Stephanie Mann

Post Bartum Depression

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After months of studying, the day of the bar examination finally arrives. Once you have finished the exam, all you can think about is celebration and sleep. After a couple of days of recovery, you start thinking about the next step in your life. If you are one of those lucky few to have a job waiting for you, you are in a great position to start your life outside of school. However, if you are like most graduating law students and do not have a job waiting for you, it is very likely that you will enter a period that has come to be known as “post bartum depression.” This depression sets in due to the extreme change in your schedule and worry about what the future will hold.

For most law students, law school was a constant balancing act between a gruesome class schedule and its accompanying readings/homework, work, extracurricular activities, and managing your personal life. There were many late nights, a chronic lack of sleep, caffeine fixes just to get through the day, and stress beyond belief. These were only accelerated during the two months that were spent studying for the bar. Once you have recovered after the bar and if you do not have a job lined up, within a couple of weeks you may find that you suddenly have more time on your hands than you know what to do with. Boredom and restlessness can set in and make it harder to motivate yourself to do even the most mundane things.

The other factors that can cause post-bar depression are worry about what the future will bring, finding a job, being able to earn a living, and being able to pay your student loans. At this time in your life, there are so many questions—and few answers—about the future. It all can take a toll on you both mentally and physically. For some, this worry and boredom can foster a depression that is hard to crawl out of. It can make it difficult to get out of bed or make you irritable and emotional. Everyone experiences symptoms differently and to varying degrees, but for most recent law school grads it can all be linked to post-bar depression.

One of the best cures for depression is to stay as active as possible. Finding temporary employment, getting regular exercise, or signing up for activities in the community can provide a boost. One viable option is to find an office or a courthouse in which you can volunteer. This will help to keep your body active and your mind engaged. No matter what you do, it’s important to recognize that post bartum depression is a common experience and it may be affecting you. If you find that you are suffering, please turn to friends and family to help you crawl out of the darkness so that you can look forward to a bright future as an attorney.

About the Author

Stephanie Mann recently passed the Illinois Bar and was sworn in on November 1, 2012. She graduated from Northern Illinois University College of Law in June 2012, where she was an Assistant Editor for NIU's Law Review. She received her undergraduate degree from Earlham College in Richmond, Indiana, where she majored in Politics with a minor in Legal Studies. She currently works as a law clerk for the Cosentino Law Firm, LLC and has a judicial clerkship with Judge Prochaska in Winnebago County, Illinois.
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