I may have spoken about compassion fatigue and vicarious trauma in the past but this is a good time of year to remind people of this sneaky, subtle condition that can make or break you.
Who is at-risk for Compassion Fatigue?
Compassion fatigue may occur in a range of persons involved in providing care to others . Psychologists, social workers, lawyers, disaster relief workers, nurses, psychiatrists, medical doctors, emergency service professionals, police, crisis phone-line attendants and shelter workers among others, are all susceptible to Compassion Fatigue. But it is not limited to only these workers. Teachers, air traffic controllers, daycare workers, personal support workers, volunteers, paralegals, law clerks and so many more. For example, a law clerk or lawyer are exposed to listening sometimes to horrific stories day in and day out. Unfortunately, too often it is not always acknowledged and they may wonder why they are feeling so tired, and experiencing other emotional symptoms.
What is Vicarious trauma?
Vicarious trauma means simply that a person who is exposed to and listen or witnessing trauma, crisis situations of another individual, you can almost live it through the details of that person sharing their experience with you. Once you’re aware of this, it helps to take a step back…do some self-care…take a mental health day…just back away a bit. IF however you are not able to clue into the signs, it can accumulate to the point that you may experience what many call burn-out and a step further would be compassion fatigue.
Some have experienced this type of fatigue and it can take a while to regain your ‘old’ self. I remember taking time off work for about 4 or 5 months many years ago. I was over worked, volunteering, raising a family, going to university part-time, I had personal problems I was avoiding…so this busy-ness was my escape…not good! My body broke down…I usually say, my body stopped before my nerves broke down. But now I know the signs and take self-care very seriously. I prepared a workshop for my work two years ago on Vicarious Trauma and Compassion Fatigue to help my colleagues learn the signs to avoid this and to do more self-care.
To read more in-depth information on Vicarious Trauma, click here.
© Cheryl-Lynn, 2014/02/12
One way to start is to practice Resilience…this video is an introduction on how to start understanding the importance of Resilience.
The Good and Bad News About Resilience
Here is a poem I wrote about surrendering to self-care.
Times you may feel
you care a great deal
wish you could help more
suffering, pain and sore
spirits and hearts
make you sometimes
want to fall apart.
Days, turn into weeks,
time just seems to drag
on and on and on.
You start to get edgy
can’t seem to sleep every night
you have nightmares that might
keep you up, they’re too scary;
You start to forget, become wary
it’s harder and harder to focus
impatience starts to follow suit
and soon you realize it’s that time…
You need to take some time for you,
you need to surrender yourself,
to self-care, wellness to restore
your mental well-being.
Surrender your mind and soul,
pamper yourself, your body whole,
massages, bubble baths,
allow friends to treat you
refrain from resisting support
take back your “self”
regain your mental
and physical whole SELF
you’re tired now…
Open yourself to soothing,
restoring, healing your SELF!
© Cheryl-Lynn, 2014/02/12