I have to say I was wound up immediately tonight. It was two little things:
- Holly presented me with a Father’s Day card. Lovely, but it’s not until Sunday and it’s currently Friday. When I asked her to hold onto it and give it to me on Sunday she told me she couldn’t be bothered.
- I was handed a sheet of paper from school. It was easily readable for Holly and she attempted it a couple of times but ultimately couldn’t be bothered as it was easier to get others to do it for her. She assured me it would be read tomorrow which both she and I knew is a lie.
As I walked away from these two short experiences I realised I was tense and annoyed. Almost, too annoyed, considering the trivial nature of the exchanges. It occurred to me that compassion fatigue is a real blight for carers who have been around the block a bit. It’s When you feel like you hear the same thing time and time again, when a young person is only interested in themselves, when they can’t be bothered because other people will pick up their pieces or work. After a while it has a cumulative affect and small things can drive you crazy.
I notice on the web that this is a big subject nowadays and books are written and blogs are subscribed to about it. It seems that first of all you have to give yourself permission to feel it. I find that once I am calmed down that I have some guilt and find excuse for whatever has happened. Maybe she was really excited about the card and saw my request for holding onto it as rejection. Maybe she has had enough of reading for one week at school and she does not want to come home to anymore.
The fact of the matter is that we are all human. If things don’t feel progressive all the time we are susceptible to it I think. Various therapists and advisors tell us that we have to be mindful of ourselves, be centred around our well being to continue to be compassionate. Whatever the answer is I am reminded once again that the fostering life is a marathon and if compassion leaves us it is the discipline of our life to bring it back again.
I would love to hear from any of you who have experienced compassion fatigue. How have you coped with it? How did you get over it? How many of you had to stop caring because you were drained?
Let’s see how we can encourage each other and learn ways of caring that mean we can do it well for years so more children and young people can be helped. Email us on the contact and let’s start some ideas which we can blog about.