Un verre d’eau n'est pas un objet en tant que tel, mais j'ai tellement eu l'impression de me noyerdans mon premier semestre à la faculté. La sensation d'être étouffée, de sentir la pression de l'eau qui augmente au même titre que les vagues, le sentiment d'impuissance de ne rien pouvoir faire pour sortir d’un océan d'inquiétudes.
With the amount of readings in law school, it can be very tough to motivate myself to read for pleasure. But I also realize once I start reading for myself again that it makes my school and life related stresses disappear. Therefore books represent both the amount of work that can cause anxiety and the escape from it. They're also a representation of a fact that the legal world needs to recognize when dealing with mental health: that it's okay to continue taking time for yourself, in law school and after.
I’ve always been intentional about creating a living space that can be a sanctuary for me, no matter where in the world I find myself. But for much of last year my anxiety was so severe that I felt terrified of everything, even being in my apartment. I was scared that it would burn down, be broken into, or that I would somehow die in there.
Since starting to get adequate help, things have been changing. Recently I noticed that my apartment has begun to feel like a sanctuary again – a calm, beautiful and grounding space, rather than a space saturated with fear.
Each Other's Hands
Some people feel that disability is lived alone. Nobody else feels our body the way we ourselves do. But wait! Our body is not an island; maybe our friends are concealing their hurt too. Oppression banks on our instinct toward isolation. That’s why this joining of hands is the greatest living symbol of change in action. Since our oppression is shared, let’s share our experiences to eradicate it.
I started law school with a 16-month-old child, and will finish my degree with a second kid that will not yet be a month old at my graduation. Parenthood has been my steadiest anchor while I was in law school: getting home to a smile and a hug everyday from a soul who believes the world starts and ends with me has always reminded me of the important things, and that there is so much more to life beyond law school and grades.
Despite busy days, I start and end my day with walking Alice and Rupert.
My lifelong struggle with anxiety revived in law school. In my first year, I often felt like my acceptance was a mistake and that I was not worthy enough to be amongst my talented peers. Music has helped me find the energy and confidence to confront my doubts head-on. It accompanies me through every long day as an escape, a source of inspiration or as a means to focus. My earphones are the gateway to this courage with my many Spotify playlists acting as the soundtracks to my challenges and setbacks, but also to my accomplishments and successes.
Chopping, and specifically dicing, is for me the entry point into one of the most important things I do to keep in touch with my mental health: cooking. There is something about the sound of a mirepoix getting ever finer that soothes me.
Over time, I learned that my anxiety was actually a gift. That it was my own alarm bell. A signal advising me that I ought to take a step back, to slow down, to ground myself. I learned that I needed to be healthy to be happy, to care for my loved ones AND to be good at my job. I began reading for fun again, painting, gardening. I even took up knitting! Stitching away my stress. I found joy in the little things, in seeing things grow and my creativity flourish.
This object is representative of the numerous times I have broken down crying because of things happening in my personal life and my subsequent inability to get accommodations/support/understanding from academic decision-makers at the Faculty. With the current system, we need to choose between self-care and actually advancing (in our studies, career, etc.). We cannot show weakness to people in power. This is why we have such high rates of mental health issues including burnout, substance abuse, and suicide.
Hands Almost Shaking
As someone with a learning disability and a mental health disorder, I have had to seek help from the OSD (Office for Students with Disabilities) who only accommodated me in my second year of law school. In an LSA meeting, one of the execs, in a room full of people, told me "students with disabilities should not be in law school". When I raised concerns about this in the meeting, not one person backed me up.Trying to explain this to my law school peers has been very hard and I stopped doing it after 1L since most said your disability is not real and in your head.
I have recently started to accept that I need to nap, and not judge that. As someone with a chronic illness...it is something that gets me through the day.
Hands In Meditation
Meditation has transformed my relationship with emotions, in the sense that I’ve become more aware and accepting of whatever it is that I’m feeling. This is probably where my practice has been the most beneficial to me."
Pen & Paper
1. J'ai vécu une grosse perte lors de ma première année d'étude à la Faculté. Une perte inattendue et soudaine. Essayant tant bien que mal d'aller chercher les ressources disponibles, je me suis retrouvée coincée. Alors, J'ai écrit. Pour sortir cette douleur, cette colère, cette incompréhension, cette détresse. Juste pour les sortir de ma tête.
2. I've always loved writing but I've always been too busy to take the time to do it. Somehow, the high level of anxiety brought on by law school forced that space open. I suddenly needed to remove myself from that stress to reconnect with myself. Sitting down with a pen and paper creates a space where I can transfigure any experience into a work of art.
3. Writing poetry is not confined between me and myself; it is a partnership with others who do not know I involve them in the rhyme. A lonely, empowering, conspiracy, that even I do not know the end of. After all, a poem is just an old friend with whom I had an interesting conversation.
I keep my high school debating trophy on my desk at home, where I do most of my studying. As cheesy and superficial as it may sound, looking at it reminds me that I am good enough, and that I was strong enough to succeed at something I cared deeply about. When I look at it, I know that I can succeed at becoming the kind of lawyer I want to be—no matter how hard I have to fight to stay true to myself.
When I entered law school, I almost completely stopped going to my MMA classes. I am a very anxious person, so self-care – as it should be for everyone – is extremely important for me. Physical activity allows me to take a break from law and from all the other responsibilities life throws at you. It is a few hours a week where I put my phone down and I don’t have to answer or be available to anyone except myself.
The object that illustrates my relationship with mental health as a law student is my retrogram board. It is a 10 by 10 inch vintage felt letterboard. I try to update it on a weekly basis with an inspiring quote, song lyric, or an ancient Proverb. My board is the last thing I see before leaving my apartment (for morning lectures) and the first thing I see once I come in.
I am holding my hormone pills alongside my antidepressants because I think people sometimes forget that mental health can also be about changing things around you including your body. I see them all as pills that I take for mental health reasons, despite them functioning in radically different ways.
I saw the same therapist for 10 years; he was the only one I ever connected with. He got very sick a few years ago and I stopped going, but I loved him. It’s hard to find [a mental health professional] that you love, but when you do, it is life-changing.
I often feel that I have an addiction to time. I’m anxious when I’m running out of time and always wishing I had more. I get frustrated when I or others waste my time, experience guilt when others demand more of my time than I have, and feel undervalued when others don’t give me ‘enough’ of their time.
In becoming aware of my unhealthy relationship with time, I accepted that I will never have enough time for everything. Since figuring this out, I seem to have more time, both for myself and others, and went from having a bad time to a good one.
Discrimination is not a part of my day-to-day life. I do not understand it on a personal level; I need to rely on the stories of others. As a white man, I feel personally responsible for the actions of other privileged people who behave with prejudice. I feel like a failure. I have nearly taken my own life twice. I am still trying to reconcile my place in the world, but I am able to keep this in my apartment because I trust myself that I won't try to take my own life.
Rolled Up Paper
L’usage de substances illicites parmi les étudiants en droit est rarement évoqué.
Malgré les efforts des campagnes photographiques de DBFC-JES, ce problème, et beaucoup d’autres ne sont toujours pas évoqués.Beaucoup d’entre nous ne peuvent pas partager notre histoire librement afin de créer un dialogue. Si je ne suis même pas capable d’engager de façon accessible cette conversation, est-ce vraiment une conversation?