Wednesday, July 4, 2012

why i am a workaholic/anti-social

I have been having more frequent bouts of depression recently.  It hits me at night, after a 11-hour work day when my eyes are inflamed (see "blepharitis" posts) and all I want to do is be with H.K. and sink into the couch/bed.  It is then that my mind slows down and I realize how many people I've blown off lately and what a shitty friend I have been and how in the world I thought I could meet all the social demands I had set for myself.

When this happened two nights ago, I unloaded in "drunk-dial" fashion on my dearest friend, Liz.  Master and Ninja of all things Life -- particularly mindfulness and self-acceptance in terms of chronic illness -- Liz helped me to find some perspective.

For more perspective, see this article.  Only after reading it have I been able to piece together my position on the social bailing that has made me so upset lately.

I have had a very difficult time explaining, not only to other people but to myself, why I have the energy to work 60-70 hours a week but not to socialize.  It comes down to two things: 1) I am a troglodyte, and 2) I absolutely love my work and am bewildered that I am actually healthy enough right now to do it.  The latter of these, as you may have guessed, is the more pertinent.

Having had Crohn's disease for ~14 years now, I have experienced many lows and highs.  During the lowest lows, I am bed-ridden, emaciated, and in consistent immense pain.  But during the highs... there is freedom.  There are windows of time when I can do whatever I want to with the energy that I do have.  And I chose to do science, because I love it almost as much as I love H.K., and I am compulsively -- sometimes obsessively -- driven by it.  It is much harder to find windows of health that allow me to embrace research than it is to find the stamina for being with people I love.  It may seem backwards, and/or fucked up, but I take advantage of my rare working windows at the expense of socializing.  It has nothing to do with my love for people.  It is simply a reflection of my passion taking precedence where/when it can.

The above article explains this conflict well.  You do what you can, when you can.  Sometimes your body bails on you and plans change.  Sometimes you overestimate what you will be able to accomplish and things further down on the list get put off or dropped.

Just because I am working does not mean I am healthy.  It means that I am healthy enough to do some things, but not everything.


  1. Thank you for posting this, Raga. I may want to repost, if that's OK. I think it's important to recognize the ebbs and flows of a chronic disease, and oftentimes the lack of a physical reminder to the outside world. I've been feeling quite sick recently (not entirely Crohn's, but cold after cold after cold) and I worry a lot about what people may think when I say I'm not feeling well...again. I often feel like I have to explain my disease. Explain why I may have another cold, or this or that. Explain why I'm often tired. Your post and the accompanying article help to dispell that, is what it is, and I shouldn't worry about how it's perceived. I'm glad you are feeling well enough to delve into your work, however, and taking full use of your "feeling good" time!! :)

  2. Lovely to hear from you, lady. Feel free to repost, and I hope that you return to health soon! I imagine that between Crohn's and that sweet little girl of yours that your immune system must be ready to tap out! Be well :)