What it is like investigating with chronic illness
While there are some people out there who have worked extremely hard and are able to make a living off their paranormal ventures, most people in the field do it on the side or for the better word a 'hobby'. I have spoken before about how 'real life gets in the way', and we can't investigate or do as much as we want to. Our daily jobs, family commitments and just life can prevent us from doing what we love. One of the things that can affect the way we participate in the paranormal field, is chronic illness. I should know all about it - because I suffer from more than one.
Last year I wrote a piece that was extremely difficult to put out to the world explaining why I had chosen to have a hysterectomy at the age of only 36. My struggles with PCOS and endometriosis among other things were a major factor - as was not wanting to suffer every day in pain. PCOS stands for Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. Apart from my hormones being all over the place, it also means instead of ovulating, I grow cysts on my ovaries instead. It can be very painful - especially when they burst. Endometriosis is where you grow tissue that is similar to the lining of the uterus. It can cause your organs to stick together and is a very painful condition. I have had it removed twice, on one occasion it was all over my bladder. It had a considerable affect on my investigating. I was always in pain. I may have been physically at an event, but mentally I was screaming inside wanting to be at home. I was the hypocrite telling people that anyone under the influence of drugs could be removed from tour when I was on heavy pain killers just to get through the night (granted it is a little different but you get my point). 9 Months on from my hysterectomy, while life is certainly better in a lot of ways, I am reminded that it was not a cure for my PCOS or endometriosis - conditions I still suffer from. While I am not in the levels of pain I once was, im still suffering every day. It creates a lot of anxiety for me. I am at the point where I am over having scans and tests and surgeries and I just have to live with it. When I am in the comfort of my home, I have everything I need. If I am having a flare up, the thought of traveling and standing around in the cold for hours can be overwhelming. What if it becomes too much? Sometimes the pain can be too much and I can't think straight. When you feel off, you just want to be at home and not out at an investigation. I get snappy and quiet. I don't mean to be, but it is a coping mechanism. What if I don't have my medicine? What if I don't have my heat bag (which has become my security blanket)?. What if I just need to get home but it is a 3 hour drive? What if I can't drive? As someone that hosts investigations, I can't exactly call in sick. People are relying on me to be there. They have booked their tickets often months in advance and have been counting down the days. I have to be on my A game with a smile and make it a great experience for them. It is a matter of having to put on my big girl pants and just do it! In the same way that I do in normal life. I have a job and I have a family to look after. I can't just check out. So you get on with it.
On top of that, I also have Hashimotos Thyroid disease which is an autoimmune disease. My thyroid goes from being hypoactive to hyperactive and basically my body attacks my thyroid when things are a bit off. I feel the cold more than other people, and heat really knocks me around. The hardest part of this disease, is the fatigue. Sometimes it is so bad, I cannot even get off the couch. Every muscle in my body feels sore and I feel like every limb weighs 100kgs. I want to do nothing but sleep, but the kicker is no matter how much you want to sleep, your body doesn't let you. It can be like a weird type of exhausting insomnia at times. Working during the week, doing school runs and looking after the house absolutely shatters me. By the weekend I am exhausted. Often the last thing I want to do is go out on an investigation. While I am on daily medication to regulate things, there is not much I can do when I am having a flare up except to rest and hope I feel a bit better the next day. When you are so exhausted you can barely move, it means I can be a bit slow and not as enthusiastic on an investigation. I am eager to get home when it finishes instead of staying back because all I can think about is getting home and into my bed.
I should also mention I don't have a spleen so my immune system is shot so there is that too. I am a walking disaster. So why the hell do I torture myself and force myself to go out and do an investigation? Simple. I LOVE IT. It is my jam. It is what I do. Granted I don't investigate like I used to. The all nighters are pretty impossible at this point, but a good 2-4 investigation does me well. I managed to make the time of the tours we do at Black Rock House to start earlier so I am home earlier and it means I am not rolling into bed at 2am in the morning like I was previously. It is little things like this that make a massive difference to how I pull up the next day. In the past, if I investigated the night before, the next 2-3 days I was a write off and completely exhausted. Now I am tired, but for the most part I can still function. Most of all, I have found that writing feeds my desire to pursue the paranormal. I can't investigate as much as I want to, but I can research and I can write. I can explore and ask all the paranormal questions I want to from the comfort of my home while wearing my pjs with my heat bag sitting in bed if need be.
It is about finding a balance that is right for you. Just because someone looks like they are fine on the outside, you don't know the battles they are facing on the inside. Chronic illness is so much more common than people realise. It is estimated that around 45% of people suffer from at least 1 chronic illness, while others suffer from more than 1. Some people deserve a medal just for getting out of the house. Just because you aren't well, doesn't mean you shouldn't try and enjoy life. In this field we know more than anyone that life is too short to sit and home and feel sorry for yourself. It is important to have these outings. For me, I have managed to find a pretty good balance. I investigate usually once a month, sometimes it is twice a month. The rest of my time I spend writing and working on my blog and other ventures. On weekends I like to take the boys out and visit locations and take photos. They are both into photography so it is something we can all enjoy and I get my fix at the same time! It is a really good balance for me that fits in well with my family life and my job. It took a few years to find what was right for me and my situation. Everyone is different. You don't have to be out investigating every weekend if you don't want to or if you physically can't. There is so much you can do to participate in the field without having to go out every weekend. I am loving the live feed investigating a lot of people are doing these days - Adelaide Haunted Horizons in particular where I can watch investigations from the comfort of my home! Find what works for you and what feeds your soul. Don't do things because you have to, do it because you want to! There is no one size fits all when it comes to paranormal research. Find what suits you and your body! Most of all, look after yourself. We often take care of others first, but not ourselves. Healthy mind, healty body, healthy soul. Take care out there!
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