Life Advice



Annie's Mailbox: Trying To Be Absent-Minded in California

Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar on

Dear Annie: I'm writing to urge women to take advantage of National Depression Screening Day on Oct. 6, when free mental health screenings will be available across the nation. I believe it is one step that can save women from struggling endlessly with a serious illness that only in recent years has begun to receive much-needed attention -- postpartum mood disorders.

I suffered from a postpartum disorder that left me sad, irritable, obsessive and unable to sleep or eat. I had fleeting thoughts about hurting my newborn son. I loved him dearly, but I'd find myself thinking about smothering him or dropping him down the stairs. I had no idea where these thoughts came from. I was confused, and sank deeper and deeper into misery and fear. I thought if I told anyone, they would lock me away forever. But they didn't. They told me my illness had a name and that it would go away. This was a tremendous relief.

People often look at postpartum depression and think it is a woman's problem. But it is a family's problem. It affects husbands, partners and, most of all, our babies.

These free screenings provide women a chance to see what, if anything, is wrong. Anyone participating will meet with an informed professional and can get help immediately. Sincerely -- Katherine Stone, Georgia

Dear Katherine Stone: Thank you for your frank and helpful letter. National Depression Screening Day is Thursday, Oct. 6. Although this year's focus is on postpartum disorders, the program also screens for other mental-health disorders, including depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety and post-traumatic stress.

All screenings are free and confidential. You will fill out a questionnaire, have the opportunity to hear an educational presentation, receive pamphlets and brochures, and follow up privately with a mental health professional, if necessary.

To find a screening site, our readers can call 1-800-437-1200, or visit The lines are open now.

Dear Annie: My sister's granddaughter, "Nina," is getting married. My sister's entire family lives 600 miles away, and I've seen Nina twice in her life. When she was a teenager, I tried to get to know her better, even inviting her to come to Europe with me. She turned down all my requests, so I gave up.


When Nina graduated high school, I sent her a generous check. It was cashed, but I never received a thank-you. I don't want to hurt my sister or her son (my nephew), with whom I have an excellent relationship, but I don't want to give Nina a gift for her wedding. What do you say? -- Trying To Be Absent-Minded in California

Dear California: We say no dice. While many great-nieces would have jumped at a trip to Europe, most teenagers are reluctant to spend time with a relative they barely know. Nina was rather young when you last attempted to reach out to her. She's going to be a married woman now. Please give her one more chance.

Dear Annie: It galls me to hear people speak ill of mothers-in-law. I met mine the day before I married her daughter, and we connected immediately. In 32 years of marriage, my mother-in-law never said an ugly word to me. She was an awesome lady, my friend and mentor.

The last 10 years of her life, she had a stroke and dementia, and I let her live with us, where I knew she would have excellent care. I had the privilege of holding her hand when she took her last breath. I think a lot of people are simply selfish and have a poor attitude toward their in-laws. -- A Happy Son-in-Law, USA

Dear Happy: Your letter should inspire mothers-in-law everywhere. Thank you.


"Annie's Mailbox" is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar. This column was originally published in 2016. To find out more about Classic Annie's Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit Creators Syndicate at




Andy Capp Michael Ramirez Take It From The Tinkersons Gary McCoy Ed Wexler Tom Stiglich