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Compassion fatigue: When caring hurts too much

While caring for others usually comes from a place of compassion, over long periods of time, it can lead to compassion fatigue - feeling tired, angry and powerless, and sometimes going into dissaosciative states. A lot of stuff out there, like this article talks about how health professionals can experience a range of different symptoms. But compassion fatigue is not restricted to carers - they usually don't have a personal connection nor do they live the people they care for like many on us here. 

One of our forum members, Jo, talks about disassocation here, she describes it as "a state that one can slip into when the stress and burn-out becomes too much. You go into 'automatic', carrying out everything you have to do and what's expected of you, but it's as if you're in a sort of dream state.' Has anyone experienced this? Or are you feeling burnt-out?"

This article explains that compassion fatigue can commonly occur due to "other-directed care giving" in which people "were taught at an early age to care for the needs of others before caring for their own needs."

@Cazzie  @MrsC @BeHappy @Snoo @Louise last week we spoke about feeling tired.  I'm wondering what are people thoughts on this? Do you agree that there are patterns in your life that have taught you to put other people's needs before your own?

@countrymum you have spoken about the difficulties of caring for your son too much with the heart. Looking back is compassion fatigue something you can relate to?

@maddison you're currently caring for your housemate, any thoughts on this?

Looking forward to hearing people's thoughts on this,





Re: Compassion fatigue: When caring hurts too much

Never forget the real you! All the traits that make up you are unique. We are all a one of a kind! Always remember to make time for yourself to do the things you enjoy. Those things keep you moving and growing.

Re: Disassociation

This is what I've got but don't disassociate because have worked very hard on not anymore.

used to disassociate all the time. Once, in the year 2000, I still remember leaving a restaurant with the boyfriend I had at the time and he started growling at something I did. I dumped him, got in my car and started imagining my body was floating above my real body watching myself.
The stress was incredible.

Thank you so much for showing this. I'm not able to read it properly right now but soon will.
Love your compassion for showing this .i feel that as a woman, I felt so unbearably lost when in it and it's like, every memory of the past I just collapse ....even after 5 years on.

Re: Compassion fatigue: When caring hurts too much

I think I experience this after a build up of stressful situations, it's as though whatever hope or optimism was driving me, becomes depleted, and as a self preservation tactic, I just become numb.
I continue to carry on with all my daily activities, I'm just not really connecting with anything.
It's not a happy feeling, it's a kind of sadness - without feeling the sad.
Thank u for including me in the convo!
This is a term that's new to me. Compassion fatigue.

Re: Compassion fatigue: When caring hurts too much

Hi @maddison @GivingMick @PeppiPatty 

Thanks for including me too @CherryBomb.

Your strength can also be your downfall. I've always been told that I'm caring and open - maybe too caring and open that I do more that most people would and end up wearing myself down. I can relate to the symptoms. Mainly feeling incredibly worn down, and like I'm on automatic pilot. And yes, come to think of it, I've been a 'carer' my whole life, even when I was child I cared for other. Can anyone else relate to this - feeling like you've cared for others throughout your life?



Re: Compassion fatigue: When caring hurts too much

Most assuredly do! That's why I find it hard not to keep caring for my wife, even though I have left. Also, losing a custody battle for my son nearly 20yrs ago. Felt like I was a ruined person.

Re: Compassion fatigue: When caring hurts too much

Why do we do it @GivingMick?! Sometimes I wonder why I put myself through this.

I guess a part of me identifies with it. I've always considered myself a compassionate and caring person. Perhaps something I was told from a young age, and this idea of myself started when I was young too


Re: Compassion fatigue: When caring hurts too much

Growing up I spent more time with my mother. I learned house-hold chores well! Being second eldest out of 5 kids, I had baby sitting responsibilities also. So I learnt nurturing, compassion and caring, as a loving older brother.

Re: Compassion fatigue: When caring hurts too much

Me too @GivingMick . I spent a lot of time with my father, a single parent. Did a lot of caring for siblings and learnt a lot of responsibility at a young age.

It's probably why I work in a caring profession too! Do you find it spills over into other areas of your life?


Re: Compassion fatigue: When caring hurts too much

I have been caring for about 5 years. I feel guilty when I do things for myself and watch the one I care for sit at home saying they don't want to go out.


Whilst I understand this feeling and have compassion I also feel anger over the situation. I get angry at myself because I am sometimes too compassionate instead of doing what I know will be right for this situation. Sometimes I am a bit too compasionate that I stay home and give in to the one I care for and their wanting to stay home.


Giving in a lot makes me tired and irritableas I don't get my needs met and I am then not in the right frame of mind for caring.


I need to learn to be more strong and do what is right for me part of the time and for the one I care for at other times. This includes saying no to the person staying home too much.

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