Dear Annie: I want to share my story of depression — and hope — so that it might help others.
I’m nearly 50 now, but only recently did I recognize the depression that has plagued my life. I had the symptoms for decades: bursts of anger, loss of appetite, lack of interest in work and activities, avoiding people, constantly thinking about death. A few years ago, it hit me hard. For weeks, I couldn’t leave my bed, and suicidal thoughts filled my mind. I was a “dead man walking.” My emotions were burned away, and I saw no point in living.
Finally, I began seeing a therapist on a weekly basis. Progress was slow, but each bit of relief was a stepping-stone out of the darkness. I learned that you have to look after yourself. Overworking, not eating right, lack of exercise, not enough sunshine and cutting yourself off from social situations all feed depression. If you can get out of bed and get out the door — if only for a little while — that’s a major thing.
National Depression Screening Day is Thursday, Oct. 11. I recently found out about it from a friend. I wish I’d known about it years ago and taken a screening. Readers can go to HelpYourselfHelpOthers.org and find a nearby screening location or take a free, anonymous screening online. They also can find out what to do next.
I’m alive today because I managed to get help in time, but I lost years of real living before I understood that I had depression. I strongly urge anyone reading this who even suspects they might have depression to do a screening. Sincerely
— Mike Stephens
Dear Mike: Thank you for sharing your story. Depression affects millions of Americans from all walks of life and all demographics. National Depression Screening Day can be enormously helpful for those who are concerned about depression. We hope our readers will check HelpYourselfHelpOthers.org to find out about a screening.
Dear Annie: What do I tip when eating at a buffet where the server takes the drink orders but does nothing else? What about at a Japanese restaurant where the server takes our orders and serves the meal, but the sushi chef prepares the food?
Our favorite Japanese place has a tip jar at the sushi bar. I feel a tip should be left for both the server and the chef, but I don’t know how to divide it. I was told that the sushi chefs keep their tips and the others are split. I’d appreciate some guidance.
Dear Liz: At a buffet, etiquette experts recommend a 10 percent tip (on the pre-tax amount) because the server takes drink orders and clears the table. If you sit at a sushi bar where the food is served directly to you, tip the chef on the food and the server on your drinks. If the server brings you the food, tip the server. Tip jars, whether at a sushi bar or a coffee shop, do not obligate you to leave anything. However, if the service (or sushi) was exceptional or complicated, or if you are a regular customer, you may wish to do so.
Dear Annie: I would like to respond to “The Drunk’s Wife.” My 67-year-old husband came home many nights so drunk he could barely stand up. After putting up with this for 40 years, I finally had enough. I told him that I loved him, but the next time it happened, I’d be gone. Two weeks later, he came home toasted, and I packed a bag and left. He called all night, begging me to come back. The following day, we talked. I said I’d return, but there would be no more second chances. He knew I meant it. That was two years ago. He hasn’t been drunk since, and our marriage is better than ever.
— Stuck to My Guns
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Email your questions to email@example.com, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 3rd Street, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254. To find out more about Annie’s Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
— Creators Syndicate Inc.