Annie: Depression may affect weight fluctuations

DEAR ANNIE: I have been married to "Pam" for 16 years. During the last nine, she has gradually become a totally different person. She has gained a lot of weight, but that's not the real issue. It's everything that goes with it. Pam has successfully lost weight through healthier eating and exercise -- multiple times. She gains energy, is more active in our kids' lives, enjoys time with family and friends and seems happier. But as soon as she starts to show real results, she gives up.

This latest bout was the worst. With the exception of doctors' appointments, she no longer leaves the house. I find myself being both mother and father to the kids, doing most of the housework and also taking care of Pam. She no longer attends any of the kids' school events. I work nights and am always having to cut sleep short to do things that she could easily do.

I still love Pam because she is the mother of our children. A divorce scares me, not only because of the financial issues, but also because my youngest child would be devastated. (The other kids wonder why we are still together.) Should I wait until the youngest is older? Would a divorce open Pam's eyes? I'm not sure I'd trust her to follow through, no matter what she says. -- Struggling in New York

DEAR NEW YORK: We think Pam is depressed, and there also could be a medical issue that results in her sabotaging her weight-loss efforts and her relationships. Can you go with Pam to her next doctor's appointment and mention this? It could be a hormonal imbalance. If necessary, would she be willing to discuss it with her physician and get a referral to a therapist? You both seem terribly unhappy. Counseling for either of you would help.

DEAR ANNIE: "Stressed on the Line," says her self-centered mother also has hearing issues. She should gradually replace her mother's telephone with equipment for the hard-of-hearing. Even when I was in my 30s and reluctant to be seen wearing a hearing aid, I used a telephone with a handset that sounded almost like a speakerphone to friends with good ears.

She can find them through some office equipment stores, electronic stores or online, or ask the local health department for assistance. Once she takes care of the hearing issue, she can work on her mother's self-centeredness. -- B.

DEAR B.: Some folks who are hard of hearing do not realize that there is equipment that can amplify the sound of a normal landline phone. Thanks for mentioning it.

To write to Annie's Mailbox, send to c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 Third St., Hermosa Beach, CA 90254.