Psycho Babble by Jamie Inman

Some people think that psychotherapy is for self-indulgent whiners who won't face their problems. I have learned from both chairs in the counseling office that real therapy, the kind that produces transformation, can be arduous, sometimes tedious, and always courageous. It is hard work that requires a ferocious honesty that most people cannot imagine, let alone practice.

About Psycho Babble

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Depression For Christmas

Depression came calling last month. No tragedies befell me, no cancer recurrence or family deaths.  A bunch of little nothings in particular over several unremarkable months imperceptibly mounted a sneak attack on my mojo.  I couldn’t write a thank you note, let alone a blog.  I missed appointments and struggled to focus on the ones I did not forget. 
A couple of weeks ago I took a step back and recognized that my old nemesis, depression, had moved in. I have an intimate knowledge of this condition as a psychotherapist, but more importantly, as a patient. So I knew what to do for myself to get well, the first being to reach out to safe people and let them know I needed support.
One such person is a leader in breast cancer activism, and to my surprise she admitted that she, too, was struggling with depression. Neither of us had known that the other was in trouble, and we both felt encouraged by the empathy shared. 
Because that shared vulnerability bolstered me so deeply, I decided to share my own experience with suicidal depression to let others know that they are not alone, and that things do get better.  Below is a meditation I wrote thirty years ago about my  


Often I would cry through the night, the family mercifully unaware of yet another collapse.  On one such night I sobbed alone by the fire until my sides hurt.  I frantically thought of harming myself, or ending my life impulsively, before the part of me that wanted to live could stop me.  Such thoughts terrified me, that I might lose control and kill myself.  I had to evaluate my feelings about dying as opposed to living in agony:  I did want to die, to end my suffering, but I kept holding on because wholeness is worth the struggle (so I heard) and because I knew my dying would hurt my family too much.  
Besides, what if the unpardonable sin was suicide (a notion I rejected when in my right mind) then I would only succeed in condemning myself to an eternity of the despair I sought to escape.  Anyway, suicide was not an option for me because I had already promised God to keep myself alive.
          As these questions rummaged through my beleaguered mind I trudged through day after endless day, looking at the clock for signs of nearing darkness and the escape into sleep.  "Only ten minutes have passed?"  Then sleep would give way to another day of waiting for hands on the clock to move.
          Three steps forward, two steps back—permanent residence in the pit gave way to moments up, then moments linked with others to give me a day of relief.  Days linked to each other into periods of something like happiness.  I functioned again as a wife and mother, yet gloom clutched my heart.  I looked like a concentration camp victim, even when I smiled.  Inevitably I would buckle under the effort, and plummet to the pit.

The pit is filled with tarry mud that weighs heavily on my limp soul.  With titanic effort I lift my head, look around at the black heaviness, and drop my head in defeat.
I pray for death.

God is silent.

Eventually the misery of despair yields to the agony of hope; I push through the layer on top of me, gradually working my way to a standing position. From there I can see where I've been and where I need to go.

I must scale a very steep grade that is covered with a thick layer of mud oozing downward, engulfing me if my concentration on the ascent slips, i.e., simple things like keeping the head up and forward, lifting one foot up, down, then the other up, down, straining all the while against the pull of the mud. 

When I stumble from exhaustion, or from looking down, I collapse, and hope vanishes.   But I learn that if I scoop the muck from my eyes, to my amazement I find that I am not at the bottom of the pit—my face is mired only a pace or two back from where I fell. All is not lost!

It just feels that way as long as my face stays in the mud. 

So I drag myself up again…and again…and again, NOT from the bottom of the pit, but from a ledge on the wall that I could not see from below. 

And from here I see glimpses of a rim of this pit where I hope I shall be able to step clear out of the mud, shake off all the residue, and run and play and laugh again.

But never so far that I would not look for others in the pit, to show them how to get out.

I did recover from that Major Depression with the help of good therapists and appropriate medication. I have had ups and downs, but never as severe as my time in the pit, not even during two bouts with breast cancer. 
My recent dip into depression was painful and immobilizing, but short-lived, largely because I have learned how to read the signs and take action quickly.  It is very common for cancer patients to experience depression of varying degrees of severity. It is critical to talk about it, and to get professional help in severe cases.


  1. Thank you Jamie for your ever so perfect timing of your article! I too have fallen into a hole this past month; mostly due to the anniversaries of my sisters who've past 11/13 and 11/20 as well as having to put my dog of almost 16 years down on 11/30. November has always been a rough month especially since the anniversaries all coincide with the holiday season and festivities as well the cold and gloomy weather. I'm thankful for seeing your post today. I know I'm not alone and we all must fight through these gloomy times because life, family and friends are so very worth it! Thank you my dear friend! SScocca

  2. There are seasons when that unwelcome black dog comes rooting around. I picture him as hound with sloppy jowls, slobbering my precious possessions. But in fact, the black dog can only reach the material. The soul remains untouched, contrary to appearances, and when the new dawn arrives, it is as new.

    I didn't know about your blog. Commendations. A brief perusal reveals your excellence.

  3. Jamie, I am so sorry that you have been depressed but I am encouraged with your path toward health. Depression is awful! I have had two major depressive episodes in my life, the most recent one about 14 years ago. I wish you much health and grandbaby time. -Elizabeth MacKenzie


Jamie Inman EnterprisesJamie Inman Enterprises. Hollister, CA. All Rights Reserved. Web Design by Schipper Design+