Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Work Until You Die

To all our brainy brainy readers. This is actually a common phenomena in Asia. In Japan they call it karoshi, Korea calls it gwarosa, and China guolaosi. Though Wikipedia says it's been around since the 60s, my parents have always been aware of this (my father was born in the 20s, my mother 40s). I've never heard of a translation in English.

I know friends parents who had this happen, and though they didn't die, became bed ridden basically for life. I know family members who just dropped dead at work. I always thought this was just a normal thing everyone was aware about but realized my non-Korean friends had no idea what I was talking about. Always kind of a thing in my culture, "oh yeah of course he's dead, he works too hard." Or, "oh of course they have this weird illness or mystery pain, they study too hard."

Lately they've been calling it adrenal fatigue (sometimes chronic fatigue or fibromyalgia) here in the US but it's more complex than that. It's years and years of someone since childhood, studying their butts off, using energy drinks or coffee or energy shots, to stay up longer and study, poor diet, then get to the school they wanted, then study more, then maybe party, study more, then finally get a job they worked hard for, or maybe more school then job, then maybe return to school again for masters or law degree or doctorate or something else, more work, and then karoshi.

Or you just have been stressed and having a midlife crisis since middle school and then karoshi.

It's basically years and years of running on adrenaline, cortisol, just redlining your body until you just drop dead or suffer some serious exhaustion or some other mystery illness or pain that no one can figure out.

In Asia it's always had a name. I think all success oriented people have mild anxiety and have a bit of this in their DNA. It's what keeps you sharp and on top of your game, make sure you're always managing it.


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