Sunday, March 18, 2018

Fighting Compassion Fatigue

The price we pay for compassion
Combat PTSD Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
March 18, 2018

I just got done reading a great article on Tallahassee Democrat, Compassion Fatigue. It is yet one more subject we just don't focus on enough.

Right now I am dealing with my second bald spot on the back of my head. Yes, my hair falls out from stress, along with wrinkles on my face spreading out like a roadmap. There is a price to pay for doing this kind of work that keeps getting forgotten.

We all know the rewards of doing this work do not come with paychecks, but from changing the lives of those who trust us.

Oh, don't feel sorry for me because this is not my job. I have a regular job, with regular people. Without it, I don't think I'd be able to stay mostly positive. I just volunteer, leaving me whatever time off I want to take. Yes, I know I don't take enough time for myself, but I can when I need it. 

You don't get to do that enough. No matter how lousy your last appointment was, you have someone else coming in, with their own problems to deal with. Whatever attitude you were left with has to get pushed aside so you can focus on the one in your office at that moment. 

Remember, you are still human after all, dealing with your own life. Even though you're able to forget about "you" as a person too, that is exactly what you are. Just another human trying to make a difference.

Every night, my computer is shut off at a certain time and I go watch TV. I take naps after work to get more energy to to this, among other things I do with veterans and families. After all, I still have to take care of the veteran I married and our family too.

For the others doing this work as a career, I adore all of you! For as many times as I get burnt out, it happens to you more because you don't have the luxury of taking time out to relax.

Here is some advice. 
No matter how hard it is, find time to do something for yourself every day. 

Spend time with people who do not need you to be there, but want you to be there sharing something good.

Do something stupid simply because it is fun. (My tablet is just for games I play)

Take naps when you can or go watch a movie that will make you laugh.

Take the advice you give to everyone else and be good to yourself.

Make peace with the fact that once in a while you do have to give up on someone because they are showing no signs of being willing to do the work they need to do to heal. Defeat happens no matter how good we are or how much we know. 
Some need help but want everyone else to do it for them.

Lean on others and have someone you get to turn to when it gets to be too much for you to carry alone. Sharing the load on your shoulders is not a sign of weakness, but an opportunity to carry more.

The best advice in this is to LAUGH.

I am getting shots into my spine and they are painful going in. I am also sarcastic. The last time I had shots, I said something funny and it set off a series of jokes with the whole operating room cracking up. When the shots were done, I told my doctor it didn't hurt as much as usual. He said it was because we were all laughing.

Ok, confession, then I told him "you need to be insulted more often" and at the point he responded with "get the dull needles" which had us all laughing again.

Everything hurts less when you add some joy to it!