For a long time, it has been known that people go through “the dark night of the soul.”
The “dark night of the soul” refers to a spiritual crisis in Roman Catholic spirituality. It is sometimes called a spiritual depression or a crisis of identity, or an existential crisis. But it does affect everyone regardless of their spiritual beliefs.
It is often mistaken for clinical depression or Major Depressive Disorder – and for a good reason, it exhibits all of the symptoms of depression as you feel sad, hopeless, isolated, and downright melancholic. However, unlike depression, which is a mental illness due to chemical and structural problems within the brain, this is within you. It is in your soul.
What Does “The Dark Night Of The Soul” Do To You As A Whole?
At times, you wonder why you are here. There seems to be no sense in anything anymore, and nothing seems to have a purpose. A bereavement or a natural disaster can trigger it. You feel entirely severed from any connection to not just friends and family but to your spiritual beliefs. In my case, cumulative effects of trauma, being a special needs parent, and realizing that I failed so much in life is what did it to me. This all hit me almost a decade ago. It has been one of the most isolating experiences imaginable.
It can also occur when something unexpected happens, such as going bankrupt or losing your property to fire. You lose faith in yourself because of it. If you feel as if everything you achieved or believed in life has suddenly crumbled or appears to be a lie, perhaps you are experiencing anxiety or depression. Personally, I still, in many ways, feel like I have not been entirely over this “dark night of the soul” as I have not come out of it yet. Am I nearing the end? I know for a fact that I am over the worst of it. And I also do have clinical depression or MDD, which has made this a double-whammy, to put it lightly. But after learning as much as I could about it, I understand how the “dark night of the soul” presents itself.
What Does The “Dark Night Of The Soul” Do To Your Ego?
With the “dark night of the soul,” the whole conceptual framework for your life – the meaning you gave it – has collapsed. Your expectations have shifted. Your perspective has changed. That is painful, and I know it is for me. Therefore, I am still wondering what my true purpose is here. I am sure I am meant to be a mental health advocate, but what else am I meant to do? That is what I don’t know and brings a lot of anguish at times.
Therefore, you enter a dark state of mind during the beginning of it. “The dark night of the soul” is what spiritualists call that dark place. Picture it as the cocoon phase of initiation. It will feel more like a drug addict detoxing than a caterpillar turning into a butterfly. Why is it so painful? Because it is a death, and it is really the death of your ego. Ouch, that really does hurt like hell.
However, at some point, I will be out of it and will be on the other side, and that is when I will have a lot more clarity when it comes to my real purpose in life and the world. So everyone has to go through it in their lives at some point, and I suppose that is the only way you can find true clarity of your purpose in life and the world. But when you do have a mental illness on top of that, that makes it extra painful. But does it cause depression or any mental illness worse at the end of the day?
Does The “Dark Night Of The Soul” Worsen Depression?
Talking about nights is difficult because dark nights are not our way of thinking. You don’t learn dark night language in your place of worship, and you don’t read dark nights stories; dark nights are not an emotional or psychological state. Instead, dark nights come from within you, taking you to a spiritual way of being. For this reason, dark nights are mystical and obscure, but dark nights are also simple states of the soul that come with suffering.
So dark nights are dark and full of suffering, but dark nights are not dark all around you; they are dark within you. Dark night language is seldom used because dark nights don’t emotionally or psychologically affect your life; they spiritually change the person who goes through them. Although dark nights come with emotional darkness people, do not suffer from depression.
People suffering dark nights experience considerable suffering in life, but dark nights do not make depression worse even though it can feel that way during the suffering; dark night language is not used to describe dark nights of the soul because dark nights can be understood through storytelling and personal experiences. We must remember that dark night stories are mystical and obscure, while dark night of the soul language is emotional and psychological, dark nights are dark and full of suffering, but dark nights are dark within us.
Dark nights come from the dark side of spirituality, but dark nights have two levels: one dark night of the soul and another dark night within. People going through both dark nights experience considerable suffering in life, but they come out on the other side with something like enlightenment.
When dark nights happen to you, you must not add confusion by using dark night of the soul language to describe depression. Instead, speak about dark nights with empathy because dark nights are related to death and grief. Although dark nights come with emotional darkness, people do not suffer from depression; dark night language is seldom used because dark nights spiritually change the person who goes through them.