A Necessary Look at Mental Health in Law School

This is the second in a series of posts drawing attention to Law Student Mental Health Day. You can read our first post here. If you want to share your story with us about feeling out of place, send a few lines to bclawimpact@bc.edu, or use the social media hashtag #fittingin.

It can be unbelievably daunting to ask for help. An environment where competition is paramount and the drive for success is all-encompassing makes help-seeking seem risky and shameful. Fear often paralyzes and dissuades so that many individuals don’t pursue help they need.

I was fearful my 1L year. I was fearful of imperfection and failure. I was fearful that admission of my difficulties would make them more real, would show that I was weak, and would indicate that I could not succeed in school or in my chosen career.

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Out of Place? You’re Not Alone

Today is the annual Law Student Mental Health Day. The Law Students Association (BC Law’s student government) is hosting several events throughout the day through their Student Wellness Committee. Also, in recognition of the tough times that most of us will experience over the course of our three years here, we asked some of our bloggers to share times when they felt out of place, and how they reacted. If you want to share your story about feeling out of place with us, send a few lines to bclawimpact@bc.edu, or use the social media hashtag #fittingin.

Brett

Where to begin? Parties where the music is so loud that conversation is impossible and I end up standing awkwardly against a wall. Repping purple at the recent Holy Cross – BC football game as my alma mater lost to my new law school 62-14. The first four months of undergrad, going from a small public high school in a blue-collar town to a college where the Vineyard Vines whale was practically the mascot and the parking lot looked like an Audi dealership. My lack of a social life in those early days meant I had time to read USA Today and the New York Times cover-to-cover every day. I was quite well-informed.

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BC Law Finals Survival Guide

I’m pleased to host a guest post from 2L Maggie Leccese, who shares some advice for preparing for finals.

By now, you’ve probably got all the outlines you can fit inside a one-inch binder. But for those of us who aren’t naturally gifted networkers, it’s still not too late to ace those exams. Fortunately, LSA didn’t assign me a mentee this year, which means I’ve saved up all of my sage advice for this well-timed blog post.

Here’s a list of the eight things you need to do to get through your first semester of finals. Why only eight? Well, I started with a lot more, but my editor alerted me to the blog’s limited server space. Here’s what’s left:

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Time, Time, So Little Time

Heads up: There is so much to read in law school. And the case materials are not written in plain English. You will have to read some cases twice or even three times to get a clear picture of what’s really going on.

Then there are a myriad of 1L events to welcome us law-newbies – and overwhelm us further – on this exciting journey into the world of jurisprudence.

You have half-a-dozen student organization meetings to attend. Socialization follows.
Of the little time you have left for yourself, you’re given the choice to sleep or…

…go rock climbing, kayaking, run, hangout at the beach, and try out kiteboarding.

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Lessons From My Leave

If you’ve been following my law school journey here on the BC Law Impact Blog, you know that it hasn’t been an easy one. I was diagnosed with endometriosis – a chronic reproductive health condition that can cause back pain, pelvic pain, fatigue, and infertility among other debilitating symptoms – in my first year of law school. After a failed surgery between my first and second years of law school, and a successful, more intensive one in the winter of 2L, followed by a semester long leave, I am happy to be back on campus.

I spent the spring and the summer doing research for If/When/How on abortion access for teens, watching way too much of the X-Files, and working on my recovery. Getting your life back after a chronic illness sidelines you is a longer, and harder process than I expected, and I’m still working on getting my body and my mind back to where it was before I got sick. In the meantime, I’m taking it slow at school, and reflecting on what I’ve learned in the last few months. Here are some things I’ve learned about myself and law school along the way, and how you can apply them to (hopefully) make your time at BC Law a little easier:

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Yes, We go to School-Sponsored Social Events: Bar Review

It’s the second week of the semester and, more importantly, the week of the first Bar Review. It is conveniently, if confusingly, named “Bar Review” so that it sounds like you may be spending your Thursday evening studying for the Bar. Thankfully, it is really a night that the BC Law community takes over a local bar.

Bar Review is the perfect time to take a break and talk to some of your friends about something other than class. Unlike school-sponsored events in college that may have been sparsely attended, Bar Review is very well attended at BC Law.

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Bar Review at Tavern in the Square 1L Year (2014)

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Taking a Leave

When I started law school, I didn’t think it would go like this. I thought the hardest thing I would have to face would be the workload, and my commute. The only thing I feared was my anxiety taking over, and making it hard for me to get by. I was scared, but excited, at the prospect of three years doing something I had been working so hard and so long to do.

When I started law school I never thought I would miss almost all of my 1L spring to a chronic illness I had only just learned I have. I didn’t think I would have to postpone my finals to accommodate surgery to get better. I couldn’t imagine I would miss almost all of my 2L fall to that same illness, after the first surgery didn’t work. And never, in all my wildest fears did I think I would be taking the spring semester of my 2L year off to have another surgery; my second in less than a year.

But here I am.

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Study Abroad, Travel Abroad

My recent trip with friends to Germany illustrates a larger truth about our BC Law community and the bonds we form here. The experience reinforced how a friendship born in law school can transcend the BC Law bubble—and reminded me of the importance of expanding our hearts and minds and getting away from the stress of studying for a while.

Bucerius Law School in Hamburg, Germany offers an exchange program in International and Comparative Business Law to students all over the world. BC Law usually sends at least one student to the program. This year that student is Stephanie Ragland. She is a double eagle (she went to BC for undergrad as well). She is also a close friend of mine.

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What To Watch on Your Precious Study Breaks

In law school, our free time is precious, so how we spend it matters. Wasting time on a show you’re unsure you’ll like is just too risky. Never fear though, because I’m here.

I watch a lot of TV — admittedly too much. Everyone has their vice. Some people like a night out on the town, others treat themselves to a nice bottle of wine and some fancy cheese. I watch TV.

Here are my top suggestions for what to watch, whether you need some comfort, some time away from the law, or some inspiration.

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