Compassion fatigue simply means that, over time, you have become less caring. Or it is more than that? You might be a therapist, nurse, police officer, veterinarian, first responder, personal support worker, lawyer or a caregiver. Your profession or family commitments mean that you care for family, clients or patients. You are susceptible to suffering from compassion fatigue–also known as secondary trauma stress (STS), vicarious trauma, burnout, or responder apathy syndrome (RAS).
On a regular basis you hear or see things that are taxing. At first, you want to make a difference and truly help, so you work harder. You begin to neglect your own needs, devoting everything to your work. You see that what you are doing is not fixing things, but your almost obsessive like focus means that you neglect yourself, family, and friends because you are determined to help. You may blame many problems on time pressures or workload, and others may notice you are more aggressive or sarcastic. Because you are so focused on work or caregiving, your social life diminishes and you may even withdraw from others and isolate yourself. Perhaps you have turned to alcohol or drugs, to “deal” with the hopelessness, sense of emptiness, exhaustion, indifference or lack of meaning. You have physical symptoms, illness or even suicidal thoughts.
Compassion fatigue is more than loss of caring. It is feeling ineffective, hate, and loss of wellbeing. Believing you are ineffective fosters doubt in your professional abilities. Hate comes when you generalize disgusting feelings. For example, if you are a lawyer and your clients are sexually assaulted by men, you start to hate all men. Feeling scared, having images of the events you have witnessed or heard about pop up into your mind, difficulty sleeping and a general decline in daily function are all a part of a loss of wellbeing.
Family TLC has helped people recognize that they are suffering from compassion fatigue. This is commonly the first step in getting better. Together you and your counsellor will understand what is going on and what symptoms you are suffering. You will work collaboratively with your therapist to create a plan to deal with the exhaustion, cynicism or sense of inefficacy. Getting help at Family TLC means you do not have to leave your profession. Getting help means you learn how to manage the stress of your work or caregiving, so you can continue to help others without hurting yourself. Call Family TLC now, before it is too late.