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  • Writer's pictureMalar Villi

Work , addictions - the untold story

'My sense of worth, unavailable to me for who I am, has come from work. And In the practice of medicine, I found the perfect cure, I found the ideal venue to prove my usefulness and indispensability. For a long time, it was impossible for me to turn down work – the drug of being wanted was far too powerful to refuse and, in any case, I needed to the flame of constant preoccupation to ward off the anxiety or depression or ennui that always lurked at the edges of my psyche. Like any addict, I used my addiction to help regulate my moods, my internal experience. On weekends, when the beeper fell silent, I felt empty and irritable – the addict in withdrawal.' ~ Dr Gabor Mate

When I ordered this book, I wanted to understand addiction. The enigma behind the pains of addiction in the family and the people I cared for in my life. Deep within, it hurt me that these people are good, yet addicted. I needed to understand the reason they were not able to see the rationale that I saw when they were under the influence of any substance or habit. In my growing years, I dismissed it as a lack of education, which drove me to do what I do. In the process, I found my vocation.

In the corporate world, I saw pain. The pain that is ignored to be in the league of success. The pain, wrapped as purpose, resilience and strength, to remain in the system. No diagnosis needed. I witnessed the justification of having no time to live. There is no time to do what matters most to me: to spend regular time with the people I care most, now replaced with being present at an occasion and social media. Not having time to have a proper meal and replace with an efficient meal: fast food, eat while you work or yet another cup of coffee that will conveniently suppress the appetite. Grab further empowers and liberates the busy life with the logic of convenience and freedom. The grab time saved used to be even more efficient and productive, again, leaving us with no time for living.

Occasionally, there are blurts of ' Oh my blood pressure must be high, but I will be ok' or 'I just have to do this for a while more until I get to my goal'. A couple of painkillers along the way, many cups of good coffee, meal replacement drinks, snacks along the way and boosters of energy drinks, vitamins while, losing sight of reality.

In a recent event, I made some calls to rehabilitation centres for alcohol addiction for women. While I was glad that there are more centres than I knew for women, the affordable ones were fully occupied, raised the alarm about reality. Various conversation with caretakers told me that those who enrolled in these programs were professionals. I had to pause to reflect on my assumptions of addictions, once again.

Here's an excellent site with the numbers we need to reflect on, the numbers that matter for well being in Malaysia.

Dr Gabor Mate's work reveals that addiction is a disease, an effort to escape the pain. And pain is emotional. It requires emotional healing.

A client asked me, 'is it our problem to solve ?' Of course not. NOT YET. These are issues showing up as mental health, depression, bullying at work, escalating medical cost, longer hours of work that doesn't result in increased productivity. The broken relationships or dysfunctional families will make up the national statistics in well being.

While many forums are addressing wellbeing, we hardly scratched the surface of the problem. Soon, it will be a top HR topic as mental health takes centre stage in 2020.

I am going to share some quotes from this book on Linked In, this week, with the hope that you will pick up the book. It will take emotional maturity to first become aware , accept and then self regulate . In The Realm of Hungry Ghosts, helped me to accept my addiction to work, and I am glad to be on the road to recovery with flowprofiler® as my diagnostic tool.

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