It can also creep up on us if we have suffered a loss or have become stressed by various situations. Depression can take many forms including post natal depression.
There are many aspects to depression one being melancholia another being the longing to escape one's own skin as if your very skin is crawling and you long to run, but how can one run from themselves?
A depressed person becomes introverted, their thoughts can swim in a sea of lostness as our feelings become a dictator. We begin to loathe ourselves and at times wish we had never existed. At other times the depressed person simply wishes to hide and never have to come out again.
With depresssion you feel as if you are drowning in a pit of thick molasses and though yoru soul longs to sing, your mind has forgotten the melody and so you sink further and further into that deep dark pit of despair.
Depression is a serious illness and needs medical supervision. Don't ever try and think you can heal yourself. Do we tell cancer patients to heal themselves? No! Seek help, quickly.
The dark night of the soul is very different though it may at times feel similiar it is not!
A soul that is undergoing this purgation of it's sense's is one that suffers immensely as God's all seeing Gaze fixes His Divine Eye into the very depths of your soul.
There you stand, exposed & naked in the searing heat of the desert as the sun beats down and sears your very flesh. You long for cover, for some place to conceal yourself, yet there is nothing as your soul dries up and gasps for the water of consolations which does not come.
Your senses suffer the exquisite touch of the Divine as you become aware of Natures Glory and see things as if for the first time. You weep at the magnificense of a burnished sunset as it's sweeping panorama opens before your awe struck eyes. You wonder at the beauty of a butterfly as it floats gently by and understand the dignity of the tree that was there before you were born and will remain there long after you have gone.
Your senses are so keenly alive that it becomes an exquisite torture as you realise your own unworthiness and littleness in the Presence of Majesty.
Though the soul is made vulnerable as God opens it's eye to see through a glass darkly. We receive no consolations as our prayers float towards...nothing. We weep and raise our hearts to a God who stands removed from us.
Then comes that insidious voice that tries to tell you that all you have believed is nonsense, 'isnt this lack of feeling a sign that God does not exist? If He exists then why does He not comfort you?' Doubts fill your mind and your heart once again cries out to God only to hear and feel...nothing.
Many who reach this stage cannot withstand the withering holocaust which negates it's senses and so head back to worldly consolations. God loves the soul no less who needs these spiritual elixir's, indeed He loves all equally.
Those souls who are able to persevere do so by standing on Faith alone. They feel no consolations and their souls are a barren landscape of scorched earth, craggy edges and thorny pathways.
It is these souls who through the dreadful night find themselves at the abyss and staring at it courageously they leave feelings behind and embrace..... the dark. They are then enfolded into it's velvety unkowingness and with Trust as it's only guide they walk the lonely pathway to Sainthood.
The difference between depression and the 'dark night' is that while one leads to a longing for negation with it's feelings of self loathing as if their birth were a mistake. A depressed person has a distorted view of itself and the surrounding world whereas a person who is undergoing the 'dark night' has its illusions stripped bare as it faces itself and understands that it is nothing without God.
The dark night instead illuminates the soul to it's nothingness and unworthiness. The soul becomes aware of it's inability to Love as God Loves and with this knowledge we understand that All is Gift..We are made aware tis a fearful thing to stand in the Presense of the Divine and realise we come before Him...empty.
A soul that has been through the dark night does not come out bragging of it's own wisdom or greatness, instead it realises its total unworthiness and how much the soul Owes God and God alone.
Written by Marie
For those suffering depression please seek medical advice. For those suffering the 'dark night' please seek the advice of a good Spiritual Director.