Dear Readers:

Thursday is National Depression Screening Day. This is the 15th year for this invaluable mental-health screening program. There are 2,500 sites across the country where you can go, fill out an anonymous questionnaire and speak with a mental-health professional. For site-locator information, visit the Web site www.MentalHealthScreening.org. Don't put off talking to someone if you feel you or someone you know might be depressed. Take advantage of this free screening and get on the road to good mental health!

Here is a letter from an individual who was helped by NDSD last year; her story is not out of the ordinary.

Dear Heloise:

I am 69 years old and lost my husband suddenly. After his death I felt like I wanted to die, too. I prayed each night for the Lord to take me. But he didn't, and I kept on living with my pain and my grief. A nurse at my place of work told me she thought I needed to see a doctor, and I am writing because I did see that doctor, and I got help that saved my life. I want other seniors to know that depression is not something you have to live with. I see so many seniors suffering -- feeling angry, frustrated and sad, unable to function or sleep. But they don't want to seek treatment because they are afraid to be told that this is part of growing older or that it is the first sign of dementia or Alzheimer's. This fear is keeping them locked away from the world when they could be enjoying it. I am a happy person now; the treatment I received, which included medication and talking therapy, kept me alive. Without it, I would be dead or sitting in a chair somewhere, staring into space. I think that if other people would explore the positive effects of treatment, they could get better. I am writing because I hope that by sharing my story, they will. I know that National Depression Screening Day is one way they can learn about depression without any stigma or fear. I sincerely hope they will.

Iva Nell Brown, Burlington, N.C.

Iva, thank you so much for sharing your story to help me get the word out that depression does not have to be a part of our lives -- there are people who want to help!

Dear Heloise:

Just had to tell you about my latest recycling idea! A golf-bag carrier can be used in the garden, the garage or anywhere, I've discovered! They are inexpensive at secondhand stores and come in handy for hauling stuff around my property. I added a small square of plywood in the bottom as a platform and use it to haul tools and garden supplies -- it even has a place for weedkiller and bug spray.

Lilly Aguilera, via e-mail

Send a money- or time-saving hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 795000, San Antonio, Tex. 78279-5000, fax it to 210-HELOISE or e-mail it to Heloise@Heloise.com. Please include your city and state when faxing or using e-mail. I can't answer your letter personally but will use the best hints received in my column.

(c)2005, King Features Syndicate