KOLD Channel 13 chief meteorologist Chuck George revealed Thursday that he suffers from depression.
Chuck, who has been off the air for four weeks, is set to return today.
In a segment Thursday with KOLD reporter Barbara Grijalva, George told viewers he has been in treatment for severe depression and wanted to reach out to help others.
"I want to share the story for two reasons," he said on the KOLD broadcast.
"One is because I really need to heal myself. It's kind of a final process in what I'm going through.
"And the other is because I want people to know that they're not alone. I thought I was alone for a long time. And I know I'm not now."
George could not be reached by the Arizona Daily Star for comment. KOLD General Manager Debbie Bush said she would not pass a message to George from the Star.
In the KOLD segment, George said he has a family history of depression.
"My family tree is full of suicide, of depression, of addiction," George said. "They're all interrelated, and my family tree is just packed with it, and I never thought it would happen to me.
"And I wish that my parents hadn't died so young from depression and addiction."
George said he recently lost a cousin to suicide. "When he was growing up he was like my little brother, and that event and that funeral unleashed something in me," George explained.
"Depression is cold and it's dark and it feels like something on top of me. Something literally on top of me.
"I, four weeks ago, was catatonic. I remember sitting, and the sun rose and set and rose and set and rose and set and rose and set again while I stared."
He said that he lost his voice and vision.
George endured other signs of the illness before, but said he just hoped it would go away.
"I just thought: 'Get over it. Get over it. You know you've got a great life. What's wrong with you?' And people in my life would tell me that, too," he said.
"I grew up with people telling my mom and my grandma and my grandpa: 'Just get over it. Snap out of it,' " George said.
With all the illness in his family, he was the first who was able to get help, he said.
"I feel burdened. I didn't want this, but I have it," George told KOLD viewers.
He said he has accepted the fact that he suffers from depression, and is undergoing treatment.
"I learned in treatment that I don't have to be ashamed. And that's such a relief. It's a process, and I fight off the shame moment by moment. It's not something that just went away," he said.
"I'm always going to have depression, but it's not going to be in front of my face. I'm learning how to take depression and move it to the side.
"I wish that so many members of my family hadn't died from this, but they did," George said. "And I'm still here and I'm still standing, and I'm going to fight it."
George had last appeared on KOLD on April 5.
The leave of absence was George's third since 2010. He took unexplained leaves from Sept. 9, 2011, to Oct. 24 of that year, as well as a five-week break in March and April 2010.
George, who earned a bachelor of science in meteorology from the University of Oklahoma and a master's of engineering in water resources from the University of Arizona, has worked at KOLD since 2003.
Contact reporter Carmen Duarte at email@example.com or 573-4104.