Fibromyalgia · Inspirational · Mental Health Strategies

What causes Compassion Fatigue?

“They still don’t get it, do they?” said my friend with exasperation.

Our friendship spans four decades now, we know each other well & have supported each other through the good & difficult times of life.

But before I share what this was all about let’s grab our cuppa’s & get comfy.

Today I’m enjoying an ol’ favourite, a mug of Lady Grey tea with a toasted fruit bun (aka hot cross bun) lathered with butter melting upon its deliciousness.

What are you having today my friend?


“Have you noticed that those who are healthy have no idea what it means to live with Chronic health issues on a daily basis?” one woman said to the other.

“No, they don’t but then again we wouldn’t want them to be experiencing what we are each day either.” replied her friend.

Life can be difficult for all whether living in the heights of good health or not.

However, it is much more challenging for those who live with chronic health conditions.

Especially when certain expectations are placed upon them from those who are healthy.

As a person who lives with Fibromyalgia & autoimmune conditions, let me share that it is very debilitating when things are expected of us that are physically impossible for us to do.

And even worse when we can not meet those expectations there is rejection, isolation & judgement.

If you join me here often then you know that I have lived with these conditions for the past 17 years, so they are not new to me but I do try to live my best life within them.

However, with the unpredictability of Fibromyalgia (FM), as with many chronic conditions, what I may be able to do today I simply may not be able do tomorrow & vice a versa.

What I can do in one cycle of FM I can not in another.

What I could do last year I may not be able to do this year.

Because living with any chronic condition is a day to day experience.


Living Day by day…

You see we cannot go any further into the future then this, as we simply don’t know what our capacity will be on any given day.

It’s a matter of knowing our capacity on the day;

Knowing what we can do & what we can’t do.

Unfortunately, this can take years to come to grips with…

Trying to get the balance just right, in fact it took me a decade but there are still times I tip the balance!

Often overexerting myself beyond my energy level on the day & pay for it dearly for days or even months afterwards.

I have learnt I can only make tentative plans for anything in life, because ‘on the day’ I simply may not be able to do it.

Getting back to the conversation I had with my friend at the begining of this post, she was sharing about someone she knew who is also struggling with a chronic health condition.

And how she’d observed their energy levels declining as their condition progresses & the friends in that person’s life finding their declining energy difficult to understand.

So, I thought she may find the Spoon analogy helpful to pass on.

As it explains what happens with energy in those living with chronic illnesses compared to those who are healthy.

Shared in the following, just tap the heading to join me in;

Understanding the Energy Source

She hadn’t heard of this Spoon analogy before, expressing that it was really helpful knowing what this person is experiencing day by day.

Is it Compassion Fatigue, Impatience or Grief?

I think the answer to that question is; all of the above!

I know my family have had to miss my presence on many occasions & there’s a grief that goes with this for all concerned.

I’ve also noticed that when some people who have a family member with chronic health conditions go through their own difficult times in life, they become impatient with the one who is chronically ill.

This impatience leads to compassion fatigue, especially with the One they think should be there to help them.

This only adds extra pressure & more grief to the one living with the Chronic condition.

For there is nothing more then we all love to do, then to travel & give support to the people we love.

But when it’s physically impossible to do so, it’s physically impossible!

So my friend if you have a loved one or a friend with chronic health issues, please don’t place expectations upon them that they simply can not meet.

And if you’re the one who is dealing with chronic health conditions then be kind to yourself & don’t feel pressured into trying to meet other’s expectations when you know you simply can’t.

 Be kind and compassionate to one another, 

forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

Ephesians 4:32 Ref

Kindness goes along way, we need to be kind to each other, as well ourselves!

Until next time,


You’re most welcome to join me in The Reading Nook


In Prayer

© 2023 Jennifer M. Ross, All Rights Reserved. 

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17 thoughts on “What causes Compassion Fatigue?

  1. I love this. As your fibro sister I appreciate this so much. Sometimes I silently pretend I’m okay but it’s really hard to do. Older folks tend to say to me “when I was your age I was doing…” We’ll I can’t.
    Thank you so much for sharing this with Sweet Tea & Friends this month my friend.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Jennifer, I so appreciate your perspective. Of the things I do live with, autoimmune diseases are not among them at this time. Learning to accept others where they are at on a given day—physically, emotionally, mentally—lessens the stress for the person who’s dealing with illness and for the person offering grace. Grace is s a powerful gift we can offer if we’re willing to release expectations.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Jennifer, this post reminds me of my season of difficult perimenopause, when I had to live by the motto “only do what only you can do.” Now I have a loved one who lacks all sorts of energy due to a necessary medication, so your words here are both enlightening and convicting!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh Jennifer, thank you so much for your compassionate understanding of that struggle with others’ expectations and with getting the balance right. It was good also to reread the spoon theory post again. “So waking with less spoons + tasks taking more spoons = leads to a quick depletion of energy each day.” Not everyone understands that draining of energy both emotionally and physically. Love and blessings for strength for each day to you!


    1. You’re most welcome Trudy! Yes, I often think of the spoon analogy & apply it to my own energy levels as it is so apt. Especially for those of us living with chronic health issues.
      Love & blessings to you too sweet friend 💕


  5. This is incredibly an valuable reminder, Jennifer: “If you have a loved one or a friend with chronic health issues, please don’t place expectations upon them that they simply can not meet.” I’d say that applies to mental health issues as equally as physical health issues too. May we all learn to live more gracefully with each other. Yes, kindness indeed goes a long way! Blessings to you, friend.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Lisa, & yes, it does apply to any chronic health condition including mental health issues.
      I agree with your following statement Lisa; ‘May we all learn to live more gracefully with each other’, Amen!
      Blessings to you too Lisa! 😊


  6. I so appreciated your post. When my teenage daughter was collapsing under the weight of newly diagnosed but not well-understood or managed chronic illnesses, we started encouraging her to live life with the body she has, not the one she wants. She worked to do that (and in some ways, her body forced it). With interventions and management, she’s able to live a more normal life but still listens well when her body says “no more” about something. I learned a lot when we went through that time–about living with invisible illnesses–both from watching my daughter and from being a caregiver. So many people are living with situations we can’t see. Grace for others, and grace for ourselves is an absolute must. Thanks for the valuable reminder.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m saddened to hear your daughter also lives with Chronic health conditions Natalie but am very glad to hear she is listening to her body & living the best life she can within her conditions.

      Thank you for also giving us a carer’s & parent’s viewpoint which has been very enlightening. 💝


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