I read with interest your feature ‘Time out’. As a solicitor who failed to achieve a work/life balance, I hope that my experience may be a lesson to others. I was a partner in a small firm for 23 years. For 21 of those years, I was a full-time working mother. I sought to manage my life with hard work and efficiency. Over the years, I suffered recurrent stress-related insomnia. I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2004. I planned to reduce my working hours, but did not do so.
In 2007, I was diagnosed with depression. I took two extended breaks from work and hoped that each one would recharge my batteries. Unfortunately, the damage to my health could not be repaired that easily. My body and mind ground to a halt. In May 2011, I had to stop work completely. It was the last thing I wanted to do. The fallout was very difficult at home and at work. You may think ‘it couldn’t happen to me’. I would have said the same.
Until you lose your health, you take it for granted. Some solicitors are vulnerable to stress-related depression because of the type of people they are. I recommend reading Depressive Illness - The Curse of the Strong by Dr Tim Cantopher. If you are juggling the many demands of life, don’t push yourself too hard.
Jean Booth, Burnham-On-Sea, Somerset