Monday, October 7, 2013

Compassion Fatigue

Journal entry, October 5, 2013

My run, one hour-ish.

I am wrestling with compassion fatigue.

So far, in the past year (including 20-f#@*ing-12), wins are one and one for the big doozies. And this weekend, I want to make it two to one, with me on top. So this weekend is all about self care.


An example, one of many encounters…

I interpret a deposition, opposing counsel constantly saying, “Ask her…tell her…” despite the court reporter’s constant reminder of speaking directly to the Deaf person. After his statement that this is his first time working with interpreters, the Deaf person, through her attorney said heatedly, “And this is her 1000 or more times of hearing this, of feeling like she is not in the room.”

I agree. And work at reigning in my emotions.

Over and over and over again. Oppression.


Steve Hamerdinger, our MHIT fearless leader and resident curmudgeon, therapist Deaf, says that caring people, especially those in practice professions, WILL experience grief when working with oppressed peoples.

“Sympathy: I know what you are feeling.

“Empathy: I feel what you are feeling.

“Compassion: I have got to do something about this!”


Neutrality is a myth, he continues. Our Mind, Body, and Spirit WILL be affected.

-Our Mind…and sense of being, looking through the eyes of others, stepping into the shoes of another like the characters in To Kill a Mockingbird (btw, my own thoughts on the best book ever written.).

-Our Body…energy levels lowering in fatigue.

-Our Spirit…questioning…do I continue in this field…(of course I will!)


I know I am overworked when I don’t take time to go to the bathroom and wait for the green light at four way stops.

I know I am experiencing compassion fatigue/vicarious trauma when I, in exasperation, want to shake my fists in air and declare, “Hearing people…UGH!”

Which I have found myself doing lately.

So as I run, I realize that I have kicked up my speed, fueled by my frustration. I am not ready to finish so I add a block here and there, definitely no heaving today.


Steve also goes on to say that we are not an island. We must connect with other people.

So I do.


Last night, I celebrate with a Goddess and her art exhibits in the yearly Spokane Terrain show, her pieces skeleton themed, where science and art meet, memories stored, lodged within the marrow of our bones.

I enjoy a glass of wine as I listen to Alex play upright bass in his jazz band on First Friday’s art tour after visiting another friend’s exhibit, “What Would You Fight For?”

I spend extra time this chilly Autumn morning at Farmers’ Market and notice and photograph (much to the shocking surprise of vendors) each of their beauty.

And today, as I talk with Tolstoy’s Farms Diane, the Goddess who manages Market (isn’t she gorgeous with all her tattoos), sharing my compassion fatigue, Rianna, Julia Goddess’ youngest, runs to me, grabs my attention with her “that’s Goddess Lynne’s runner ponytail!”

Our tri-meeting, Diane, Goddess Julia and her kiddos and me, at Market was meant to be. And we all embrace.


What’s worth fighting for…



What makes me wickedly wicked happy

~MHIT…and Steve Hamerdinger, our fearless leader and self proclaimed resident curmudgeon…and his wisdom

~running. I know that I have said this over and over, but…, oh, I mean AND…as I contemplate my year anniversary of my brain bleed, I am GRATITUDE.

~that I can interpret and live life with minimal consequences of my brain bleed (some things, beyond nightmares, linger, but my fabulous doctor who doctorly doctors awesomely says that it takes time.)

~the Farmers’ Market

~the Goddesses.




My list is short this week. It is short but…oh, yeah, again I mean AND…each one is filled with intensity. So while it is short vertically, it is broad, long in its horizon.


My friends have encouraged me to write about my brain bleed. In the midst, I couldn’t, but on Anniversary, when my brain began to bleed, the floodgates opened and bled. I can’t stop writing…or feeling gratitude.


As a sign language interpreter, I will never level the playing field, even when I am at the top of my game. No matter. In every encounter and gig, whether it is legal, mental health, or vocational, I remember that each person I meet and serve is worthy of love, honor, trust, dignity, and respect.

Definitely worth fighting for.

GL, 10/5/2013. Prevail.

No comments:

Post a Comment