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My struggle and recovery

My struggle and recovery

By John Toohey

Health Wellbeing Workplace 


Solicitor John Toohey first noticed worrying signs of exhaustion when he was working 70 hours a week – it got much worse. In 2000, I was living in Melbourne, one of six partners in a small to medium size law firm. By the end of the year I was exhausted. I remember the day in December, saying goodbye to my wife, telling her I wasn’t keen on going to work. She said, “Just be happy.” When I got into the office I went about my ordinary activities and then, for some reason, it all got too much for me. I told my partners, “I’m out of here. I can’t do this anymore. They said I should take a break. I went home and started a period of leave. I was a pretty normal sort of guy. I’d been married for 10 years. I had two young daughters who were healthy and happy. My wife was a stay at home mother. I was working full time as a lawyer, probably around 70 hours a week. I worked Monday to Friday and weekends. I usually took work home and I’d often work back during the week. Clients contacted me day and night, calling me on my mobile. I saw my role as someone who should be accessible to clients. I felt a strong connection and obligation to them. I also made sure I made time for my children. I took them to swimming, tennis, music – there were all sorts of activities.

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