Sucked into a Black Hole of Compassion Fatigue

Well  hi there.  Look who didn’t get sucked up in a black hole. That’s right me!   I last wrote back in August 2014, amazing how fast seven months goes.

Truth is, I didn’t forget to blog, or run out of ideas or anything like that. I had to take some time for myself. I have been dealing with some mighty bad compassion fatigue and burnout. (So in a way, I guess I did get sucked down a big black hole.) There are so many animals out there who need help and so little I can do for them at this point in my life. I was trying to work full time at a vet’s office, volunteer with cat shelters, make time for writing, keep my blog going, get my act together so I can move and find a better paying job, and taking care of my four high maintenance fur babies. I was also working hard on trying to “find myself” for lack of better terms. I couldn’t do it all. I just couldn’t do it. So I just stopped. I had to. Especially when I hit the bump in the road that I talked about with my August post. I was burnt out.

I have actually been burnt out and dealing with some awful compassion fatigue for a long time now. Added to my Depression and Anxiety, I was not in a good place. While I am doing better, I am still dealing with the compassion fatigue and the burnout. There are so many animals and I want to help them all. I want to give my time and  money to all the rescues so we can save as many animals as possible. I can’t do it though. I was getting angry and resentful towards rescue groups and towards individuals in those rescue groups. People kept asking for my help and I felt like I was barely keeping my head above water.  I thought I had gotten better, so I waded back into the world of animal rescue and TNR.  While I had gotten better, I was not whole yet; I waded in too soon. It nearly broke me.

I finally got to a point where I realized that I was not doing anyone any good. I stopped everything I was doing and have worked hard to keep my distance from any particular organization or cats. I have distanced myself, hopefully without breaking any bonds. I have been trying to put myself first for the past seven months. When your instinct is to put others first and to be a caregiver for the needy, this is an extra tricky job.  I think this was one of the trickiest things I have ever done. I am still learning how to put myself and my needs first. I finally stopped feeling selfish about it though.

I am not healed yet. I am better, but I am not healed yet. I have a long way to go. However, the need to help is not gone. I see friends posting cats and dogs who need to be pulled from Animal Control or who need foster homes. Organizations who need money to keep operating. I want to help them all. I can’t though. I have to  take care of myself before I can give to others.  If I save my money I can eventually get myself into a situation where I can take on fosters and even adopt another cat. If I heal myself mentally, physically and emotionally, I will be a better advocate for the animals. Crabby, stressed, emotionally exhausted people are not the best people to represent an organization.

I can’t not help the animals though. Helping the animals is just who I am. As is writing. So I am going to slowly and irregularly start posting here again. I hope to get a few entries on compassion fatigue and burnout first. There will be a few posts on the latest trapping adventures I am dealing with as well. And posts on my feral girls and my baby boys inside. From there, we will see where it goes.

In the mean time, I would encourage you  to read this post on Notes From a Dog Walker titled “Self-Care Is Not Optional.” Her post was the first time I read anything that resonated so clearly with me in relation to burnout. It also made me realize I had a long way to go to heal.

Thank you to everyone reading.

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4 thoughts on “Sucked into a Black Hole of Compassion Fatigue

  1. carmapoodale says:

    Katie, its so good to hear from you again. In Oct. I hung up my Humane Society spokesdog vest and along with ma , walked away from rescue. It wasn’t that we wanted to. We needed to. Ma was spending more time on the laptop in the bed than she was in the chair. Her health took a dive and no matter what she couldn’t help.
    We are on a break now from rescue. Whether we go back to it or not is unknown at this time.

    • Katie says:

      Hi Carma. Good to hear from you too! I’ve missed talking to you and your Ma in #petchat. Sorry to hear that your Ma’s health was suffering from the rescue work. It is amazing what a physical toll emotions can have on us. I know it must have been so hard for you and your Ma to hang up your spokesdog vest. I am glad your Ma was able to make that brave and difficult decision and take care of her health though.

  2. Meg Telligman says:

    So glad to see this post. I’ve been checking almost daily. Please continue to take care of yourself. Post when you can. Bless you.

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