Monday, November 28, 2011

Compassion fatigue

The other day i was having a discussion with Annie (John's sister) and I brought up the idea that "i care way too much." with everything i do... especially with teaching. I get completely wrapped up in my job to where it makes me literally sick to my stomach. i mean literally. my acid production gets out of control but i have high amounts of stress and then my stomach lining inflames for awhile. (as much as 3 months as i have discovered before. horrible!!). I go home and can't sleep. My eating habits go from not being able to eat at all to eating everything that I can reach. I tend to take EVERYTHING to heart.
My kid's problems.
My kid's performances.
My school's expectations.
My school's lack of expectations.
My student's futures.
My future.

I can't keep my mind from thinking at night.
I just sit in bed and think and think forever. I think about what I can do the next day to make the kids better. How I can motivate them. How I can better myself as a teacher. I read articles. I talk to other teachers. I post in forums. I spend lots of my own money buying shit for my kids...
and then in the end I feel the only thing I get in return is exhaustion.
It's REALLY hard to focus on the benefits when you can barely keep yourself from drowning in everything else.

So, when Annie told me about Compassion fatigue it was like my eyes were opened up to a whole new world view. Holy crap that's what I have....
I didn't do research on it until tonight even though we spoke about it a week ago.
It was when I came home from work and I felt the pressure building from school.
My kids are having their winter concert in 2 weeks. I don't feel completely prepared. I am giving the kids 110% and only getting about 20% from them. I work my ass off day in and day out and then I have kids who don't turn in practice records, who roll their eyes at me when i ask them to do simple tasks, who steal items in my class, students who constantly expect hand outs, students who complain about their hard lives when they have no idea about anything I have been through.
I am sorry, young person, that the stress of school is too much for you.
Try finding the love of your life dead in bed.
Now feel better.

that sounds not so compassionate, right?
I feel like teaching is making me more and more immune to the compassion I once held.
It's one of those things I still debate in my head... when I cry at movies that have animals dying and yet sniffle a little bit when people die in films.
What the hell is wrong with me???
That isn't right, is it??

Compassion fatigue is common with nurses, doctors, and people who deal with wounded military vets or children with disorders or deformities.
When you become overexposed to these things you start to lose your passion.
A passion you once had. immensely. You poured your whole being into this passion. But in the end you started to get tired of it... because it wasn't having the pay off you thought you deserved. I know being compassionate isn't always about getting something back. But if you go a long time giving your whole self and don't get any sense of reward... you can't help but start to feel a little apathetic.
compassion fatigue, folks.
Look it up.
It fucking exists.
It sounds a bit made up.
for people burnt out. for people who are too lazy to endure life's hard times. for people who can't deal.
Kind of like ADD or ADHD.
Being a teacher my lack for respect for these "medical" terms has gone completely out the window.
Your child can't sit still in a classroom?
Yeah, they're 10? and they can't sit still??
Oh, they are taking intensive reading and are deprived of physical activity? they go home and play video games and you feed them chocolate for breakfast? AND THEY FUCKING CAN'T SIT STILL? NO SHIT?!

now that i have been looking up compassion fatigue it makes me wonder if that's what happened to some of my friends.
That my burden was eventually too much.
and they got burnt out on caring, trying to cheer me up, etc.
and now i feel bad. because i was THAT burden.

But many have never given up on me.
They carry the burden.
and it's something that i can never quite repay them for.
but one day...if anyone ever needs me too...
i'll be there.

and maybe these kids need me after all.
or maybe one day i need to take a new path.
towards a new direction.
a new passion.
or maybe it's time to re-kindle the one i already have.

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