Too Early to Spark Old Flame
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Dear Christine,

I am middle-aged and have never been married.

Recently, my first love, who is in the process of a divorce, called me. I haven’t seen her for nearly twenty years. Although our lives have changed immensely, there is still a flicker of the old flame we once shared.

Would it be a ridiculous to pursue this potential romance? -- GORD – WASHTENAH, MI

Dear Gord,

I’m a sucker for ridiculous. I’m also a sucker for “Auld Lang Syne” or a blast from the past. But before I say, “Go for it,” let’s take a look at your situation and you.

First, look at your old self. Why did you break up the first time? If the reasons were bad timing or immaturity, you might actually stand a chance the second time around.

Now look at your new self. How is your life? Is this about boredom or loneliness? Or is she the one who got away? Either way, you’ve got nothing to lose.

This could range from having fun catching up to finding out what could have been.

Even if your last breakup was horrific, you have to ask yourself, “Can people change?” Given the amount of time that has passed, I think so. Be open-minded and see if your first love could be your last love.

Go for it.

A word of caution: She may be rebounding -- backward. Be sure to wait until the divorce papers are signed, sealed, and delivered before getting too serious. You waited this long; take your time and get to know each other again.

Dear Christine,

I think you may have missed something important in the letter from “Should I Stay or Should I Go from T.O.

She may be suffering from depression and could benefit from counselling, medication, or both.

Severe stress (like her money problems) can bring about symptoms of depression, such as her indifference toward intimacy with her boyfriend and her irritability, causing her to “take her frustrations out on their relationship.”

If this is the case, your advice to be more romantic and apply the old saying: “When the going gets tough, the tough get going” is at best unhelpful and condescending.

I hope you will pass on these suggestions to her. -- TAMARA – ST. THOMAS, ON

Dear Tamara,

Thank you for your concern.

Since, like me, you don’t have a Ph.D. beside your name, I decided to do some research, which I’ve run by Australian psychologist, Dr. Bob Rich, M. Sc., Ph. D., for confirmation.

Below are 13 unlucky symptoms of depression:
  • extreme and persistent sadness or unhappiness
  • fatigue escalating to lethargy
  • increased crying, anxiety, and panic attacks
  • restlessness, irritability
  • difficulty concentrating or poor memory
  • substance abuse
  • sudden change in appetite
  • insomnia or disruption of normal sleep patterns
  • loss of interest in ordinary activities, such as sex
  • persistent physical symptoms or pains that do not respond to treatment
  • difficulty thinking or concentrating
  • feeling hopeless, helpless, worthless, pessimistic, and/or guilty
  • thoughts of suicide; suicide plans or attempts

Since “Should I” only cited the two you mentioned, popping pills in her case would be like watering a houseplant with a waterfall.

Again, I am not a doctor, but many sources say those who do suffer from five or more symptoms at the same time for two weeks or more should consult a physician or psychologist.

But for those who are plagued by unnerving, yet everyday, problems, I still think an effort to communicate and work things out with loved ones would be more appropriate.

Dr. Rich adds, “If a person is painfully unhappy and unable to deal with the problems of life, then help may be needed, and a few sessions with a competent helper can make an enormous difference.”

Finally, Rich agrees with me when I say that in our modern world of quick fixes, we should be cautious not to take on an attitude that says, “When the going gets tough, the tough get medicated.”

Have a question, a thought, or a story to share (anonymity guaranteed)? E-mail Christine at:

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