Last Updated June 2021 by Crystallace
Post Bar Exam Depression is Real
It seems like the whole time during bar prep, all you can think about is the bar exam being over so that you can go back to your normal life.
But there are two problems, the first one is that life before the bar exam was law school and that no longer exists. The other problem is you can’t stop thinking about the bar exam!
I know that I went through it and when I was looking for help on trying to figure out what was wrong, there was little to no information available on the subject. The only people that remotely can relate to what you just went through is other bar exam takers, but let’s be real, just like law school, everybody lies.
In addition to symptoms of depression, as it specifically relates to the bar, here are some things you may be feeling.
Post Bar Exam Depression Thoughts and Feelings
You are probably mentally exhausted.
Don’t torment yourself over the exam. You’re always going to feel like you picked the wrong answer to a multiple choice question or that you’ve left something out of an essay. But, what’s done is done. Hindsight is always 20/20.
You may feel purposeless.
For the last three years you have been having one thing on your mind and that’s the bar exam. Don’t feel rushed to commit yourself to something. Of course you may have to work to support yourself but law school has changed you, take this time to find out who you are and what you love again.
You may feel lonely.
The reality that law school is over has set in. Your classmates may have moved away, gone back home, gotten married, or started their dream job. Adjusting to life after the bar may be hard, especially if you haven’t found employment yet. Try not to compare yourself to your peers and remember everyone’s journey is unique.
Check out this YouTube video that I made when the pandemic started, you can still apply these tips.
The bar exam doesn’t just go away.
After taking the bar, I found myself unable to break from the stress induced habits I formed during bar prep. This looked like early mornings, late nights, and lots of snacking.
It took a while to get back to my normal self. It was almost like I needed to be rehabilitated back into society. About a week after the bar, I started to go back to the gym, cook for myself, and even reach out to friends and family.
If you are experiencing this, it is normal, give it time. You will slowly ease back to your regular routine.
Speaking of friends and family, they can and will be extremely annoying. People are going to ask “How was the bar?” Don’t get mad, take this opportunity to share your experience with others. If you don’t want to talk about it, that’s fine too. It’s ok to tell people, “I prefer not to talk about it.” Unless you have taken the bar, you don’t know what it is like to take the bar.
It will be annoying when people try to compare other licensing exams and experiences to empathize with yours, but keep in mind that they mean well.
Then there is the people who say, “You’re gonna pass” or “You’re smart, so I know you passed.” Again, they mean well but I know statements like these can feel like they’re lessening your experience and adding unneeded pressure. It happens.
How to Deal With Post Bar Exam Depression
Try to get some rest.
You may have had to work during bar prep and maybe even used your time off to take the bar. Take a couple of days or a weekend to yourself and decompress.
Do this now, don’t wait until results come out because taking the bar is a huge deal. You trained for months for a mental Olympic sport and you deserve a reward for completion, regardless of the outcome. Whether it’s a gift, massage, or dinner and a movie date night by yourself, treat yourself because you’ve earned it.
Talk to someone.
I wrote this blog post because I wanted to share my experience. To help myself cope with the anxiety and stress I used Talkspace. I started it about halfway through bar prep and ended about two weeks after the bar. I found it easy to use and helpful. I was able to pick a therapist that looked like me, which was very important.
My therapist was available when I needed her and our sessions, at my request, were in the form of a text chat so they were discreet and comfortable.
Whatever the outcome may be just remember, all you could do was all you could do, and if that was all you could do, then it was all you could do.
See you in court!
Check out these other blog posts: