James Franco Talks Overcoming Workaholism, Addiction, and Depression
Any James Franco Fans Out There?
James Franco recently opened up about what he calls his “addictive personality.” It turns out the actor/director has struggled with workaholism and mental health his entire life.
Franco is known for his eclectic resume, starring in films such as Milk, Spiderman, Spring Breakers and City by the Sea. He has appeared in television shows like Freaks and Geeks and General Hospital.
The interview, with Out magazine, was to promote his upcoming HBO series, The Deuce. Franco chatted with novelist Edmund White about some of the challenges he faced, and how he managed to overcome them.
Franco’s troubles start way back in his teen years. During this period, he was arrested for underage drinking, graffiti, and shoplifting, among other things. Reflecting on that time, Franco told the Guardian, “It was teen angst. I was uncomfortable in my own skin. I was shy.”
Franco found acting as a way to cope and passionately immersed himself in it. He found acting to be an excellent outlet for his personality type. However, soon acting “became everything” to the point where he did not even socialize.
After doing nothing but working, Franco says he realized he was depressed, isolated and lonely.
“I really threw myself into it, and that became everything, to the point where I didn’t even socialize. And then after, like, 10 years of that, at age 27, I realized, ‘Man, I’m so depressed. On the surface my life seems pretty good—I have a career and everything—but I feel isolated and lonely,’” he admits
To combat these feelings, he decided to switch gears and go to school at Brooklyn College. However, just like with acting, academics became the focus of all his attention, and he was obsessive with that as well.
“I threw myself into school, but again it was just this sort of running, running, running,” he says.
Franco told Out that it has been difficult to overcome his workaholism. One of the ways Franco has found helps is through participating in activities like surfing and taking classes at the International Dance Academy on Hollywood Boulevard.
He says these activities are part of his “therapy,” to help him overcome his work addiction.
“It’s a kind of therapy for me,” he said. “I’ve started a new chapter of my life. I was very work-addicted and addicted to other things—not substances, I got over that a long time ago—but I’ve recently changed my life, and this is part of my therapy.”
What is a Workaholic?
The concept of workaholism or workaholic behavior is very misunderstood. Often, people see these behaviors as positive qualities. You might even hear people joke about how they are a workaholic as a way of describing their passion for their job and solid work ethic.
The truth is workaholism is a real condition that can severely impact a person’s life. People addicted to work sacrifice their social life, families, and personal connections due to their obsessive desire to work.
But what’s the difference between a hard worker and a workaholic?
This is a very common question. A hard worker is someone who works very hard while at work and completes all of their tasks, yet still manages to find a healthy balance between work and personal responsibility. Of course, the occasional burst of overworking may occur to meet important deadlines however, this is not the norm.
Workaholics, on the other hand, are unable to make this differentiation. They view work as a source of adrenaline. They feel they must work harder than everyone else and put in more hours in order to succeed.
Workaholics achieve one goal and immediately set more ambitious ones. Staying at the same level of accomplishment is a failure and results in incredible distress. Workaholics sacrifice their health, family, and personal life in order to work.
Overall, workaholism is something rarely addressed, but like Franco, people who struggle with workaholism often need professional help. If you are struggling with workaholism, mental illness, or substance abuse, please reach out. You are not alone. Call now.