Tag Archives: stress

You feel sooo exhausted. Do you have compassion fatigue?


SPC_blog1Compassion Fatigue is a hot topic in veterinary medicine. Veterinarians and other staff wonder about it when they feel tired or depressed. They are surprised that after they work crazy hours, eat junk food, euthanize pets they remember as babies, get yelled at by clients and coworkers, and watch their income plummet from competition and a bad economy, they feel exhausted. No kidding!

Many others bleed energy because they are introverts in an extravert world. The veterinary field is full of smart folks who chose animal health over human health because they didn’t want to deal with patients who talk back. The most successful of them can imitate their talkative, outgoing colleagues but then they need to go home and not speak to anyone for the next four hours.

A few secretly hope they have developed some kind of syndrome, because it might confirm how much they care about animals. Besides, it gives them an excuse to tell everyone around them what they really think.

None of this is Compassion Fatigue.

Compassion Fatigue is actually a condition where people invest so much of themselves in taking care of others, that they drain out all their resources. Sufferers feel like a “Volunteer Atlas”. They carry the world on their shoulders because no one else will do it right. They may snap at their coworkers and family, try to avoid upsetting scenes, or start to cry more often.

They tend to isolate themselves, because no one can understand what they are going through. They may also try to restore themselves with methods that don’t help, such as overindulging in alcohol, sweets, shopping, or gambling. Ultimately they may even lose their profession and their family. People with Compassion Fatigue sense they are drowning, but they can’t climb out of the pool.

Sound familiar? Can you relate to these twelve people?

1. Joan has been very upset or tearful because of work stress.
2. Mary avoids TV, movies, newspapers that remind her of scary, upsetting events.
3. Bob mentally takes work home, because he can’t stop thinking about disturbing things he’s seen.
4. Alice has trouble sleeping and has bad dreams about work.
5. Natasha feels that she can’t manage, that her life is out of control.
6. Hank feels cut off from family, friends, and co-workers, or society in general.
7. Barbara is unable to stop giving to others, even though she is sinking herself.
8. John keeps his problems to himself.
9. Fred has given up activities that he enjoys.
10. Gretchen snaps at people.
11. Harry startles easily.
12. Ron and Hermione do more drinking, eating, smoking, sleep aids, shopping, gambling.

Most of you will answer yes to a couple of these from time to time. If you say yes to more than half, especially if you have felt this way for a while, you may also want to schedule sessions with a counselor who specializes in work stress.

The good news is that you can recover from Compassion Fatigue and even prevent it all together. There are many things you can do to take better care of yourself. Send an email for a list of self-care resources. And check out our next blog post for tips on how to find a better work-life balance.You will feel better emotionally and be much happier, and all of that will help you to be successful at work.