After our second daughter was born with a disability and we didn’t know if she’d make it to her first birthday I threw myself into my new job utterly. I was working 7-7 almost every day, took every opportunity to travel, and in general was absent from the situation as much as my “very important job” would allow.
For me I felt completely powerless at the hospital. At work I got to solve “important” problems that were trivial in comparison to the things I had no control over, and was rewarded for doing so. It felt good to be useful when my life felt in complete chaos outside of work.
At one point I stayed up all night to wrap up a project that wasn’t even that important. My boss, rather than being happy with me, sat me down and said I needed to make sure to sleep and take care of myself, that I was going to burn myself out. I really appreciate him saying that in retrospect, even though I felt a little offended at the time. I try to balance work and home life, and have developed a great relationship with my daughter, now two.
In retrospect I wish I’d had the emotional stability to spend more time at the hospital, and to provide more emotional support for my wife who was saddled with going to the hospital almost every day.
Things are better now, our daughter is doing very well, but the workaholism can be because of external factors, as overworking made me able to ignore the other, more depressing parts of my life where I lacked control.
>For me I felt completely powerless at the hospital. At work I got to solve “important” problems that were trivial in comparison to the things I had no control over, and was rewarded for doing so. It felt good to be useful when my life felt in complete chaos outside of work.
Wow, did this resonate with me. In my case, I was suffering from depression, though I didn't realize it at the time. The extreme focus required by work distracted me from how miserable I was. I dreaded going home and constantly came up with excuses to go to the office on weekends.
One of my best memories from my career: I was sitting at my desk at 8pm "working" because I had "so much to do". When in reality I was just dreading going home. A coworker that I barely new dropped by my desk and said "Things aren't going well at home, are they? Me either." We proceeded to head across the street to a bar to share stories. It helped immensely at that time.
I make an effort to pay it forward. If you see someone in the office at all hours, especially when wfh is an option, odds are good things aren't going great for them. Even just a simple "How are things going with you?" over the water cooler can go a long ways.
>If you see someone in the office at all hours, especially when wfh is an option, odds are good things aren't going great for them
It's definitely something I keep a sharp eye out for. Sudden increases or changes in hours definitely warrant a conversation. With COVID and WFH, I've had a few of those conversations as well. It's harder to catch the signals, but they're there. Changes in productivity, hours, etc.
Once again I find myself recommending Bullshit Jobs.
But beyond that, I'd add Bertrand Russell's In Praise of Idleness and Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie's Montaillou: Cathars and Catholics in a French Village 1294-1324.
While all of them are tremendous food for thought, the third was the most stunning for me: it is remarkable to see the degree to which a medieval peasant, while having less access to technology than we do today, enjoyed in many ways a better lifestyle than we do in terms of holidays, working hours that meshed with actual human rythyms. As Russell spells out, the industrial revolution, which provided many material advancement, could have done so with a great improvement in everyone's lifestyle, but instead most of its benefits have been captured upwards.
I was most focused on my career after a breakup. The structure of the work environment coupled with the reward is pretty unparalleled.
Other things I can think of with structure usually have a kind of endless goal that can't be spent at your discretion. Rehab, fitness, organized religion. I've never done rehab, but it seems to overlap with fitness where even if you gamify it with achievements, its not like a game at all because you have to do the same achievement the next day and forever.
The earnings, advancement, structure and distraction do have their place especially when your personal relationships and life isn't going the way you want it.
I find all of this so hard to relate with. I’ve worked for a decade, have a high paying job and have been promoted multiple times but to me none of it is enjoyable. I don’t think I could ever be happy in a situation where I’m required to do something for 9 hours everyday. I can’t get around the idea that all of this a weak abstraction to make money and care very little for approval from authority figures.
Work makes a great distraction for someone who is very unhappy with their family life, has a lot of emotional suffering, or when someone feels entirely powerless over their life circumstances. The more you work the more you feel in control, and/or the more you distract yourself from your feelings. The pay and job duties don't matter so much, I know someone who is a workaholic on low paid low skill job.
If you don't have those personal issues, then yeah, you'd find it hard to relate to.
What's common among the rest of the commenters is that the rest of their life was rendered emotionally uninhabitable. If you had nothing positive outside of work, maybe you would see it the same way they did.
> Rather than having nothing positive, I think it's having negatives that they can't otherwise control.
Not OP, but this critique revolves mostly around semantics and I don't find it useful or accurate. If, big if, they had something positive to look up to outside of work, they'd be less inclined to put all their energy into work. That'd be the case even with multiple negatives they couldn't control. In other words, it's the total lack of any and all upside outside of work rather than the existence of downsides that makes people feel powerless and depressed.
I make the distinction from a period of my own life. I also avoided going home despite having many positives because particular uncontrollable negatives held me back. I had many reasons to want to go back, but damn if I had to face the negatives.
Honestly my home life is significantly calmer and more stable than my work life. Working in IT as a sysadmin, your entire work life consists an abundance of chaos, and a lot of things are out of your control that you can get blamed for anyway, even if you are not blamed for something out of your control, say office 365 is down. It still looks bad on you. It would be nice to work in an Industry with structure and actual rewards for your effort.
As someone who currently has a pretty emotionally stable life and can totally relate to how you feel right now, I think the "emotionally stable" part is what prevents you from relating to the parent comment.
Back when I had a lot of emotionally turbulent events happening in my life, I was in the same boat as the parent comment you are replying to. Things in life going extremely sideways and leaving me heartbroken/depressed were what pushed me to that same kind of workaholism described above. Every single significant side project I wrote was during some awful-feeling events happening in my life. Those were also the times when I spent the least time doing "fun" things (e.g., videogames), because I just didn't feel like it.
That drive for me had nothing to do with the actual desire to make money or have career advancement, it was just a mirage. In fact, I would say I have more of the actual desire to make more money and advance in career when I am in "good times", but the drive isn't quite there. But when the "bad times" come, I have no actual desire for money/career advancement. I do however get that insane intrinsic drive to just get away from all the "bad things" in life at that time by diving deep into working/studying/etc. It wasn't about money, it was about doing something productive, because most of that work (at least for me) was just side projects that I didn't get paid a dime for, and neither was I expecting or cared to get paid for it.
I like my job but only for the contractual 8 hours a day. Nevertheless, I had a "this sucks and it's completely out of my control" moment recently and threw a bunch more time (and money) into making music. In part making music's always been an emotional regulator for me, but this time it was a very deliberate escape to fill my mind with composing so I don't leave myself space to think about the thing I don't want to think about.
So I think escapist workaholism needn't necessarily be for the boss man. Anything will do the job as long as it's sufficiently consuming.
Person you replied to here: my fulfillment with employment was temporary. Like I said, I was - past tense - most fulfilled after a breakup, for some time.
I worked for other people during internships for a few years and after college for about 5 years before hitting a homerun. I've never done anything for a decade and would imagine being unfulfilled by that kind of conscription. I'm not the kind of person content with just a job, and I always loathed and scoffed at the surrogate "family" that some corporate environment and startup founders try to create.
I think it depends upon the environment. What the GP said definitely resonates with me, but only at places where I had a large amount of control over what I worked on, and felt like my decisions / work affected the outcome of the company. I've noticed this mostly at smaller companies, and I imagine it could be similar in certain leadership roles.
Just wanted to say thank you for sharing this. It's not easy to be vulnerable, especially when it comes to emotional intelligence and what you could have done better. I'm happy to hear your family is doing well.
While not nearly as serious, I found myself more focused on work after a breakup back in 2019 .
This focus was very good for me though and neeted a 80k pay increase. However , I find myself not particularly wanting to get into a relationship again. Felt like a very painful experience. I'd rather make music instead .
I know we're drifting further and further away from the subject of the original article, but when I quit drinking I threw myself into music pretty hard. I had a nightly practice routine that I did to a metronome's ever increasing tempo, until one day I realized I had just traded one obsession for another and was starting to resent playing my guitar.
Once I recognized the pattern it was easy to break, so when I find myself working longer hours or getting too emotionally involved in my work I take a step back and try to figure out why I'm behaving in this manner in hopes of preventing future burn out.
> However , I find myself not particularly wanting to get into a relationship again. Felt like a very painful experience. I'd rather make music instead .
Totally normal and healthy, I felt like that when my relationship fell apart in 2014, didn't start dating again for about a year, met the woman I'm still (and plan to spend the rest of my life with) the year after that, the societal pressure to be in a relationship is real.
Just remember to take stock occasionally and seek professional help if you feel like something is wrong, otherwise enjoy your music.
This describes me, sort of. I feel more and more lack of control over my personal life. My parents have become demanding and mean as they have gotten old. My wife wants to get a bigger home while I don't think we can afford it. But I am too tired of arguing, so just giving in and going to get whatever she wants. My son loves and I love him more than anything, but when I am not working, he wants to do everything with me. Which is great but also very tiring. Simple tasks become super long.
So I was spending longer hours in the office and now longer hours doing work from home. Also I am starting different business ventures that take me out of home. Those are the only things where I feel like I have some control. I can push back against my boss a lot easier than against my parents or wife.
FWIW I found couple therapy very helpful. Especially around the feeling of lack of control in the relationship and not being able to fulfill my needs or being able to ask for them.
It really helps to have someone independent who has both parties' interests in mind and who can a) see what is healthy in the relationship and what isn't, b) help with talking about invidivual needs, c) bridge the gap between the two people in the relationship.
Couple therapy is often portrayed as a weird thing for broken people in movies and shows. In reality it can be really empowering and rewarding for everyone involved even when it is not about impending doom. But, it requires being honest with yourself or being willing to learn to be honest with yourself. That shit is hard. As in seriously hard.
Check with your employer and see if they have EAP. Use free EAP sessions to interview enough therapists until you find one that clicks with you. I just started this journey. I was looking for an older and experienced therapist but found one who is doing Phd which might mean more evidence-based therapy. And more motivation to do good. But who knows.
A sense of agency, justfied or false, seems to be a major factor in person's sense of control, autonomy, and self.
Agency is the opposite of stressors. Agency is the capacity to act with effect on one's environment. Sstress is the inability, whether through mental or physsical ability, excessive or nonsensical information, inability to manipulate or maneuver, or nonresponsiveness on the part of the environment, whether inanimate, animate, or sentient.
When faced with domains of no comtrol, individuals often seek domains of some control. This may be career, hobby, volunteering, sport, art, intellectual activities --- positive adaptations. Or "kick the dog" (or spouse, children, neighbour, scapegoat...) responses.
I don't know the specifics, but if the extra work meant more money, that might've been a good way help the situation by ensuring there was more money to address the medical costs or allow more availability for your wife to attend to your daughter.
At least in Kansas, because she’s permanently disabled she’ll have Medicaid as secondary insurance until she’s an adult. It covers the nightly nursing care, she has central sleep apnea and can’t yet tolerate a full mask so someone has to watch her at night to make sure she doesn’t forget to breathe. We don’t even have to pay copays for her doctors visits. We get the EOB with the costs paid sometimes and my eyes about pop out of my head at how expensive a week at the children’s hospital is.
Surprisingly enough, because I was unemployed the day she was born, even if she hadn’t been disabled the birth would have been “free” (no out of pocket costs to me or my wife) because neither parent was employed when she was born.
Glad to hear your daughter is doing well! Your story really captures a lot about the experience of attempting to find some sense of control in a situation where you feel powerless. What do you think it would have taken to develop the emotional stability to approach this differently (i.e. being able to show up at the hospital) or do you believe that experience is the only way to learn some of these lessons?
I don’t really know. I have a few ideas though based on my experience.
Our friends and extended family disappeared as soon as our daughter was born. I don’t know if it’s American culture or what, but people get extremely uncomfortable around people who are mourning or going through trials in their lives. People sort of blank out then don’t hang out with you anymore, or even invite you to things. After all, you’re going through a lot, we’ll just give you plenty of space.
The hospitals do their absolute best to isolate you too, unless you wanna go talk to the psychiatrist and get some medication. Groups would come to volunteer and make food for the parents of the patients (Taco Tuesday every day, it was kind of awful), and they’d laugh and joke around and high five each other for being so great volunteering (or at least that’s how it felt), while interacting with us people eating as much as possible. Somehow it made me feel worse.
My wife got “tattled on” a few times by medical staff when she’d cry, such as when they said our daughter was terminal. It was infuriating that perfectly healthy grief gets you immediately referred to a psychiatrist.
Honestly being at work was nice because I could do normal stuff and have normal social interactions. At the hospital they constantly cycle the staff through, so you don’t have the same doctor more than two weeks, or the same nurse more than a couple days. I guess the trauma of being around dying babies is just too much.
With a couple of notable exceptions on my wife’s side of the family, we felt completely isolated and alone. I can’t say for sure but I think having a strong network of people who actually gave a shit (or even acted like they do) would have done wonders for my mental health. Then again I have a sneaking suspicion that would solve most mental health issues for a lot of people.
The whole ordeal has made me much more distant from my brothers and sisters and mother, unfortunately.
> Our friends and extended family disappeared as soon as our daughter was born. I don’t know if it’s American culture or what, but people get extremely uncomfortable around people who are mourning or going through trials in their lives.
I experienced this last year after my (now ex) wife left me. I tried leaning on friends for support but they simply ghosted me. They had already started distancing themselves from me when they knew things were getting bad in my marriage; once we finally split for good, they became totally absent and unavailable. To be clear, these were just my friends; they didn't know my wife. I'm glad therapy kept me sane. Later in the year, I found a new and reliable friend in my manager, who was finally someone who would just listen to me and empathize.
In my situation, I found that family can be tricky. Someone in my family wanted to be supportive, but the problem was that they formed too many opinions around the situation. Instead of giving me space, they decided that the right thing was for us to get back together, without ever asking me how I felt or what I wanted (I just wanted to be done with it). So now I had to deal with my own shitty situation, while also managing their expectations. I eventually left them out of the loop; months later, when it became official (i.e. we had a decree), that person got really upset when I told them that it was final. It wasn't permanent and we're good now, but it was unnecessarily stressful for me to have to deal with that.
The thing is people are rarely good at handling grief especially when it is out of the norm, e.g., an old parent passing away. If it is something that is more long term, a depression, or similar, something I've noticed is when I've been with a friend through it, they may be thankful but once they come out of it they tend to no longer want to spend that much time with you because you remind them of those times. It may be an acceptable cost to pay but realize that you may help and lose someone. Sometimes, professional help is better.
I'd try not to beat yourself up over this too much. As you've described, you had little to no control over the situation. In cases like this, I think it's often actually healthy to focus on things you do control (so long as it's not at the detriment to your overall health/well-being).
I understand where he's coming from, I've felt that desire to just escape into work too. But what he did was not healthy, because it also hurt his wife who was left to deal with something extremely difficult alone. That was selfish.
Cool. So basically you left your wife with an incredibly intense emotional burden alone to struggle with your daughter by herself.
I hear this story all too often. This is not an anecdote about work life balance, this is an anecdote about how men take it for granted that women will inherit and take care of all the chaos in life and men can take a relative vacation at the office.
My wife and I had a little chat about this yesterday when my comment got popular, with me expressing some regret for working so much. She told me she doesn’t really remember much of anything about the first year. Then she shrugged and said that’s probably the most useful thing I could have done.
Most of the time I've seen it, it is avoidance of the rest of their life. "Change diapers? Oh, sorry honey, I uhh... gotta do this thing at work. Darn it!"
One phenomenon I've always noticed about workaholics is that they THINK they are being more productive, but often times they are just spending more time spinning their wheels. Also the effect it has on their mood/interpersonal skills, and the pressure it puts on the rest of the team cancels it out. Seriously, one rude comment in the morning can throw a developer off for the rest of the day, it's not worth it.
"Man what's up with frank today?"
"Oh he was pulling an all-nighter doing a non-urgent task."
"Did anybody ask him to?"
"No. In fact we asked him to stop."
I consider independent study, side-projects, reading a good book, smoking some dope, cooking a good meal with my partner, getting enough sleep, relaxing, and exercising(!!!!) part of my job. I don't care what kind of mutant you THINK you are, you will perform better if you go to bed and get a full nights rest and clean your brain out. It is just science.
Finally, while it is true that "work more = better review at work", it's just... not worth it. If your job is your whole life and you are not making +200k: GET A LIFE. You have better things to do with your time than make some other man money. Work is a "safe place." Time goes in, money comes out. But that doesn't mean it is a healthy way to spend all of your time.
>But that doesn't mean it is a healthy way to spend all of your time.
Dunno about that.
Just a personal anecdote, but this year my boss specifically told me to work less, slashing my salary down by $10,000 a year to emphasize the point. Prior to this, 200 to 240 hours a month was pretty typical and has been for the last 8 years. (I doubt it's out of real concern for my health, my workload hasn't been reduced).
What I've found was that in the times of idleness though I've thought more and more about suicide. The Christmas holidays were some of the first I've had to have an entire week to myself and I spent most of it was spent testing methods for speed, logistics, and discomfort, as well as scouting suitable locations; somewhere that would force an EMS / police arrival on site by 10 minutes or so. Updated my will and managed to work out the logistics of transferring all my assets to to remaining family quickly when I finally make the decision to kill myself.
Never in my life has it gotten this far before; never really had time to seriously think about until now. I'd imagine that most people though would probably be more fine with a miserably but living workaholic, then a corpse dead of suicide.
As such, could you really say that is working long hours such is really unhealthy? Or such a terrible thing?
Perhaps replace the time worked with time spent looking for another job. Despite having faced suicidal depression a time or two myself, I have no great advice to offer; but one of the things I've turned to many times is a bit in the ASR FAQ.
5.8) But seriously, should I kill myself?
As posted to ASR by Ed Evans:
Ultimate recovery stalks us all, no need to succour it. Quit or
take a leave with or without pay (or permission), stop seeing him
or her, recognise that the cat or dog does rule you, call in sick
and spend the day in the big blue room, it's only money and can
be earned again, all the pictures will be posted again, call the
local professionals if you really feel that way...
And if all else fails? Lawn mowing.
If you're willing to take the severe step of killing yourself, you should
be willing to take less severe steps such as quitting your job or taking a
leave without permission. And really, there _is_ help out there.
Maybe in here, too.
And more of us have been there than you may realize. We're grateful
now that we didn't do it. (Most days.) In chess they have a saying,
"You can't win by resigning." Keep playing; you never know.
I kind of feel obligated to pipe in as a physician:
There are signs of people not being a high suicide risk, despite depression and overt claims of suicidality. This post is the absolute opposite of that - if you were with me in the clinic right now, I'd consider you an incredibly high risk of an actual suicide attempt. Please, please, please, please reach out to a professional and friends for help. Please.
With all respect Doctor, but I'd rather not. Could you say you or all your peers would gladly do so in my place? What do you imagine the outcome would be?
For whatever it's worth, the testing and arrangements were to solidify method and location, whereas the timing still remains uncertain, caused by me being the fool that I am. But I can reasonably guarantee you will not be affected in either case; at some point you'll scarcely remember this conversation and soon enough you'll have forgotten it in it's entirety as just another post on the internet. So best not to think on it.
I can say that I would, because I was in your place, and I did reach out - even though it took me a long time to do so, which brought me far closer to the precipice than I'd care to dwell on.
I can't say that I did it without trepidation or concern of stigma, but I was surprised at the degree to which that fear was unjustified. In hindsight, I don't know whether I was over-exaggerating the feared stigma in keeping with our cultural expectations, or as an expression of the depression itself. Either way, I can tell you that the experience was painless. Getting appropriate medication also made a world of difference, to such a degree that nowadays, when things deteriorate, I can qualitatively recognize "those" thoughts and feelings as not belonging to my normal palette, though there are grey areas that sometimes sneak up on me.
I don't speak up on my behalf, as you're right - I'm just a stranger on the internet, and we'll forget about each other soon enough. I'm speaking up on behalf of the people in your life that you're currently telling yourself will be better off without you. Because they won't be better off, and they'll carry the pain of your absence as a wound that doesn't heal.
Doesn't that come down to what the view of what someone's 'normal' palette is? We say that someone's judgement is impaired under the influence of alcohol, but say the opposite when the use of SSRI's is applied, with the only difference to force someone to conforming And at least from where I sit, the methods strike parallels to what an abuser or cultists use. The only difference I can tell is intent, but that drags into question whether or not the ends justify the means.
>I'm speaking up on behalf of the people in your life that you're currently telling yourself will be better off without you. Because they won't be better off, and they'll carry the pain of your absence as a wound that doesn't heal.
I think you underestimate the resiliency of most people. A death is a death irregardless of the cause; ultimately whether they'd want to or not, practicality forces someone to move on and the adapt to the absence as the new normal.
That said for me personally, you'd made a reasonable but incorrect assumption in this case; most cases you'd be correct. There's three people that I can name that could be directly impacted. The first one's feelings, I do not care about about. The second lives 2000 miles away and we have very sparse communication. It would be years, likely decades before that one is potentially suspicious enough to investigate more closely. The third is growing old with a family history of dementia.
I have only work acquaintances aside of those three and they have never contacted or interacted with me outside of work. But there's little reason for them to discover anything given that I would resign normally with a forward means of contact; such an action isn't out of character for me. And I have no friends. Quite literally, actually. My parents forbade friendship as a child until after I graduated university, and there was little need to change things after that.
FWIW also; yours and my experiences with anti depressants differ greatly. Three different SSRI's (prozac, paxil, and zoloft) of various doses been tried for years and as far as I can tell changed nothing except for the experience of withdrawal symptoms when I finally grew tired of the RX dance.
This isn't something that occurred over a period of years. For the part I just don't think about it, there were enough demands from me academically and professionally. And it's always been a comfort to me, know that no matter how terrible things seemed that there was at least one thing I could do.
...I just spent the last 20 minutes staring at the screen trying put into words why I went out and solidified my plans but truth be told: I don't know why; objectively there's little in my life to explain it. I just did, and I felt better once it was done.
Let's say, hypothetically for a moment, your peer's alchemy kit works. What happens when they take that core piece of who I am away from me, and there is nothing else left? What then?
it is true, people adapt to absence as the new normal. But i do not forget and i miss people, even if they are not around or our life lines do not cross anymore. And loss may be traumatic to some of us, it will shatter our "core piece", the way we have dealt with the world so far.
And i think, that you just gave an answer to yourself. When your "core piece" is taken away from you, then you adapt to the changes as the new normal.
My "core piece", that gave me warmth and i have fond memories with, it stopped working for me. I was forced to find new path ways. It is just a system to deal with sometimes harsh environment and sometimes flawed help from our ancestors.
My dad killed himself when I was 15. I found his body after coming home from school on a sunny day excited to tell him I'd finally done well on a math test. It destroyed me emotionally. I didn't come right for 5 years and it left permanent emotional scars. It was hands down the nastiest, most brutal, awful and enduring experience I've ever had.
I beg you to reconsider. Talk to the people in your life about how you feel.
Edit: reflecting on this I feel like there is a law of conservation of pain. You can't eliminate your pain by suicide, you simply transfer it to others.
Working on how you would commit suicide is a very strong signal you are in mortal danger, according to my friend a nurse with experience.
Your problem to solve is: ‘what will make my life worthwhile.’ Make it your job to solve that and spend time and money(=stored time) to do so. The alternative job of how to end your life is a poor goal, IMHO.
You can pay someone to care about you (edit: and has the skills to be useful): a councillor or a life coach or a nurse or whoever... Choosing someone is a difficult problem, but it is tractable; perhaps try multiple people in parallel (edit: from different specialities) and pick whoever clicks the most with you.
Don’t be scared to spend money: as a purely financial decision anything that keeps you earning for many years to come would be an insanely great investment (in fact, so good that it is a startup idea in itself that if scaled could get VC funding).
In an ideal world you have someone close to you help you that (a) would take the time to help, (b) can make the time to help, and (c) has the ability to help. However it isn’t as common as it should be to have someone like that available. If you are lonely then you likely believe you don’t have that person in your life already, so paying a stranger is far simpler.
Finally, if you must commit suicide, please do it so that it plausibly looks like an accident. Suicide is devastating to so many people around you, even very loose acquaintances and strangers in your social graph... I have seen the deep effects of suicides rip through my own friends and acquaintances, and it is the caring and vulnerable that are most deeply and often permanently hurt (sometimes they may be on the far distant fringes of the social graph from the suicide). I personally believe you can do whatever you want with your life, but harming others touches their life.
Edit: if you reply with a way to contact you, I myself would share my time with you, because even just trying to help is an interesting challenge for me. I don’t have any training, but I might possibly be more in tune with you than many who do?
I think there's been some misunderstanding. If I'm understanding you correctly, you seem to believe that the issue is that I'm lonely, and it's not a bad assumption but it's not entirely correct. I grew up without friends, my parents forbade me from making friends from childhood until I was done university and by then for the most part I was, and still am, fine with being alone.
>Finally, if you must commit suicide, please do it so that it plausibly looks like an accident.
I had a few ideas, but the only semi feasible one I thought of so far was to mix heavy alcohol intoxication and hypothermia. Hypothermia is uncomfortable until you start loosing your mental faculties. The alcohol might be able to cover for the discomfort but I haven't tested that particular combination. And there's a slight concern about the poor sap that comes across my body.
Fentanyl overdose is probably the next option but I lack the necessary friends-of-friends to acquire some. And there isn't a way of testing the timing or potency against the time of arrival of EMT's that seem to carry Narcan in their pockets.
> you seem to believe that the issue is that I'm lonely
I do think solitude is a fine thing, and there's nothing wrong with a circle of one. Hollow friendships are even more unhealthy, and watching some endless chase for meaning via other people scares me. I also believe loneliness is not obvious: I have met extroverts with many friends who are lonely!
All I am trying to say is that life is a long call option with a far future exercise date.
You are considering suicide. That means that you can permit yourself an immense freedom to do anything or everything. You could make it a challenge (or job, or just for fun) to scientifically search for something that satisfies you... Imagine treating yourself as a child that needs some magic, and give yourself the intellectual freedom to search for it: break outside the boundaries set by your culture and parents and inner voice. Ask others where they find meaning, and experiment upon yourself with things, even things that you might disagree with (while avoiding hurting others I hope).
I like the saying I am committing suicide at one second per second. Living is suicide since we all die!
I will also explain what I am personally doing, not as a model, but just FYI. I decided to do my own "bachelor of humanity", where I spend my time and mental effort learning from others what makes them tick. I also recently have dedicated significant time to supporting others, those who I judge deserve it (ideally unselfish people that give too much and take too little).
The minimum you should do is change careers: I suggest you work in a cafe for a year. Any minimum wage job where you are interacting with people every day would do... it is a form of beautiful hell, but you learn to understand what goes on in the minds of others (the wonderful, the bizarre, and the frightening).
> I'm open to hearing ideas if you have any though.
The boring way would be to investigate the data on how people die within your age band, and pick something efficient?
The fabulous way would be to create a surreal narrative, something outrageous, a bizarre story worth telling.
Best of luck with whatever choices you make: I hope you can find a way to enjoy yourself or even just bring a smile to others, otherwise I wish you do the minimum collateral damage possible...
Please, consider seeing a professional as soon as possible. Mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of: it doesn't brand you as ANYTHING, any more than being diabetic or having an allergy does. There is a very good chance that a doctor can help you quickly and easily.
And you might feel at times like you don't even want to be helped, or that you don't deserve help, or that it's not worth the bother, but those are all symptoms of your problem, not consequences of it. Your judgement IS impaired. It will go away once you're in treatment. You'll be amazed at the change.
Please, talk to a professional, be very honest with them about how you're feeling and about the thoughts you are having. I know it's tough to open up and it might seem awkward, and I know it's easy to lose sight of it in these times we live in, but I promise you, there are many people out there that really want to help you, not just because it's their job, and they are more than able to do it. It will change your life.
You will get over this and come out stronger on the other side. You'll see. Best wishes, friend.
> please, consider seeing a professional as soon as possible.
> Mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of: it doesn't brand you as ANYTHING, any more than being diabetic or having an allergy does
Strongly disagree. In theory it shouldn’t. However in practice it often is incredibly shameful, and we all sympathise with that.
Even your own internal song about a diagnosis can have vast negative consequences.
Friends and family can treat you like a pariah: for example many people will consciously choose not to let Reese near their kids because of some diagnoses.
Even worse the effects of being labelled (ignoring the effects of a mental issue) can be subtle and hard to see because they are socially hidden, or they are subconscious, so that one is left questioning why things happened the way they did.
I agree, it can often be positive. But I have friends that have been given labels, and who I’ve witnessed negative outcomes for them, well beyond those caused by their “illness”.
The idea is to get help even though it is scary... especially for suicidal thoughts. Not seeking help is very likely to be extremely harmful to many people.
One can choose to hide a condition from friends or family, but that has other consequences, such as making one more distant or detached.
Yes, get help, but keep your eyes open and get good advice on how to share everthing with your friends and family, in the best manner you can find.
More positively, vulnerability often makes you closer to friends and with a small amount of luck helps you be a better person e.g. less judgemental about others.
All the best, there is a lot of love out there for most everyone.
Do you have any kind of meaningful social connections outside of work? Whether it's family, religion, non-religious social orgs, hobbies or whatever, a strong set of social connections tends to correlate with happiness.
It might also be worth looking into adopting or rescuing a pet, a senior dog tends to be low energy and they typically have low adoption rates. They are often loyal, loving and excellent companions.
If you have a blank check for life, use it for some purpose.
When I was child I moved around schools a lot, eventually I stopped trying to make friends. As life went on I distanced myself from family and what few friends I had.
I ended up horribly depressed for years, never really understanding why. I was young enough when I started down this path that I wasn't really conscious of the decisions I was making and its impact on my emotional wellbeing, it was just an internalized reaction to losing my friends over and over.
When I stopped trying to make friends I let my ability to form meaningful connections rot. Being around people made me sad because I wouldn't let anyone know me and that made me feel misunderstood, like I didn't belong. And being alone all the time just would sap all colour from life.
I made a conscious effort to be more forthcoming and open with people last year and its made a world of difference for me. I'm still pretty miserable, somedays can be pretty rough, but life is more than just sadness and emptiness now.
I only realized this when I started smoking pot constantly outside of work. It helped me calm down and see things for what they really were. I wouldn't outright recommend becoming a pothead like me, especially if you have mental issues, since it can be dangerous but I'd strongly recommend talking to a professional.
I was in such an awful state of mind that I couldn't think rationally even though I was convinced I was. You're more than your emotions, you're more than your thoughts, that's just a state of being. If you want to change those aspects of your life, as an Adult, it falls on you to seek treatment. Please seek treatment if you feel you need it. There are people who want to help.
Your post resonates so much with me that I created an account just to reply.
I also have trouble building meaningful relationships with people. I know exactly what you mean when you say that it makes you feel alone even when you're around people and that it saps all color from life. Recently, I have also made the connection to me moving around a lot as a kid. I think this might have subconsciously taught me that people come and go and so it's not worth it to invest time and effort into building relationships with them. I was also an outcast in middle school and even though I didn't really mind then I now believe that I built up a thick shell around myself during that time.
Can you say more about your efforts to be more forthcoming and open? I have tried that, but I'm constantly worried about oversharing. I have to consciously assure myself that I'm allowed to talk about myself. Part of the problem seems to be that I can't help but feel like the people that I think of as good friends see me as more of an acquaintance.
I remember one troubled young man in one of my University classes. One of my classmates signed to me killing himself with a finger gun to his head when he was partnered with that guy. People thought he was weird and avoided him. He'd talk about how his therapist mentioned he should be more open with others, how he was struggling with personal issues. Clearly he was oversharing. But I fucking adored listening to that guy. It was like looking in a mirror. I still think about him now and then. If he was in a support group for depressed people I'm sure he'd have been a hit. In another context it would not have been oversharing. Very friendly guy. Sadly I never bothered to even say hello, something I really regret.
I went to a bar last week for a burger to bring home. The lady behind the bar pointed out how my hands were trembling, even more than hers normally do. I told her I drink too much caffeine and sometimes forget to eat. She told me she gets that. I went back next week, hoping to eat in instead and make some small talk with her but the bar was too busy. I'm interested in getting to know more about her, she might have struggled with the same things as me. Found it interesting that she mentioned and related to my trembling hands somehow, most people never mention it. She might enjoy listening to my personal struggles as much as I enjoyed listening to that guy back in university. Or maybe she just wants better tips. I'll have to play around in a conversation and try to feel it out. Most likely this will go absolutely nowhere. I've had similar encounters throughout this year and usually the person is just trying to be nice but you never know. The food is good at least.
I've been paying someone for about half a year to teach me an instrument. He really enjoys music. He mentioned teaching some Christmas music around December. I talked a bit about the music I listened to during Christmas growing up. How when I was young I once dressed up in a traditional costume and sung traditional songs with other kids. I asked about how he celebrated Christmas when he was younger. He seemed to enjoy hearing how music has played a role in my life, I enjoyed listening to how it played a role in his.
A janitor stopped me last week at my workplace. Told me a funny anecdote from his life about an escalator, a lady and his son. I didn't really care about the personal aspects since I'm younger and don't have a family but I enjoyed the laugh. I've been trying to think of a joke from my life that I could share with him next time I run across the guy. He probably won't care about my depression unless there's a laugh there. But that's ok, I don't care about whatever struggles he may have had while raising his son. I can't relate to that part of him.
These are three people that I currently genuinely look forward to seeing again. Hoping to share aspects of my life with them whether it's about a struggle, a song or a laugh. It has been so many years since I looked forward to talking to someone. I'm finding that if you're vulnerable and open about things the other person can relate to they tend to find it endearing. If you're vulnerable and open about things other person can't relate to, or worse looks down on, then you're tending towards oversharing.
Once covid is over and larger gatherings are safer I will go around the city going to where the musicians go. Whether it's a jam at a park or a live show in a dark dingy room. There's plenty of songs written by horribly depressed people, sometimes it feels like my soul vibrates listening to that kind of music. I'm sure someone out there feels like that too. I will go looking for them, I will find them and we will make beautiful sounds well into a warm summer night. That's my goal for this year.
I've been trying to use the pot as a tool to play therapist and act on changes I feel need to be made. I've had a bad experience with a therapist in the past and it's one of the reasons I don't want to go back. It would probably be much easier if I wasn't doing this alone. A good therapist will be able to help you find ways of not just being more open and forthcoming but doing so appropriately and comfortably. You should feel excited and happy to share things with people you know, it shouldn't make you feel stressed or anxious.
"Part of the problem seems to be that I can't help but feel like the people that I think of as good friends see me as more of an acquaintance."
Personally I try not to label my relationships with people, I'd struggle with it as well. Instead I try to let our interactions dictate our relationship rather than my expectations/desires. I met some people last year that were into video games / board games. We seemed to get along, were friendly with each other. I work on video games so I love talking about them. When I tried to organize something we could do together I got crickets. It is what it is.
No, it's the isolation that is way more harmful. Sure you can be alone even with social connections if they are superficial, but we humans are hard-wired to seek community and social connections to validate our existence. Similar to working, I guess, but which is more mentally healthier and productive.
Yet building those social connections is definitely not an easy task. Once you have been molded to a certain shape to rewire your mental patterns and the emotional rewarding system is very difficult. You have to be persistent in building those friendships until you at some point achieve a level of rapport that, hopefully, allows you to be completely yourself around another person.
But no one can really give you the answers how to approach solving the problem. My advice is to seek venues of expressing yourself to find like-minded people who think the same at a deep, instinctive level. I whole-heartedly recommend performing arts, like improvisational theatre, which forces to play like a child. There is something there that I think is very rejuvenating when you can just fool around and laugh. Also you can't really think of anything else when you are performing.
I'd say the most difficult part of the whole problem is that you can't remove your emotions from solving your problem and therefore you can't make the most rational choices as you subconsciously avoid failure. But I encourage you to keep trying. Seeking professional help would also be advisable.
The dead cannot feel joy, love, pain, or sadness. They cannot perceive anything, nor can the be aware of anything; one second in time is exactly the same as a billion years to the dead. And you cannot do anything to the dead that would change that.
Barring the possibility of an afterlife, if nothing can affect the dead, and the dead are unaware of everything, what could possibly be the dead's problem?
The living on the other hand? They would be the one that would perceive the dead's absence, and mourn it. They are the ones that have to deal with the uncertainty of what death is. Or the questions of why someone would prefer death.
But there in lies the key point; someone has to perceive the death of a peer to mourn it. Let's say for a moment that there is only one person in the universe and he dies. Who mourns for him? Like wise, if someone exists, and no one else is aware, who mourns for him after he dies? In either case, he cannot mourn for himself.
So really... is being dead a problem for the dead? Or is it more the concern of those still alive?
> So really... is being dead a problem for the dead? Or is it more the concern of those still alive?
I wouldn't weigh them. It could go either way.
The problem for the dead is the loss of opportunity. The waste. If I have some amount of cash in my wallet, what I'm able to do with it will depend on the market that's available to me. Maybe I won't be able to afford the same things others do in other places, but I should be able to take some advantage of it. Dying is dropping that cash down the gutter. It's utterly wasteful, to put it politely.
Doing the same with your time alive is even more so because you can't get it back.
Even the most minimal use of your 5 senses is a good use. Even dreaming while sleep is a good use. Even just thinking is a good use. The opportunity to use that time for anything at all is lost when you die.
I'm sure there must be someone that would love to be in your shoes. You say you got your pay reduced by $10,000 a year. I know people that likely make only 1/4 of that a year. Then there's the terminally ill. The envy! How luxurious of you to not want your life.
At the very least, couldn't you seek someone terminally ill and live to fulfill their dream? Live the life they wanted? It could be a simple one. Doesn't matter if you don't manage to fulfill it, just part-way is fine. Someone else might be able to continue from where you left off if that happens. And it's not like you're planning on doing something else anyway.
>The problem for the dead is the loss of opportunity. The waste. If I have some amount of cash in my wallet, what I'm able to do with it will depend on the market that's available to me. Maybe I won't be able to afford the same things others do in other places, but I should be able to take some advantage of it. Dying is dropping that cash down the gutter. It's utterly wasteful, to put it politely.
I disagree. Go outside someday and pick up a stone. Chances are there are no other stones exactly like it in the entirety of the universe. Perhaps someday it could inspire something great, or be used to end someone's life. But realistically it will likely just be a rock that sits there. Just like millions of other rocks.
Assuming the best is a romantic notion, but you just don't know either way. But ask yourself this... if that rock were to suddenly vanish from existence, would your life really be any worse for it? Or could you just find another rock?
>At the very least, couldn't you seek someone terminally ill and live to fulfill their dream? Live the life they wanted? It could be a simple one. Doesn't matter if you don't manage to fulfill it, just part-way is fine
...Imagine you saw someone doing something that you loved. But you could see on their face that, at best, they derived no joy from it. At worst they didn't want to be there, that it was something outside of their control that compelled them.
Forget the other person for a moment. Could you honestly say that seeing that would make you happy?
FWIW I did look into being a living organ donor. There's a rather extensive psychological evaluation that goes with it though and you need to have a fairly strong social support circle for them to even entertain the idea. Can't imagine why a bunch of doctors wouldn't want someone that has no support circle to undergo a major surgery that would leave them too weak to do much on their own for weeks and very much vulnerable to a potentially lethal post operation infection.
> I disagree... if that rock were to suddenly vanish from existence, would your life really be any worse for it? Or could you just find another rock?
I'm not sure how your point counts as a disagreement. You're telling me about how unessential you are, and I don't see how that matters. Nearly everybody is unessential. Heck, being "essential" depends on other people's opinion, and I don't see how their opinion matters either. There's nobody in the world that's really essential.
Before the needs of the world comes the needs of oneself. Though we can enjoy being important to others, nobody needs that to enjoy life. It's just one way to do it.
There's nothing wrong with a mundane life either. Many people even covet for a simple, ordinary life. I did. I was dealt a bad hand (perhaps avoidable/fixable with more effort by me, though that's in hindsight), that I thought I was going to have to live with for the rest of my life. I learned to accept it, commit to it, and enjoy what I still had available to enjoy. Things got better to my surprise and dismay (yes, it was very conflicting), but I would have been fine even if it didn't.
Even members of the lowest social/economic classes laugh heartedly at times and have their own ways to enjoy their time.
> Imagine you saw someone doing something that you loved... Could you honestly say that seeing that would make you happy?
I was trying to write in broad terms. Their wish might not be because the act would make them happy. Rather, one can wish for a task they want done. Even if the person doing it doesn't enjoy it, if it gets the task any closer to completion, then that could make them happy.
As an example, if someone dying is worrying about the care of a dependent loved one, taking steps to care for that dependent person would make them happy no matter how much you might hate it. There's no completion to it either. Any amount of care would be welcomed, I think.
> FWIW I did look into being a living organ donor.
If your health isn't so bad that you're close to dying, then that's also very wasteful in my opinion. You can achieve more with a healthy body. Leave the donation until after you die. There'll always be someone in need of an organ. Even if you provide one now, that'll just leave someone in the future without an organ you could have provided then.
You seem fixated on the happiness of others. Can't you be a little more selfish? You should be able to enjoy life on your own. Actually, you should be able to enjoy it even if you were the only living being on this planet. Even in those circumstances, I think I'd lack time to fully enjoy life. I'd probably spend my time either studying something to make sense of the world or developing skills. That'd be my enjoyment even if there's no one to acknowledge me. I hear others enjoy the feeling of aching muscles after a day's work. I imagine they'd enjoy building stuff, maybe a garden. With the abundance of things we have, it's a matter of choosing the best way to spend our time rather than having trouble finding anything at all. Can't you find a hobby? There's an infinitude of things to enjoy.
Re: finding another rock. You don't need to be irreplaceable to be loved. You can be the support of someone that would appreciate it and find joy that way, too.
Though if work works, then I think that's good too. I had written these other comments on that:
Not so much essentially as it the futility of imagining unrealized potential. In hindsight I now realize that my example was exceedingly poor, and apologize for that. Many people, including, speak to said that potential as if it were an inevitably good and I find that speculation to be someone taking a terribly romanticized view of someone. Especially after they were gone. Just as much as someone is capable of being great, so too could they be capable of being a disappointment.
And if you talk about potential, I'd also argue that no matter how much waste there is, there's enough numbers in the world to take it's place readily.
>If your health isn't so bad that you're close to dying, then that's also very wasteful in my opinion. You can achieve more with a healthy body. Leave the donation until after you die. There'll always be someone in need of an organ. Even if you provide one now, that'll just leave someone in the future without an organ you could have provided then.
Perhaps but bear in mind that it probably be just the one. Organ donation campaigners harp over and over again that one donor could give back life to multiple people. So is it a waste? It becomes more the trolley question more then anything else; if one person dying could save six others, is him not choosing the die the same as choosing to kill them?
>You seem fixated on the happiness of others. Can't you be a little more selfish?
I'm not sure what you mean. I am being selfish. A selfless man would've conformed to what others demanded and endured in solitary silence no matter what, doing all and asking nothing in return.
> Just as much as someone is capable of being great, so too could they be capable of being a disappointment.
You manage what you can manage. Potential is just a guess. Nothing more. I'm also a disappointment to myself in various ways, but that's all it is. A feeling. It comes and goes like any other feeling. Sometimes feelings linger, but that's a choice. My enjoying life doesn't depend one bit on it.
Perhaps I could have enjoyed life more if I reached my potential, if the guess was correct, but that doesn't mean that life can't be enjoyed. It takes almost absolutely nothing. It just depends on your sense of appreciation.
Even "bad" things can be appreciated and enjoyed. I've let sorrow linger in times of mourning, for example. It's fine. Others can appreciate their misfortunes, because it's an opportunity to gain experience, character, or something else they can take pride in.
> And if you talk about potential, I'd also argue that no matter how much waste there is, there's enough numbers in the world to take it's place readily.
That about a person with potential being replaceable I agree is fact, though I'm not sure why it matters. From your use of the word "waste" (which is totally different from the use I gave it) it's like you're trying to put value on a person's life from the perspective of how much they can contribute to society, but that's wrong. The only perspective that matters is one's own. The value we should put on the lives of others should be through empathy, the imagining of another's life as our own. If that weren't the case, we'd be killing off anyone that we deemed wouldn't produce value for society, but we don't and I wouldn't want to be part of a society that does.
> Organ donation campaigners harp over and over again that one donor could give back life to multiple people. So is it a waste?
Oh, sure. If you mean donating blood, then by all means that's great. I thought you were talking about donating a kidney or part of your liver or something that could decrease your potential to live a long and able life and which wouldn't make much difference if you donate now or later.
> It becomes more the trolley question more then anything else; if one person dying could save six others, is him not choosing the die the same as choosing to kill them?
I don't see how it became a trolley question. That's about valuing the lives of others relative to themselves. It's not about valuing the life of oneself relative to others. It's only in very few and exceptional circumstances where anyone would argue against always valuing their own lives above others', and even then it's always a valid choice to choose oneself.
> I'm not sure what you mean. I am being selfish.
No, you're not. You're always bringing other people and society into your own life's valuation. When valuing your own life, the wants and opinions of others don't matter.
You seem confused in thinking that things have just 1 value. That's wrong. Everybody puts value on things based on how much they personally gain from it. When valuing things in the interest of others and "against" one's own, one feels a personal gain through empathy, or they can feel or imagine the love from others, or they gain validation of their sense of justice or responsibility, etc.
In personally valuing your own life's existence, you should only think of your personal gain. What do you gain? You gain everything! You gain the ability to gain! In not valuing your life and always bringing other people into the scope, I can only think that your sense of empathy is too strong. That it blinds you and prevents you from forming your own wants and appreciations of what you have. You should care less of others and enjoy whatever you can of the world for yourself.
Though, since you bring up the topic of potential, perhaps it's also possible that you're too fixated on not attaining a particular deal. Like wanting to buy something, so you save for it, then realize it was much more expensive or the price rose or something, becoming disappointed and wanting to throw that money down the gutter. There's a lot of other things to buy! The market is vast. You just need to recognize their value. Anything is better than nothing, so use up every cent.
Or maybe the disappointment is not your own's but others', in which case I again insist that you shouldn't care about that and have pride and understanding in what you have accomplished. I doubt you've done worse than all others and your circumstances are your own, not necessarily comparable to anyone else's. Though even if you don't feel that way, that shouldn't prevent you from enjoying life.
In case the reply feature here becomes disabled and you want to continue talking, my email is email@example.com. That's JOL.
 It probably goes without saying, but to clarify the metaphor, time left alive = money and the market is the sum of all possible experiences and joys that life can bring. Prices and available items vary by personal circumstances. People may value items quite higher than their price. It depends on if they know how to appreciate it. Bakers and cooks are going to appreciate flour more than those that are neither. Likewise, simple things like taking a nap in the sun while a breeze runs through can be quite enjoyable too.
>Oh, sure. If you mean donating blood, then by all means that's great. I thought you were talking about donating a kidney or part of your liver or something that could decrease your potential to live a long and able life and which wouldn't make much difference if you donate now or later.
I was talking about organs. Kidney, liver, and at least one lung lobe, possible more then one; they're all eligible for living donation it is something that they will not let you do on a whim; interviews, psychological evaluations. I didn't try to; I might have been able to muddle my way through and tell them what they wanted to but it would've also drawn unwanted attention to myself. And that's a risk I wasn't willing to take.
Blood donation is mindlessly trivial to accomplish, all you really do is fill a questionnaire and then just lie there with a needle in your arm for an even shorter period of time. And then you get cookies.
Amusingly I did consider suicide in a hospital. Walk in the door with an organ donor card and a gun, sign it in front of the receptionist and end it with a bullet through my head let them hook up my brain dead self on a ventilator. Silly unworkable idea of course... doubt many people would react particularly well to seeing that. Not least of which the receptionist.
>I don't see how it became a trolley question. That's about valuing the lives of others relative to themselves. It's not about valuing the life of oneself relative to others. It's only in very few and exceptional circumstances where anyone would argue against always valuing their own lives above others', and even then it's always a valid choice to choose oneself.
If we follow the presumption that all people are equal, then that logically continues it is the n > 1 lives must always be more valuable then any 1 life. Under that it becomes a simple numbers question. In which case it's valid to say that I'm being selfish in valuing my own life over others. If instead we say that it is fine to value your own life over 6 others, inherently the idea of equality must be false.
>No, you're not. You're always bringing other people and society into your own life's valuation. When valuing your own life, the wants and opinions of others don't matter.
>You seem confused in thinking that things have just 1 value. That's wrong. Everybody puts value on things based on how much they personally gain from it. When valuing things in the interest of others and "against" one's own, one feels a personal gain through empathy, or they can feel or imagine the love from others, or they gain validation of their sense of justice or responsibility, etc.
>In personally valuing your own life's existence, you should only think of your personal gain. What do you gain? You gain everything! You gain the ability to gain! In not valuing your life and always bringing other people into the scope, I can only think that your sense of empathy is too strong. That it blinds you and prevents you from forming your own wants and appreciations of what you have. You should care less of others and enjoy whatever you can of the world for yourself.
Does it really matter what I want? It's always seem to prove irrelevant. Even in this thread I have to wonder because no one really stopped to asked, "Do you want to die?" Not even you.
To answer; maybe, I don't know. If the answer was yes then you would be off doing whatever it is you do on a Friday night, and I would already be cold in the morgue. If the answer was no, then why dwell on it?
But do you now why I don't typically put much thought into what I want? Would you still say I should be selfish and form my own wants if that answer started sliding towards, "Yes I want to die?"
...you tried. And you meant well. It's more then I can say for some of the people in my life.
For what it is worth, you were approaching me as if I were a problem to be solved, and it's a fine approach. But what often ends up happening is that it's incredibly easy to see only the suicide, and then forget that there's person there. Or that there's a single fell swoop that will set someone on back on the path. Sometimes it's like that but it's really hard to tell, even in person when you can read their face and body language, hear the tone in their voice. Never mind trying to piece it together from a block of text.
If you ever run into someone like me again in your life, maybe... speak a little less. And listen a little more. Don't ask yourself what you can do to fix it. Maybe instead, try asking them why. Or what is they want. Maybe they can answer, maybe they won't because they don't know or don't want to know. Maybe their problems are imagined, maybe not. Maybe the the reasons makes sense to you, maybe it won't. But I'd be willing to bet, to the person that's in the middle of it, that it's all as real as you are to yourself. And until you acknowledge that, you're going to have a bully of a time trying to connect with them.
Can't promise it will make it ever go better or that it's good advice; it's just my own thoughts on the matter.
......... and if it means anything; What this is has been central for my whole life; always there in a quiet moment. In every single night in bed before I fall asleep in bed, and there again first thing when I wake up. And always there in each quiet moment I have truly to myself. Some doctors tried prescribing different doses of anti depressants but they did little, and I knew better then to tell them what I was really thinking. Gave up after a while and ultimately it was just something I just accepted as just who I am. And for almost 10 years it was fine, it was there and then grew quiet as I got into whatever disaster or deadline that was next looming.
I honestly expected no difference between 200 to 240 hours a month focused and 160 but it seems I was wrong... and I don't know why. Or what might have changed. I'm not even sure if that was the key point. Even before the hours change there were moments in the last year where I stared over the edge of a stairwell or car park or looked into the path of an oncoming train and seriously contemplated jumping for a good 30 minutes. And honestly until now I had forgotten those moments had occurred...
You couldn't have possibly known any of that. I suspect you might've changed your approach if you did. But it took a week of you persisting, and me being slightly drunk tonight to admit this much. So don't apologize. As far as I can see, there's nothing for you to be sorry here for.
Fully agree with everything you wrote here. It isn't a problem to be not-living. I was not-living long before I was born, and it was never a problem.
I understand you feel your life isn't worth living. It is very much possible (though not easy) to change that. As the others have said, please talk to a professional. I don't know you, but you seem like a bright, thoughtful person. Humanity needs you.
The main problem with suicide is that it forecloses the possibility that your life will get better. And it can. The fact that you care about leaving your connections in distress tells me you care for people. This is normal and good and makes you human. We need human connection to live. Even now, you take others feelings into account. You seem like a good person, and the world would be worse without you.
You have a social circle, with social connections.
People you work with. Possibly customers. They would be affected.
I still occasionally mourn the death (wildlife traffic accident) of a colleague from a former workplace. That was 22 years ago, and there is this one interesting technical discussion that I wanted to have with them, that I will now never have. As a result, that coding project has not had a single byte changed in that time, because doing so pretty much requires having that discussion.
This was a person I only interacted with at work (or at work functions).
I don’t know you and I don’t mean to tell you what to do. I can’t imagine what it feels like to be in your situation, consider talking to someone to try and make things better for yourself before doing something you can’t undo. I hope it gets better, and wish you all the best.
Friend, please call the suicide prevention hotline in your country. It will only take a few minutes.
If you do this now, and if you decide to trust in yourself and the many people who will help you from that moment onward, one day you can wake from this bad dream. You will have no more suicidal thoughts, and you will begin to love and appreciate yourself and your unique life, just as you deserve to.
Please just commit to making contact and giving it a try. You've spent lots of time researching the alternatives - please just spend a few minutes and take one step along this path.
> using work as a distraction from your problems instead of addressing them
Some problems can't be addressed, but one can learn to live happily in spite of them. I think finding a distraction is a fine way of doing that. Relative to other options, work seems like a very healthy distraction if it works.
If your current work is no longer serving your needs, maybe it's time to find another. Don't let anybody tell you how to live your life. Do what works best.
> 200 to 240 hours a month was pretty typical
It also seems very normal. I do 210 a month at least (without overtime). That's not counting lunch hour during which I'm mostly still at my desk, and which would add another 20 hours a month.
> (I doubt it's out of real concern for my health, my workload hasn't been reduced).
I don't know your work or your boss, but it could be they expect you to manage yourself and are waiting to see how the work piles up before deciding what to do about it. If they complain it's not getting done, just quote them. Less time = less work gets done.
I don’t know what has brought you to this point in life, but I’m sorry that it has you considering suicide.
For me, being a workaholic left me feeling disconnected and isolated from the world. The antidepressants didn’t help, they just numbed me to my own emotional pain enough that I could keep functioning.
The holidays are a depressing time for a lot of people, and to a limited extent, I can see the harm reduction in working through them. But for me, finding a reason to live involved spending time outside of work to make new friends, revive old friendships, and improve my family life. I truly believe that work is no replacement for friends and family, the only things that I have found worth living for.
When asked what the most surprising thing about humanity was the Dalai Lama gave the following response:
"Man. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived" - Dalai Lama (paraphrased)
Dude, please find a therapist. See if your employer works with any mental health providers and if not, try finding one on https://www.psychologytoday.com/ . Yes it's expensive and time consuming, but this is the most important step you can take to better your life. Please do this, work is a band aid you are using to distract yourself from serious issues. They will catch up eventually.
Go to church. The people there will talk to you and welcome you to join activities. During the service all you have to do is stand up, sit down, and sing along. Listening is optional. Even if you are not religious, you can treat it as some sort of research into mass psychology or systems of civilization.
To add to this: if the religiosity of modern Christian denominations is off-putting - I recommend taking a look at Unitarian Universalism. If I _had_ to pick a church to try and attend today that didn't grate with my morals, I'd probably start my search here.
Christianity has been a great brain hack for me. I recently converted after reading through a modern, literal translation of the NT (Hart). I was previously an atheist my entire life.
Distilled down, with all the noise and controversy cut out, one's left with an existential God who only asks that we submit to him, be good to everyone, and work our hardest to just be our authentic selves.
A nice side effect, as you alluded, is that one instantly gets a family of 3 billion people who are basically forced to like and accept them (as long as they're 'good' - which varies with Christian sect).
I found it interesting that you put a price tag on it. Also, $200k is about $150k more than most people make, but if you look at just the workaholic population and isolate for industries such as finance and law, many people in that group are going to be within the shooting range of that threshold. And there you have it - even within your own framework, it becomes understandable why we have so many workaholics.
My point is - the moment you put a price tag on your work-life balance, it becomes very difficult to escape the rat race. You really have to be quite militant about it or otherwise it won't work.
I should have clarified that I am not passing judgment on being a workaholic or not. I spent the majority of my working career as a workaholic, although I did try to escape it on a few occasions. The first and only time it worked was when I made it a non-negotiable part of my work to carve out certain lifestyle demands. At the time, it seemed quite likely that this could trigger some negative consequences, and as someone who worked hard on building a career, it wasn't an easy decision to consciously take a few steps back. I only pulled through because of the conviction that it had to happen.
In an alternate universe, I would have stayed a workaholic and would likely retire earlier than I will now. Both are good options IMO. The choices I made have to do with how I want to spend my free time - my favorite hobby requires top physical fitness, and I won't be able to pursue it semi-competitively for many more years.
> "Oh he was pulling an all-nighter doing a non-urgent task."
> "Did anybody ask him to?"
> "No. In fact we asked him to stop."
When I am doing this, it is usually because I have the strong feeling that I am in complete control of the problem right now, hours after midnight. Two fears then kick it: will I make it to this point of control a second time in the near future (3-6 months)? Will I even remember the extremely abstract concepts a few days from now? To me, the answer (confirmed by experience) is often: most likely not, better finish it now.
I know the feeling. In college (and for a year or so right after), I had the same answer.
A few years later, I've finally realized that any code I write at 2am almost always needs to be fixed--often substantially--soon after. I miss things. I write stupid bugs. I don't see the requirements clearly.
I've found writing things down (sometimes a few words, sometimes a few pages), sleeping on it, and reviewing those notes first thing in the morning--before email, before showering, before anything--to be a much a better strategy.
I'm lucky that before Covid I was able to walk to work so I was never bound by traffic or transportation schedules, but I definitely have friends and coworkers who "miss their bus" so they'll get home after their kids are down.
(For those of you without kids, a lot of pre-schoolers go to bed at 7.)
I have the theory that boys get into programming as a form of escapism – because the external world is frustrating to them. It is certainly my case, external world has all sorts of illogic demands, things that exist but should not be explicited, social rules, or various insults and condescension, some of them because we’re boys (my sister used to tell me boys have 13% fewer neurons, that’s why we’re stupid). So we talk to computers, although they can be extremely frustrating (I have spent hours at 7 years old finding the missing brackets — all of this in 1990 when I didn’t even speak English), but at least computers are logic. And they answer to us. They don’t make snarky comments. At least, when it fails, _it’s our fault_ . And we can fix it.
That would easily explain the gender gap in programming. It’s an escapism from the real world, while girls don’t need it as much because a lot of people are mindful of girls’ problems (notably teachers), or accept to listen to them.
I’d like to see an experiment: Give children 90% male teachers (the opposite of today’s ratio) and see whether programming then becomes more popular among girls than boys.
I'd add that there is some kind of toxic behaviour from men in my CS class. Think the typical 4channer type people. Obviously not all but when I had a chat with a couple of women from my class, they mentioned it was common to get hit on all the time during group projects when they were there to study and get talked down on as if they don't know what's going on.
I see similar behaviours to how men sometimes "gatekeep" games or even anything computer related. It's quite common to hear of stories women face on online games when they open their mic.
Is there a chance they'd avoid it based on the type of people they might face? Maybe.
How do you make the difference between being talked down because of gender, or because you didn’t practice the skills at the game enough, or bad relations or similar? Is it really the boy’s role to make the experience beautiful for girls? in which case, boys would have the gendered role of explaining the games to girls.
> gatekeeping games
You see, that is my point. Pretty much all activities of real life are gatekept. Programming is the only one that isn’t.
As a boy, 7 years old, my father took both my bigger sister and myself to explain the MS-DOS commands he knew. But does reading the 500-pages book on GW-BASIC by myself to understand how it works, even though I was French and 7yo and I had zero knowledge of English, sound like good gatekeeping to you? But my sister was then invited to various activities in school, including the school programming club if she wanted, but she chose the football club (and this was in the 1990ies). I wasn’t.
So I stuck with programming. No gatekeeping, no social inclusion, just RTFM until you understand the commands.
>I have the theory that boys get into programming as a form of escapism
Absolutely my case, except that I'm a big boy approaching 40. I don't work as a programmer, but the job exposes extensive SQL and Python to me (SQL for querying db and Python for automating and sticking together things).
From my experience, programming is so far the only activity that can satisfy my need for creating things and escaping from this world. I mean I can't really cut off all my ties to this world but it's nice to have a small world of my own to enjoy myself, from time to time.
Oh wow. This hits it on the nail. Some of the teachers who understood how to teach me were male. Only one woman knew how to teach me. In India, school teachers are almost always women. I turned to programming as soon as I got a computer. I also read a lot of escapist fiction. Fiction that wasn't based in India or in the real world. Tolkien, Eddings, Robert Jordan, Terry Brook, Agatha Christie (I know but her books weren't based in our time so I seemed to see it as escapism).
Thanks for making the effort to point this out. Do you have any reading material on the topic?
It's definitely not just boys who get into programming for the escapism, but anyone who is unhappy with how their body or how they look. Computer Science attracts more trans people than any profession I know that isn't related to drag performance.
For me personally, I loved programming as a kid because it had a macho culture I could actually participate in (programming definitely has a macho culture of all-nighters, showing off skills, putting down people who don't understand things as well) and my body (which I hated) didn't matter. Now that I have transitioned to male and have a body I can stand, I actively dislike Computer Science and can't wait to leave it.
As an aside, programming was heavily female-dominated when my grandma was a programmer. There are a lot of factors that contributed to the shift, including changing professional requirements, new job opportunities for women, the advertising around video games, and the stereotypes that developed about programming and nerd culture.
Workaholism and programming are two symptoms much more widespread among men than women. It is not necessarily gender, but it is heavily correlated with it. As said, the experiment I’ve described could “test” whether it is gendered or not.
For example, it could be Asperger. I haven’t been personally diagnosed, though. But even Asperger is more often diagnosed in boys than girls.
Other example, it could be behavior. Most beaten kids are boys. Either it is because of gender bias in the parent, either in it because of different behavior in the child; If we assume the former, it means parents are more violent towards the boy, if we assume the latter, it means the boys’ attitude provokes the parent more. Either way, the real world is less comfortable for those, in average.
There could be many profiles, only one of them “retires” in a virtual world, and some girls do fit the same profile. However, there is still a correlation.
As for “why did I assume it was because of my gender”, it is because of “Boys have 13% fewer neurons” is oriented towards gender, not profile, like many other events in life.
I think your interest in computers was inherent. It was the same for me and I bet same for many others in this sub.
I always felt something was not right with me and took every opportunity to be normal, socialize, blend in.
In the end, I became a lawyer. The only computer skill I use for my job is Microsoft Office. The work drains my energy so I don't have much much left for programming. Even though I try, I still can't fully blend in, people notice something's off with me.
I seriously suspect being a computer nerd is something inherent, we are drawn to computers because we are genetically coded this way. How else could you explain spending tons of hours as a child trying to learn programming without any guidance or external motivation?
I think it's different for entrepreneur workaholics. Your startup is your baby. It's fun. It's challenging. It's rewarding.
And when you're young I think it's great to dedicate to work. You accelerate your learning. You make more money. You meet smart people. I don't know anyone very knowledgeable and skilled for their age that did a work/life balance route.
If you are a workaholic but also a learnaholic, then I don't buy that as this toxic thing that can drive mental and physical health issues. Ok, maybe sleep issues.
I have a few businesses and I'd rather work on them than spend time on social media like my non-workaholic friends.
It's ok for people to say "you work too much", but I don't tell my friends "you spend too much time on Facebook". Maybe I should though?
I do agree that it can be a big problem though. Many dedicate themselves to their work because they are escaping something or avoiding other important obligations.
If that doesn't apply, then go get it!
Life is a hell of a lot more enjoyable when you don't have to worry about finances.
My parents told me "you care too much about money". No I care infinitely about NOT worrying about money. There's a difference.
You can care about money a lot, be focused on financial freedom and not be a Scrooge and accumulating for no reason.
No my parents misunderstand. They are constantly worrying about money. Some people I think just see others working hard and it's framed on their experience of work.
I grew up a latch key kid and they worked very hard to help me get a great education. Based on this upbringing, I started my family later. As I had planned, I have no financial worries. That unlocks a lot of freedom.
> Like, there are ways of spending time living that don’t revolve around trying to make “gains”; social, financial or any other kind.
No there are not. Everything has a gain of some sort. Even charity work or meditation.
> I notice entrepreneurs using the baby analogy a lot. It’s an interesting distortion of reality...
I have kids and I don't think it's a distortion from that.
You also have to remember that a lot of people choose not to have kids. So yes, that is their figurative baby. Some others may have a dog.
Hilarious how the parent comment seems to categorize the whole rest of life on earth as “meh they’re probably on Facebook”. You know there’s nature, art, other intellectual pursuits, people, using your body in various ways etc.
"On average, global internet users spent 144 minutes on social media sites every day"
The Philippines spends almost 4 hours a day.
I obviously know there are things to do that are not social media. No need to be snarky. I just find that most of the people that have mentioned "you work too much" are heavier than the average social media user.
The important distinction, for me, is the self-awareness to truly chose to work more and understand what you're giving up in the process.
I spent a long time being sucked into overworking primarily because I wanted to avoid some aspect of my life without realizing it. I compromised relationships, stopped hobbies that made me relaxed and happy--again without realizing it.
It's scary how life can just pass by while you're in a state like that.
But as long as you're aware of what you're doing, why you're doing it, and the "life debt" you're taking on--rock and roll. Pouring yourself into creating something really is an incredible thing.
I'd agree with you on that too. The article says 7 more hours a week is a workaholic though and based on my experience with friends and family - they too make no distinction on whether you enjoy it or not. Even if you tell them, they don't have that experience to understand.
Kind of funny though. Nobody tells an athlete they "train too much". Or a researcher that they "research too much".
I probably should have worded that better. The elite athletes and professional researchers - sure that happens.
I guess I'm trying to say - if it's not your career - if you spent 7+ hours per week training for your physical body, practicing your sport or doing research nobody would say anything about it.
So and so is fit and exercises a lot. They look good, that's their jam. So and so is researching a lot or working on a really hard problem. Nice. Good for them.
You work harder than the average on your brain and/or business - "you work too much"
I'm not sure why people can't differentiate that for many:
1) going above and beyond is necessary to level up (especially to make your business a success)
2) people can find that process enjoyable and rewarding (especially if they do it with people they like)
I think the self-employed specifically get a bad rap about "working too much". I'm sure there are some fortunate souls, but I don't know any business owners that clocked in and clocked out average work weeks to success.
Although I agree that there's a workaholic problem for many as they scale the ladder or consume themselves with work to avoid some other issue in their life.
I just don't like the notion that if you work more than the average Joe you don't have a work/life balance or it will cause all these issues.
Just pulled this up and its worse than I would have guessed - "Only 15% of workers are engaged at their job". This is globally. In the US it's 30% engaged 
That's pretty telling to me then. If you aren't engaged at your job - you will think 7 more hours a week is a bad idea and a workaholic. And probably make yourself feel better about using those 7 hours for your hobby or whatever is not your "engaged job"
A manager of mine used to do 12-14 hour day Monday-Friday and sometimes go to the office to work over the weekend as well. Him and his girlfriend weren’t getting on at the time and he’d rather be working than in the house with her
I'm one and personally I have a lot of pride in my work, no matter what I'm doing, so it takes me longer to do things than someone else that just scraps things together. This leads to me spending way more time on work.
I'm a recovering workaholic. I have never loved a job that I've had but I love the feeling of accomplishing things or being "done". Often that "done" feeling only came after I was at the office until 8pm.
I hate the feeling of "not done" and plus as a BA we have tons of ad-hoc things, so I typically work till 7pm and more everyday. I also work on SAT and SUN sometimes. The work is 33%-40% enjoyable as I'm transitionting into a BI (data modeler + a bit of data engineering) role.
Just cut up your tasks more. I get the feeling of done at 5pm these days because I keep a log on where I’m at and what’s next. Done is arbitrary. It might as well be a component rather than the whole thing.
I went on vacation from mid-December and returned to work a few days ago (no lockdown here, office worker). I spent the entire "vacation" in pain, weakness, and/or headaches, but now they are gone (as is the money spent on treatment). I need to check if this has anything to do with my shitty home chair and couch or just being in the office. It would be very nice if the problem was in the furniture.
Upd: no, it’s not that virus (tested). And I had the same problem in March when everyone went to "holidays" for a month. Hell, as I write this I get more and more of it... Thank you, thread.
Learned this the hard way. Spent the last 7 years grinding text books resulting in a place on a Masters in CS and a ~$200k income while working remotely from the UK (without a degree, at 26). Whole purpose was to earn as much as I could and it took over my life. Now I’m on antidepressants and overweight. Recently quit my uni course and job, and settled for a role around $65k with a New Years resolution to never be a workaholic again. Feeling better already :)
this is really interesting!!!
i am considering a drop exactly like that except from 100k to 62k in order to clear up the anxiety induced helltrain i'm currently on, asked about it here: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=25765287
sounds like you made the right choice, i am getting more and more convinced about sacrificing the career to get time for treating myself and the family better
I think it’s really worth considering, but don’t do it off of my post :) Chat to your family about it but also consider speaking to your doctor about anti anxiety counselling/medication. Helped me get through a lot of it.
dont worry, not doing these decisions lightheaded :-) just wanted to express that i admire the thought of skipping the "money making mission" i am on to take care of the real things i care about being my family and my head.
I hope you all get a great 2021!
Honestly, no. I found salaries were similar for the same level of role (maybe a little more in dev) but I was able to get much more senior SDET roles which counteracted this. Instead of being a mid-level dev, I was a senior/lead SDET approaching staff level.
Edit: When I made the shift initially from dev to SDET, I had a 50% pay rise. In London I regularly get approached for £85k/$100k roles as an SDET. True devs might earn more than that at the same companies but it’s already much higher than most devs earn in the UK, and I’m not experienced enough to compete for the dev counterpart roles.
In years to come we will look down on the 5 day working week in the same way we currently do with 15hr factory shifts during the industrial revolution.
It absolutely blows my mind that 99% of office roles are still 5 days / week, Monday to Friday - why is there basically no variation on this model? I'd be more than happy to work a job for 80% salary for 4 days per week...
So much so, I'm about to launch a website listing remote software jobs with a 4 day work week:
I get that Workaholism is a form of escapism for many people, but that's not necessarily the case for everyone. I personally become depressed if I cannot work on something important and potentially valuable, feeling that the days pass without meaning.
I spend lots of time with my kid because I see that as important. I set aside time to get enough sleep so that I can remain productive. But I hate weekends (unless at the park with my kid), I hate shopping, and I hate vacations. I think I avoid burnout because I don't waste time on meaningless tasks. Life is too short, and I want to accomplish a lot
I work at a very small company, and I have a lot of leverage relative to other opportunities. I can directly feel how my work converts into more business value & opportunity. This is not just about me though. It's also about being able to grow the company and provide amazing opportunities for other developers, project managers, executives, et. al. I view my company and team members almost as a big family. We offer all sorts of employee incentive packages, so my success also means that others on the team are reaping value.
For me, this is enough. I can go through life with the purpose of holding together a technology company & vision. Especially, when I view it through the lens of all the opportunity and support I can provide for other humans. I feel I can do a lot more good in this world through technology & business than if I were to bunker down and start my own family and pour all my energy into that bucket.
There is certainly a happy balance that a lot of people manage across both realms, but I have doubled-down a bunch of times on the technology paths, so I am fairly locked-in at this phase. I am truly happy with the choices I have made. Many times, the hardest part of this is ignoring some of the more toxic perspectives regarding your choices & contributions. I have to remind myself that a lot of people are really not happy with their jobs and just want to get in and out without too much drama.
Sure, OC's situation could be categorized as escapism, technically, but it doesn't sound like the unhealthy kind. Escapism is only unhealthy if you're participating in the activity at the detriment of your long term fulfillment.
Similarly, addiction is generally bad, but if your addiction isn't detrimental to your long-term health, there's no problem.
Taking vacations like that makes me want to take vacations. I guess to rephrase what I want to say, I think looking for meaning is a fine thing to do, just don't put it all into your day job, look for meaning in other parts of your life too.
Man, this is me as well. I DREAD the weekends cause I don't know what to do with myself. I sit around feeling anxious and half-depressed, and my mind runs in circles. I'm typically excited for Monday so I can get back to work and distract myself from whatever is going on inside my head.
Why not work on something else that makes you happy? Pick up a new skill to exercise a different part of your body or brain? Take time to take care of yourself, cook a nice meal, meditate, call your parents. Build relationships, repair old ones you may have neglected. Very few people wish that they worked more when they get older.
> We found that job demands could be the most important factor that can develop work addiction risk. So this factor should be controlled or should be investigated by the organization's manager, for example, HR staff, psychologists.
My last job could be described as “workaholism” but what was really going on was
1) my manager had a toxic relationship with their manager and were unfairly overworked
2) they passed this attitude on to their subordinates
3) the really ugly part: although my manager had high expectations, they were not very good about actual enforcement, so work from “underperforming” (< 45 hr/week) teammates was dumped onto “adequate” (> 60 hrs) employees, without any planning or accountability - or, crucially, any flexibility. I had never had a boss who took less responsibility for their worker’s projects.
Speaking for myself: I have a serious mental illness and not a lot of economic stability. So although I am a decent programmer (when I am well) I am very susceptible to stress-related illnesses. In November and December I ended up losing about 20% of my body weight, entirely due to work stress, and had to resign. I really tried my best to get my boss to listen and didn’t have the heart or strength to drag them into HR :(
Just an ugly situation when managers don’t take responsibility for the health of their employees. Especially when the issue is their own stress and inexperience versus greed.
Because none of the comments (yet) reflect the content of the article, here is a useful excerpt that should help refocus us:
> The results show that high job demands at work are strongly associated with work addiction risk but the job control level does not play the same role. The prevalence of work addiction risk is higher for active and high-strain workers than for passive and low-strain workers. These two groups of workers appeared to be more vulnerable and therefore can suffer more from the negative outcomes of work addiction risk, in terms of depression, sleep disorder, stress and other health issues.
For a definition of the four types of working situations, they’re in the article and marked with battery icons.
>"Workaholics are people who usually work seven and more hours more than others per week."
>"Workaholism is also known as a behavioural disorder, which means the excessive involvement of the individual in work when an employer doesn’t require or expect it."
>"The results show that high job demands at work are strongly associated with work addiction risk but the job control level does not play the same role."
In a first glance, the definition of Workaholism seems like something very culture/country dependent. In places such as Japan with pressure to stay longer than your boss, working longer to "show you're working hard", a lot of people might be categorized as workaholic without actually being one.
What the model seems to not include is, and I think contributes way more to work related mental health issue is emotional investment in work. Too much emotional investment seems to lead to unreasonable stress when things are not going accordingly, while not helping much when things are going well. (Which is natural ofc, emotionally we remember negative events/failure more. It being tied to our self-worth or something deeply emotional, is problematic though.)
I left my previous company because of this reason; the project wasn't going anywhere, horribly mismanaged including unrealistic goal settings. But I've had this condition before on other jobs, but only on this one did I get so emotionally invested that I spent ridiculous over-time until burnout trying to make things (out of my control) work.
In retrospective, what made it all worse was that I liked my coworker a lot at my previous work, and seeing them work hard on other project while my project were going nowhere, made me more invested. The company-culture that made reaching out to others for feedback/brain storm/help hard, was also strong contributing factor.
You're absolutely bang-on with the cultural dependence thing. Here, in Europe (although this seems to be changing), it's normal to work fewer hours than would be customary in North America. So, your threshold for 'workaholism' would be lower.
I'm not sure if this is a Western thing or whatever it might be, but for some reason a lot of social science researchers neglect to mention that their research is done on a specific cultural group. You could say "... in the US" for this title, but I rarely see this done.
To think that you can somehow not be emotionally invested in the thing you spend 20% of your time on is a bit naive. Maybe you're a level 9000 stoic, but for the rest of us, I think it's fine and normal to be emotionally invested in our work, it allows for genuine motivation, team spirit and yes disappointments, but what the hell are you living for?
You rather be a robot for 8 hours every day? I'd rather be sad every once in a while but be myself at work and care about it and the people in there with me.
> emotionally invested in the thing you spend 20% of your time
I tried this many times early in my career and it was a mistake. I didn’t find there to ever be any payoff. And when things went badly I didn’t have a shield to keep it from overflowing the rest of my life. I can still enjoy my workmates even if in my heart I know work is bs we all have to do to survive. I still find enjoyment in the craft of programming too.
> but what the hell are you living for?
Good question, B2B SaaS or spending the days wandering in the woods with my kids?
I can witness workaholism around me. In most cases an absolute waste of life time and that makes it even worse to me. Oftentimes low impact and low priority work. It doesn't makes sense to me. Often tried to reach out to my colleagues but they can't let go. Even time spent with doing nothing at all seems time spent better.
I decide in the morning when to quit work in the afternoon. I am forced to manage my workload properly. And I adhere to the KISS principle at all times. I dislike mental overhead. Not everything works well but it is what it is and next day brings other opportunities.
I would posit that deeper psychological issues are what lead someone to workaholism (as a maladaptive coping mechanism). I believe it is a symptom of a larger issue which is what ultimately leads to the problems with mental and physical health.
Sometimes lack of social contact or purpose in life, abuse, loneliness and depression can lead to workaholism, sometimes it's having drunk the cool-aid and chasing the carrot on the stick, or even more common, it's simply lacking better employment options in your area leading you to cave in to soft pressure from your employer which then leads to burn-out/depression.
That makes more sense to me than the other way around.
As a workaholic, and learnaholic, I did it as a path to financial freedom and to accelerate my learning at at time I knew I had the bandwidth and will. It made me a better entrepreneur and business owner later, which is what I really wanted to do.
But as I've gotten older and have a family now I've been removing obligations for my businesses. And working more normal schedules. Taking random times off to help. Being better at triaging what's really needed from my time.
Yet, I wouldn't have change a thing with my path. It's hard to get to financial freedom and the goal of owning your own businesses with 40 hrs a week.
I don't think working more than the normal is necessarily a bad thing. Some people actually do enjoy their jobs. Or their team. Or they enjoy learning.
I know it's hard for some people to understand why some people are workaholics. I certainly have friends that don't like their jobs that have said I work too much. If you hate your 40 hour job, it's hard to imagine doing any more than that.
In the right environment, the 7+ hours per week extra to be considered a workaholic isn't much different from reading books or practicing your craft in your free time.
One man's crippling workaholism is another man's dream life. To one it could be an escape or avoidance of their true self and to another it could be the most rewarding work of all. That is to say, I do not think immersing yourself in your work and working crazy long hours is inherently a bad thing. You can certainly thrive on that energy with the right balance.
> Except most people don't already spend 40h per week reading books or practicing their crafts.
If someone does the average only (40 hrs) and does 7 hours of personal learning on their craft in their spare time - nobody would consider them a workaholic. That's what I'm trying to say.
I work more than the average just like many on this board. Well guess what? I'm more skilled than the average. And I have a wider range of skills than most (from software engineering to marketing). I didn't get there by clocking 40 at each role or at my own businesses. And I probably wouldn't have been able to build successful businesses without going deep into learning for years ahead of time.
To many - the extra work hours are a focus on their craft and learning. I'll add marketing tech skills. Or customer acquisition skills. Or finance.
If I was reading marketing books for 7 hours per week that wouldn't be equated with working. That would be called learning.
And to many people - that's a huge part of their life.
Just because my hobby or thirst of information may include "work", doesn't mean people with knitting hobbies after they clock out 40 have a better work/life balance.
To me - some of my work is a hobby because I find it fascinating and I'll explore different industries much like someone may explore different cuisines in their home chef hobby.
Also - I still have more regular hobbies than most people I know, because apart from some Hacker News time, I don't spend 2-3 hours daily on social media like most people.
I don't get the work/life movement (apart from employer abuse of some employees).
Do you truly enjoy your life or not? Life balance is more appropriate to consider.
I think one needs to distinguish between being a workaholic for some corporation and doing it because you're starting a company or working for yourself.
The former is obviously going to be painful and the latter might not even feel that much like work.
Maybe I'm just justifying because I'm definitely a workaholic, and I'm in the second scenario and it feels totally sustainable. The first scenario I also did, and it was hell, I wouldn't do it again. It was a necessary evil to get the financial security to start my business (self angel funding - no permission required, no strings attached.)
I agree with all of this, though it's possible I'm also just justifying it to myself. I will say though that 8 hours working for someone else felt like a grind... but I can easily do 10-12 if I give myself an interesting project to work on. It feels really meaningful to me...
Yeah working for yourself is a big trap to watch out for. I have fallen for it numerous times.
The problem is when you're working for yourself (or a worthy non-commercial cause) work feels more fun and worthwhile, but the health damage is kind of the same (long hours, lack of exercises, sub-optimal nutrition). Despite it "feeling good," working in this over-capacity regime ends up really inefficient (since you're tired and not seeing the big picture).
One thing that I find helps is to get other people involved (e.g. collaborators, reviewers, users, etc) then allow yourself to take breaks, while still knowing work on the project is continuing by others.
Anyone whos at a FAANG (or similarly paying company) willing to share some insights into what the work culture is? I'd guess that its mostly dependent upon the team, manager, and project. But as my career progresses and I realize I dont want to be doing this shit well into my 50's or hell..60's I figure I can bite the bullet early at a FAANG and stack so much money by the time im 40 I can tell anyone and their mother to go fuck themselves. With the amount they're paying the EV seems way better than trying at a few startups.
I would say from my experience, having worked at a FAANG-like big software company for a long time, it's very easy to work longer hours because of the culture. You see people responding to emails after hours and during weekends, you see people going the extra mile to meet a deadline, the promotion process is regularly pushed and you're always trying to do more to move onto the next stage, etc.
It's all part of the corporate culture, so you don't even think of it as "workaholism", it's just normal. You live in a bubble and many of your friends work at the same company, so you can't even see a different perspective.
That said, it can be very lucrative over several years since they pay so well. I've since left the company, but have a good nest egg from my work there.
One thing I've seen, time and time again, is that workaholics tie their identity to their employment. Everything revolves around work, and they pretty much become their work. Work is the place where they live. Co-workers, clients, associates, and what not are the majority of people they interact with. Work is what occupies their mind.
When they then lose that - either through retirement, unemployment, or what not, it turns ugly. Especially if they're also the sole provider (in their household.).
My only tips are to create rules for yourself, and try to follow them - as well as finding one or more hobbies. The more passionate you become with some hobbies, the less you only think about work.
I honestly think my mental and physical health are so much better than they should be at my age because I don't take work as seriously as my colleagues. Though, I'm fairly certain I've missed out on a few promotions.
I'm with you this. I still do work very hard and definitely too much, but I made a decision in my mid 20s to never let work stress actually affect me. Or, at least try not to. I think it actually helped me get promoted when working at startups, but now that I'm working at an 'elite' company, I've definitely missed out on promotions. I'm just not willing to work 14 hr days, every day, to hit arbitrary dates on a calendar.
I classify workaholics into three categories, first is too much pride, second is "my colleagues are my friends" and there isn't much to do at home anyways, third is someone really needs the job and money
As a freelance concept artist and illustrator I pull regular all nighters but when I’m into the zone drawing worlds and characters from pure imagination, I lose track of time and space. After some time of not sleeping it feels like my head is floating mid air, I don’t know which day of the week it is and the last time I looked out the window the sun was going up, now it’s early morning again. It doesn’t interfere with my life because art completes and lifts me into a higher state of consciousness. It’s rare and remarkable
Programming does this for me too. I think it's as important to make space for this in your life, as it is to make space for other things too.
I believe doing work at that level of immersion is actually hugely beneficial to your life and mental health. There was just an article on HN the other day about a 104 year old submitting his PHD thesis. Super cool!
It would be interesting to see the literature evolve beyond the current (simplistic) model of workaholism. The current paper isn't super clear on what their working definition is (to me), but seems to be "a compulsion or an uncontrollable need to work incessantly".
How does that relate to actual work demands? The paper says that the effort put in must beyond what is "necessary", but this is pretty vague, and would seem off in different contexts. Am I a studyholic if I study for an A instead of a simply 'sufficient' C? Should we call parents who stay up helping their kids finish a school project due tomorrow parentaholics? What is the 'correct' amount of effort to be expended so that the scientific literature won't label you as having a mental health problem?
Aside from that, can this even be extricated from simple enjoyment of work? One cited paper says:
> Cantarow (1979) suggests that workaholics are those who seek passionate involvement and gratification from working. Finally, it has been observed that hard-workers often use the word ‘fun’ to describe their work experiences (Kiechel, 1989; Machlowitz, 1980). Thus, it seems that workaholics typically find working pleasurable.
The horror! From that same cited paper:
> Therefore, in this paper, workaholics are defined as those who enjoy the act of working, who are obsessed with working, and who devote long hours and personal time to work. In short, workaholics are those whose emotions, thoughts, and behaviors are strongly dominated by their work.
If I actually enjoy my job, of course I'm going to spend more time on it! And if I don't like to exercise, or play parent, or if I only eat what I need to keep me alive, that's going to look like workaholism, even though it's just someone doing what they enjoy as much as they can. That's going to lead to neglect of other things, because there are only so many hours in a day. That's an important part of the definition, by the way, neglecting "other parts of life" is seen as a central component of workaholism, but this obviously applies to every activity, be it studying, exercising, parenting, whatever. Are we supposed to think up a portmanteau for each of these to signify individuals who 'overindulge' by our judgment?
> There are potential reasons for that: financial problems, ...
Does it really count as an addiction if you're doing it because of genuine financial problems? I always thought of proper workaholism as an unhealthy addiction to the dopamine rush you get when you're successful at your job. I've experienced a mild version of this in the past when I didn't have enough else that was fulfilling me in my life; like many addictions, it was a crutch against depression.
If you're a workaholic but your job is less than useless to the point that society would be better off if you didn't work, of course that will lead to mental health problems...
That said, the fact that someone would be willing to do overtime to harm society is probably a sign of mental problems to begin with... There is nothing more ridiculous than the idea of harming society though charity work and yet many people are doing it these days.
I vaguely remember a study from the UK dealing with depression and it's causes. I think it had said that there was a higher percentage of participants who were depressed because they were fired from their jobs than there were from their spouse leaving them. I remembered that seemed pretty interesting at the time. Now I feel like it kinda makes sense (you lost your source of money vs an unhappy marriage ending).
I literally worked till I dropped during the holidays. I was committing code, got up to stretch, hit my head on furniture and passed out lol. I don't think I am workaholic. This happened because the project was mismanaged and failure to delivery would cost the company a large sum of money (due to contract negotiations with vendors etc)
I nearly ended up becoming a quadriplegic after ignoring my health issues(I literally didn't know I had a fracture in my neck) while running a startup for ~5 years as a single founder. I had to close my startup because of it.
So I would certainly say it was not worth it, now even my compute time is limited, I had to even change my programming language of choice(Java to Go) to reduce the time before computer before my biological alarm(pain) goes off.
Please do what ever it takes to maintain a healthy work-life balance. Especially the single founders out there, the bus factor is more real than the perceived light at the end of the tunnel.
Also workaholics, get a damn big heath insurance coverage, largest coverage you can afford.
I used to work at a place where "going above and beyond" was celebrated.
Our products were deployed on premises. The support model was that the on-site team would exhaust their ability to troubleshoot and then send you a P0 email or Slack message, and then it was you against the machine, at any and all hours, until the problem was solved.
On Mondays before lunch we'd all pile into the open space to clap as the product lead delivered kudos like, "Oh, and thanks to Will for helping Deployment Foo fix their database corruption on Mother's Day!"
But now I'm not there anymore and their stock is making me money. Grind, little drones, grind, grind!
My father worked his whole life and only retired when he started having seizures. It got him and my mother their current homer, but it sacrificed his physical health and basically any relationship he may have had with his family, because he was either working (usually 12 hour days) or sleeping.
I really hope it was worth it for him, because I could never do that to myself. Giving up that much of yourself and your life for people you'll never meet and don't care a single bit about you seems like something meant for fools.
I was a young grad student more than a decade ago. When preparing for interviews, a common question we prepared for was : "What are your weaknesses"
I saw a lot of people confidently saying, "My only weakness is that I'm a workaholic". This was supposed to be a strength hidden as a weakness. Employers preferred new hires who were willing to devote themselves to work and had decided they were workaholic without having a single day of work experience.
“You are not your job, you're not how much money you have in the bank. You are not the car you drive. You're not the contents of your wallet. You are not your fucking khakis. You are all singing, all dancing crap of the world.”
Stop judging yourself, others instead judge the action, and you shall be free from the hypnosis that many never wake from.
I'd regret not trying with every bit of my intellect and ability more than burning out in the process of trying. Up until my mid twenties I realized I'd been "protecting myself" and in effect making myself miserable because I kept telling myself that my goals would just lead to burn out and wouldn't be worth it.
I can sort of understand people who own their own businesses or otherwise have jobs where the amount they put in is directly related to how much they get back putting in tons of hours and basically centering their life around their work, but I can't quite figure out regular salaried employee workaholics.
Working yourself to death is a real thing. And often times, people are forced into these tracks due to competition and pressure. At some point I came to a conclusion that competition does not bring out the best in people and I refuse to work in a contrived environment where such behaviors are encouraged.
2) The paper was written based on the findings of the software
The sample is not random in any sense as it looks like its based on 187 people who are using this software. Correlation != Causation.