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The Health Science Podcast | Episode 049. | October 12, 2023
049: Navigating Compassion Fatigue: Insights from Juliette Watt on the Path to Self-Care
049: Navigating Compassion Fatigue: Insights from Juliette Watt on the Path to Self-Care

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If you followed the events of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, you might remember the heartbreaking plight of numerous stranded animals. These animals weren’t abandoned willingly by their owners; rather, in some cases, their guardians had no other option.

What you might not be aware of is the remarkable story of one individual at the forefront of the rescue mission, who helped to save nearly 6,000 dogs, cats, birds, and even unconventional pets like tarantulas and snakes.

In this episode of the NHA Health Science Podcast, Dr. Frank Sabatino sits down with Juliette Watt, a caregiving virtuoso, an Emmy-nominated scriptwriter, an animal advocate, and a highly skilled pilot.

Together, they peel back the layers of Juliette’s extraordinary journey—from her days as a Playboy Bunny in her teens to her transformation into a dedicated animal activist, speaker, and author.

Juliette shares her inspiring tale, revealing the passion and determination that fueled her mission to make a difference in the lives of countless animals during one of the most devastating natural disasters in recent history by utilizing her incredible skill as a pilot.

Juliette’s compelling story reveals the rich tapestry of her remarkable life experiences, underscored by a profound mission—to aid those who find themselves ensnared in the profound act of serving others. This conversation unearthed the shadows of compassion fatigue, revealing its poignant effects on caregivers.

Juliette illuminated the path to healing through her enlightening book, “In Between the Magic:  My Life from the Playboy Club to Beirut and Beyond ” sharing invaluable insights on her remarkable journey to survive and thrive, find love, and confront heartache to eventually find her mission in a most unique way.

A Multifaceted Life Journey

Juliette’s life story is nothing short of remarkable. From her days as a stunt rider in films to her award-winning work as a scriptwriter for soap operas, her journey has been as diverse as it has been unexpected. She attributes her various life paths to a series of unforeseen events and circumstances.

Her formative years were marked by challenges, losing her father at the age of ten and witnessing her mother grapple with mental health issues. These early experiences forged her resilience and survival instincts.

Juliette worked various jobs, including at the Playboy Club, before embarking on an adventurous journey that took her to Beirut just before the Lebanese Civil War erupted in 1972.

Her adventurous spirit eventually led her to the United States, where she started anew with only $200 in her pocket.

One of Juliette’s most significant achievements was becoming an ATP (Airline Transport Pilot), the highest level of pilot certification.

She used her piloting skills to support animal protection efforts, particularly during Hurricane Katrina, transporting rescued animals around the country to various locations and sanctuaries.

Unveiling Compassion Fatigue

A primary focus of the conversation between Dr. Sabatino and Juliette is the concept of compassion fatigue; a term Juliette became familiar with from her own experience with her mother. This led her to connect with Charles Figley, a renowned expert on the topic.

They discussed Juliette’s experiences as a caregiver, particularly when caring for her mother, who exhibited narcissistic tendencies. This dialogue shed light on the toll caregiving can take on an individual.

Compassion fatigue, as Juliette explained, resembles empathy burnout. It occurs when caregivers become so absorbed in the suffering of others that it detrimentally affects their emotional and physical well-being. Juliette shared her personal journey of losing herself in her caregiver role, experiencing chronic stress, anxiety, and even anger.

A distinctive aspect of compassion fatigue that Juliette highlighted is the intense anger that can build up toward the person being cared for. This anger is often repressed, leading to depression and anxiety. The emotional toll, combined with feelings of helplessness, can push caregivers to the brink of burnout.

Healing Compassion Fatigue

Drawing from her personal journey, Juliette now coaches others and provides advice on recognizing the signs of compassion fatigue, setting boundaries, managing stress, and practicing self-care.

The conversation with Juliette Watt brought to light the challenges faced by caregivers and underscored the significance of self-care and support in managing compassion fatigue.

Juliette’s personal journey and insights, coupled with her book, offer a guiding light and encouragement for those navigating the intricate role of caregiving.

Episode Highlights

[02:00]            From childhood loss of father to Playboy bunny, to script writer, to pilot, to   
                         animal activist… an unlikely journey.

[05:15]             Childhood struggles transform Juliette into an extremely high performer.

[07:00]             Floods from Hurricane Katrina the catalyst for rescuing 6,000 animals from 

[10:30]             Purpose driven stress is night and day from random stress.

[14:00]             Under the microscope of compassion fatigue.

[22:00]             The spiritual side of self-care while giving back.

[28:30]             The connection between addiction and compassion fatigue.

[35:00]             From the grips of control to the willingness to let go.          

[40:10]             Don’t become someone else’s story.

About Juliette Watt

Juliette Watt has been a Playboy Bunny; a soap opera writer for ABC Television, a theater writer/performer, and an ATP airplane pilot and Master Flight Instructor. She has won two Writers Guild Awards and has been nominated for a Daytime Emmy.

She also is an animal rights advocate who worked for Best Friends Animal Society for almost a decade. Juliette most recently added TEDx Fargo speaker to her extensive resume.

Juliette’s current mission is twofold; to help people who are struggling with the debilitating and potentially lethal symptoms of Compassion Fatigue; the emotional and physical burden created by caring for others in distress or neglecting your own life-stress and guiding people to create the true life of their dreams.

In her own words: “I want to help people who have lost themselves in who they’ve been for other people.”

Visit for more information on Juliette.

Enjoy Juliette’s book, In Between the Magic: My Life from the Playboy Club to Beirut and Beyond available on Amazon.

TEDx Talk

About Dr. Frank Sabatino

As a recognized authority on the benefits of a plant-based lifestyle, Dr. Frank Sabatino has cared for and inspired thousands of people for over 40 years. Dr. Sabatino has a PhD in cell biology and neuroendocrinology and has done extensive landmark research on calorie restriction, stress, and aging. He currently is on staff at the TrueNorth Health Foundation in Santa Rosa, CA, and serves as the Director of Health Education at the NHA.

Dr. Sabatino’s passion and life’s work include raising awareness about the benefits of whole-food, plant-exclusive nutrition (without added salt, oil, or sugar), health rejuvenation and stress management.

About NHA

The National Health Association (NHA), founded in 1948, is a nonprofit organization that promotes the benefits of a plant-based diet. The Association provides educational materials, educational events, and services to thousands of people around the world.

The mission of the National Health Association is to educate and empower individuals to understand that health results from healthful living. The NHA recognizes the integration of all aspects of health: personal, environmental, and social.

The NHA also provides travel experiences around the globe through the NHA Plant-Based Travel and cruise division.

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A unique benefit of the NHA Conference is the selection of two medical students who receive a full scholarship to the conference.

Contact Wanda Huberman for more information on how to apply for the scholarship.  [email protected]

NHA membership

For a very nominal investment, you can enjoy incredible benefits of the NHA membership.

Members of the NHA enjoy a subscription to the award-winning quarterly health journal, Health Science, access to the “Members Only” section of the NHA Website (which contains all 43 years of back issues of the magazine),  the ability to download for free many classic out of print eBooks on the history of the Natural Hygiene Movement, including Fasting Can Save Your Life and The Greatest Health Discovery, discounts on books, and early notice of the NHA events.

Only $35 a year for basic membership within the United States.

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