Arrow-right Camera

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Monday, February 24, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
Partly Cloudy Day 42° Partly Cloudy
News >  Features

Annie’s Mailbox: Alcoholic’s letter gave reader hope

By Kathy Mitchell/Marcy Sugar

Dear Annie: Last year around this time, you printed a letter from “Desperate Alcoholic,” the 48-year-old woman who could not stay sober. You then printed a response from a woman who had the same problem. When her husband died, she finally went for treatment and asked the counselor whether she was too old to get well. The counselor replied, “Is your heart still beating?”

Somehow that resonated with me in a way nothing else has. At the time I read that letter, I was 68 and so unhappy. I was depressed, severely overweight, feeling helpless and smoking two packs a day.

I have taken that phrase as my mantra. Sometimes I have to say it 20 times a day, and other times, only once in the morning. Since I started using that as my guide a year ago, I have lost 45 pounds and my smoking is down to three cigarettes a day. I am active in the life of my 5-year-old grandson.

I had been reading your column for entertainment, but instead found a way to get my life back. I am still far from where I want to be, but I am no longer where I was and wanted you to know. Thank you. – Elaine from California

Dear Elaine: We are thrilled that letter helped you, and we bless that counselor for those wise words. Many people read our column for entertainment, and then one day, a particular letter will hit home and we hear from a reader saying, “That letter could have been written by me.”

Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please e-mail your questions to anniesmailbox@comcast .net, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 5777 W. Century Blvd., Suite 700, Los Angeles, CA 90045. To find out more about Annie’s Mailboxand, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at

Subscribe to the Morning Review newsletter

Get the day’s top headlines delivered to your inbox every morning by subscribing to our newsletter.