out there.

Why is it different when it’s your brain that can’t regulate its chemicals quite right?

Do you think that just because it’s “all in your head” you should be able to think your way out of it? I’m sorry, but if you have uncontrollable anxiety or depression… it’s a biological problem just like any other. I, personally, take something for anxiety. I’m not too shy about letting anyone know, either. I’ve suffered from depression since I can remember… I’m talking about being, say, 7 years old and planning my own suicide. That’s not something that anyone can just “positively think” away.

I’ve been able to control it without meds most of the time, but with law school? I mean, even the healthiest people find that the pressures of law school can make you flip your shit now and then. So when I started law school, I went to the campus clinic and told the doctor that I was having anxiety problems and he prescribed me stuff. The same way that some people’s stomachs can’t regulate chemicals properly, my brain can’t either. I need the help, and with it… well, I’m functional. I’m happy, actually. Overjoyed a lot of the time… but I know I wouldn’t be able to … anything. Anything at all… without meds.

I suppose this is all in response to a very close friend of mine. Someone who is practically a sister to me… really. My closest friend in the world, would take a bullet for, do anything for kind of friend… she probably needs help. And she’s too dissuaded by the stigma to accept it in the form of a depression med. Instead she self-medicates with alcohol.

I think that, as law students, we’re sort of encouraged to seek solace in alcohol. We’re encouraged to go out to happy hour, to participate in group bar reviews, cocktail events with firms, etc… but, really, I wish we were encouraged, instead, to seek healthier ways to cope.

My brain can’t regulate its chemicals quite right. I’ve been taught that it’s okay to seek pharma-help for that sort of problem

I wish that the stigma against it didn’t exist. I’m worried I might someday have to say goodbye to my friend, sooner than anyone should have to say goodbye to anyone they love, because she was too ashamed to ask for the kind of help that she needed.

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So I thought I’d try to update on the weekdays and then take the weekends off, but it turns out the weekends are when I really have time to write. So screw a writing schedule – I figure I’ll write when I can. If my writing helps 1Ls or pre-law folks who hear only the good things or the terrible things and come here to find out the realistic things… I suppose now and then is better than forcing it when I just can’t or giving it up altogether, right?

Also, I’ve decided not to publish more than once a day, so if I have multiple things to write about, I’m going to schedule them… which means that you might read something I’ve written a while ago and it will look like I’ve only posted it that day. I suppose this helps with the anonymity, but might not be so helpful otherwise. Keep in mind that if you’re reading about, say, exams and it’s mid-January, it’s probably because I wrote it earlier and set it to publish later.

Today I’m writing about Early Interview Week.

Damn.

I expected it to be brutal. Morose. Disheartening.

What I didn’t expect was the complete feeling of having given up. The hopelessness. Everyone I spoke with was completely resigned to the idea that no one was getting job offers, so it was useless, but we’re expected to attend so why not try anyway, right? This had a good side and a bad side.

The good side was that I was getting tips and information from other interviewees. As one student would exit an interview room, just before I went in they would give me a quick “She’s nice, but make sure to have questions as she runs out of steam the last 10 minutes.” or a “They’re not very personable or talkative. If they seem reserved, don’t think you did a bad job. They’re just… quiet. You still probably did fine.”

That was wonderful and helpful. I suspect that in better years, those of us near the middle of the class would be more competitive. This summer it seemed almost like an “us” against “them” mentality, where those of us in the middle of the class (aka almost all of us) knew it was a hopeless battle and we banded together to help each other. If one of us gets a job (I mean, I hope it’s me and all) it’s a win, whether or not it was me specifically.

The bad part was that, well, when you’re surrounded by people who’ve accepted their fate, you tend to accept yours too. It’s difficult to blow the socks off an interviewer when you’ve spent the past week feeling hopeless.

I really just hope that I was able to be enthusiastic enough to outweigh the complete mediocrity that was my transcript. Also… I’m looking at regional firms. Maybe one of them will have a spot for me. True, it’s not a $160k a year job, but hey… if they’ll pay me enough to pay my rent (and maybe buy a pair or two of fancy shoes.. yum) then I’ll still be pretty stoked about it. After all… it’s a job, right?

I suppose you can kind of tell I’m less anxious and a little happier lately. This will change next week, I’m sure, but let’s enjoy it while we can, alright?

There isn’t much new on the law school front today, so instead, I’m just going to talk about a few of my simple pleasures; things that keep me feeling okay when law school makes me want to die.

1. My dog. Okay, I know I mention her a lot, but she’s incredible. Soft and sweet and silly. Funny and furry. She sleeps with me under the covers – she’s my little spoon – and cuddles with me while I’m studying. She can make me smile even when I feel like running away from everything.

2. Beer. So this is cliche. A law student who likes drinking beer? Big surprise there. But really. I don’t drink beer to oblivion, I drink beer because I like the taste. Dark, rich beer with hints of coffee and chocolate. Nutty beers with a slight fruit ending. I talk about beer the way some people talk about wines. It’s just good.

3. Rainbows. I love them. I look for them every time it rains. I just love rainbows, okay?

4. Being alone. This doesn’t seem like a good thing to a lot of people, I know, but for me, it’s such a rare thing and I treasure it so much. My roommate is gone (where? don’t know, don’t care.) the boyfriend isn’t here yet. I have nowhere to be, and I can just sit all by my lonesome and enjoy the quiet. With my beer and dogs. But alas, no rainbows.

5. I take that back. She just came home. Mood crashed. Going to bed. See you Monday.

Sometimes I think of law school as a sort of club. Now and then, you get to flash your club card and you get certain perks. Not that you ever go looking for them, as that would be tasteless and inappropriate, but sometimes when you flash your club card and the person you’re doing business with happens also to belong to the club, they cut you a little slack.

For example, remember my prayer for judgment earlier? You know, the crazy speeding ticket that I got for not paying attention on a stretch of road in North Carolina a few months ago? Well, I hired an attorney to represent me since I’ll be far too busy this coming weekend to make another East Coast road trip just to defend myself. He called me today to ask a few questions before showing up for me tomorrow morning. He asked where I lived and whether I was ever planning to drive through NC again (which might have a bearing on what reduced penalty he asks for). I told him that I don’t know whether I’ll ever drive through NC again, but as I was in the City for the sole purpose of attending law school , who knows where I’ll be in two years.

As soon as I flashed my Law School Club Card, he got really chatty, asked where I went, how I liked it, etc. We talked about his experience and how he likes his job. You know, the usual. Then came the subject of my defense and payment.

Perk #1: I don’t get financial aid until classes start. Classes don’t start soon enough to help with this bit of trouble I’ve gotten myself into. So I asked if I could delay payment for a week or so, and he said that instead, he would take my case for a reduced fee. I tried to dissuade him (I mean, after all, he’s showing up in court for me two times and spending time with me on the phone) but he insisted. So I was able to pay him today and still have some cash left over for rum, peaches, sugar and wine this weekend (homemade sangria here I come!)

Perk #2: Apparently there is a lesser offense in NC called an “improper equipment” offense. I can plea down to that but the DA doesn’t usually allow it for anyone going over 70mph. I was going 75 in a 55. My attorney said that he would talk to the DA and try to convince him that, since I haven’t had an offense in years (like, six years! I’m a safe driver, I promise!) and I’m a law student, he might allow it! I’ll update as to how this turns out. He should, since I truly am a safe driver, but if the law student thing sways him in my favor any, I won’t object.

So there. I would never ask for or even expect anything like this, but it turns out there may be some sweet perks that come along with being in this not-that-exclusive club. Who’d have thought?

Before moving to the City for law school, I had lived alone for two years. Two glorious years with just me and the dog and (now and then, when he came for overnight visits) the Boyfriend. Oh, how I took that time for granted.

I know everyone probably has gripes about their roommates. I’m sure she has some strong feelings about the things I do around the apartment, but some of this stuff…

Today, I went to do the dishes (because she never does them – seriously, we’ve lived together for a year and she doesn’t know how to load/start the dishwasher) and found another one of my glasses, in the dishwasher, improperly loaded and broken. I started out the year with sixteen glasses – 8 tall and 8 short. I am now down to three total. I have no idea what she does to break them! Seriously! And if I’d broken almost all of someone’s glassware, I’d replace it! But she doesn’t even mention it and then neither do I, so as not to cause waves.

That might be one of my biggest problems. I don’t want to cause waves, but she just does so much unacceptable crap that I end up feeling pissed off constantly.

Like the epic food battles. When I buy something and put it in my cabinet, I expect it to be there the next time I look for it. She doesn’t feel the same way. She also doesn’t bother replacing it with the same item. So, she’ll eat all of my peanut butter and think it’s okay to replace it with nasty whole wheat crackers that she bought for herself but doesn’t like. Do I need crackers? No. I have crackers already, but no peanut butter to put on them! I mean, it’s all completely petty stuff, but added up, it just makes me livid.

You know she’s been eating my expired mayonnaise for about five months now? Because she refuses to buy her own and I refuse to buy it for her. And when I came home after my two week vacation with the Boy, I looked in my cabinet and noticed things missing… so I looked in her cabinet and found half of my food hidden in there! What. The. Fuck?

There’s honestly a lot more. I know everything sounds just ridiculous, but after a year of being taken advantage of  and stolen from and having my things broken and used without replacement… I just get tired.

I hope things aren’t like this when the Boy moves in. I have one week of blissful aloneness, then he’ll be here. Hopefully I picked a good one. I have a feeling I did. He’s totally the type who will contribute to our household and replace things he’s messed up and cook dinner for me when I’ve had a stressful day at school (every day at school). Maybe my next roommate won’t be one I have to gripe about.

Class doesn’t technically start for another couple weeks or so, but I’ve already received my first reading assignment. I also don’t get financial aid for another couple weeks. I can’t buy my books until I get finaid and I can’t do my reading assignments until I get books. This is causing a little bit of anxiety, but it’s not so bad because this happened before each of the last three semesters and I survived. It does suck sometimes to start out the semester already a little behind, but one class isn’t terribly difficult to catch up on.

The point, though, is that it’s already starting. Not that it really ended, what with summer classes and research projects and tweaking writing samples and whatnot.

For some reason, though, at the beginning of every semester, I become ridiculously optimistic. Talk to me again in two months and I’ll wish I’d never even heard of law school, but as of right now… well, let’s just say that Tax Law and Adv Civil Litigation sound, dare I say, interesting to me. I am actually looking forward to it.

For now.

Heaven help me.

I do know that it’s not technically Monday anymore, but I thought I’d start the week off with a post topic that I might keep going for a while. Who knows. We’re doing Monday Misconceptions or Monday Myths or whatever else you want to call it. Basically, things you thought were true about law school before you went there. Are they true? We’ll see.

Today’s myth is about frenemies.

I really hate that term. I think it was coined by some celebrity gossip blog or something, but it kind of fits the situation.

Basically, before coming to law school, I heard that it was cutthroat. Ruthless. People would go to the library to rip pages out of the books the class needed for research, so only they would have access. Your classmates will smile to your face, but if you turn around, they’ll stab you in the back.

The reality? Well, it’s just like any other situation where you have very smart, very competitive people all housed together, working toward the same prize.

After being here for one year, I can confidently say that the majority of your classmates will be exceedingly helpful. I have had classmates email me notes when I had the flu. I had a classmate track down an outline for me to use on an exam. One especially awesome classmate covered for me when I had a huge assignment due the next day (for work) and was on call in a class I skipped! I’ve had classmates share their books and study tips and Emanuel’s with me. I’ve even had classmates share job tips with me, which, in this economy, is a huge favor.

Then there are the small percentage of your classmates who perpetuate the stereotype. I once had a classmate stab me in the back over a job prospect I’d shared with him. It was a shitty thing to do and, even though he didn’t get the job either, it seriously undermined my trust in my classmates in general. But I still have to smile and pretend we’re friends so as not to create drama. We, along with other classmates, go out for drinks sometimes. We say hi and sit together at lunch. But under no circumstances will I trust him again. We’re frenemies.

So the gist of what I’m saying is that yes, law school is a pretty competitive place. There might be a classmate or two who will make you regret trusting them… but the vast majority of your classmates will be incredibly awesome, and might well become some of your best friends. Competitive? Yes. Cutthroat? Not usually.