The COVID-19 fatalities extend beyond the virus itself.

When I woke up yesterday, I found out that an ER doctor in New York City ended her life by suicide. Dr. Lorna Breen was 49 and was the medical director of the emergency department at New York Presbyterian-Allen Hospital. This brave woman contracted COVID-19 on the job, and when the hospital ultimately sent her home, her family brought her home to Charlottesville, Virginia.

It was there that she made her forever decision.

Her grieving father told the New York Times that she tried to do her job, and it killed her.

Think about that. It’s unbelievably sad.

Dr. Lorna Breen / Photo: Columbia University Medical Center

To all of the front-line workers – doctors, nurses, first-responders, food service workers, truckers – everybody: It’s tough being considered a hero today because being a hero comes with a great deal of responsibility. As anxiety increases with the coronavirus pandemic, you want to continue serving people and saving lives…

But one of the things that we most often forget in our desire and our compassion and empathy to want to help and serve people – is that we forget to take care of ourselves.

Listen: You matter.

The situation that we are all in is traumatic. It is filled with a lot of anxiety and stress and the uncertainty of the world – but especially if you are one of these front-line workers that has to serve in the face of COVID-19.

 You are still fortunate to have a job, but having this job can be extremely stressful

Remember: You can’t pour from an empty pitcher. It’s crucial that you have a daily routine in place, a structured lifestyle. The first order of business must be self-care. This could be anything from healthy eating, exercise, meditation, yoga or time in prayer. Whatever self-care looks like for you, now is the time to make sure you are setting time aside for this.

If you are not taking care of yourself, how can you take care of others? The best you isn’t showing up.

I have a niece who is a front-line worker in New York City. She sees the heartbreak of COVID-19 on a daily basis. I have friends here in the Myrtle Beach area who are nurses – and I applaud you all. I am so thankful to have people like you in my life, but one of the things that really sends up red flags is when you negate your thoughts and feelings with a statement like, “I’ll take care of me later. I’ve got to show up and do this now.”

NO! You have got to take care of yourself more now while you are taking care of others.

My intention is to be careful here, and I do not want to come across as insensitive.

You can be compassionate. You can be empathetic. But you cannot carry the darkness. Love people and serve others, absolutely – but you have got to take care of yourself first. This is so important.

God bless each and every one of you. I love you, and I hope you are well and staying safe.

About Jeff Yalden

Jeff Yalden is renowned for his work as a youth motivational speaker and teen mental health and suicide prevention expert. For three decades, Jeff has given his life to students, teachers, counselors, parents, and the mental health community.

For more about Jeff Yalden, click HERE.

Check out Jeff’s book: Teen Suicide: The “Why” Behind America’s Suicide Epidemic

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