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Ask Amy: COVID changed me

Dear Amy, Do people tell you that the Covid pandemic changed them?

I switch

I thought that the isolation would not bother me because I am an introverted woman. I treasure my loneliness.

There were times when I didn’t see another human being for a week or 10 days.

I only went to the store and to the library just to see another human being and chat for a minute or two. That seemed to be enough; after all, for two years that person who was walking towards me could have a disease that could kill me.

I remember thinking it was like I’m in a spaceship that keeps circling the Earth and I can’t land.

Well, now I’ve landed and realize I’m less tolerant than I used to be and much more cynical.

My compassion for others has dropped to a new low.

I left a couple of lasting friendships behind because I couldn’t stand the need for the other person. It was as if I had been wearing rose-colored glasses for years, but they fell off and now I see the world in a different way.

I’m back to being active in an art group I’ve been a member of for 17 years and I attend a music circle where we make music for others, so it’s not like I’ve become totally antisocial.

What is your opinion?

– OF

Dear ED: Yes, people are reporting that the pandemic has changed them. In fact, I can hardly imagine going through these last few years without having changed.

Your description of feeling like you’re on board a spaceship is memorably vivid.

During the pandemic years, his ever-present anxiety had an effect on his body chemistry. The stress hormones flooding your body, without relief, can have a profound effect on your physical and mental health.

Some of the reactions and feelings you report now would be considered familiar signs of depression, or at least going through a depressive phase.

I suggest you do some research on the long term effect of stress and make sure you visit your GP for a full check up. Describe your current mental position. Seeing a therapist might help.

My own prescription for you would be to spend as much time outdoors as possible and double down on your art and music, both of which are extremely healing for your soul and exceptionally good for your cognitive and mental health.

Dear Amy, About four days a week, I hang out at a wonderful local cafe. I bring my laptop and I have my usual place.

There is a worker, “Clara”, with whom I have fallen in love. She is, well, a ray of sunshine.

I would like to express my interest in her, but I have two problems: I am a woman (I don’t know if she likes women) and I don’t know anything about her own dating status.

I don’t want to spoil my morning routine by overindulging, but I wonder if I should do more to express my interest in her than smile, chat, and leave a 20 percent tip.

– Go decaf

Dear Decaf: “Clara” might be receiving multiple expressions of interest from multiple sources each day.

Servers sometimes report customer overtures as a major problem.

Clara has frequent contact with you. She should be the first to express interest. She can do this in a number of ways, including the now cliché expression of writing her number or her handle on the outside of your coffee mug or on her receipt.

In the meantime, enjoy your daily dose of sun, without getting burned.

Dear Amy, “Hurtin’ for Certain” has arthritis and finds it very painful to shake hands. This brought me back to a wonderful time in my life.

I’m a big fan of a specific sci-fi series. In a meeting I had the opportunity to meet a very famous and accomplished actor who was part of this series, and a great hero to me.

As we were about to shake hands, he stopped me and begged me “gently, please”, and said that he had arthritis.

I was a younger, older guy, and he might have worried that I’d rip his arm off.

I am an occupational therapist. We ended up spending 10 minutes going over ways he could treat his arthritis.

I had to offer advice to a man who had made a huge impact on my life and, in turn, I hope I made an impact on yours.

– Proud

Dear Proud: I raise my own (arthritic) hand in a Vulcan salute.

(You can email Amy Dickinson at askamy@amydickinson.com or send a letter to Ask Amy, PO Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter. @asking either Facebook.)

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