Compassion [Fatigue]

What is Compassion Fatigue? Is it real? Or is it some made up condition? I had a rough week last week where I was so emotionally dis regulated from running a gamut of up and down emotions. The good news is I was able to shake it off and enjoy my weekend full of activities. On Monday it all came to head and I was angry, tired, and realized I had a case of the "fuck its." I was sitting in my car before a meeting, listening to some music, and realized that I just simply do not care anymore. I don't have any shits to give about anyone, myself included. I started recounting the past few weeks of life and that is when Compassion Fatigue came to mind. I was exhausted/fatigued, and I didn't care. Surely I wasn't crazy for thinking this was a thing, was I? So, I did what normal people do and I took to Google. Here is what I found.

"Studies confirm that caregivers play host to a high level of compassion fatigue. Day in, day out, workers struggle to function in care giving environments that constantly present heart wrenching, emotional challenges."

"Compassion Fatigue symptoms are normal displays of chronic stress resulting from the care giving work we choose to do.  While the symptoms are often disruptive, depressive, and irritating, an awareness of the symptoms and their negative effect on your life can lead to positive change, personal transformation, and a new resiliency. Reaching a point where you have control over your own life choices will take time and hard work. There is no magic involved. There is only a commitment to make your life the best it can be."
And then there is a list of symptoms that are common in people who have compassion fatigue.  A lot of them look like the typical symptoms of stress and anxiety and any other type of mental health issue that one could have going on. I keep going back and forth in my mind wondering if this is truly something that has hit me, or if it's something else and I'm just looking to label what I am feeling. What I came up with, in my mind, is that yes, I am absolutely dealing with some level of compassion fatigue. True to anyone else or not, I don't care.
I am pouring from an empty cup. I am giving and giving and giving and extending myself beyond healthy boundaries in all aspects of my life. When you work in the field of social services and mental health you are bound to have some burn out and some stress. Self care will take a back seat and you'll just keep going and giving. Until you literally run out of anything to give. This is just part of the line of work on all levels of social services. I'm not complaining and I'm not saying I'm the only one who has these feelings or has been in these situations. I'm saying that I don't have anyone refilling me. Maybe that is my fault, but I don't need to start blaming myself for more shit than I already do. This isn't my fault. If I can be mindful in identifying what is happening then hopefully I can accept it and work on getting myself out of this state of compassion fatigue. It's really a scary feeling to go from feeling good about the work you do, and getting acknowledged for it (sometimes) to waking up one day and realizing that you just do not care. Not about your job, the people you are working with, yourself, your co workers, or anyone in your life. It's not a pleasant feeling and saying it out loud almost knocked the wind out of me. I went directly to thoughts along the lines of "I am crazy", "I'm a monster", "I'm a terrible person", "I'm not good enough, I need to do better", "what is wrong with me?". "What do I need to fix?"
It's exhausting to have so many negative feelings about every single thing you do. It's like this huge dark cloud and a bunch of tentacle like things grabbing out dragging me down into this deep dark hole that I can't see the way out of. It has sucked all of the life out of me and left me with all of these terrible self thoughts and when I try to combat them with positive things and strengths I get nowhere. So I am stuck, treading water, dealing with this compassion fatigue and giving it my best shot at navigating the dark, stormy sea that has me feeling helpless.

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