Friday, January 23, 2009

Compassion Fatigue

I have heard of this before, but I thought that it was a condition that people in the health care, particularly people that work with hospice, and Firemen, police and social workers get.

Apparently not. Moms, wives, husbands, compassionate people in general are at risk.

People that try to fix others. Make things better or easier. Think about others comfort and tend to others needs before their own can after time wear themselves down. If you are consistently taking care of others, then suddenly have some needs, your loved ones don't always have the ability to help you as they have always relied on you to be the fixer.

From, "Mom, wheres this?", "Mom, I need that asap". "Honey, I need you to take care of this & that". To employees and friends asking you to help out with extra duties because you are nice and just naturally step in and say how can I help?

There becomes a break down within yourself where you can not help yourself because there is nothing left of yourself to give even to yourself. You wear down and become exhausted.

There comes a point where you have to learn to say, "No. I can't right now." There also becomes a point where you need to learn to ask for help yourself.

My lovely counselor has brought this to my attention. Some concern that perhaps I am showing signs of Compassion Fatigue. Which is funny to me because I always feel so good when I help someone. But, I am looking into it and finding some interesting stuff about it online.

Two sites that have been helpful are: and

If you are like me, you might find them helpful.


lakeviewer said...


Yes, we must ask for help. You are right about this condition. It affects those of us in the 'giving' industries.

Good souls are everywhere. Practice stating needs;i.e. "Friends, send me...please. I neeed these things right now." A friend of mine was in a needy situation and I offered to meet her for lunch, to talk, to be distracted, etc. She didn't take me up. I felt as though I had offered, and needed to wait for her to take me up on it. She felt that I needed to offer again. We both stepped back. She needed to ask once again; I needed to offer once again. Next time I'll know.

Anonymous said...

Don't stop giving to others, just don't overgive to the point you suck all the life out of yourself. Just take time to replenish and nurture your own self, we all need to help each other. There do seem to be "givers" and "takers", just find some place in between. Love you....Deb.

lakeviewer said...

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Andrea said...

I am now officially following your blog! Thank you for your sincere thoughts on Compassion Fatigue. I have often said, we are only given out lot of patience and I used mine up circa 1993. I've been told though that patience is a virtue or a gift of the spirit, so apparently there's some patience out there floating around, if we just ask. I ask, a lot. But it goes out as fast as it comes in.

janis said...

Deb, you are right and you know me well enough to know I will always be a giving person. i just gotta work on the "whoa back".. i will get there. it is an interesting journey and I am trying hard to balance. I love you my dear Bestie!

Thank you Andrea. I read your blog and posted some comments. I look forward to reading more!

Natalie said...

I am hearing you loud and clear, Janis.

If your cup is empty, then there is nothing left to give. As a mother of five, step mum to two (SEVEN!) I feel burned out regularly. I have also come to the realisation that this is indeed a very real condition.
Good on you, for bringing it up. :D

Muffin said...

I think I have just found the answer to how and why I sometimes feel....lost. Kind of empty and tired but tired for no apparent reason. Thanks for posting this!
Keep smiling!

sroman said...

Tying in with this ... the stats for caregivers are frightening in terms of illness and all kinds of auful things. You are a consumate caregiver and I'm glad you are learning to put yourself closer to the head of the line.