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.

Talking Through a Trigger

It has taken a long time for me to be able to step back from a trigger and process through why it happened, what it brought up, where it came from and how to separate the emotions of the trigger from what I know to be real.

But I did it tonight.

More than that, I called the person who was part of the trigger and explained what had happened, what I was experiencing and what they could do to help me.

I’m so thankful that was a positive experience, and I went from spinning in negativity to resolving the issue calmly and in a way that built trust.

It was a huge leap to be willing to not only address the trigger head on, but to let another person help me calm down. It was a leap of trust in myself.

I trusted myself.

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.

“I Know, Honey, We’ll Talk About It Later.”

That was my mom’s response yesterday when I told her my anxiety had reached a point that I would either need to check in to a hospital or knock myself out on Xanax for a few days. Either way, I was losing decision making and problem solving function and about to be unavailable to anyone for anything.

That was her response.

Kind of like the upstairs neighbor, I wasn’t even mad, I just didn’t know what was going on. Huh?

So I calmed myself as best I could, went back to grandma’s, tried to stay calm, handled work the best I could, was very pleasant, and tried to make a plan to reduce my responsibilities as much as possible for a couple of days.

😝