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Workaholism leads to health problems, work addiction risk depends on occupation (www.hse.ru)
444 points by rustoo 8 days ago | hide | past | web | 237 comments | favorite

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.

I'm sure a lot of us can relate.

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.

> 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.

This used to be a daily thing for me. I would stay at the office from 10 am to 10pm most days not really working but i just didn't want to go home.

>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.

I wonder if other cultures or other eras knew how to deal with that better.

Ignoring and distracting problems through side gigs...

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 can resonate with this one, in addition I often catch myself taking others' tasks just to keep my mind busy.

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.

> If you had nothing positive outside of work

Rather than having nothing positive, I think it's having negatives that they can't otherwise control.

> 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.

‘Emotionally uninhabitable’ is a very useful phrase I’ve never encountered before

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.

Yeah but you can change jobs and find better work with less fires far easier than changing your personal life.

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.

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.

How do you find a therapist?

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.

>societal pressure to be in a relationship is real.

Thanks for saying this. I had a partner who was divorced in 2019 as well, she really made it seem like she stayed in multiple crappy marriages to look good.

I'm grateful for a safe place to sleep and food, which is much more than I expected to have in my youth.

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.

Reminds me a lot of this document : http://www.structuredprocrastination.com/

Wow, that feels relatable. Glad your family is doing better now!

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.

We all learn lessons as we go. Working probably saved you some bits too, it's a compromise. Your boss was very empathetic.

Best wishes for the rest.

Thank you for sharing that story.

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?

  Seriously, no.
  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?

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.

I'm open to hearing ideas if you have any though.

> 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...

I live in NZ, so a long delay answering.

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.

Strongly agree.

> 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.

>Do you have any kind of meaningful social connections outside of work?

No, but that's been the status quo so I was a child.

Wouldn't having a social circle that cause more problems though? Suicide's main issue is the distress it causes for social connections. No circle, no problems.

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.

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.

No, my friend. Suicide's main issue is that you will be dead. I urge you to talk to a professional. You don't have to feel this way.

Is it?

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?

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).

Hey: I'm sorry you are suffering so much you are thinking about taking your own life. I know your pain is real because I have felt it myself before.

I do not want you to commit suicide, please stay with us.

Please call the suicide prevention hotline and get help. Just try to talk to someone on this phone line at least once. It helped me: https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/

I've noticed in the replies below that you've said you don't have meaningful relationships with anyone. I firmly believe that this is a strong contributing factor to how you feel right now.

I've been through similar situations in my life as well, very dark times that I have trouble believing I went through.

Do you want to talk more? My email is in my profile. I'm happy to talk with you!

I'm sure there's lots of unhealthy things that will make you temporarily not feel suicidal..I feel great after 5 tequila sodas but it's obviously not good for me. You should really get help

Change your employer, take a break if financially possible. Life can be better, please talk to someone. Your loved ones and a professional.

Life can be fun and working more does not solve problems!

Because you've taken concrete steps to prepare for suicide, please take a few minutes to discuss this with a doctor or a mental health professional.

One resource is the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org

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.

>As such, could you really say that is working long hours such is really unhealthy? Or such a terrible thing?

Yes, yes it is. It sounds like you are simply using work as a distraction from your problems instead of addressing them.

Our society is becoming more and more disconnected as everyone is working way too much. We should be working less, not more.

Less work means people can spend more time doing things they enjoy, socializing, doing things they need to do outside work, and having more time to relax and probably sleep.

> 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.

Also see my other comment:


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.

I hope things start looking up for you, friend.

Here's a quote that may interest you:


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).

Please reach out to a friend or professional. You can DM me if you want.

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.

The difference is if you can get enough distance between your expenses and your income, you can completely escape the rat race in a significantly earlier timeframe.

For many outside of the ultra high cost of living zones, 200k is about that cut off level where you can reach escape velocity.

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.

> "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."

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.

YMMV, of course.

After you create your masterpiece of code, do you know enough to document and understand it later (so you can pass it on to others)?

Having been in the zone, I completely sympathize with the view that productivity isn't constant; that the cost to your health is worth the leap...

Have you ever had that feeling and then realized in the morning/next day that your feeling was illusory and you actually took the harder path?

For me it's more about getting the idea out of my head. The code wouldn't be a finished product, but more like a brain dump.

> 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.

>The effect it has on their mood/interpersonal skills, and the pressure it puts on the rest of the team cancels it out.

> You will perform better if you go to bed and get a full nights rest and clean your brain out

All of these claims are situational and often untrue. It's entirely possible for workaholics to be more productive, inter-personally smooth, and a team player.

The most convincing reason to not be a workaholic is not that it's a counter-productive effort. It's that workaholism will lead to decreased long-term fulfillment (for most people).

> If your job is your whole life and you are not making +200k: GET A LIFE

Tons of people on this forum are making that much, would not recommend workaholism for them either

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.)

Maybe they were doing it to get promoted? Sad reality is often promotions go to the workaholics instead of the people who take care of themselves.

I believe workaholists do not neccesarily love their job, but hate something else so much that they would rather find some place to take a bit of rest.

I think I'm developing into one...

Now that you are not at the top, I can say it:

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.

> get talked down

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.

> They don’t make snarky comments. At least, when it fails, _it’s our fault_ . And we can fix it.

Certainly not alone here, this is almost the same as part of the Hacker's Manifesto:

> I made a discovery today. I found a computer. Wait a second, this is

> cool. It does what I want it to. If it makes a mistake, it's because I

> screwed it up. Not because it doesn't like me...

> Or feels threatened by me...

> Or thinks I'm a smart ass...

> Or doesn't like teaching and shouldn't be here...


...this part of which also rang true to me throughout school.

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.

Why do you think that this is due to your gender, rather than any other aspect?

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 have the theory that boys get into programming as a form of escapism – because the external world is frustrating to them.

of course not all are like this

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.

You do know that social media is not the only thing one can do outside of work, right?

Like, there are ways of spending time living that don’t revolve around trying to make “gains”; social, financial or any other kind.

Maybe this is something that your parents mean - they’re expressing a worry over whether you’re getting value out of life, as you’re hustling through all those businesses you seem to be running?

I notice entrepreneurs using the baby analogy a lot. It’s an interesting distortion of reality...

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.

Snarky much? I specifically mentioned friends.

Anyway, globally I know most are on average.

"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.

[1] https://www.digitalmarketing.org/blog/how-much-time-does-the...

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.

That's out of my definition of workoholics though. So I could be biased as I'm using my own definition. IMO if you really enjoy your wor then you are not a workoholic.

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".

> Nobody tells an athlete they "train too much"

Given that the side-effects of that are even worse than other over-work, fairly sure that happens.

> Or a researcher that they "research too much"

Of course they get told that they work too much, or don't let go of work enough. Common stereotype actually.

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 [1]

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"

[1] https://news.gallup.com/opinion/chairman/212045/world-broken...

For some, that something else is themselves.

I disagree with this submission title. Workaholism isn’t a cause of mental health problems, it’s a symptom.

absolutely. I used to use alcohol and other drugs to escape...whatever that is, I haven't figured it out. now that I'm dry - I use physical labor. just as at one point in my life I used programming.

at the studio where I work nearly everyone is 'in recovery' and everyone is quite open that the work is filling that hole.

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

Yeah definitely. Sometimes you can't simply cut something away so you have to try to stay away from it as long as possible. I think the situation would improve if they just separate.

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.

Overfocus on details or over-perfection could be a symptom of anxiety.

Pretty sure anxiety is a symptom of the perfectionism, not the cause

I think it could go either way. That makes it viable for a vicious cycle.

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.

Do you have a carbon monoxide detector?

This hit me really hard, because it's true. This is literally me last 7 years.

Very. Well. Said.

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!

Considering same here. 300k valley salary ready to leave the valley and make maybe 100k in a country that isn’t fucked.

What did you work in if you don't mind me asking?

Was a software developer but realised it’s much easier to be competitive, if you’re a good but not great dev, to get higher paying SDET roles.

Don’t they get paid much less? Let’s say you’re a 7/10 dev, wouldn’t you get paid more as a dev?

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.

How did you find a job that paid that much?

Just applying for roles in SF!

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:


Interesting. How long until you launch?

Hopefully next week, will email everyone on the list and post it on HN when it's live


I look forward to it!

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

This is more-or-less my position.

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.

Wouldn't the need to feel productive in order to avoid meaninglessness/depression be considered escapism?

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.

To me workaholism is giving too much time to your main job.

On the other hand I'd I have a LOT of side projects that I consider to have meaning. Most of my vacations are projects, e.g.



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.

The most important point from the study:

> 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 they spent 47h per week doing it, people would call it unhealthy too. (or dedicated, if they have no sense of healthy temperance at all)

> 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.

Yeah, I know someone whose workaholism is caused by abuse experienced during childhood. It's so obvious to me.

It is unfortunately extremely common.

It's always a chicken vs the egg scenario.

While the initial steps into workaholism may be from other issues, eventually it can become the cause of many others.

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.

I take care to eat well and exercise 4-5 times a week. I think that's critical.

I also don't do any hobbies and only see friends a few times a year - all my free time goes to my wife, which is how I manage 60 hour weeks while being married.

I was in the second scenario. It definitely is workaholism, and from my own experience the price check your body, mind and family gives in the end is not worth the financial gain...

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.

It's simple: Work to live. Don't live to work. Yeah, I'm talking to you Americans*.

* Mostly joking. Workaholism exists everywhere. It's a reference to Emily in Paris.

Lower social safety or unionization probably makes it a little harder for Americans.

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).

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.

Difficult to disagree, especially when you are working on a job that is not satisying intellectually and emotionally. All the money in the world doesn't help

How much of workaholism is fear-driven? Since I got my house paid off it's been remarkably easy not to stress about trying to look busier than my peers.

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[1] 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.


Typical case of inverting cause and effect.

Or an incidence of correlation and not causation. Not that correlation does not mater.

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!

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.

"Workaholism is a trait" was drilled into us.

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.

Likely your dad did it for himself, you, your mother, and your siblings , rather than a corporation.

    “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.

Ezra Klein had an interesting podcast recently with Robert Sapolsky on how constant stress damages your health:


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.

For me it was the combination of two factors: - my girlfriend leaving me - starting a company with my friends

This led to a massive addition to work. While I don't regret starting a company at all, my sleep quality definitely suffered.

I've been in situations where I was under a lot of stress and had trouble concentrating and being effective at work. Especially learning.

I'm very jealous of those who are not less, but more performant under those conditions.

We're stuck on the hourly rate.

The idea of saying "work only 3 or 4 days a week" invites the immediate fear "but how will I survive on less pay"

Try on for size: "work only 4 days. we're not cutting your pay"

Also in my experience:

Workaholism is also not seldomly caused by mental (and sometimes physical) health problem where the affected person tries to escape reality (their past, their mind, their life etc.).

The title is very misleading because it states a causation whereas the article talks about “links” and “associations”. This is a serious error since correlation is not causation.

This paper has some red flags and it would be great if someone who has experience with this domain provides more light.

1) The original paper is at https://www.mdpi.com/1660-4601/17/20/7594

2) The paper was written based on the findings of the software https://wittyfit.com/ The sample is not random in any sense as it looks like its based on 187 people who are using this software. Correlation != Causation.

Do workaholics earn more, on average? Or is money something they generally don't care as much about as the actual work?

I'm in the have high job demands and high job control situation, it's still totally miserable.

Good article.

I wish I knew this 3 years ago. Anyway things are good now.

okay, can see that; what if your job is enjoyable like play, and you get lost doing it, and thus don't have mental and physical effects?

In other news, water is wet.

Who knew?


*aholisms are normally so good for your health. Who knew?!

Are we expected to believe that there are workaholics in France? Now 'strikaholics' I can believe.

Please don't take HN threads into nationalistic flamewar. Last thing we need here.


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