Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - 23

STEPPING OUT OF THE

SHADOWS OF DEPRESSION
Craig Moore is a criminal defense attorney with The Moore Law Offices. He was an
assistant U.S. attorney for 25 years, serving in the U.S. Attorney's offices in Rhode
Island and in the Northern Mariana Islands. He has provided counseling and
guidance for attorneys on mental illness and substance abuse issues and is a
volunteer with the D.C. Bar Lawyer Assistance Program.

I

believe it's important to make people aware of the fact that there needs
to be more transparency and public awareness about mental health
and substance abuse issues, especially in the legal profession. There's no
reason to hide behind anonymity. My approach has been to put my name
out there and tell people that these issues can be treated, and you can
also have a very successful professional career even in a high-stress
business like the law.
I suffer from severe depression. The earliest episode I can recall clearly probably
goes back to the age of 10. I didn't get treated until I was close to 40. By the time
I got out of law school, I knew I was depressed, but I thought I could just beat it
on my own. I thought if I was strong enough, if I could do all the things people
said or recommended - working out, keeping focused, whatever - I could
beat it. None of it worked. That didn't stop me from trying, and of course, it
didn't stop me from self-medicating, mostly with alcohol.
When I self-medicated, it never really hindered my performance, at least
in terms of the quality of my work, or even my attitude. The depression
affected my attitude a lot. One of the symptoms of depression is you're
easily angered. I had had a temper for a long time, since I was a kid. But
there were certain rules that I had, too, about the way I was treated and the
way I reacted. If I wasn't treated fairly, I reacted very badly. And it wasn't so
much that I reacted badly with my colleagues - I didn't - but I could go
off pretty much on a hair trigger if I felt like I was being treated unfairly by
certain other people.
Depression takes a terrible toll, and the older you get, the worse it becomes.
There would be days when I simply made it to work. I would go in, close the
door to my office, and hope nothing would happen. I would be paralyzed.
If the phone rang, I could answer it. I could fake it better than anyone else.
I developed a set of rules that got me through the day. I only had to make it
to midnight, and if I woke up the next day, I'd start again. There were days when
it was very tough to get out of bed, but I always made it. When I got to work,
if I had to function, I could.
No one ever knew. They thought I just had a hostile personality or I wasn't in
a very good mood that day, but I never disclosed it to anybody. Not until I was
about, like I said, close to 40. And one day, I realized I just couldn't do it anymore.
One of the rules I had was all I had to do was put one foot in front of the other,
and one day I just decided I physically couldn't do it anymore. Depression is like
that. People don't realize it is debilitating. Ultimately, it can be fatal.
After that, I finally went to a psychiatrist and started taking medication. Thirty
days after I started taking meds, I felt like I was seeing the world the way it was
supposed to look. Everything was good for about a year and a half, and then
the medication stopped working. It felt like the bottom fell out and I was put on
an express elevator to hell. I spent the next two and a half years trying to find
the right medication. That was hellish because my meds and I were never quite

right, but when I finally got it right, it was really right. I'm still on it, and I take
three medications twice a day.
I'm also forever grateful to the doctor who got me straight. I'm now 66 years
old, and I've been cool, calm, and collected since. There have been days
where the depression creeps back in and I struggle, but for the most part my
life has been so much better, and once I got that under control, work has
been better.
When you have a mental illness, it's easy to spot it in someone else. I would see
people who are struggling with something and I would listen, sort of help them
and talk them through it. While at the U.S. Attorney's Office in Rhode Island, I was
helping employees with their issues, be it alcoholism, grief, and more. I wasn't a
counselor, but people came to me because I understood. I knew what they were
going through personally because I had been through it myself, in one fashion
or another. I also understood they didn't want to disclose what they were going
through to superiors. To be honest, lawyers have some of the worst egos of just
about anyone I've ever met. Many would rather shoot themselves than admit to
their peers or superiors that they have a problem, and that's part of the problem.
Why come out and admit you couldn't handle a big case when it was entrusted
to you and people believe you're supposed to be a rock-steady lawyer? You feel
like you're trapped.
A lawyer is more than just a person who analyzes legal problems, and there's
a reason why we're called "counsel." As a lawyer, you regularly encounter situations where someone has encountered a crisis and you have to help them
through it.
The legal profession is one where problems are always ongoing. Cases don't
resolve themselves in a day. And when you add work problems and personal
problems like mental illness, substance abuse, and those things that are
ongoing every day, depression can make even the simplest task feel like
an insurmountable obstacle. Add everything up and depression makes it
overwhelming. What people need to realize is that it does not have to be.
When I encountered the D.C. Bar Lawyer Assistance Program, I was thrilled.
I thought, finally, someone is going public about these issues in the profession. I jumped on the program right away. I've always believed that if you're
going to do something, you need to own it. If someone wanted to talk to me,
I had no hesitancy in giving my card. I had no problem speaking to law school
classes, graduate students, and Bar members. This was a very personal thing
to me, offering help to individuals who were themselves strong enough to ask
for help. That's a big thing - asking for help takes a tremendous amount of
courage.
You're not just a lawyer, you're also a human being, and human beings have all
sorts of issues, including mental health and substance abuse. Show me a lawyer
who doesn't have a problem, and I'll show you someone who's faking it. So,
you have to get over your ego, admit it, and understand that it takes a lot of
courage, especially in this profession and society, to say, "I need help."
I want to get the word out that you can get the help you need, confidentially.
And I have, through the LAP and in my career. And when people see my name
and ask me, shocked, "What, are you out of your mind?" I'm happy to tell them,
"Yes, I am. But there's actually a pill for that."

*

JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2019

*

WASHINGTON LAWYER 23


http://www.dcbar.org/

Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019

Digital Extras
Your Voice
From Our President
Career & Professional Development
Calendar of Events
Goverment & Gavel
Feature: Fighting the Stigma: The D.C. Bar Lawyer Assistance Program
Feature: The Road to Wellness
Feature: Taking the Stand: How Corporate Monitorships Rein in Misbehavior
Global & Domestic Outlook
Worth Reading & Media Bytes
Attorney Briefs
Ask The Ethics Experts
Disciplinary Summaries
Community & Connections
Last Word
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - Cover1
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - Cover2
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - 1
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - 2
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - 3
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - Digital Extras
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - Your Voice
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - From Our President
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - 7
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - Career & Professional Development
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - 9
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - Calendar of Events
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - 11
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - Goverment & Gavel
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - 13
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - Feature: Fighting the Stigma: The D.C. Bar Lawyer Assistance Program
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - 15
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - 16
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - 17
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - 18
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - 19
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - 20
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - 21
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - 22
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - 23
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - 24
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - 25
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - Feature: The Road to Wellness
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - 27
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - 28
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - 29
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - 30
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - 31
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - Feature: Taking the Stand: How Corporate Monitorships Rein in Misbehavior
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - 33
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - 34
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - 35
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - Global & Domestic Outlook
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - 37
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - Worth Reading & Media Bytes
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - 39
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - Attorney Briefs
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - 41
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - Ask The Ethics Experts
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - 43
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - Disciplinary Summaries
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - 45
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - Community & Connections
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - 47
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - Last Word
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - Cover3
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - Cover4
https://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/januaryfebruary2022
https://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/januaryfebruary2022
https://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/januaryfebruary2022
https://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/januaryfebruary2022
https://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/januaryfebruary2022
https://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/novemberdecember2021
https://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/julyaugust2021
https://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/julyaugust2021
https://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/marchapril2021
https://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/marchapril2021
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/novemberdecember2020
https://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/novemberdecember2020
https://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/septemberoctober2020
https://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/julyaugust2020
https://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/june2020
https://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/may2020
https://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/march2020
https://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/january2020
https://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/november2019
https://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/october2019
https://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/september2019
https://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/julyaugust2019
https://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/june2019
https://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/may2019
https://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/april2019
https://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/march2019
https://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/january2019
https://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/november2018
https://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/november2018
https://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/november2018
https://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/august2018
https://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/august2018
https://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/June/July2018
https://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/april2018
https://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/March2018
https://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/February2018
https://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/january2018
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/december2017
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/November2017
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/september 2017
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/september 2017
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/august2017
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/july2017
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/June2017
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/may2017
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/april2017
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/march2017
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/february2017
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/january2017
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/december2016
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/november2016/
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/october2016
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/september2016
https://www.nxtbookmedia.com