DEAR ABBY: I work in the deli department of a grocery store and have been struggling lately. With everything that is going on, people are overwhelmed and have been taking it out on us.


I asked one person, "How are you doing today?" The response I got was, "I'm not interested in conversation. Just feed me!" Another who came to the register didn't utter a single word except to exclaim, when I offered her a bottle opener for her soda, "I've got it!" Then she snatched her change out of my hand. I don't even get the brunt of it; the cashiers have to handle the worst of it.


We employees are stressed out about the same things everyone else is. We are struggling to get the same products everyone else is searching desperately for. I had to shop at five different stores to get what I need and still haven't found many things.


Between the stress of the virus and the stress of being treated so rudely, my mental health is running low. I have struggled on and off with depression and anxiety, and many of my coping methods are unavailable to me due to closures. Could you please remind your readers that we are all in the same boat and need to be kind to one another, and direct those of us who are struggling emotionally to resources we can access during this time of panic? -- STRUGGLING IN RETAIL


DEAR STRUGGLING: I agree that many people react badly when under stress, as the customers you described have done. But many others respect and appreciate the efforts you and so many others in the food supply chain make every day -- at some risk to your own health. I am one of them.


Because you have had issues with depression and anxiety in the past, consider contacting the therapist you worked with and ask if the person is doing online sessions. These days, many of them are. Just talking with someone -- friends or like-minded co-workers -- about what you are experiencing could bring some relief.


However, if that isn't possible, consider exploring whether there are online support groups for retail workers such as you. If there aren't, consider starting one so you and others can exchange ideas about coping with these extremely stressful circumstances in which we all find ourselves.


DEAR ABBY: My husband loves our cat too much. He buys "Miss Kitty" special treats, pets her, talks nicely to her, plants quick kisses on the top of her head and lets her sit on his lap while he watches TV for hours. It's like I'm nonexistent. I wish he would be that nice to me.


He's a good provider and, when we are away from the house, I have his full attention. I'm resenting this queen of our home. What should I do? I'd like to take her back to the animal shelter. It was my sorry idea to adopt her. -- IN SECOND PLACE


DEAR SECOND PLACE: My first suggestion is to find reasons to spend more time with your husband away from the house. The second would be to adopt a dog. And if you do, make sure you are the one who feeds and walks it, unless your husband has such an affinity for pets that adopting another one isn't worth the risk.


DEAR ABBY: I had weight-loss surgery a year ago. I'm now off all medications (high blood pressure, antidepressants, etc.) and take only one multivitamin daily. I feel like I'm 25 again. However, I have also changed mentally. After many years of being a zombie on antidepressants, I feel like I have finally "awakened."


I come from a dysfunctional, abusive childhood. My father abused my mother. I was diagnosed with dysthymia years ago, and I feel the diagnosis was correct. I now feel my dysthymia has turned more into anxiety than depression. I'm no longer afraid of speaking up and, after 20 years, I actually have opinions of my own.


Needless to say, my family (husband, grown children and in-laws) are not used to this side of me. I find myself feeling resentful, anxious and envious of certain immediate family and in-law family dynamics now. I don't want to upset my family by being so vocal and opinionated, but I don't want to get back on mind-altering prescriptions either. I also have little faith that counseling will do much good. I'm afraid I'll be pushed into taking meds again. I feel like I'm between a rock and a hard place right now. Any advice? -- A TOUGH SPOT IN NORTH CAROLINA


DEAR TOUGH SPOT: Keeping in mind that no one can force you back on medications if you don't want them, I do think you could benefit from talking with a licensed mental health professional about this. You have made major changes in your life, and are no longer the person you were when you were prescribed the medications that made you feel like a zombie. A mental health professional can help you to sort out whether you have a problem or whether your family members do in dealing with the new you.


DEAR ABBY: In the future when I am able, I would like to travel with a mix of single and married ladies. I'm in a committed relationship, and when I discussed this with my partner, we had a difference of opinion.


She believes that happy individuals in committed relationships do not travel with other people. She believes happy couples should travel together and not independently. Is that controlling? I have traveled independently in prior committed relationships, and this has never been an issue.


Should I honor her request or deny it? She is pushing me to respect this rule and says it applies to her as well because she believes "females" let loose when they are away from their significant others. I get the distinct feeling that if I travel independently, there will be an emotional price to pay, or she will do something in my absence that will change the dynamics of our relationship. -- LOVE OR CONTROL


DEAR LOVE: There are already issues that will change the dynamics of your relationship -- your partner's insecurity and need to control, and your need for some freedom. Unless you are laying down "rules" for her to follow as she is trying to do to you, step back and take a second look at this relationship. Healthy people who love each other want their partner to be happy and fulfilled whether they are together or apart. This takes trust, self-confidence and courage. Rather than the wind beneath your wings, it appears your partner may be more of an anchor.


DEAR ABBY: I am part of a couples group that gets together on a regular basis for dinner. The problem is one of the women takes over the conversation, and it becomes her monologue. She just won't stop! She goes into minute detail about every aspect of her life for the last couple of weeks (or months or years!) and the lives of her family, friends, friends of family and friends of friends. These are people we don't know and don't care about!


We have tried to redirect the conversation by asking someone else a specific question. Before they can hardly comment, she jumps right in again. She's a nice person, and a friend. Can you suggest a kind way we can fix this, or do we just have to exclude them from these dinners? -- EARS HURTING IN OHIO


DEAR EARS HURTING: The woman may not realize how her efforts to be entertaining are perceived by the rest of you. Someone -- possibly you -- has to summon up the courage to tell her how off-putting her monologues are. It may not be an easy conversation to have, but it would be better than excluding her with no explanation. If, however, she is unable to change her behavior, the solution would be to stop inviting her.


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DEAR ABBY: I am part of a couples group that gets together on a regular basis for dinner. The problem is one of the women takes over the conversation, and it becomes her monologue. She just won't stop! She goes into minute detail about every aspect of her life for the last couple of weeks (or months or years!) and the lives of her family, friends, friends of family and friends of friends. These are people we don't know and don't care about!


We have tried to redirect the conversation by asking someone else a specific question. Before they can hardly comment, she jumps right in again. She's a nice person, and a friend. Can you suggest a kind way we can fix this, or do we just have to exclude them from these dinners? -- EARS HURTING IN OHIO


DEAR EARS HURTING: The woman may not realize how her efforts to be entertaining are perceived by the rest of you. Someone -- possibly you -- has to summon up the courage to tell her how off-putting her monologues are. It may not be an easy conversation to have, but it would be better than excluding her with no explanation. If, however, she is unable to change her behavior, the solution would be to stop inviting her.


DEAR ABBY: I just turned 51 and have been diagnosed with cancer for the second time. Why is it that when I tell someone I have cancer, their first response is to tell me about every person in their life who has had cancer and all the gloomy stories? One family member actually pulled out pictures to show me her SIL's hair growing back. Why do they think this is an appropriate response? It's the last thing I want to hear.


It is difficult to remain positive, and I struggle with letting people in. The more this happens, the more I shut down. Your thoughts? -- TRYING IN SALEM, MASS.


DEAR TRYING: It might help to remind yourself that these individuals may be trying to show you they identify with what you and their relatives have experienced. The family member who showed you that picture may have thought she was being encouraging by showing you a positive outcome -- that after chemo, your hair may grow back.


If someone starts a conversation along these lines, it is perfectly acceptable to tell the person you would rather not discuss the subject right now -- or ever. Please don't allow the fact that some people are inappropriate to isolate you. As I am sure you are aware, there are cancer support groups in which you can receive emotional support. If you need to find one, visit cancer.org.


DEAR ABBY: I have this friend "Bill," and every day I give him three or four cigarettes. I never ask him for money, but this has been going on for a long time. Bill keeps saying he will buy me a carton, but he's been saying this for five months now. I gave him $50 for his birthday and again at Christmas time. I'm tired of giving. How can I end this vicious cycle? -- MICHAEL IN NEW JERSEY


DEAR MICHAEL: In the words of the late Nancy Reagan, "Just say no!" (You are being given a great opportunity to quit smoking. TAKE IT!)