DEAR NATALIE: During the early days of the pandemic, my boyfriend bought a gun because he was afraid that something might happen where he would need to protect us. He went to the shooting range a couple of times to become familiar with it and keeps it in a closet in our bedroom in a locked box. Now that our nerves have settled and life feels like it's back to normal, I don’t know if I’m comfortable with there being a gun in the house. He’s not a violent person, but sometimes he gets angry when he’s drunk. I really don’t think he would ever try to hurt me, but I still don’t see why it’s necessary to have around. He’s of the mind that if the police can have guns, then he should, too. He leans left so he’s not going to storm the Capitol or anything, and I get where he’s coming from. But it still doesn’t sit right with me. How should I start these conversations and what should I do if he doesn’t want to get rid of it? – UNCOMFORTABLE AROUND GUNS
DEAR UNCOMFORTABLE AROUND GUNS: I understand your concern for not wanting a weapon in the house. Gun violence is a public health epidemic in this country and so is intimate partner violence. If you aren’t comfortable with the gun in your shared home, you need to sit down and address this in a meaningful way. Share with him your trepidation. If he drinks too much and then becomes aggressive – even when it isn’t directed towards you – I can understand why you’d be scared. Your anxiety around his drinking is dovetailing with that around the gun being in the home, so make that known. He may have never heard you express that fear before and it could be surprising to him to hear that. Where you stand on guns may not actually solve the issue, but communicating about these things even when there is no clear resolution can result in a deeper understanding, more compassion and eventually could lead you to a road where compromise is on the table.
DEAR NATALIE: I am experiencing Long COVID symptoms. I have been to a few specialists and while they agree on the diagnosis, they don’t have any answers for me when it comes to treatment. I’m tired all of the time, experience brain fog that interferes with my work and can’t do the type of physical activities that I used to enjoy. This has been going on for a while now and I have never had any other health issues before. I’m 32-years-old. What’s making it worse is that my friends and family don’t seem to care. They think I’m making it up or exaggerating what’s wrong with me. I feel depressed, alone and scared for my future. I am a veterinarian and worry that if this continues, I won’t be able to keep my job. How do I convince my friends and family that I need support, not ridicule? – COVID IS HURTING US
DEAR COVID IS HURTING US: Whether people want to admit it or not, COVID is here and causing ongoing harm for millions of people around the country. The “let it rip” strategy has been an utter and total failure. I stand with you in your frustration. This is not OK. We have been all but abandoned by our government and public health officials. What’s making it worse is the lack of dialogue around the real and severe issues people with Long COVID are facing. No wonder your family and friends aren’t supportive – they aren’t probably aware of the reality hitting some like a ton of bricks. Unfortunately, that means you are going to have to keep educating the people you love about your reality. This is hard and it isn’t fair. There is no going back to “normal” because it doesn’t exist for you and so many. The more visibility we bring to this issue, the more likely it will become a priority. Until then, I encourage you to find communities where you can connect with others who are going through similar experiences. Go online, there are plenty of people connecting via TikTok, X and Threads about COVID. I bet there are people right in your own backyard who are also looking for community to connect, vent and dream together. It will take time, but stay the course and keep the hope alive that they find meaningful treatments for Long COVID. As it continues to impact and disable more people, the groundswell may be too loud to ignore in the coming months.
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