Just imagine that your parents were addicted to crack. From a young age you were taught, both directly and indirectly, that crack makes heroes, so doing more crack than your peers is treated like an achievement. Just imagine if an overdose was a thing of envy. If only I could do as much crack as them. Then I could be like loved too. Just imagine you moved to a country as a brand new adult, and everyone was a crack-head. Obviously, you would become addicted, right?
This is my story, although not as glamorous and controversial as crack. I am a work addict. This means I love my work, and I love taking on more projects (even if it’s too much to handle). I juggle two full-time jobs and a medley of freelance jobs. I leave my house at 6:30am and get back through the doors at 10:30pm. My work hours (8am~10pm) are non-stop. It’s tough, but I love the pay-off. I am genuinely ‘happy’ and am satisfied with the work I do, and find my jobs and projects fulfilling, creative and rewarding. Sometimes I don’t think I have enough.
The reason why I used the crack metaphor, was only to highlight how much of an addiction it is. You would assume that a workaholic could just stop working, but it is so hard. I have become used to over-working, even if my packed daily schedule means no time to eat, sleep and exercise. And like all addicts, it’s having an affect on my health.
I noticed that my nails hadn’t grown in months. My hair was shedding so much to the point that every morning wads of hair would be left on my pillow. Bruises came from nowhere and stayed like scars. I was aware of these physical changes, but honestly it didn’t bother me or scare me.
My work started taking over more than just my body. Weekends would merely be opportunities to work even more and my tight schedule pumped adrenaline into my system, which triggered my anxiety. I couldn’t remember the last time I didn’t feel overwhelmed. When I had a list of things to do in my head, I couldn’t smile, laugh or hold a decent conversation, because all those things were merely in the way of my work.
Yet, no matter how tired or stressed I felt, I still wanted to move faster, work harder and get everything done.
One day while working , I peeled half of my nail from my finger. It came off like tissue paper and had looked dull for a long time. My nails have always been extremely strong and healthy, and now they could be pulled off with ease. Even a dummy could see that my workaholic lifestyle was unhealthy.
However, I don’t want to work less. Instead I have scheduled in ‘Health’ as a project. I am making a conscious effort to live a healthier, happier and kinder life by scheduling in relaxation and other non-work related activities, because I know that if I don’t treat my health like a project, I probably won’t be interested in it.
I want to be able to work and succeed, but at the same time I know that there are many underlying psychological weaknesses that fuel work addiction, such as insecurity and pride etc. My current addiction to work is restricting my ability to live physically and mentally sound, so I am going to overcome this and somehow balance health and work. Wish me luck.
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