I have never been in favour of addiction of any kind, be it a substance (including tea and coffee), habit or even gadgets. But as the saying goes 'diye tale andhera', I didn't realise that my work was gradually turning into an obsession and I was transforming into a hardcore alcoholic, workaholic that is. Believe me, workaholism is a form of extreme addiction, a progressive disease with very detrimental bearing on one's physical and psychological well-being.
Literally speaking, a workaholic is the one addicted to work, not a hard worker rather a compulsive worker. A workaholic can't sit idle, relax and just be. Being busy is the drug that gives him/her a high. Not working induces guilt pangs, resentment and self-wallowing. Just like other addictions it has its symptoms and red herrings. For better understanding of this ailment, let me play my story in flashback (yes filmy style).
I jumped on to the job wagon right after graduation, as I was keener to earn than learn. Soon I was flying high on wings of financial independence; yes that's the initial stage of this addiction. Next was the adrenaline rush begot by resolving crises, meeting project deadlines and achieving job targets. Still, I was a borderline case and dared to take a break and even experiment with a vocational change.
Marriage and a baby brought along more responsibilities and from a workaholic perspective, more challenges. Personally and professionally, I had many roles to live up to and each one became by dope for further addiction. As if not enough, I pursued my master's degree in this melee. Multitasking is not bad but when it becomes the only benchmark of your worth, then it spells trouble.
Finally, work was getting better of me. Holidays made me anxious and bored. I needed something to do all the time, even at the cost of my health and mental serenity.
And then something happened that changed my life, for better or worse, both in fact. I was almost immobilised by a massive disc prolapse and the workaholic in me was forced into a prolonged rehabilitation. Was it destiny or my doing? After all I had been ignoring the forewarnings. What followed was unbearably painful, physically and emotionally. Even a drug addict is weaned off drugs gradually but here I was, not able to even walk properly let alone work. Thanks to family support and therapy, the physical pain subsided and I got back to a better though restrictive lifestyle.
Now I had a bigger demon to fight, the withdrawal symptoms of this unsolicited de-addiction. I suffered terrible mood swings, feeling guilty of not doing anything worthwhile. But then, this cloud too had a silver lining.
For once I was not running a race and living life at my own pace, spending quality time with loved ones. I rediscovered my passion for writing and found the joy of selective working rather than compulsive. The rehabilitation process still continues for me.
Lesson learnt: Work we must, for that is worship and imperative also in today's competitive world. But life sustains and flourishes on balance, not excesses. Only you can decide what your threshold is. Slow down or burn out? Make a choice before it's too late.
The writer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org