Monday, November 1, 2010

My Recent Absence Explained

Some of you that follow me on Twitter have expressed some concern because I have been absent for the last week. A couple of you have emailed me directly or sent direct messages to insure I am still alive. Even my mother has been worried since she tracks my days via Tweets. If I don't Tweet, she thinks I am dead.

I am alive. That much I can vouch for.

So what's going on? In keeping with the spirit of openness as found in most of my blog postings, I will be completely honest with those that want to know.

The main problem is that I am injured and cannot run. Some of you might that's really lame. But running is how I handle work and life stresses. It's running that allows me to cope with the daily grind that is my small, little law practice.

It's almost as if running creates a barrier that keeps sadness, frustration, anxiety, despair, and depression at bay. Remove the barrier and it gets ugly. I am not sleeping well. Case after case consume my consciousness. I have small panic attacks thinking about the enormity of a couple of them. I have to calm myself down and break the case down into small manageable tasks.

As soon as I am relaxed about case A, case B walks in the door and the process begins again. Usually by 4:00 am, I shut down for a couple of hours. But after a week of this, I was a mess. I am now taking prescription sleeping aids, though it's only been since Friday. It's also during times like these that I have very violent nightmares that always somehow tie in with work.

Another component in play is lack of sunlight. I suffer from fall and winter blues due to lack of sun. Almost every summer afternoon I was running shirtless at the lake soaking up sunlight. In my world, that is a perfect afternoon. I am really that simple.

My favorite thing to do this summer was a mid-afternoon 10 mile run followed by 15 minutes on my patio. I would sit there dripping in sweat, stoned on runner's high endorphins slowly sipping Gatorade and reading my Twitter stream on my phone. Sadly, that scene will not return until at least next May. Ugh.

All of this stuff together has dipped me into a mild depression. I have been here before. And typically I withdraw from social activity until I feel better. As lame as I feel about admitting this, Twitter is pretty much my social universe.

It's with my Twitter family that I share career successes and failures. A fellow criminal defense attorney in Miami, who shall remain nameless, recently wrote that Twitter is a conversation. I agree. Or at least that's how I use Twitter. I don't market myself on Twitter or really on the internet for that matter. I have a website but I don't think it draws clients.

Twitter simply allows me to communicate with other attorneys across the country and most of them are also in the criminal business. Some of them have blogs that I follow. We share war stories. There is also a small number of law students I chat with. And a few other random people who are interesting to me for one reason or another. Journalist Jake Adelstein , being one of them.

The last time I had a group of friends I hung out with was when I lived in Austin immediately before law school. Since then I am changed. My prolonged illness during law school turned me into a pretty quiet person. I am ok with being alone. Sometimes I prefer it.

Besides my mother, there's only one person in my life I am close to. I am not a social retard, however. I make small chat with people I encounter during my work day: clerks, deputies, clients, judges, attorneys, coffee baristas, etc. I am friendly and smile often. Anyone that sees me with any regularity will tell you I am about as nice as they come.

But I am just not the type to go hang out these days. I don't drink much and I prefer to watch sports at home. Twitter happened by accident and slowly grew into a social network of people that I can communicate with on my terms. Well, mostly. I have directly helped other attorneys via Twitter. And other attorneys have directly helped me.

I think it's safe to say that my small Twitter community of fellow criminal defense attorneys helps each other indirectly every day by being supportive. We all express sympathy when one of us has a bad day and we join in the celebration of victories no matter how small. To keep things light, we often tease and pick on each other.

Rather than be a negative Nancy because I am not feeling well, I chose to leave the party for a while. If I have nothing positive to offer my followers, than I am pretty much useless to those that have some token of interest in me. And if you read my posting from this morning, it's clear I am not a real positive person today. 

I am feeling pretty damn beat up in all honestly. The work is getting to me. I admit it. The stories are extremely sad and real justice is way too elusive. But I am taking all reasonable corrective measures. I am still working out daily. I am hitting the tanning booth a few times a week to get some fake sun (and yes, this does help). I am eating. I am taking medications to help my sleep and my mood.

Naturally, I am still working. But I got the crap beat out of me last week in court on Monday and Tuesday, which just made things worse. Everything I touched turned sour.

I have always believed that a person's true character can only be measured in a time of adversity. It's how we deal with the bad times that count. Easy living is just that. I was trained in the military to keep driving on no matter what. Keep on, keeping on. That's my life. I just keep going.

We criminal defense attorneys swim neck deep in an ocean of adversity. It's part of the job. So, don't feel sorry for me. I chose this profession. I asked for this. And I got it. But I admit, in some ways it was more than I bargained for. I had no idea it was going to be this sad and frustrating. But on the other hand, I had no idea it would feel as good as it can when things go well.

It's something special when the jail doors are sprung open as a result of my work and someone dearly missed is returned to their family. It's an amazing feeling. And probably why I do this. It's nice to play hero every now and then. I admit it.

Keeping things in perspective, I have about 30 files of people who have much, much bigger problems than myself. Thus, I won't be sitting around whining because I don't feel really well right now.

So for those of you who did express some worry or noticed my absence, I say thank you from the bottom of my heart. I am ok. I will be back soon. It's all good.

Besides, there's nothing that a week in the Caribbean can't cure. Or at least mitigate the hell out of.




  1. Hey, I for one completely understand. I'm a recovering distance runner. I cracked a hip in 2000 and was was told my running days were over (or, a series of hip replacements was in my future). It has taken me years to get to the point where I can manage my (failed) relationship with running without 40 miles a week. The loss of running put me in a serious tailspin, and actually a series of them, as I tried several times to resume my running habit. I didn't know how to handle life without my daily running meditation.

    I now call my self a recovering runner because I haven't completely been successful in stopping. I tend to over-do in other areas. I know that I am not as serene and productive these days as I was when I ran every day. But, my post-40, post-baby body has, 10 years later, finally resolved that I can function without The Fix.

    It's the withdrawal that is killer.

  2. I started running again after leaving the run for a few yrs. It felt good to get back into it. I know I will keep it up & you make me want to. Everything you described I have been feeling especially the frustration, but thats to be expected in Lawschool. But when I ran those 5 miles the other day, it hurt and yet it felt good, I felt a release. My headache that I had for the past week literally went away.

    We have a lil in common, mainly b/c a friend of mine knows that I am a hermit. I hang out but I don't do wild parties, and I shy away from social gatherings. So when I friend someone, its for a good reason, I see that they are good people. I'm more of a lone wolf.
    I hope you feel better soon. I hope you can recover from your injury soon, so that you can get back to running. You inspire me as an Attorney b/c I want to do Criminal Defense & as a person b/c I see what I can become.
    By the way Schantz, you're good people.

    Jose III


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