You have dedicated your life to improving the lives of animals. This work is incredibly rewarding but can also be very emotionally draining and heartbreaking. The emotional toll it takes on you is very real and often too much to bear. This can lead to chronic physical and emotional exhaustion, feelings of irritability or inadequacy, insomnia, depression and suicidality. This is Compassion Fatigue, which is very real and very common.
People in the animal care community are extraordinarily empathetic which means you are absorbing all of the pain and suffering of the animals on a daily basis putting you at high risk for experiencing secondary traumatic stress.
This work will bring about strong emotions. Most emotions are positive and can lead to a sense of competency. Unfortunately this work can also bring up feelings of anguish, rage, hopelessness, helplessness, sorrow and grief. These are common feelings that can go hand and hand in this work. It is important to recognize and process them. They won’t go away if you ignore or avoid them. If these feelings are not explored and left untreated it can lead to fatigue, depression, feelings of incompetency, burnout and for some suicidal thoughts.