Nurse - Compassion FatigueThere are so many people who choose their profession because they want to help people. Nurses, teachers, doctors, police and firemen are just a few professions where people have a real chance to make a real difference in people’s lives. Doctors and Nurses try to make people’s lives better every day. Police officers will talk about the people they were able to have an impact on whether it is through helping them on the streets or setting them straight after they get themselves in trouble or even through community outreach.

There are so many heroes out there doing their jobs day in and day out with perhaps little or no recognition or even compensation, but they are out there because somewhere along the line they decided that they wanted their life’s work to mean something to someone.

FirefightersThe problem with putting themselves out there into the world in such a way is that they are at times inundated with those that need help and they come to the realization that they cannot possibly help everyone. A teacher in a poor neighborhood may see too many of her kids get caught up in the world of gangs, drugs, and violence. Nurses are so overloaded with case after case that there is no time to help everyone or even anyone other than that of doing the bare minimum. Police officers, due to the actions of a few are turned on by the very people they swore to help and protect. After a while, these caregivers and protectors become withdrawn, they start to do the job by rote bottling up their emotions, they start to revolt against the redundant administrative functions, finding more to complain about and who to blame for their issues. They may also start to deteriorate themselves, participating in compulsive behaviors as overspending, overeating, gambling, or drugs.

This is a form of trauma suffered by people in fields where they are the care-givers or the protectors. It is called Compassion Fatigue.

This form of trauma does not mean that you have failed and it does not mean that you have to give up or change your life. As with any other trauma, you have the opportunity to improve your situation and your outlook once you recognize the path that you are on. There are things you can do immediately to improve yourself:

  • Be kind to yourself.
  • Enhance your awareness with education.
  • Accept where you are on your path at all times.
  • Understand that those close to you may not be there when you need them most.
  • Exchange information and feelings with people who can validate you.
  • Listen to others who are suffering.
  • Clarify your personal boundaries. What works for you; what doesn’t.
  • Express your needs verbally.
  • Take positive action to change your environment.

While there are things you can do on your own, Compassion Fatigue, as with any other form of trauma, is something that is best worked through with a professional. If you feel that you may be suffering from Compassion Fatigue or any other form of trauma, contact Bill at Stress Solutions at 516-428-2841 and you can get work through the trauma and get back to doing what you love to do for the reason you started I the first place: to help others.