Category Archives: Eating Disorders

Confessions of a Workaholic


David Smallwood is the Treatment Director at One40, over the coming weeks we will be featuring some of the highlight excerpts from his new book.

Have you ever been so busy at work that you skipped lunch? Maybe you made do with a packet of peanuts at your desk, and a sour coffee from the vending machine – in which case you probably felt pretty crap by the end of the afternoon.

Perhaps you worked into the evening because there was so much to do, and by the time you left you were exhausted? If this happens to you on a regular basis, then it might be a clue that your relationship with work isn’t quite as healthy as you think it is. Even if you’re a high achiever – in fact, especially if you’re a high achiever.

In the course of my work as a therapist, I often hear the phrase ‘hard work: hard play’ – usually when somebody is trying to justify the fact that they spend half their life getting drunk. You’ve probably heard phrases like this yourself, and know that they mean: ‘I work hard, so now and then I like to let off some steam’, or ‘I work hard during the week so I like to party at weekends.’ There’s no harm in that, eh? Or is there?

Well, there’s nothing wrong with having a strong work ethic – far from it – but the interaction between work and addiction is farmore complex than you might imagine. You may be surprised to learn that work can become an addictive process in its own right, and it’s capable of fuelling other addictions.

Working is a behaviour that can have a distinct mood-altering effect on us. It might not make us stagger around, in the way that being drunk does, but the impact it can have on our self-esteem is very profound

If you have an addictive nature, however, your relationship with work might end up being completely different. If you have a predisposition to anxiety (something from which I believe all addicts suffer), at some point in your life you’re going to adapt your behaviour in an attempt to alleviate your discomfort. One way you might try to achieve this is by doing something that’s mood altering – and work can seem like the ideal vehicle

The process of gaining self-esteem through hard work usually starts at an early age, particularly among high achievers. Let’s say, for example, that in childhood you do well in school. When you get good marks, it wins you praise and attention from your teachers or parents, which feels good. Nothing wrong with that – after all, it’s natural for parents to want their children to do well at school. You enjoy the experience, so you work harder, and maybe, as a result, you do well in your final exams. The subsequent applause and affirmation feel even better. People start to praise you, and a place at university beckons. You think to yourself: I like this. I feel clever and this is what I’m meant to do

There are many outlets for addictive behaviour, and they’re not always obvious. The common factor is that the process is often fuelled by low confidence and low self-esteem, and sensitivity to emotional stress. To the outside world a person might seem affluent and successful, but inside they can be hurting like hell.

These negative feelings can trigger excessive drinking or drug taking – or they might manifest themselves in other ways. Some people start having affairs if they latch onto sex in an attempt to boost their self-esteem. They hate themselves for it, and they may have loving partners at home, but just like overworking, it becomes a compulsion that they cannot easily control

To read more go to Amazon to order your copy or contact us directly at ONE40  at This is David’s Twitter Handle:   @DSmallwoodMSC Facebook Page link:

Do You Shop Till You Drop?


David Smallwood is the Treatment Director at One40, over the coming weeks we will be featuring some of the highlight excerpts from his new book.

Have you ever bought an item of clothing that looked irresistible in the window of a store, only to find that you never actually wear it after you’ve taken it home? It stays in the wardrobe untouched, while you wait for a suitable occasion to put it on. Meanwhile, within days, you’re off shopping again, on the lookout for something new.

We’ve probably all done something like this from time to time. Not just with clothes, but with all sorts of material goods. I know people who’ve bought cars on impulse. Buying things that we don’t really need is a fairly common behaviour. I’ve met lots of women who’ve spent hundreds of pounds on shoes that they’ve never even taken out of the box. Similarly, there are plenty of guys who’ve splurged on expensive gadgets that end up in a cupboard, gathering dust.

So why do we do it? Well, typically, one reason might be that the acquisition of desirable things can have a powerful effect on our feelings. We all know that when we buy something we adore, it can give us a bit of a lift.

The problem is that the fix that shopping provides is a temporary one – and it can land some people with a whole lot more problems than it solves.

Millions of us flock to the high street in search of fulfilling a dream to be like the rich and famous, and the manufacturers of goods respond by investing millions in making their products look desirable. After all, if I own a pair of sports shoes with a cool label then I must be doing okay! Of course, this often turns out to be a myth.

The subliminal message is simple: if you want to be okay, you have to wear the right clothes, or own the right phone or tablet computer.

 Here’s a very simple test to discover whether or not you’re susceptible to compulsive spending. The next time you’re out at the shops, or browsing Ebay or Amazon at home, and you spot something that’s simply irresistible, pause for a moment to ask yourself if you really need it? Take a breather for an hour and walk round the rest of the shops, or log off from your computer for a while if you’re shopping from home.

If you still want to make the purchase after that – and more importantly, you think you can afford it – then go ahead and buy it. But you’ll be surprised how often you change your mind. I’ve tried this many times myself, and usually I don’t purchase the item.

Shopping might seem low on the addictive spectrum, but that doesn’t mean it’s not capable of ruining lives. If you run up huge debts, and it drives you into further problems with other addictive processes, the consequences can be huge.

Thankfully, there are some very good self-help organizations for those with these problems. You can find details of them in Appendix 2 of this book. In the meantime, feel free to try out my little test the next time you’re shopping…

To read more go to Amazon to order your copy or contact us directly at ONE40  at This is David’s Twitter Handle:   @DSmallwoodMSC Facebook Page link: