Which rather makes it sound like I have all the answers, but clearly I don't, otherwise I would've been able to avoid burnout myself. At least, I'm wondering if I've reached burnout given the tone of some of my previous posts (we-animals-deserve-to-rot-in-hell in particular), and my more-than-usual cynical mood of late.
For example, while I like the oft-used quote about slaughterhouses being made of glass walls, I don't think it's actually true, and in general think it's less a lack of awareness than an agreement that other animals are ours to use as we see fit mentality that's at play. Sadly, as long as animal use is profitable or pleasurable or both, a vegan world seems a long way off to me. On the other hand, I realize my the-human-species-as-a-whole-is-insufferable conclusion isn't really effective, and isn't going to help. And while the people-who-consume-animals-are-bad labeling syndrome may be tempting; it too is not strategic, and not likely to increase the number of vegans.
But, back to burnout. Is this a condition that every vegan can expect to face at some point? Given that I'm eight years into the vegan journey, should I be surprised or happy that at least it didn't happen sooner? Is it in part what can make a vegan become ex-vegan? (Thankfully, I don't anticipate that happening with THIS particular vegan at any time.) And is burnout the same as compassion fatigue? Are the two terms interchangeable? Nope, apparently not. Here's a helpful article outlining the difference between compassion fatigue, vicarious trauma and burnout.
In my own case, there's also a degree of caregiver fatigue thrown in, which makes me wonder if vegans acting as caregivers for elderly parents are even more at risk for burnout. It's a bit of a double whammy methinks, and given that most vegans and most caregivers are female, you could have fatigue coming at you from all sides. Actually, forget about double whammy. If you're female and part of the sandwich generation looking after kids and parents, AND participating in the labour force, you're likely looking at at least a triple or quadruple whammy, eek!
At any rate, since I don't have the answers that the post title implied I might have, I thought I'd look around and share what I find. Especially since if the statistics on recidivism are correct (I've yet to be convinced they are, but that's a topic for another post), and if some form of burnout precedes recidivism, then nearly most of us will face this battle at one point or another.
As with many other problems, prevention is always better than solving, but given the continual assault on the beings of our concern and the huge scale of what we're up against, I would say that it might be a big battle to prevent or overcome this too-common occurrence. Luckily, there ARE also many resources that can help, whew, so I've compiled a short-ish list (a long one can be overwhelming in itself if you're already stressed) and for convenience sake divided it into books, websites, PDF material, and articles. Take from them what you can, as other animals need us to be strong, resilient and healthy. As do other vegans!
- The Power of Joy in Giving to Animals
- Trauma Stewardship: An Everyday Guide to Caring for Self While Caring for Others
- Aftershock: Confronting Trauma in a Violent World: A Guide for Activists and Their Allies
- Compassion Fatigue in the Animal-Care Community (see FREE PDF version in PDF Material section below)
- The Lifelong Activist: How to Change the World Without Losing Your Way
- Chapter 9: Veganism and Caregiving in Never Too Late to Go Vegan
- The Animal Activist Support Line (24-hr email, text or online chat support)
- In Defense of Animals -- Upcoming Events
- In Defense of Animals -- Animal Activist Helpline
- In Defense of Animals -- Activist Resource List (very extensive)
- Compassion Fatigue Resources List by Jessica Dolce
- Compassion Fatigue Awareness Project
- Resources list -- TEND Academy (Françoise Mathieu and Dr. Patricia Fisher)
- Self-Care Assessment PDF worksheet
- Sustainable Activism and Avoiding Burnout (nifty flyer)
- Transforming Compassion Fatigue into Compassion Satisfaction: Top 12 Self-Care Tips for Helpers
- FREE PDF version of the Compassion Fatigue in the Animal-Care Community book listed in BOOKS above
- Activist Burnout: Understanding, Preventing, and Healing
- How To Still Create Change While Burnt-Out
- Self-Care Strategies: 100 Places to Start
- the personal stories of two activists (article on vegan mental health)
- should vegans be issued with mental health warnings?
- What is Compassion Fatigue?
MY OWN FAVOURITE QUICK PICK-ME-UPPERS:
So there you go. That should be enough to keep all of us busy(ier) for a while, snort. Let's take nasty burnout, turn it inside out and nip it in the bud. Let's Keep Calm, Keep Vegan, and Keep Going. (Which is also my new motto and blog byline, woot!)