Question:

If you are a mother and find yourself very mentally taxed by the everyday stresses of raising young children, to the point that you sometimes think of killing yourself, should you talk to a counselor?

I haven't made any actual plans to kill myself, and if I really think about it, I realize that doing something like that would be horribly cruel to my husband and children, likely scarring them for life. The chances that I would actually kill myself are about zero.

All the same, it is not uncommon for these thoughts of suicide to cross my mind. Then I sometimes feel that I'm just being dramatic in my own head and I should just relax about stuff. The kids are healthy and on track developmentally, but raising little kids is hard. I am very tired.

Answer: Please get help, immediately: You can get treatment to improve your mental health as well as get some relief from your caregiving responsibilities - but only if you let people know that you need it.

If you feel you might actually hurt yourself, call 911; if you need to talk to someone immediately, 1-800-SUICIDE. Otherwise, tell the people closest to you, call your regular doctor and/or your OB-GYN, and tell your children's pediatrician.

Hinting isn't enough. You need to form the words, "I'm exhausted, I'm having thoughts of hurting myself, and I need help." If you're afraid to say it to someone close to you, that's OK; contact your doctors first and use those conversations as rehearsals for forming the words with your husband, best friend, parent - people who are invested in you personally. Say exactly what you did here.

I can't urge you strongly enough to place a call to one of your primary health-care providers today, and don't take no for an answer from the receptionist. If your doctor is with a patient, ask to speak to a nurse, and be specific about the thoughts you've been having. You can worry about telling your husband after you've made the initial contact with a professional. Take care of yourself, please, and know that things can and will get better. And know that by accepting care, you're also taking good care of your kids.

E-mail Carolyn Hax at tellme@washpost.com.