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by Abigail Van Buren

Dating His Late Wife's Nurse Distresses Widower's Family

DEAR ABBY: When I was in high school, I was very popular and part of a large social group. That was three years ago. Since graduation, I have been dealing with an anxiety disorder. It has reached the point where I can no longer work, go to school or have much of a social life. I am currently seeking treatment.

Whenever I'm in touch with someone I was close to in high school, I am always asked where I'm working now or what school I'm attending. I feel embarrassed because of my disorder and often I don't respond because I don't know what to say. Any ideas? -- SPEECHLESS IN ILLINOIS

DEAR SPEECHLESS: You could say that you haven't been well and needed to take some time to recover -- or, if you don't want to reveal that much, say, "I decided to take some time to find myself," which is common and sufficiently euphemistic. And the surest way to find treatment for your anxiety disorder would be to tell your family doctor you need to consult a mental health professional who specializes in anxiety disorders. Once you find one, you can quickly return to the mainstream of life.