Using writing, and meditation, and ice cream, and reading, and dreams,

and a whole lot of other tools to rediscover who I am,

after six years living with a man with OCPD.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Too Perfect Tuesday - Chap 9 - When the Workaholic Can't Work & Workaholics and Denial

Workaholics the Comedy Central Show - hilarious
Workaholics in person - not so much fun
This post continues with When the Workaholic Can't Work and Workaholics and Denial from Chapter Nine.

This series looks at a small snippet of The book on the Perfectionist Personality, aka The Obsessive Compulsive disordered Personality, aka OCPD, each week. Please follow along, leave your comments, engage more on the FaceBook website... whatever your heart calls you to do.

When Being in Control Gets Out of Control by Allan E. Mallinger, M.D. and Jeanette DeWyze was published by Random House in 1992.  If   you believe you are dealing with OCPD or someone who is "Too Perfect," whether that's you or a loved one, please buy a copy of the book and read it for additional insights that will not all be covered in these excerpts.
When outside forces threaten to prevent them from working, some workaholics to to ludicrous lengths to overcome the impediment. <snip>

If he is actually prevented from working - by illness or a job loss, or by a work block such as those we discussed earlier - then the obsessive's level or anxiety is almost certain to increase and his self-image to suffer. For many obsessive workaholics, their sense of identity depends far too much on their professional role, and if they're seen as anything less than outstanding in their chosen field, they may feel as if they're nothing. A serious depression may ensue.

Some of my workaholic patients acknowledge that they set their own frenetic pace. But I more commonly hear a different refrain: "I'm not a workaholic! I wish I had more free time, but I feel overwhelmed by all that I have to do." Like the immigrant seamstress, these people claim that they "have to" work as much as they do because they'll lose their jobs if they don't. Of their clients need them. Or they've got to take advantage of a particular economic or professional opportunity. Is this sort of person a workaholic?

That isn't always immediately apparent. <snip>
Sometimes people have virtually no choice but to yield to unusual work pressues for a limited time period. I think of the software engineer who must put in eighty hours a weeks during the final stage of debugging a major project, or the magazine editor who works twenty hour days when the monthly deadline draws close.
Jeffrey, for instance, grumbled constantly about all he had to do as editor of a weekly newspaper.  <snip>

In fact his boss eventually became so concerned about the possibility of his star employee's burning out that he worked out a plan under which Jeffrey didn't have to come into the office on Tuesdays, the slowest day of the wee. The boss further insisted that he wasn't to work at home on those days, but was to read, relax, and recuperate. Instead of leaping at this offer, however, Jeffrey pointed out all the things that wouldn't get done, or wouldn't be done well enough, if he took this day off. Eventually he did yield, but within a few months he had reverted to scheduling at least a few hours of work on his mandatory "free day." Contrary to his words, Jeffrey demonstrated that he, not his boss, was his toughest taskmaster.

In one obsessive patient after another, I've seen a similar pattern. The complain about the amount of time their work consumes, and the unremitting pressure under which they live. They talk about their demanding bosses, their need for financial security, the pressure to provide their families with a comfortable lifestyle. But in fact, when I go through the schedules of such "overworked" patients, I invariable see areas in which they could change without impairing their efficiency. When I suggest specific cutbacks, however, I am usually bombarded with justifications for every single commitment. The bottom line for the denying workaholic is that he cannot cut out anything. Or so he insists.
I've lost a couple three jobs, due to financial downturns in the economy, and once because of somewhat crazy/alcoholic supervisor (I ended up getting a workers' comp settlement.) Regardless of why, even if it's not your fault, it's always depressing to lose a job. If someone is OCPD and has been fired (at least in part) because s/he can't get along with anybody, that's got to be pretty depressing, too. Recently someone shared this story:
I had a go at my supervisor on Friday. I'll face the music tomorrow. Dreading going back to work. Made quite a scene - said she was crap in front of all my work colleagues and then stormed off 'f'ing and blinding. All over my version of work priorities not being the same as others. My set of rules have become an obsession and I've been stressed out that other are not pulling their weight and have the wrong set of priorities at work. I just can't work in a team anymore.
This person never did check in and let us know what went down on Monday, but I can imagine his supervisor was Not Pleased. He may well have been let go, and now is hating life, and himself. I truly hope he got the help he needs.

Keep in mind, there is being depressed, and there is being Depressed.

from Hyperbole and a Half Adventures in Depression
When you are Depressed, or even suspect you might be - even if you have a good excuse reason to be sad, like losing a loved one or your job - please, Go Get Help. You wouldn't try to move a piano by picking it up and carrying by yourself, would you?

On Being in Denial

Bosses don't take kindly to employees telling them they're crap (especially if there's some truth in it). Nor do they appreciate an employee pissing and moaning all the time about how terribly, terribly overworked they are. Can you imagine being Jeffrey's boss, making a special effort to arrange the schedule to give the guy a day off, and shortly he's back to the full court press (and probably whining about it)? Bosses are human too (or least, that's the rumor), and if I was Jeffrey's boss, I would be thinking, if not saying, "ungrateful lout," as he ramped up his schedule again.

My ex would frequently recount stories of how his boss wanted him to do XX amount of work, but he always put in extra time/effort, because what the boss wanted wasn't good enough. So he took it upon himself to continue to work at the task however long it took him, regardless of whether his boss wanted him to wrap it up and move to something else.  I have a feeling if the company hadn't been sold he would have gotten fired eventually anyway.

There's kind of a patting oneself-on-the-back self-complimenting quality to being a workaholic. See, I'm worthy, I kill myself for my job, I'm sooooo much better than those lazy people over there.

Does anyone ever reach their deathbed and wish they'd spent more time at work and less with their family?

Do you know someone who gets cabin fever if s/he can't get to work?
Or who blames other people for a grueling schedule
of his/her own making?
Your thoughts?
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