I recently came across an article featured in the Huffington Post about Compassion Fatigue.
Upon reading this article I became painfully aware that I have some of the same symptoms as the persons the story was written about.
Compassion fatigue is also known as “secondary-traumatic stress disorder” (STSD). The symptoms of STSD are similar to PTSD. As with PTSD, compassion fatigue can lead to depression and thoughts of suicide.
Compassion fatigue is described as an occupational hazard of working with animals.
When working as an animal control officer, kennel worker, animal sanctuary caregiver, shelter owners or veterinarian it is easy to give of yourself to the point of emotional exhaustion.
Working with animals day in and day out seeing the horror that so many are put through and working so hard to assist in improving their lives, can easily take over one’s life.
Animal caregiving is not a job but a way of life, a way that often takes us away from a balanced life.
At Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary we have seen volunteers and staff give and give and give until burned out.
Sanctuaries like ours where the people that work here also live here can experience a faster sense of burn out just due to living and working in the same place. Volunteers share a common kitchen and shower facility and other common areas, so a sense of leaving work behind can never really be achieved.
It is love and passion mixed with empathy and compassion that animal care givers have that keeps them doing what they do.
It is too easy to lose sight of one’s self when you can only see the helpless in need of help.
A sanctuary is a 24/7 career animals have to be cared for each day without fail and like clockwork. Vacations are daydreams in between emergencies.