Dear Annie: I am a 50-year-old woman who has struggled with depression for nearly 30 years. I’ve almost destroyed my career because I lack the motivation to seek out new tasks. I have spent many years as a virtual prisoner in my home because I see no reason to go out.
I’ve become estranged from family and old friends. Those few people who are still around often worry because I am so pessimistic and angry.
I can’t say I’ve tried every method imaginable to dig myself out of depression, but I have been in therapy three times and on prescription antidepressants without any noticeable success. I cannot seem to lift my mood for more than a couple of weeks at a time.
Many days I resolve to keep a positive attitude, but it rarely lasts past midday.
I have heard of those who successfully cured their depression, so I know it can be accomplished, but it’s beyond my reach. I do not have a primary care physician. I cannot afford the time or money to see a therapist regularly. My income is too high to qualify for any free or income-based programs. In-patient rehab is completely out of the question.
With the current rise in unemployment and greater numbers of people without health care coverage, what does someone like me do? – Depressed and Overwhelmed
Dear Depressed: The fact that you are writing us indicates you have not given up, and this is a good sign. Medication often is a trial-and-error process to find the best individual treatment.
There are self-help groups that can offer emotional support, as well as information and resources, and they are free. Here are three to get you started: the National Alliance on Mental Illness (nami.org); the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (dbsalliance.org); and Recovery International (recovery-inc.org).
Dear Annie: In the past few years, I have observed three different families learn the hard, sad truth about three different upscale retirement communities that promised “continuing care” for residents. I say “caveat emptor.”
In all three cases, everything was great: designer facilities, lovely food in lush dining rooms, fabulous activities and fine attention to the residents’ needs. However, in all three cases, the family member became ill and was hospitalized and then released to the skilled nursing facility of their retirement home.
Each family immediately learned that the facility didn’t offer “that degree” of skilled nursing and they would have to find another place.
Of course, the information was in the fine print of the contract but glossed over by eager marketing directors. Annie, please urge potential residents and families to ask hard questions about exactly what is included and have an attorney review the contract. If told a nursing facility covers “everything,” insist that statement be in there. – Lafayette, Ind.
Dear Lafayette: Some facilities do indeed cover every type of care, but all contracts should be read closely and scrutinized by an attorney. Thanks for warning our readers to pay close attention when they are looking at retirement communities.
Dear Annie: Your response to “Pregnant and Confused,” the married woman who slept with “Pete” and is now pregnant with twins, was good, but didn’t go far enough. She absolutely has to tell her husband so he can decide whether he wants to stay married and keep those twins if they are not his. And if he does, he should go after Pete for child support.
Pete needs to learn not to fish in another man’s pond and is responsible for any damage he causes. And I’d dump that untrustworthy wife. – Bob in Virginia
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please e-mail your questions to email@example.com.