Wednesday, July 25, 2012

COMPASSION FATIGUE


We who are helpers need to know our resources are limited. I recently suffered my first instance of compassion fatigue (check out http://www.compassionfatigue.org). My practice is hearing the anguish of sick people and caregivers. Several of my friends got seriously ill during the past month, and others died of illness and accidents. Maybe the stars were in unfortunate alignment. Anyway, it got to be more than I could handle, and pain began to saturate the air in our home. My wife pointed out that I was exhausted, and was getting angry without provocation. 

I finally realized that I couldn’t take on any more, and told people that. I turned off the phone and gave my e-mail a couple of days rest. Now I feel refreshed, and I’m sure I dodged a stress-induced illness.

Have you experienced anything like that?

1 comment:

  1. I'm sorry, Jeff! I am glad that you recognized it and took steps to center yourself again. As for me, I think I first experienced this in medical school when I did my psychiatry rotation. I found that I was more tired than from the much longer and more physically demanding surgical rotation days. As a practicing surgeon, I noticed that I did not want to do too many major elective cases a week as it taxed my resources. I have used the word "love" in referring to the energy that needed to be rejuvenated.

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