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by Abigail Van Buren

Unrequited Childhood Love Morphs Into Teen Depression

DEAR ABBY: I am a 13-year-old who lives in northern Portugal, and while it's true that the vast majority of teens suffer from depression, mine is different.

Before I went to grade school, I was a happy kid, extroverted and showing some talent for the violin. When I was 6, however, I met a girl who I thought was so beautiful that I couldn't look at her.

As much as adults might insist that love in a 6-year-old is impossible, that is the only thing it could have been. The idea that she didn't love me back gave me many nights of pain and even a trip to the hospital for an emotional breakdown, from which I suffered very badly.

My parents were more supportive of my intellect than anything else. They didn't really have the time for my emotions. My intense, unrequited love turned me into a bitter person who has not been remotely happy in years. I find it very hard to wake up every day, and my family doesn't know the slightest about my inner self. What can I do to ease my pain? -- BITTER 13-YEAR-OLD IN PORTUGAL

DEAR BITTER: You appear to be highly intelligent and precocious for your age. You write like an adult, so I will answer you on that level.

The first thing you must do is talk honestly with your parents about your feelings of sadness, bitterness and pain. They are some of the classic signs of chronic depression. You may discover that, in light of the fact that you were once hospitalized for a breakdown, your parents will not be surprised and will be open to what you have to say. Depression can run in families, and you are probably not the only family member who has struggled with it.

While it is possible for a young child to fall in love -- I did it myself as a child, more than once -- you must realize that not all children do. The object of your adoration may not have been as much "rejecting" as unaware of the depth of your feelings and not mature enough to return the emotions.

Your road to happiness lies within yourself, and with your parents' help, I pray you find it. But before you can begin that journey, you must find the courage to reveal your inner self to the people closest to you.

DEAR ABBY: Last night my wife and I went to a movie. A man in our row was talking, so I "shushed" him, but he continued to talk, ruining the movie for us.

What is the best way to handle someone talking during a movie? Thanks! -- JIM IN OVERLAND PARK, KAN.

DEAR JIM: Talking during a movie is one of the rudest things a person can do, on the same level as answering a cell phone rather than turning it off while a film is in progress.

Because your request for silence was ignored, you had several alternatives: Get up and move to a different location, or inform the theater manager about the distraction so he/she could handle it. Your final solution would be to ask for your money back and see the film another time, or watch it on DVD in the comfort and quiet of your own home. That's what many people are deciding to do these days.

DEAR ABBY: What do you think of a man who pulls a chair out from underneath his wife when she goes to sit down? -- SORE BUTT, TEMECULA, CALIF.

DEAR SORE BUTT: Not much. You could have been seriously injured. If your husband thinks it was funny, he appears to be immature and have a warped sense of humor. From now on, seat yourself, because your husband is not to be trusted until he grows up.

For an excellent guide to becoming a better conversationalist and a more attractive person, order "How to Be Popular." Send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby Popularity Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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