Shine A Light On Compassion Fatigue

Shine A Light On Compassion Fatigue

By shining a light, we can see it's relevance and some potential steps for overcoming it in today's tough political climate. TW suicide reference

It's ok if you do not know what compassion fatigue is. I didn't know what compassion fatigue was until it was too late.

So....what is it? Why is it relevant?

According to the director of the Tulane Traumatology Institute, Dr. Figley, compassion fatigue is, " a state experienced by those helping people or animals in distress; it is an extreme state of tension and preoccupation with the suffering of those being helped to the degree that it can create a secondary traumatic stress for the helper" ( Basically, whether you are a volunteer or a full-time employee, caring so much takes a toll. The negativity that you see in your particular area (whether it be caring for humans or animals) begins to prevail in your life. You begin to care for those in your area more than yourself, slowly abandoning all self-care practices you may have had to begin with.

This may be easier to understand with an example. For me, every time a beloved favorite is put to sleep at the shelter, they take a piece of my heart with them. It hurts like hell. Even though I need time to heal and recover from that loss, I do not take it. Why? Because they need me. Those dogs in those cages need me. They need someone to sit with them and tell them random stories about their life until they feel comfortable enough to let that human put a leash on them. After a loss, the volunteer work is no longer fun, but a duty. I feel responsible for them, even though logically, I know it is not in my control. In my life though, I have been very fortunate, as I have been able to find the spark again, sometimes in a dog, sometimes in a human, and sometimes in a chipmunk with a death wish who loves to taunt the shelter residents.

That's what is dangerous about compassion fatigue. Not everyone finds that spark again. In September of 2014, renowned behaviorist and best-selling author Dr. Sophia Yin committed suicide at 48 years old. To put that in perspective, my parents are 51 and 50. Those closest to Dr. Yin think that her overwhelming love for animals was what ultimately became her downfall. A study done by the American Journal of Preventive Medicine estimates that the suicide rate among animal rescue workers is the highest among American workers, shared only with police officers and firefighters (Lizik). Compassion fatigue, according to the foremost experts in the field, can lead to depression and suicidal thoughts/actions (

Now do I have your attention? Or are you confused? "Yeah Drosendahl we know, you love animals. What's your point?"

My point is this...

With many people, including your favorite anxiety-riddled claustrophobic writer, going out and protesting the current political climate, compassion fatigue is something that needs to have a light shined on to it. Seeing the way that society reacts to the issues that you (or those you care about) can be incredibly disheartening. It can cause those negative attitudes to prevail. Even though this is far easier said than done, do not let it. If you lose your spark, like I, and many others have (and will probably do again), look to the little things to reignite it. It can be anything, from a chipmunk with a death wish to a girl marching on Washington with an injured foot, from a family member's inspirational gift to a dear friend revealing a long-time secret, from the look in a dog's eyes when you reach for them and do not harm them to the look in people's eyes when you say that you are doing something in spite of your fears.

My hope is that by shining a light on compassion fatigue and the little things that have helped me overcome it in the past, people realize that they are not alone and that they have people (and dogs) on their side.

Even though it is a quote that originated in AA, I think that it is still important, especially if you or someone you know is dealing with compassion fatigue: This too shall pass.

You aren't alone. You can overcome.


Cover Image Credit: American Nurse Today

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8 Reasons Why My Dad Is the Most Important Man In My Life

Forever my number one guy.

Growing up, there's been one consistent man I can always count on, my father. In any aspect of my life, my dad has always been there, showing me unconditional love and respect every day. No matter what, I know that my dad will always be the most important man in my life for many reasons.

1. He has always been there.

Literally. From the day I was born until today, I have never not been able to count on my dad to be there for me, uplift me and be the best dad he can be.

2. He learned to adapt and suffer through girly trends to make me happy.

I'm sure when my dad was younger and pictured his future, he didn't think about the Barbie pretend pageants, dressing up as a princess, perfecting my pigtails and enduring other countless girly events. My dad never turned me down when I wanted to play a game, no matter what and was always willing to help me pick out cute outfits and do my hair before preschool.

3. He sends the cutest texts.

Random text messages since I have gotten my own cell phone have always come my way from my dad. Those randoms "I love you so much" and "I am so proud of you" never fail to make me smile, and I can always count on my dad for an adorable text message when I'm feeling down.

4. He taught me how to be brave.

When I needed to learn how to swim, he threw me in the pool. When I needed to learn how to ride a bike, he went alongside me and made sure I didn't fall too badly. When I needed to learn how to drive, he was there next to me, making sure I didn't crash.

5. He encourages me to best the best I can be.

My dad sees the best in me, no matter how much I fail. He's always there to support me and turn my failures into successes. He can sit on the phone with me for hours, talking future career stuff and listening to me lay out my future plans and goals. He wants the absolute best for me, and no is never an option, he is always willing to do whatever it takes to get me where I need to be.

6. He gets sentimental way too often, but it's cute.

Whether you're sitting down at the kitchen table, reminiscing about your childhood, or that one song comes on that your dad insists you will dance to together on your wedding day, your dad's emotions often come out in the cutest possible way, forever reminding you how loved you are.

7. He supports you, emotionally and financially.

Need to vent about a guy in your life that isn't treating you well? My dad is there. Need some extra cash to help fund spring break? He's there for that, too.

8. He shows me how I should be treated.

Yes, my dad treats me like a princess, and I don't expect every guy I meet to wait on me hand and foot, but I do expect respect, and that's exactly what my dad showed I deserve. From the way he loves, admires, and respects me, he shows me that there are guys out there who will one day come along and treat me like that. My dad always advises me to not put up with less than I deserve and assures me that the right guy will come along one day.

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Sharing your story makes a difference even if it is a small one.


As someone who suffers from Anxiety disorders, I tend to get really flustered and frustrated at not just big projects but also smaller ones. Though I have only been officially diagnosed for about 2.5 years, I have learned a lot of tips and tricks that have allowed me to live a little bit more carefree than I thought was possible.

DISCLAIMER: If you believe you may have some sort of anxiety disorder or mental illness, consult a doctor and therapist in order to get the correct help and medications, these tips will not solve all the problems that come with Anxiety, but they will help lift the burden off of your shoulders a little more than just your typical medicine and organizational hacks.

Since my anxiety went unnoticed for so long, I made a lot of choices for myself to help combat the stress I was feeling, even though now that I know the cause of my troubles, I still make sure that I have a planner with me at all times, since writing is therapeutic and so is having everything organized. Having a planner on me that I can use to keep track of school and everyday life allows me to enjoy the smaller things without getting stressed about the bigger ones. Since everything is in one place, you don't have to worry about misplacing or forgetting assignments or even events you have planned.

While essential oils can't cure everything, having certain scents near you when you get an anxiety attack or start to feel stressed is extremely helpful. Most common oils used for anxiety include eucalyptus and lavender scents, which calm the nerves and allow you to relax and think logically about whatever is going on. I use eucalyptus spray on my pillow every night before I go to bed to ensure a good nights rest for the next day.

I understand that not everyone has a good family situation or friend situation, but having a good support system behind you is always helpful to any mental illness or issue in general. If you do not have family or friends that you know you can trust to help you out, there are always people you can reach out to on your campus. Whether it may be a guidance counselor or your favorite teacher, there is always someone to talk to.

Lastly, remember it is always okay to take time for yourself, you do not always have to be around others, it is so so helpful to take a day or two and just take a bubble bath and read a book, watch some movies with some popcorn. It will not hurt you I promise. Of course, do not neglect assignments for a bubble bath, but if a huge project is due and you are halfway done and it is stressing you out, take a break, not everything has to be done in one sitting.

Remember, not all of these lifesavers work for everyone, but sharing what works for you can in some way end up helping someone else, even if you don't know it yet. Sharing your story makes a difference even if it is a small one.

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