Obsession With Work
Dear Dr. LeCrone:
During the last 20 years I have lived for my work to the exclusion of everything and everybody else, including my family, friends and health.
I have been married three times, but all have ended in divorce, primarily because of my unhealthy priorities. My relationships with my children and friends have been superficial at best.
I have diabetes, high blood pressure and chronic insomnia, all due in part to my lack of self care and focus on work. I’ve always dreaded weekends and have been miserable when I took a rare vacation. My obsession with work-related matters has consumed all of my waking hours.
My total lack of balance in life actually impaired my work skills and performance. I was so intent on doing everything correctly and to excess that I lost all perspective of the true goals and objectives of my employers.
As you might expect, I had no hobbies and saw leisure time as frivolous. Enjoying a beautiful sunset, a good novel or a leisurely dinner unrelated to my work actually made me uncomfortable, and I soon began to feel anxious about not working.
My parents were both alcoholics and extreme perfectionists. I now recognize that my own low self-esteem is at the root of my problem. I grew up feeling a constant and unattainable need to please my parents. My grossly excessive need for recognition and approval fuels my need to have my work fill the void of inadequacy that I experienced.
I know that I suffer from both anxiety and depression. The guilt that I feel from my failed attempts at marriage and parenting is a terrible burden, as is my own physical self-neglect.
Fortunately, I now have a boss that recognizes my terrible unhappiness, and he has referred me to our company’s Employee Assistance Program.
The mental health counselor of this program has begun helping me, and as part of my therapy, I have started taking an antidepressant, which has helped the depression, anxiety and my sleep problem.
My counselor has helped me realize that this is not going to be a quick fix but rather a process of gradual recovery and life long relapse prevention.
Please share my story with your readers in hopes of helping someone else.
-A reader in California
Thanks for your inspiring letter and permission to pass it on. Good luck to you.
Harold H. Lecrone, Jr., Ph.D. Copyright © 2007