I'm sitting on the train as I write this, on my way to NYC. Not a big deal in general, but a big deal for me at this moment in time. For years I traveled up and down the Northeast corridor from Philly to NYC (thank you, Amtrak) dragging my old beat-up suitcase (it's missing a few parts but I love it dearly) to do tv. From CNN to the TODAY Show, the now-canceled Dr. Oz Show, and others, I averaged about 200 segments per year (give or take) for years. I've always done TV in between days that I see patients in the office. For years there were weeks when I was on a train 3-4 days per week, many nights in hotel rooms, late nights writing segment talking points and early call times (I used to wake up at 2 am to get ready for Fox & Friends First).
But the pandemic changed a lot. Coronavirus took the world by storm and there was so much we didn't know. People were dying (at higher rates than now), we didn't have vaccines yet and we had very few medications to treat COVID. Many tv news stations went to 24-hour coverage to keep up with COVID news and at the beginning of the pandemic I did more tv than ever. I remember doing Fox News segments at 1 am and 2 am during that time, and often found myself doing up to 7 tv segments daily. Of course, this was from home because we were in lockdown, but I got used to sleeping on my couch in full hair and makeup (and yes, eyelashes on too) to be ready for the next segment I had coming up.
As COVID trickled on I fell into a comfortable pattern of doing tv from home and also creating content for my social media channels, which I really hadn't before. A few of my videos went viral on social media early on in the pandemic and it changed the way I thought about social media. I also began investing a lot more time into it. But, the truth is, as the pandemic continued to carry on I got burned out.
Or, maybe I was burned out before. I'm not really sure, but at some point within the last year or so, I hit a wall. I became tired of COVID, tired of illness, tired of death, tired of Black people dying, tired of political strife, tired of misinformation, tired of unrest, uncertainty, and anxiety. Just tired. Was this only me, or did you feel some of this too?
I'm not sure when, but my fire started to dim somewhere along the way. My sleep became more disrupted, I struggled to eat healthy and exercise, I became more cynical and pessimistic, and I started isolating myself from others more than ever- even when I no longer had to because of COVID. (As a single woman, I certainly don't need that).
As a result, I started pulling back. I did (and still do) plenty of tv and made plenty of videos, but I didn't always have the motivation and drive that I had before COVID.
If a patient of mine said these things to me as their physician, I would probably reassure them and remind them that change is not only normal but it's often good. I would remind them that it's ok to take a step back and even pull away at times. I would tell them not to be so hard on themselves and to give themselves grace. I would also remind them that often the first step to change is recognition. (If only I could give myself such advice. *smirk*)
I'm trying to take my own advice and with it, I'm slowly trying to re-ignite my fire. How? Baby steps. I'm taking more time out for myself, praying, exercising, doing therapy (a Godsend), and more. I'm also being more deliberate about spending time with others. Also, I think doing meditation would help but I haven't quite figured that out yet, so.... *sigh*
I would be lying if I said I was back to my "old self," the self that existed before COVID. I'm certainly not, but honestly who is? We've all been changed by the last few years- how could we not be? The question, is how do we move forward? I still feel tired and weary from all of the world's turmoils, but at least I'm starting to feel like it's time to "get back in the saddle," so I am.
So, I'm back to New York City to do tv and I'm excited and a little nervous and happy because this trip means that I'm putting myself back in the saddle. I have a few segments scheduled for Cheddar News, Fox Weather, and others over the next few days and then I'll head back home. While this is not a big deal in the grand scheme of things, it's a big deal for me. It's a first step.
I know life has been hard for so many of us over the last few years. While we can't avoid the pain and suffering that comes with life, we can control how we deal with it. It's not easy, but sometimes all that's required is putting one foot in front of the other. Whatever you're dealing with, trying to work through or overcome, know I'm in your corner and I'm with you. Hang in there. You got this, I promise.
Love, Dr. Jen
Dr. Jen Caudle is a board-certified Family Physician, Associate Professor at Rowan University, tv health expert, and video creator. Sign up to receive Dr. Jen's Daily Health Tips to get daily emails (Mon-Fri) with health information you can use to live a healthier life. Follow her on Facebook,YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok.