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.