Seek professional help for mystifying mood swings

DEAR ABBY: I read your letters every chance I get. They remind me that I'm not the only one with problems, but sometimes I just feel so empty.

I have random bouts where anything can send me into a crying jag and all I want to do is hide and go to sleep. I can be watching a funny TV show and out of nowhere feel like I need to run away and cry. It scares me that my moods can swing so drastically. I can also become angry every now and then when it's unprovoked.

I don't know what to do. My boyfriend tries to help, but he's at a loss as well. My medical insurance doesn't cover psychological help. Can you give me any advice? - Crying myself to sleep

DEAR CRYING: Check again with your insurance carrier, because your primary care provider may be able to order psychological services for you. If, however, that's not possible, your county department of mental health may be able to help you find counseling on a sliding financial scale. Or, contact a university with a medical school, if one is close by. Ask to speak to the Department of Psychiatry and inquire if someone on the staff deals with the problems you're experiencing.

If you live in a town with a college, find out if it has a psychology department and a graduate school. If so, does that graduate school have a psychology program and clinic that charges on a sliding scale and is the clinic staffed with graduate students? If not, inquire if someone on the staff of the department sees people privately and get the phone number.

Individuals can also get referrals from mental health organizations. The largest credentialed ones are the American Psychological Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy and the National Association of Social Workers.

Favors for birthday

DEAR ABBY: My husband and I had a disagreement about a recent birthday party we gave for our daughter. I was making party favors and putting the date of the party on them instead of our daughter's birthday on them. He said it should be the date of her birthday instead of the date of the party. What is the correct way it should be done - put the date of the party, which is on a different date than her birthday, or put her birthdate on them?

- Belinda in New Jersey

DEAR BELINDA: The date of the party should go on the invitations. The age the child has attained should go on the party favors, table decorations and, of course, the birthday cake.

Issues with a move

DEAR ABBY: My wife and I have been married 41 years. We live outside of Chicago, where the winters can be bad. My son and his family moved to Florida to get away from the weather here. Now my wife wants to move there, too. I have medical issues and don't like hot, humid weather. She says she's going, and I told her I'm staying here. Should I go with her or should she stay here with me?

- "Weather" to or not

DEAR "WEATHER": This should not be a question of either/or. There is room for compromise. If you cannot tolerate the Florida climate, then you must stay put. If your wife's reason for wanting to move south is to be closer to the grandchildren, perhaps she could arrange to visit them for three or four weeks at a time throughout the year.