Supporting a family member or friend that has experienced adversity in their lives can be challenging at times. As carers, family and friends we often push through it and don't tend to think about how this impacts on our own mental health. At times supporting others can come up in the form of Compassion Fatigue. You may have never heard this term before or you may be well versed in what it means to experience this. Either way, it is going to be an informative and helpful session to learn more about compassion fatigue, signs to look out for and how you can manage them with special guest @Rockpool - Clinician and SANE Moderator
**This topic was edited from Vicarious Trauma to Compassion Fatigue. We realised that both of these subjects are equally important and sit closely along side each other. We wanted to get the most out of it so we decided to do them as seperate topics and will be doing Vicarious trauma at a later date.
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Welcome to tonight’s Topic Tuesday where we will be exploring Compassion Fatigue. This is a term that some of you may know of or you may not have heard of it at all. Our wonderful guest @Rockpool is a moderator of the forums as well as a clinician and is here to help us understand what compassion fatigue is, what it looks like, how it differs from burnout and how we can best address it when it does come up.
For those that haven’t joined us for a Topic Tuesday before (or maybe it’s been a while!) @Rockpool will be sharing some insights around this topic and shall prompt us with some questions to get your own insights and a community discussion happening throughout the night. You are also welcome to ask questions as we go!
So without further chatter from me - I'll hand over to you @Rockpool 😊
Hi everyone and thank you for joining me tonight to chat about compassion fatigue and burnout for carers
To kick off Topic Tuesday tonight, I am going to share a bit about my experience of compassion fatigue. While my experience comes as a result of my work, anyone who is in a caring role, can relate to the experience of compassion fatigue.
For me, I have always really valued being able to support others, whether this be in my personal or professional life. The first thing I noticed was that this passion that I’d had for as long as I can remember started to change. I felt that being there for someone was more than I could give and I would dread needing to care for others throughout the day, as I was feeling with each person I was giving to, I was emptying my reserves more and more to a point where I knew I had very little left. Add to this the guilt about dreading the work I had once loved so much and the anxiety about going to work knowing this wasn’t the best thing for me to do for myself. I was having headaches daily due to the tension and anxiety and didn’t feel like being with friends or family as this would also take from my empty reserves. The most obvious and debilitating sign for me was the overwhelming sense of physical and emotional exhaustion that just didn’t feel like it was going away.
I knew that I needed to do something to address this and to get me back to enjoying my work again. I was constantly told to practice self-care and asked what I could do to look after myself. Something I’m sure all carers can relate to and a suggestion that can feel grating at times because we sometimes feel like taking a long bath or reading a book or any other self-care practice isn’t going to be quite enough.
So what do we do when this is how we are feeling and better yet, how can we pick up on signs early enough to stop compassion fatigue and burnout in their tracks? This is what we will explore here tonight.
Before we get into the nitty gritty of CF and burnout, can anyone here tonight relate to my experience of compassion fatigue or want to share your own experience?
Hi Rockpool I can certainly relate, having cared for 2 people for almost 5 years. One passed away late December and I am still reeling from the impact of being his 24/7 carer, the burnout is still there along with the grief. I can barely function still and just had a nasty cold turn into a lung infection, thanks to the impact of burnout.
@Rockpool, I wonder if there's an added issue for those of us caring for a family member, in that it's not a role we have chosen. I grew up with a Mum who had (has?) a probable but undiagnosed MI. When I moved out of home I found out that it was possible to be in a relationship with someone without always having to guard your words and manage someone elses uncontrolled or barely controlled reactions and outbursts. Being put back into that role (plus a bit!) by our daughter's MI has been difficult and quite hearbreaking. So many of my own choices have had to be sidelined, ditto my husband's, and it hurts our other children too.
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