I am not a great fan of the term ‘depression’. Personally I believe that in modern days depression has come to be a blanket cover all description that even fails in its job to actually describe fully what we undergo when the heavy blackness of a dark night descends on us, most often after some kind of loss, either illness, death, loss of a relationship, job or other place in which our fundamental source of meaning has been invested.
Our mainstream culture lacks the ability to help us in many ways navigate a dark night such as this, diagnosing us with depression. In many cases then some kind of pharmaceutical cure is sought when really what is occurring deep in one’s soul needs to be addressed. And often it is grief or sadness or buried anger and loss of power that we are really dealing with in the midst of so called ‘depression’.
A kind of panic descends when depression starts to loom its ugly head, we want to get rid of it, wish it didn’t exist, many of us get left by others when depressed as others don’t know how to cope. We don’t hear a lot that such a dark night might actually be a necessary and profound right of passage that is trying to birth something within us and open us up to our souls.
Many of us hit so called ‘depression’ in mid life, often because by this stage we may have lost so much most especially if we were never valued or learned to value and express who we truly are, what we truly feel. We may be in a deep unconscious mourning for a part of ourselves left behind, seemingly lost or buried. It may be deep excavation work has to take place in order that we can begin to reconnect with that part of ourself.
That is why it is essential when we are undergoing this right of passage or dark night of the soul that we find ways to connect inwardly and express and that we also find others who recognise and can name our dark night experience for what it really is. A loss of meaning leaves us feeling empty, we are also grieving on deep levels for feelings and things and experiences that most probably have fallen deep below the threshold of consciousness. Our dreams provide clues but we need a way of dialoguing with them. Old, profound and deep sadness may emerge and we may cry and cry. We are literally engaged in a shedding process, most especially if we have left a job or relationship behind. Even if it was problematic it still filled a place in our heart and life and we will grieve a double grief because letting go was a brave move, one we had to make that will have painful consequences and yet this pain is our price of self reclamation in time. We may have to walk over stony ground but we should keep reaching out to express to be validated to be understood and keep seeking for those with whom we can express and be understood.
And most importantly it is essential that we love ourselves fully through this process. Our head may be full of shaming voices telling us all the ways in which we have been mistaken or failed. These voices do not speak the truth. Often our failure is and was a necessary one. What really is for us will come in time and we can and will grow through our pain hard as it is even to be told or believe this. We are not a failure, we have known pain and we must mourn and shed so a new self can be born in time.