Empathic Burnout

some months ago, my best friend was kicked out of her house. this was an unexpected catastrophic event for the both of us. she was on the street sleeping in her car for six weeks. during that time i was the only support she had. i spent every day and night listening to her get more and more depressed, anxious and sick,wondering every night if she was somewhere safe. she was suffering horribly and was suicidal. i desperately wanted to help her but couldn't. all i could do is listen and try to comfort her with my words. but on top of all this i was miles and miles away and couldn't really help her. i cried and cried for months after this. that was the ordeal that first sent me into the situation that i'm in now. couple that with all of the horrible current events on the news and going on around the globe and you say to yourself "of course you have compassion fatique". As an empath, and i've only recently discovered that i am one, there is no barrier between you and outside events. emotions, traumas, tragedies, don't just happen "out there somewhere" they permeate you and it's as if you're actually experiencing it. the effects, if you're not careful can really be damaging. we can't control being deeply affected by things. and now, so many months later, i can see the damage that has been caused by my passive absorption of my friend's stress and trauma. i have vicarious traumatic stress and it's affecting my work and my relationships with myself and others. life has all the color and wonder sucked out of it. i'm so different than how i was before all this happened. i don't trust anymore. i don't really think i believe in the Good or humanity anymore. i feel  more distant than ever. and any tiny stressor overwhelms me and makes me wish i'd die.i'm angry all the time at everybody and everything for no reason. it's very strange and unpleasant and i'm trying my best to heal from this. it's somewhat hard to do when you're a student and a part-time worker living in a dorm with a bunch of crazy college freshmen. i don't get much quiet time to reflect and be spiritual, which i'm sure would cure me right up. but going the way i'm going now, i feel that a big wave of depression is looming in the not to distant future. so i have to try my best. i think i need something, a place where i can unload all the stressors that i absorb. in a book i'm reading one of the characters is an empath and in order to cope she built her own "wailing wall" where she rights down on little slips of paper what is troubling her and sticks it in the wall. it's another depository for her rather than her being dragged down by all of it. i think it's a good idea. i think i'll make my own version.

3strikes 3strikes
22-25, F
1 Response Mar 25, 2009

I believe you came into your empathy much later than I came into mine, so I'll say this as some advice:<br />
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It's okay to cry and break down if you need to. Just let out all of the excessive emotion any way you can. So long as you can get it out and let go of it, then you are better off then you would be if you bottled it up.<br />
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Also, it is okay to take a 'mental health day' if you need it. It's saved my mind on more than one occasion. I hope you feel better, and if you need someone to just talk to (for advice, venting, whatever), I'm available.