Depression In Law and Life: The Soul’s Journey Toward Wholeness By Pamela Michelle, J.D., M.S.
There is probably no one among us who has not felt some form of depression in their life. It is defined as a mood disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (the most widely used criteria for diagnosis of the American Psychiatric Association) which requires depressed mood or anhedonia (inability to experience pleasure) that persists for a least two weeks. Anti-depressant medication is often recommended as an initial treatment choice in people with mild, moderate, or severe major depression. It is estimated by the federal government’s health statisticians that about one in every 10 Americans takes an anti-depressant. There is no laboratory test for depression and the understanding of the nature and causes of depression has left many aspects of depression as the subject of much debate and research. All drug therapies focus on the chemicals in the brain serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine, which are naturally present in the brain. I am certainly not here to render clinical or medical advice on this subject, but I would like you to consider another view of what is called depression by many clinical professionals as it may relate to your own life and career.
An alternative view I would like you to consider that depression is not a ‘mental illness’ nor is it another word for unhappiness. I would like to put forth here, as others have, that it is in many instances what is called depression is a response to soullessness or soul loss. I posit to you the following: what is called depression is the soul’s plea for urgent attention! I am writing to you here from the angle of the soul which is far from the angle of an insidious illness. In fact, if you can hear this plea from the soul, you might consider this a good, albeit challenging sign. It is a call that drives us to the depths of our wounds, depressions, and fears in order perhaps to be reunited with what may be a ‘lost’ soul.
Depression from the soul’s angle is a valuable phase of a person’s life journey. It is in fact a critical juncture at which a soul-searching re-assessment of priorities, directions, relationships, work, gifts, self-image, home life, spirituality and/or other core values is being called for. I do think that if this deep analysis is not undertaken, a person will feel pain at a deep psychic level which manifests in many physical and emotional symptoms. The soul has an innate need for meaning and calls us all to know our purpose in life. I think it comes up very often for lawyers and really anyone in any job with repetitive demands wherein the person has not in fact considered the meaning of their lives and assessed their values and purpose in relation to their time and energy expended in their daily lives. From this perspective, depression is often an emotional, relational, and spiritual response to a sense of meaninglessness, lack of harmony with Nature, suppression of one’s creativity, disempowering relationships, or lack of truthfulness with oneself and others.
An experienced soul centered therapist or coach is a great resource to explore this angle. Look for someone with personal qualities such as compassion, wisdom based on experience, flexibility, respect for your values and experiences, and lack of desire to offer hasty advice or to dominate or control. Each of us can also help ourselves by trusting our own intuition, by reclaiming our personal power and right to control our own lives, by remaining close to Nature and following our hearts- wherever they lead us. In the end, true joy comes only through a life of integrity and congruence with our values, meaning, and kindness to all. I invite you to begin this exploration if you have not done so, as in opening to yourself you will find fulfillment and equanimity which no amount of worldly success can bring if you are not aligned with your soul.
Pamela Michelle has practiced law for 23 years, has her M.S. in Mental Health Counseling, and is an ICF certified coach. Pam’s practice focuses on helping lawyers and others re-align with their core values and soul to achieve a sense of true fulfillment. Pam can be contacted at Pam@SoulofLaw.com.