This past February I came out of the closet! A closet that many many people stay in and are afraid to step out of.
At the Mid-Winter Meeting of the CBA I was to report to Council. Instead I told them a story.
It was a story about a man becoming enraged when cut off while driving on a freeway who then chased after the person that cut them off and was stopped for excessive speeding. When the police officer came to the window of the vehicle the man was shaking. He was going fast enough that his vehicle could have been impounded but the police officer gave a reduced fine.
The incident was a wake-up call and the man sought advice from his family doctor and then went to work with a psychologist. He went on medication after being diagnosed with depression. For a year he was on the medication and worked with the psychologist and continues to this day to work with a psychologist.
As I continued with my story I indicated to the audience that this individual was very fearful of revealing to anybody that he was suffering from depression and so told no one other than the director of human resources at his place of employment and his wife. The fear was that if he revealed that he was suffering from depression, he might be fired from his job, he would lose the respect of his colleagues, and would be stigmatized with “mental illness”.
I ended my remarks to the Council by saying the person in that story was myself, John Hoyles.
I closed my remarks by saying that as a result of conversations with others and as a result of seeing the results of a survey conducted by the Legal Profession Assistance Conference showing a high rate of depression, anxiety, burnout, and stress amongst the legal profession I needed to speak out. We need to have an open conversation about this issue.
I urge anybody who is reading this blog, if they are suffering as I was suffering, seek help. I thought I could handle it myself, and I couldn’t. Do not be afraid to tell people about this because this world is indeed changing and greater understanding is growing.
It is only by coming of the closet and dealing with the stigma of mental health issues that we will all help each other.
John Hoyles, Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Bar Association