Saturday, December 24, 2011

Compassion fatigue

I have moments when I'm caring for the bonus cherubs that seem to drain me. They drain me more than I think they should.

I used to think that maybe I was just lazy. Why, after a doctor appointment, do I not have any energy? I mean, all I did was wait in a tiny waiting room with Pumpkin. Then I talked about Pumpkin's history and current health status with a doctor. Then I drove Pumpkin to school and went over the details of everything with Pumpkin's teacher. None of that is draining. None of that should wear me out.

But things like that really do.

So do meetings with new social workers. So does court. So do a lot of seemingly simple things.

Not too long ago though I learned a name for that energy drain. We went through a mandatory training on the effects of trauma. It wasn't a spectacular training. However, it was the best training the State had offered up so far concerning trauma and how it affects our kids. In that training they mentioned how caring for our kids can affect us.

It's called compassion fatigue.

Trying to carry the burden of the trauma our children went through is exhausting. Trying to shield them from more trauma is exhausting.

So is dealing with that trauma as it relates to the other professionals looking out for our cherubs. The other day I met with Pumpkin's new CPS worker. I basically had to give her a run-down of all that has happened in the last year concerning Pumpkin. Yes, she has the case notes. But listening to me is going to be faster and probably more concise. So she asked a lot of questions and I gave a lot of answers. When the worker left my home after an hour or so of talking, I was wiped out! It hurts me to have to try and decipher for this worker all that Pumpkin has gone through. All that Pumpkin should have NOT have to have gone through. Abuse and neglect is such ugly stuff!

I'm worn out today too.

Dude is feeling sick. He started to run a fever in the middle of the night last night. He's coughing and congested.

But my fatigue is not just based on a lack of sleep.

Dude is super scared. He can't seem to sleep without me by his side. He'll drift off but then wake up screaming for me 30 minutes later. It's his screams that are so unsettling. Why oh why is he so scared?! What has happened to this little guy in the past that is making him so scared right now?

I'm sure that the fear is based on something that happened to him in his past. Thankfully he's able to communicate so much better than when he got sick six months ago (right after coming into our home). He'll ask for me by name. He'll tell me he's scared. He'll tell me he wants me to hold him. It feels good to know that I'm giving him what he wants and needs.

But he can't tell me why he's so scared. And it's unlike anything I've ever seen with any other kid. He's petrified and can't tell me why.

And I'm wearing out quickly. I wish so badly I could take this fear away from him.


Mitzy said...

Very useful post for me to read. I was wondering why I was so exhausted, mentally and physically after visits? Not to mention before and after court.

Thanks for sharing!

C Dawn's bucket said...

For Dude is there something you can do to help him have power over his fear? "Magic" air freshener that he can spray or something that he can do to help keep the bad dreams away?

I know with my boys giving them something that they have control of has helped them with their fears...

MamaFoster said...

all i can say is I understand