We find it in parents raising an extremely hard-to-manage child, and in families caring for a loved one with a serious physical or psychiatric illness. We also find it in spouses, partners, and extended family members, in teachers, therapists, and other healthcare providers, and in police officers, firefighters, and emergency room hospital workers. We find it in any relationship where there exists a feeling of compassion for the suffering of another person, ongoing exposure to their suffering, and a sense of responsibility for helping.
- feeling a sense of futility or a sense of hopelessness that better days lie ahead
- questioning our abilities or even our worth
- losing patience and the ability to control our emotions
- difficulty sleeping, feeling tired, and not quite ourselves
- losing our spark and sense of humor.
The good news is that compassion fatigue is preventable—or for those in its throes, reversible. Some experts say it’s simply remembering our ABCs: A = Awareness; B = Balance; C = Connections. (Learn more from the article and presentation by Angelea Panos, PhD, posted on the Gift From Within website.)
If you're a teacher and love your work but find that it has depleted your compassion fuel tank, it’s not burnout you’re experiencing, but rather compassion fatigue. Teachers and other professionals can visit www.ProQOL.org to learn more about this phenomenon and fill out a Professional Quality of Life Scale.
Join others who understand the challenges you are facing. CHADD increases awareness and understanding of the challenges impacting those affected by ADHD, advocates on their behalf, and provides its members with ongoing support and encouragement. Such organizations loom large in efforts to prevent and reverse compassion fatigue. Find out if there is a CHADD affiliate group in your area. You can also learn how to start one.
Join an online community dedicated to ADHD where you can safely connect with others. CHADD has now set up two online communities through the social networking site HealthUnlocked: ADHD Parents Together and Adult ADHD Support. These groups provide peer-to-peer support as well as guidance from a credible organization dedicated to supporting individuals and families affected by ADHD.