Compassion Burnout

It’s not that I don’t care, it’s that I cannot be here one more second without my skin crawling, an overwhelming desire to cry and severe anxiety that is killing my productivity.

My therapist introduced me to a new thing yesterday, which is Compassion Burnout. I apparently passed fatigue a month and a half ago, but since I kept having to skip therapy, it didn’t really come up and I went straight to burnout.

Some self-care would have helped not to pass fatigue, but…that didn’t happen.

The application to me is that I can’t really care for my grandma (or any other family member for that matter) in a way that I enjoy in any form because I have cared so intensely for so long (and through so much crisis) that I actually just can’t.

The solution is to completely remove myself for a while.

That urge I have to run away back to the desert for a month? I’m supposed to listen to that. I’m supposed to run away. Because if I don’t, I can’t get back to compassion.

I’m only here two days this week (30 more hours), so it’s less, and slightly less anxiety and skin crawling, but not much. Today I was reduced to zero ability to multitask (I can’t tell you the discussion I had on the phone because I was looking at my laptop screen and couldn’t hear and see at the same time), and I am crawling through the things I want to get done today, because while I am somewhat incapacitated by anxiety, I am so determined to get these things done. So determined. But burned out. And faking my way through compassion while trying to stay calm.

Therapy Was Hard, Y’all.

I’ve made it to therapy maybe 3 times in the last two months. Before that I was thinking it might be time to stop therapy. Well, it’s not.

This morning I had to face unprocessed grief, missing out on triumph, losing opportunities, being financially stressed because I’ve put time into my family instead of my work, and not mattering enough to that same family for them to take the severity of my mental illness seriously.

I cried a lot, I kept crying when I left, I cried to my boyfriend when I got home, then I took a long nap.

I used to go home and sleep after therapy when I first started going, because it was so intense and exhausting. Today was like that.

On the up side, it was enough for my mom to see that I’m about to be the next family crisis. Nothing is changing overnight, and I don’t expect it to, but she’s committed to finding a different option for grandma that doesn’t require my involvement.

I need time and space to finish grieving so I can heal. I need time to practice healthy behaviors. I really need less cortisol so I can finally lose the trauma weight and hopefully some of the anxiety.

But hanging in there in the meantime is hard, y’all.

Exhaustion or Reprieve?

I’ve been really stressed about work, on top of everything else. I have a few challenging and contentious projects in play, and as much as I’d like to bow out of them, I need the money. I don’t get paid for the 100+ hours a week I spend caring for my grandma, and something has to pay the bills. As much as I’m trapped here, the world revolves on and things cost money.

I had a meeting with a client and a local government representative today to see if I needed to recommend that he pursue litigation. I expected the parties involved to be contentious, and I put a lot of pressure on myself to achieve my client’s best possible outcome.

I’m exhausted, and got about four hours of sleep last night because grandma talked to herself and rustled around so much. I was pretty sure I was going to be worthless and forget my points. Instead, I got a calm and professional meeting with clear information, and I think I’ve convinced my client that his best course of action is to pursue the standard approval process, since it will save him a lot of time, maybe money and definitely grief.

This option keeps me involved in the project, which will still be a challenge but I appreciate the vote of confidence by my client, who asked me to proceed directly with the next phase and send him a bill.

I’m either so relieved the stress has lifted a bit or so exhausted I’ve stopped caring. Hard to tell until I get some sleep, which won’t be tonight.

I had someone in my corner, cheering me on and reminding me that being tired would tell me a lot of things that weren’t true, and that I’m good at this and will perform well regardless.

I’m grateful for the reminder. It was true.

Retail Therapy or Smart Move?

I’m about to blow some cash on makeup.

This is one of the days I just don’t have it in me. Work is high drama, grandma is high drama, I haven’t had much sleep and definitely no rest.

Although I stay fairly positive or let her constant negativity bounce off, I’m being pulled in a lot of directions, and I’m stuck in a dim apartment with no internet. My laptop replacement is on the way, my new phone is at my house, work is increasingly busy and I’m handling it all quite well.

But I cut desserts and mindless snacking, two of my comfort go -tos. Ugh.

I’ve had a rashy breakout around my eye for about six weeks, which I assumed was due to stress until I remembered this sometimes happens if my eye makeup gets contaminated. Usually a new tube sets me right, but this has been a little worse than usual and I want new everything. New makeup, new brushes, new bag, start over clean. And it feels a bit silly to spend that money when so much is up in the air at the moment, but…

I think that’s what I need today.

Live Your Own Story

Friends of mine got engaged last night. She’s a trauma survivor with PTSD, and has struggled to accept that he accepts her. I’m thrilled for them, and reminded of what my life isn’t.

And also what it is.

It’s not someone else’s story.

I live firmly rooted in a reality that rarely remains centered on what I want, and often veers so far toward responsibilities, obligations and support for others that I often wonder if I’ll find my way back to myself. I do, because my roots run deep in the center, and as much as I get knocked sideways, I can pull myself back.

Again. And again. And again.

I get stretched a lot.

The Day to Day of a Life, Paused

Or is it?

Everything feels like it’s on slo-mo. I sit in a dim apartment day after day, providing care, working some, on the phone giving encouragement and support. I have no idea where the three weeks have gone since my grandma fell, but they’re gone, and I’m still here, and I’m starting to forget I used to do other things.

That giving free-flow? It seems to be working. Not every moment, but mostly. The laptop needing to be replaced? Not a big deal, just an inconvenience. Needing a new phone? Another inconvenience that will wait until I can get to it. Long, sleepless nights and up at 3 and again at 6 to provide care? We’ll both just settle in the living room and sleep in before I make French toast. Because I can and because it’s nice. Phone blowing up? It’ll wait. I need another hour of disturbed sleep.