70 THE ADVOCATE
VOL. 77 PART 1 JANUARY 2019
Fixed on the goal of being a lawyer, I also thought that being a workaholic
was something to aspire to. It sounds ridiculous, but it is what I truly
believed. I came to that secondary goal in high school—not that my work
ethic always reflected that, but I certainly filled my high school days and
weeks in ways that few others did.
Fast forward to starting as a lawyer when I was 24, I learned quickly
about a whole other bandwidth of stress that I did not even think was possible.
But I continued to work hard and aspired to work on bigger cases that
required resources that matched my level of commitment. Once, on my
first major case, I took only 24 hours off (instead of the months I had originally
wanted to) for the birth of our second child. Soon after, I also stepped
up my commitment to a community association and became its president.
As president, I became the modern-day parody of someone addicted to
their “Crackberry”. This is back when my smartphone really only had a
work aspect to its intelligence. I prided myself on being awoken at 5:30 a.m.
by requests from work and working my tail off to give them a comment
before 8 a.m. I literally went for years without being away from work e-mail
for more than six hours at a time, no matter where I was or if I was sleeping.
I had arrived!
One extreme example arose at the zoo while on vacation out of province
with my kids. At the start of the trip, I got a work-related request for comment
on something that I had not heard about. For the rest of the excursion
to the zoo, I worked the entire time on my Crackberry so that I could craft
and deliver my comments by the end of the last animal cage. I was so proud
of myself for sacrificing EVERYTHING for work. Of course, now I am
embarrassed at how neglectful I was to my family.
Suffice to say, I had now met my second goal of being a workaholic. I
placed all my personal worth in how long and hard I worked. But there were
chinks in this armour that started to crop up starting in 2012.
During a stressful trial I started coping with my growing sadness by shutting
the door to my office and quietly sobbing. These “timeouts” were something
that I did at least once a week. I felt better after, but drained and
ashamed. Work continued to be stressful in many ways, but I did not want
to seek help. I was ashamed and worried others would find out and think I
In the summer of 2013 my father was ill with pneumonia and then was
placed in the ICU for three weeks before he passed away. I returned to work
dazed and asking for a little reprieve. I asked for something less stressful,
for a little time at least.
In response, I was assigned to be co-counsel on a multi-month trial. To
make things worse, it was out of town, with no time to prepare. This was