Pandemic Changes Worry Introvert
Is this a normal reaction?
After two comfortable years of keeping to herself, this introvert ponders the pandemic changes she sees in herself, including a lower tolerance level. Is her reaction normal? She what advice columnist Amy Dickinson says in this edition of “Ask Amy.”
Do people report to you that the Covid pandemic changed them?
It changed me.
I thought the isolation wouldn’t bother me because I am an introverted woman. I treasure my solitude.
There were times when I didn’t see another human being for a week or 10 days. I went only to the store and the library just to see another human being and chat for a minute or two. That seemed to suffice – after all, for two years that person walking toward me might be carrying a disease that could kill me.
I remember thinking it’s as though I am in a spaceship that keeps circling the Earth, and I can’t land.
Well, now I have landed, and I find that I am less tolerant than I used to be, and a lot more cynical. My compassion for others has descended to a new low. I have dropped a couple of long-term friendships because I couldn’t bear the other person’s neediness. It was as if I was for years wearing rose-colored glasses, but they fell off and now I see the world differently.
I am active again in an art group I’ve been a member of for 17 years and I attend a music circle where we make music for each other, so it’s not that I have become totally anti-social.
What’s your take?
– E. D.
Yes, people do report that the pandemic has changed them. In fact, I can hardly imagine passing through these recent years without being changed.
Your description of feeling as if you were aboard a spaceship is memorably vivid.
During the years of the pandemic, your ever-present anxiety had an effect on your body’s chemistry. 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 having now would otherwise be seen as familiar signs of depression – or at least passing through a depressive phase.
I suggest that you do some research on the long-term effect of stress, and make sure you see your GP for a thorough checkup. Describe your current mental posture. Seeing a therapist could help.
My own prescription for you would be to spend as much time as possible outdoors, and to double up on your art and music – both of which are extremely healing for your soul and exceptionally good for your cognitive and mental health.
In the tradition of the great personal advice columnists, Chicago Tribune’s Amy Dickinson is a plainspoken straight shooter who relates to readers of all ages. She answers personal questions by addressing issues from both her head and her heart – ranging from relationships to DNA surprises. A solid reporter, Dickinson researches her topics to provide readers with informed opinions and answers. Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068
©2023 by Amy Dickinson