Lost in Compassion — A People Pleaser’s Guide to Developing from Negatives is my effort to share my own experiences, lessons learned and journey as I embark on, perhaps, an unconventional means of coming back from an extensive period of compassion fatigue and burn out.
Olivia 5 Years Ago: Runner, Sandwich Lover, World’s Biggest Potato Fan, Passionate Advocate, Enthusiastic Teacher, HP Sauce Fanatic, baker, amateur humorist and contrary to a lot more assumptions than you would think, NOT a vegetarian.
Olivia Present-Day: Well. I am now a vegetarian. Let’s see how the rest of me takes shape.
Although my varied career path over the last 12 years has ultimately held the common thread of helping, my background and my first passion is in education, teaching and working with children, and photography. I think I began to notice a shift in my perspective-a hint that something wasn’t quite right over the course of the summer of 2016. While I am only newly aware of and coming to terms with my own compassion fatigue and burn out, it is a dark partner that has been with me for some time. Like that spider hanging out in the corner of the room that you can’t bring yourself to squish, but don’t have the nerve to remove by hand either.
I L-O-V-E helping people. LOVE it. Couple that intense desire with a shotty dose of low self-esteem and worth, and you have a great recipe for Compassion Fatigue cookies, with some anxiety sprinkled in for good measure. Cookies I have hastily gobbled up for years in an unrelenting-not-stopping-to-breathe-getting-the-hiccoughs-belly-ache-is-coming-eat-all-the-things-now Rapid. Fire. Manner. Working with some of the best children and people on a remote First Nations reserve in Northwestern Ontario? Let me forgo quality sleep as I lay awake thinking of modified lesson plans and how I can best teach grade 3 addition while adapting my lessons to better accommodate children who have seen and been through A LOT. Advocating and working with other teachers on adaptations, modifications and integrated learning environments for children with developmental disabilities? 3 a.m. is the time to ruminate on how better I can communicate to Lucas’ teacher that he deserves to be in a classroom filled with his other typical school-mates. Trying to work on literacy skills with a homeless schizophrenic man who threatens to bring a gun into the classroom as he really isn’t that fond of me, and continues to maintain that threat and his dislike for me for 4 months? Tearful mornings filled with dread was the approach I favoured. Throw in the last 2 years where I have watched both of my parents go through some scary health crisis and my own inability to better care for myself and you have me, right now, 2017. Insert glamour shot *here*. Priorities lined up and ready to go, and me and my health are at a dead last, like that game of dodgeball we’ve all experienced where you’re the last kid to get picked for the team. Or maybe that was just me. Remember the noise those rubber balls made when they made contact with your body? And the welts ….
Really crappy sleep habits, an appetite that doesn’t know if it is coming or going, and a real discomfort in allowing myself down time is what I am currently experiencing. I have taken, what some might deem an “extreme” method to get back to myself and re-discover who I am in literally hitting pause on almost all aspects of my life, but primarily my career. In my attempt to really move forward, I am stopping to ultimately develop from the negatives. That’s a word play on photograph negatives, did you get it? In my spare time I love explaining my jokes. I also love having others explain their jokes to me.