When I first started this blog years ago back in 2015, the first article I wrote was about how paranormal investigating was not glamourous. While the article was lost when I migrated to a new website, the fact still remains, it still isn't any more glamourous now than it was back then, so let's look at the reality of what it is to be a paranormal investigator. Sure it is a bit of a thrill running around in the dark (well not running because that is dangerous), but not knowing what the night will bring and perhaps going to a bucket list location is pretty exciting. You get to hang out with your friends and do something different. You know we also look pretty cool in the green or pink hues that come with night vision and IR cameras. It is not, however, as cool as it seems!
Realistically, most of us do this as a hobby. There are a lucky few that have been able to make careers out of it, but for the majority of us out in the field, it is something we do in our spare time. We have families and full-time jobs. We have households to run. The concept of going out to a paranormal investigation can either be very exciting or sometimes we can dread it. If it has been a shitty week at work or the kids have kept us up all night, it is understandable that you don't want to sit in a cold dark building overnight for 12 hours. On the other hand, even if you are pumped to go out, you are spending your night in a cold dark building and surviving on little sleep the next day. Those of us with young kids don't get a sleep-in. I can't tell you how many investigations I have done where I have rolled into bed at 5 am in the morning, and have been up at 7 with the kids. Sure my husband will watch them while I attempt to sleep in, but they want their mum. They come in and wake me up and then ask when I'm getting up. If they aren't doing that, they are running up and down the hall screaming and playing because they are boys and they are kids. Even with help and the luxury of having the opportunity to sleep in, most likely you won't get that sleep in. Your body clock is then thrown out of whack for the next few nights. It means you are lying awake in bed at 1 am counting how many hours of sleep you will get before you have to get up, get the kids ready for school and go to work. In a nutshell, it is damn tiring. That paranormal hangover is no joke! It really happens.
Regardless of how long the investigation is, if it is 2 hours or 12 hours, you still have to travel to get there. Unless you live in an amazing haunted house, you most likely don't live close to the location. You have to travel to get there. Black Rock House is my second home, I talk about it all the time. While it is smack in the middle of the suburbs, sadly it is not in my suburb. It isn't even close. It is a 45-minute drive. So that is already 1.5 hours travelling round trip in total each time before adding in any investigating. Aradale which is my second favourite location is a 3-hour drive. 4 - 4.5 hours in peak hour traffic which is usually what I have to drive up in. That is a 6 hour round trip. It does kind of suck after doing say a 4-hour investigation and then taking a 3-hour car ride home. When you look at it, you often spend more time in your car travelling than you do investigating. Some people don't have cars and they have to take trains, buses, etc. You have to organise carpools and pay for petrol. Sometimes, it is hard to get there.
Most locations that we investigate are old. Most of these locations have been preserved to represent how they were at their prime. This was usually a time when there was no heating. That means that most of the time, it is going to be freezing when you do your investigation with no heating to make you comfortable. On the other end of the scale there is also no air conditioning so having a bunch of people in a small stuffy room is uncomfortable, to say the least. Here in Australia because it gets so hot, you will find a lot of people tend to avoid investigating in the peak summer months. It is also around Christmas and New Year so it is the perfect time to have a break as well. I know when I get cold, I get cranky. I remember one investigation I attended, it was so cold, people were leaving the investigation because they couldn't take it anymore. It was late at night and it was freezing and we ended up finishing early because even those who stuck it outreached their limit. We couldn't handle the cold anymore and our bodies were saying no. On top of this, there are some locations that haven't been preserved. A lot of gaols for example or mental asylums aren't furnished. They aren't cleaned. They are pretty dirty, dusty and they smell. It isn't uncommon to see a rat or two running around. In one investigation there was a dead bat on the floor. There is possum poo and it can smell like urine. If there is water damage there can be mould and it can be hard to breathe. Far from glamourous if you ask me!
Most investigators have suitcases of equipment. Some even have DVR systems and video cameras to document the night. When you arrive, you have to set it all up. It can be exciting because it is at the beginning of the night and you are planning the camera angles to get the best shots. If you have a typical DVR system, it is all wired so you have to lay the wiring around the location and tape it down so no one trips on it. You have to put fresh batteries in every single piece of equipment so you can make sure your equipment doesn't go flat halfway through the investigation. You have to unload everything from the car and lay it out so it is easy to access. Some people lay lanterns or some sort of lighting around so that people don't hurt themselves in the dark. It doesn't seem too bad setting it all up, but there is a problem. At the end of the night, when you are cold and tired, you have to pack it up again. This is probably one of the worst parts of a night. Sometimes I can't pack up quick enough. You have to make sure that you have picked up every single piece of equipment because it's expensive and if you leave it behind, you might not get it back. If you have moved things, you have to move them back. If you used tape to stick wire down or hold curtains closed, you have to take it off. You have to clean up and make sure the place is as you found it. I know for me, I vacuum the room where we gather at Black Rock House because a lot of dirt is brought in from the stables. Trust me, I don't even like vacuuming at home so I really don't enjoy doing it at 3am in the morning when all I want to do is crawl into bed. Definitely not glamourous.
On reality paranormal TV they are limited to what they can present and it really is not a proper representation. It also has to be entertaining. If they showed an hour of someone setting up equipment, even paranormal investigators are going to change the channel because it isn't interesting. They have maybe an hour most likely less because of commercials, to fit a whole night's investigation into one. It is edited in a way to make it look like things are happening as soon as they enter the building. While this can happen, most of the time it doesn't. While they are walking around yelling at each other in excitement, most of the time we are sitting in the room quietly waiting for something to happen. The EVP session you see 2 minutes of on TV, may have in reality been a 2 hours (or in some cases filmed over several days.) When something does happen, you then spend the next hour debunking it, and usually, you find the cause. This is not necessarily always represented on tv because again if they show nothing happening, people will start turning it off. Sometimes the people on the shows investigate over days or weeks just to put together an hour of footage. The reality is that in a 2, 4, 6, or 12 hour long investigations, most of the time nothing 'paranormal' really happens.
The answer is simply because we love it. We LOVE LOVE LOVE it! We are willing to go through all of that because that 1% of the time when something we can't explain happens, it sparks something inside of us. Whether it is a potential voice on the recorder or even just a feeling someone gets, it sparks that interest. We usually walk out with no answers, but a million more questions every time. We spend our spare time dedicated to this 'hobby' because it fulfils something within us. While it may not be glamourous, it is the kind of stuff that feeds the soul.
Do what you love and love what you do. For me, that is researching, writing, and investigating. Blogging isn't glamourous and I am not like Carrie Bradshaw on Sex and The City with a designer outfit and perfect makeup and hair pondering what to write. I am usually in my PJs surrounded by books and notes trying to entertain my kids at the same time while not completely ignoring my husband. A lot of writing happens in the early hours of the morning (which is why sometimes I may not make sense). It is the only time that I have to do what I love doing because that is when things are a little quieter and I can sit down and do it. It is my ME time. While I should be sleeping and getting rest before working the next day and tending to the kids, this is something I HAVE to do for my own mental sanity. It is something I have to do for myself. It may not be glamourous, but I don't care. I continue to do it anyway!
What are the things about investigating you think are less glamourous but you do it anyway?
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