What’s the difference between working hard and working compulsively?
To find out, we’re launching Anxy №2: The Workaholism Issue.
It’s been more than a year since Anxy started its journey, back in October 2016. We couldn’t be more proud of what we’ve accomplished between then and now. What started as a personal passion project has—thanks to the support and enthusiasm of readers—become a publication with global reach that can get noticed. That means a lot to us: It means that Anxy has a real chance at breaking the barriers that stigmatize mental health, and that it can do so across borders and cultures. The positive reception has been encouraging, and I want to make sure we build on that momentum.
This time it’s about workaholism. We’re exploring the subject of work, specifically the edges between working hard and working compulsively. How do we know when we are pushing ourselves too far? What’s happening underneath the surface when, knowing we should stop, we feel compelled to keep going? What happens when we have no other choice?
If you want to know why we’re doing this, take a look at a Q&A I did to mark the release with our friends at It’s Nice That.
There are so many pieces we could tell you about, and we’re proud of them all in different ways — but our big interview is with the comedian Neal Brennan. Last year he made a major breakthrough by producing this amazing show and Netflix special called 3 Mics, where he mixes straight-up joke routine with this amazing, raw confessional material about his own life. He spoke to Zoneil Maharaj, a writer and editor from Las Vegas, about his struggles with depression, and how work and mental health interact for him. We coupled that with work by An Rong Xu, a wonderful Chinese-American photographer, who followed Brennan around to see what his life is like. You really get the sense of how hard he actually works to make this all happen in the portraits he took.
Another there’s a great piece by Laura Reagan, a therapist based in Baltimore who talks about how our traumas can bring themselves back to life at work, including her own experience of a workplace shooting. Not everybody’s story is so dramatic of course, but we all bring all this baggage with us to work — family relationships, previous jobs, friendships — and we often don’t understand how issues at work like uncertainty or bullying can really bring that stuff back to life. The accompanying illustrations by Tokyo’s Hisashi Okawa have this kind of haunted, universal quality that we thought was a great match.
One of the most important stories in the magazine for us explores the way teens at some of the Bay Area’s most intense schools think about life. The suicide rates in Silicon Valley schools are the highest in America, and the pressure cooker atmosphere really creates incredibly high expectations, a workaholic culture, and leads to a lot of anguish. But even though there’s been a lot of coverage of the issue, it’s always a reporter telling you about the teens — you never really get a chance to listen to them.
We think that those teenagers get a pretty raw deal — every generation seems to get labelled as lazy, entitled, and thoughtless by those who came before them. So we asked a group of young people who have endured these difficult situations to write unvarnished accounts of their experiences, so that we could actually hear them say what they think… not just tell them what we believe. We coupled it with artwork produced by a teenage artist in London, a fantastic young collage-maker called Jao San Pedro. The whole package is really eye-opening.
Anyway, you can see it all for yourself by subscribing. When you have a chance, please tell other people about what we’re doing, and tell us what you think by email, social media or by replying to this message.
As always, we thank our family and friends, contributors and subscribers, as well as all the readers and fans who helped make this issue possible. I also want to express endless gratitude to the members our team. Even though every day can present a new challenge, with your support, every challenge is a new adventure.