Visual Retail Therapy with Belle

Jul 22, 2014

Since every third person I know is an attorney, I was under no illusions that law school would be easy.  But cramming 14 weeks worth of instruction into a 10 week summer semester has been like squeezing Michael Strahan into one of Kelly Ripa’s dresses.  My sanity is as strained as those seams would be.

So how to cope?  I’ve tried Xanax.  It gets me to sleep, but that’s about it.  I’m trying yoga, it helps a bit, but my mind isn’t easily calmed.  Frankly, the thing that helps the most is this blog.  Call it Visual Retail Therapy.  And last night, my VRT carried me over to Piperlime where they’re having a 20%-off sale that is not to be missed.

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For this episode of VRT, I decided to revel in online window shopping for pieces that are gorgeous, but that I can probably not afford.  On our left, we have a gorgeous Rebecca Taylor dress ($395) with a drop waist and sheer inset on the bodice–so fun!  In the middle, a Claire Vivier clutch ($210) with a versatile and unobtrusive leopard print.  And last, but by no means least, we have a Vince leather jacket for an eye-popping $995.

Why look at pieces you can’t afford?  Sadism, perhaps?  No, you look to find the styles you like, which will usually trickle down to where you live soon.  For the dress, I like the sheer over the v-neck.  For the clutch, I love that colors in the print are true neutrals.  For the jacket, I love the wide collar and the slouchy fit.

Looking for some items that are more in the Hill Staffer price point, so you can get them 20%-off?  This DvF Raquel dress would be $140 with the code Fall20. I love the bright berry color.  This charcoal melange Marc Jacobs top is $104 after the code–it’s the perfect mix of casual and professional.  For my under-$100 pick, do not miss this Cooper & Ella double v-neck top in ivory or navy.  It’s the perfect piece for under your suit jacket.

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  1. Rachel says:

    I believe it was law school that completely turned me into a news junkie–real news, lifestyle blogs, fashion blogs, perez hilton (which I have since weaned off). They help. I also turned to things I found motivational (for me, the West Wing, I just replayed the series over and over while I outlined).

  2. Kelly says:

    Loving the Piperlime sale! I struggled with the same issues during law school and now studying for my second bar exam. Try calm.com (also available in app form). You can mix it with yoga or just take a short study break. It helped me during bar exam round 1.

  3. Mel says:

    My best semesters in law school usually coincided with the semesters where instead of cramming in one more hour of studying, I did things like play video games, watch Real Housewives, and read the entire Hunger Games series.

    You’ll learn to beat the stress. Also, if it comes to it, the ABA just published a book on “Yoga for Lawyers.”

  4. A says:

    Being that you’re in law school you’re probably going to hate me for recommending a book. But earlier this year my anxiety, which I had under control without medication, suddenly went through the roof. My dad recommended “the Relaxation Response” by Herbert Benson. It helped me immensely and I didn’t even have to finish the book to reap the benefits.

    • Belle says:

      I’ve been thinking about finding a Mindfulness instructor, but I just haven’t had time. We have a short break in August, I’ll get to it then.

  5. M says:

    Summer school is really tough, but you may find you prefer it to a regular semester. This way you can focus all of your energy on a few topics, rather than trying to spread your attention over too many classes. In a regular semester you may find that you are working just as hard but understanding less of the material.

  6. A says:

    I get all of it- I graduated from law school about 10 years ago. PLEASE, please reconsider taking xanax. It is HIGHLY addictive. I know this first hand- and like most of the over-achieving ladies on this blog, I thought I was in control and didn’t even think developing a substance abuse problem was possible. I came out on the other end of it, but it was very hard. I really suggest sticking to over the counter sleep aids which are far less addictive. Also, the anxiety you are feeling now is just the beginning. Very few people are capable of being law students or lawyers without anxiety and sleepless nights. This is the time to figure out a way to manage this (preferable drug-free).

    • Belle says:

      I’ve been doing okay, only taking it when I really need it and not every day. I likely will not refill it when it runs out, because I don’t see it as a long-term solution for me.

      • r says:

        I have found that just HAVING xanax (same RX, probably expired years ago) helped me in school and work with really stressful times- I knew if I really needed it I had it, but haven’t really felt that I need it as a long term solution. Someone else mentioned the West Wing and I agree, I put on the West Wing or Scandal, something I’ve seen several times and do not need to pay attention to, and keep it on in the bathroom. I also think baths, long walks, or finding something really indulgent to do a few times a week helps tremendously. So glad you are keeping with the blog and sharing bits of your life!

    • s says:

      okay i know i’m kind of diving into a complicated topic here (sorry) but chamomile tea has always been a good stress reliever for me. also vitamin b complex (not taken too often) is also good to unwind after a long day. unfortunately, it seems like all of the anti-anxiety medications i’ve ever been prescribed mess up my thinking (so i wouldn’t be able to do work). i agree with the above commenter that you would probably need to find a better long-term solution, but then again i’m (REALLY) not a doctor. do you exercise regularly? it’s a good stress-buster. if there are particular stressors, maybe you should consider going to counseling to deal with them. and of course engaging in community activities and connecting with people is another way to reduce stress. okay, i am done with my novel comment, sorry.

    • CH says:

      Since none of us are Belle’s doctor, maybe we shouldn’t concern-troll her medication use?

      (PS – Speaking as someone who uses Xanax – safely – for a medical issue, it’s pretty gross and ableist to tell someone that they are just not trying hard enough to “manage.” Please check your privilege there.)

      • s says:

        i didn’t mean to be a medication snob, i just really hate anti-anxiety meds personally, having had really bad experiences with them. then again, what works for one person may not work for everyone. sorry, belle and CH.

        • Belle says:

          I knew what you meant, no worries.

        • CH says:

          My comment was a reply to A, further up. Not sure why it nested under yours, s – it was not directed at you but specifically in response to “This is the time to figure out a way to manage this (preferable drug-free).”.

      • Belle says:

        I thought her brief comment based on her own experience was fine. Had she been more accusatory or definitive, it would have crossed a line. Kind of like when Mommy bloggers lecture each other on issues that should really be their business and their’s alone.

  7. Anne says:

    After being at an undergraduate institution that required lots of papers and hands on work, I found law school really frustrating in that you had to wait until the end of the semester to “do” anything (i.e. exams) except reading and discussing. I found that having a craft project to do saved my sanity — it was something to do with my hands, other than stress eat, and at the end I had something tangible to show for it.

  8. KJW says:

    Online window shopping at Net-a-porter and similar websites completely out of my price range is my favorite way to destress / zone out of law school mode

  9. Sarah says:

    You can do it, Belle! Sending my best. You will come out out of law school stronger than you went in, speaking from first hand experience. It’s hazing, most definitely, but there is a silver lining. I found your blog during Fall 2L and have been reading it daily ever since.

  10. s says:

    you got this, belle! we all want you to succeed in law school. and i always love reading your blog. seriously, it’s my favorite. 🙂

  11. Meg says:

    I feel for you, Belle. I had an intense anxiety-fueled insomnia episode last January. Scariest time of my life. Insomnia fueled anxiety which fueled insomnia… so was the cycle.

    After some trial and error, I found that a mix of Zoloft, Ativan (similar to Xanax) and Trazadone was the only thing that worked. I’ve been tapering off Ativan since March (I should be off it completely by the end of this week!!!).

    I’ve also tried Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, which I didn’t think helped much at the time, but I now realize that it has helped me shift my thinking quite a bit.

    Benzos like Xanax and Ativan are pretty scary and highly addictive. I wish I had started on only Zoloft and Trazadone – they seem to have helped the most and aren’t controlled substances.

    Ultimately, I’m trying to be medicine-free as fast as possible. It took me a long time to realize I had an anxiety problem. I now know that I need to make nighttime relaxation a priority. I’m learning to let things go. I’ve developed better exercise habits and strengthened by faith.

    Anyhow, I’m not sure if these ramblings help, but I do wish you the best as you struggle with insomnia/anxiety.

  12. Caroline says:

    There was an interview on Racked today that shows an interesting approach to coping with Law School: this student writes a blog on fashion law called https://www.thefashionlaw.com/. Not saying you need to start writing another blog (I LOVE this one) but I think the idea of enhancing your studies with something you’re more interested in is rather innovative. Here’s a link to the interview: https://racked.com/archives/2014/07/23/the-fashion-law-fashion-blog-chanel-pamela-love-balenciaga.php#more

  13. M says:

    Belle,

    The ABA actually has some mindfulness/meditation programs, at least in DC. They were always being advertised at my law school on pamphlets and such. I’m not sure of the details, but I do know that it’s free. I would look into it where you’re located. Could be nice since everyone else in the class would also be a lawyer/law student and it’s tailored to those needs.

    Also- friends outside of law school seriously saved me when I was going down the how am I ever going to learn this spiral. Just getting away and being with normal people helps. Now I am going to take my own advice, take a break, and get outside!

  14. SS says:

    I just wanted to say that I wish you the best. I found that I was able to cope better with each semester. Also for me, once I was able to pick classes, things improved a lot. (I got annoyed by people’s opinions in 1st year classes and decided to take tax because there would be a “right” answer that I could actually solve.) Also, I found keeping a wall calendar with things I was looking forward to doing helped – I put everything on there – Target trips, season premire of TV shows, lunch with a friend, etc.

    Good luck.

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