That is definitely a lot for one person to have going on! Thanks for sharing with me. I have trouble deciding what I should share on here, too. But it helps me a lot in giving advice to know more about your situation.
I'm especially sorry to hear that things have been rough with your family - those trials are really hard on me, too..
It sounds like you're doing some awesome things to help yourself, though It'll be good when you can be in nature again (wisdom teeth... that was one of the hardest weeks of my life :/), but I think it's really good that you're trying meditation, counseling, shielding...etc.
Also, I love that quote you shared about trying to make everyone warm. I've already used it in conversation and I can relate to that mindset SO much. It seems really common for us empaths to look at the world this way. For example, right now I've been having to deal with a lot of repressed anger that is now coming to the surface, which I've repressed because I really dislike anger, and I feel how much it influences other people negatively. But I realized that this anger is actually directed toward myself, for not giving myself permission to express my true feelings, and for giving others' feelings priority so much - basically trying to do what I thought others wanted me to do.
For awhile doing what others' wanted worked for me, because it protected me from more of the negative feelings I didn't want to experience, both from myself and others. Yet, it came at a price. Now it's really hard for me to recover from making mistakes, if they hurt anyone else, and it's hard for me to be understanding of myself. I'm working hard at changing the way I see myself, and changing the strict rules I have for myself.
This is where I recommend that you start:
It sounds to me like you might suffer from perfectionism. I don't know if you've ever heard of Louise L. Hay, but she is a wonderful mentor, who has this book called "You Can Heal Your Life." Her main philosophy is that our thoughts are creating our future, and that, by positively influencing our thoughts with positive affirmations, we can counteract the negative, toxic thoughts that will only bring us suffering.
At the back of her book, she has a list of a number of health problems that many, many people experience (even snoring), and a list of the thought patterns that have most likely caused these health issues. Ex: Snoring = stubbornness. This may sound far fetched, but she has worked with a lot of people over the years, and noticed these patterns among those who suffer with the same, or similar ailments. And as I've applied her advice to my life, things have gotten much better for me.
Anyway, arthritis is in there, and it says that arthritis is highly linked to perfectionism. I think it's really easy for empaths to be perfectionists, since it feels like we can control so many aspects of not only our own lives, but the lives of others, with the extra sensory info. that we receive every day. But like you said, sometimes it only hurts us when we try to help people. And if you haven't yet learned to be a healer, which I'm still learning about, too, then I think starting with tackling perfectionism is a good way to go. Because I believe we can all shield ourselves much better when we feel love for ourselves, and let go of negative or perfectionistic demands.
Here's a link to some positive affirmations for perfectionism:
Something I like to do is write positive affirmations on pieces of paper (I make them colorful and pretty, as well), and then post them throughout my house/living space, places where I will see them every day. They helped me a lot while I was at college.
If you're like me, you might have trouble noticing negativity inside yourself, because it mostly occurs as feelings, and maybe subconscious thoughts, rather than conscious thoughts. Sometimes I don't think as much, I just feel.. But I've still found that positive affirmations can help change my feelings for the better.