It is almost more than one and a half years of the pandemic. We heard it initially in January last year, we experienced the severity in March last year and this year April-May has been the most devastating thus far. Bad situations last longer than we imagine and this one has not yet ended. Initially, we heard of people unconnected to us getting infected, then it moved to our city, our locality and in many instances, it hit closer home by our own family members or ourselves getting infected.
Frontline workers like doctors, nurses, other medical staff, health workers, counsellors, crematorium workers and many others have watched the tragedy up close. Many have been in situations of helplessness and at times hopelessness as they have run out of resources to handle the situation. This is when compassion fatigue sets in.
Compassion fatigue is a real state of the mind. This need not affect only people in the frontline, it can affect even people just watching the situation. You can be emotionally drained. You have given all you can and it is still not enough. The situation still demands more from you. The medical professional is still expected to attend to people every day. The counsellors and psychologists still need to listen to loss and suffering stories from their clients, the crematorium workers cannot run away from their jobs. Even if you are not one of the professionals mentioned, you can still experience compassion fatigue. Professionals wherever possible can take a break from their work or they can approach other professionals for help.
Common people not involved can also take a break from helping others if it has started affecting their own health. At this point looking after your mental health is not selfishness, it is intelligence. Being overwhelmed, feeling desperation, helplessness, hopelessness, lack of sleep, greater irritability, frequent breakdown are some of the symptoms of compassion fatigue. Do help where you can and where you no longer have the resources (physical strength, financial muscle, emotional reserve), take a break. Someone else will step in. Guarding your mental well-being and not falling sick is contributing to society at this time.