Rescue operators are tired. Shelter staffs are tired. Event workers are tired. Transporters are tired. Fosters are tired. Donors are tired. Social media “cross-posters” are tired. I’m tired…and if you’re in the animal rescue community, you’re probably tired too. The season of puppies and kitties has hit us all hard, and unfortunately there is no end in sight.
The other day I went to a home décor store and saw some picture with some cliché motivational quote on it – and I literally wanted to break the picture in half and throw it in the garbage can. Seriously?! Who wants a “You can do it all!” picture hanging in their home?! Who needs that kind of negativity in their life?!
Is one person truly supposed to, “do it all?” I think not.
Every time someone in the world of rescue is finally complete in successfully saving an animal, we are needed again. Sometimes when we think things couldn’t get worse, they do. When we think we couldn’t be more broke, we receive another bill. When we think an animal is finally healthy, we step in their vomit. We feel guilty for saying “no” or for having plans outside of our “passion.”
I personally am waiting for the day where there is a rescue event and all the rescuers just sit around and cry because we’re just so exhausted.
After a while, we begin to see more of the bad in the world than the good. We forget why we started the great fight in the first place. We start replacing the memories of the animals we did save with the ones that still need our help, or got left behind. We start to feel worthless.
Needless to say, compassion fatigue hits our industry pretty hard. There are somedays where the agenda is made up of: sleeping, eating ice cream out of the carton, Xanax, and avoiding everything and anything that has to do with rescue. Obviously, this isn’t the healthiest of ways to cope; but you know what? It’s okay.
It is okay that we are tired. It is okay that on somedays we think about giving up. It is okay that sometimes, just sometimes, we make an extremely dark/inappropriate joke to make ourselves feel better in some twisted way. It is okay.
To everyone who is currently feeling victim to burn-out in any area of your life: please stop and take care of yourself. You’re not a failure for giving yourself a break, you’re human. Take a time out and remember your victories, no matter how small. Be proud of yourself. Treat yourself. When you feel like you’re ready to start again, start again slowly. No matter what happens, never forget that you do make a difference.