You Can’t Do Everything. So What?

Perfectionism. If you struggle with depression it may be at the root of your terrible self talk. One minute you’re berating and belittling yourself for being imperfect. The next you’re imposing standards even a perfect person couldn’t live up to as punishment for your imperfection.

Worst of all, if you ever do live up to a standard you’ve set for yourself, you can’t just be proud of yourself. If you can reach the bar you know it’s time to raise it.

Clearly the bar was set too low.

If you’re a perfectionist, you likely push yourself with no regard for your limitations, sensitivities or weaknesses. You have something to prove. You’re never comfortable with your flaws.

If you’re a sensitive person and a perfectionist you may often push yourself until you’re nursing a cold and a migraine just waiting to lash out at the next person who asks you a simple question.

I went on like this for years.

I rapidly cycled between superhuman overachiever and burnt out slacker — sometimes within a week. It was killing me. Continue reading

Can Marie Kondo Help Sensitive Souls Thrive?

2016-02-25 09.43.57Like many folks in the U.S. last year, I quickly jumped on the  The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up bandwagon. I found myself watching YouTuber after YouTuber talking about how they’d reorganized their life after reading the book.

I’ve always had a bit of split personality on these matters.

On one hand, as a child, I was so messy that you often couldn’t find the floor (I once read and agreed with a quote from Shia Labeouf stating that the floor is the single largest shelf in a home). On the other hand, when my mom came into my room, put all of my clothes in a pile and told me that whatever was on the floor when she came back would be donated I suddenly created a space fit for HGTV. I was always very good at cleaning. And I love a good purge. It’s my favorite means of catharsis. Continue reading

Don’t Fear the Spark Within You

INFJs are no stranger to broken hearts. A personality with a strongly held sense of idealism and a thirst for justice and equality living in this world is a personality that will always be a little bit heartbroken.

Underlying our quiet exterior, empathy and agreeable nature is a dangerous passion. Passion is what drives our pursuit of a more perfect world. It gives us something to live for. It keeps us up at night. It is a calling toward self-sacrifice and, if we’re not careful, significant self-neglect. Continue reading

Don’t Forget to Be Sensitive to Your Self, HSP

As a highly sensitive person, perhaps the greatest bane and boon in life is maintaining boundaries.

On one hand, the empathy of HSPs is one of their greatest strengths, permitting them to connect with and understand people. HSPs can often break past people’s walls. Many are capable of drawing out those who might normally be ignored or marginalized in ways that others cannot not.

On the other hand, to beA2E33C32B9 an HSP is to be constantly inundated with unwanted stimuli that it’s nearly impossible to shut out: coworkers, partners, strangers at Dunkin’ Donuts. Further, empathy often leads to compassion and can create considerable confusion for the HSP who may be hurt or offended by someone while simultaneously understanding the motivation or the misfortune that led the offender down such a path.

The stimulation can be endless and crippling, resulting in the draining of all of an HSP’s emotional resources.  If an HSP reaches a breaking point they may resort to creating physical boundaries to stand in for emotional ones. When that happens, the only option is to shut oneself up in a dark room and avoid the world until recovery.

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The Secret to Building Healthy Boundaries

Step #1: know yourself.

Step #2: embrace yourself.

These two steps don’t cure all ills, but they do give you the tools to create the space you need to survive and thrive. It is far too common for many HSPs to internalize the message that their sensitivity is some sort of defect or disability. They may feel that the best thing for them to do is to try to fix themselves, which involves permitting others to trample the boundaries that they need for health and wellbeing.

When HSPs know and embrace themselves, they can see when they need time away from the world and take it. They can turn their compassion and sensitivity inward to realize that those who don’t accept, respect or understand them — or worse who take advantage of them — don’t add to their lives and so seek to limit or eliminate the stimulus.

Knowing oneself can help an HSP understandphoto-1453127370373-a52c2f02c097 when connecting with others will actually help them.  Many HSPs feel both the good and the bad far more deeply. In light of this, an HSP who tunes their sensitivity in to their inner self can grow as a person by learning when and how to connect with others in meaningful ways.  They can learn when it is safe to open up.

The importance of erecting proper boundaries for anyone is quite great, but for the HSP, it simply cannot be overstated.  Although it would do no good for an HSP to completely isolate him- or herself from the world, the inner life of an HSP is an intricate and beautiful thing and so it is in their interest to create a gatekeeper to let in those things and people that add life, to guard against attacks and to usher out those things that have worn out their welcome.

Where Are the Depressed Lawyers? #imnotashamed

The Numbers Say We’re Out There

Lawyers suffer from extremely high rates of depression and other mental health disorders. Estimates for the rate of depressed attorneys range from 2 to 3.6 times the national rate of depression in the U.S. A recent study of lawyer mental health in the Journal of Addiction Medicine found that 28% of respondents were experiencing symptoms of depression and 19% were experiencing symptoms of anxiety. Male lawyers are twice as likely to commit suicide as the general population.

I’ve seen the numbers.  I’m a lawyer. Research is what I do. So you can imagine how confusing it was last summer when I became depressed and my colleagues behaved as if they had never seen anything like this before in a law firm. They had no idea what to do with me. They kept turning to me to figure out all of the potential accommodations.

Not exactly easy to do while you’re in the throws of a moderate depressive episode. (Skip to the end of this page for a list of resources.) Continue reading