One commonly accepted belief that I question is that if someone suffering from a mental illness has witnessed paranormal activity, they must be suffering from hallucinations. Due to curiosity and open-mindedness, I avoid dismissing people’s experiences when they report something that seems highly unusual and different from our common, everyday experiences in the physical world. And just because someone has been diagnosed with a mental disorder at any point, I don’t believe we should judge that person’s experience as less valid or less trustworthy than what anyone else says they have experienced. Besides, what is mental illness anyway? One person’s idea of sane and normal might look crazy to another.
As it often goes, I’m probably much more interested and open-minded about paranormal phenomena because of my own experiences. As a child, I was highly sensitive, shy, and introverted, so I spent much of my time playing alone in my own little world. Perhaps due to my high level of sensitivity, I could sometimes sense an invisible presence that watched me as I played alone in my bedroom. To be honest, it was an eerie experience that temporarily paralyzed me with fear just about every time it happened. Later, in my teen years, I experienced a couple of strange, unexplainable events involving electronics that I suspect were paranormal. Then, during my late teens, I saw something commonly referred to as “shadow people” walking through the hallways of the house where I grew up. At the time when it happened, I did not know about shadow people or that others across the world had observed the same thing. Quite honestly, I thought I was losing my mind and that my eyes were playing tricks on me, but now I have an entirely different view of it.
The shadow people experiences occurred during the time that I dealt with mood swings, or what some would label as manic-depressive episodes. After recently googling “bipolar disorder and shadow people,” I’m finding that a lot of people diagnosed with bipolar disorder have reported seeing shadow people, as well. Unfortunately, the majority of these people are describing their own paranormal experiences as delusions and hallucinations. The same goes for a lot of people who’ve been diagnosed with schizophrenia; they don’t believe in most of the things they have heard and seen. Should we be so quick to call ourselves crazy and assume that what we have seen or heard could not possibly be real? It actually makes me feel a bit sad knowing that most people don’t believe in their own experiences or consider how their experiences with mental illness and paranormal activity can potentially be profound and meaningful.
Am I suggesting that it’s impossible to experience a hallucination? No, not necessarily, but I don’t think we should immediately dismiss something just because it’s hard to explain or can’t be witnessed by everyone. Who’s to say what’s real and what isn’t? What if everything around us is an illusion, and we’re all a bit crazy for mistaking it to be real? I’ve grown tired of the “experts” who claim that this and that is impossible or unlikely. There is so much more to learn and understand about life, including the paranormal and mental suffering, once you’re willing to adopt the “I don’t know” stance. Whenever we say “I don’t know how to explain that,” our curiosity and non-assuming nature might allow us to eventually come up with some pretty cool and interesting theories that bring us closer to the truth.
My biggest argument against labeling paranormal experiences as hallucinations is that it further adds to the mental illness stigma. It basically says that people who “hallucinate” have a problem, that they’re out of touch with reality, that their experiences don’t count because there’s something wrong with their brain, and that they’re not credible or trustworthy sources whenever they speak about unusual experiences they’ve endured. What if we did a 180 and turned this view around? What if people suffering with mental illness became our teachers, offering us a new perspective about the nature of reality and all the phenomena surrounding us that normal or average people cannot see? Can you imagine that instead of feeling victimized and living in shame about their condition, these people might actually find meaning in their suffering? Instead of making these people feel flawed and in need of serious psychiatric help, what if we helped them to see their unique gifts through loving support? What if there are potential significant gains and a profound purpose behind mental illness, and we’ve been treating it the absolute wrong way for the past few centuries? The current mindset and approach seem a bit backwards to me.
The ways we’ve been conditioned to view mental illness and paranormal experiences are obviously limiting. Mental illness is seen as pointless suffering, and witnessing paranormal activity is either seen as absolute nonsense by the skeptics or a sign of a defective brain/sensory system that needs to be fixed through medication as soon as possible by mainstream psychiatry. I’m going to paraphrase a comment I read on a forum that illustrates the modern, limiting view of mental illness and paranormal experiences: “Your experiences sound very disturbing. I hope your new medications help you. Those entities you’ve seen are the products of your mind and nothing more. Embrace the medication’s ability to quiet the voices, and re-learn to see the world as it is: solid and un-magical.” So, in other words, people who perceive things beyond the physical realm need to dull their senses through medication because being highly sensitive is not normal, and absolutely none of that stuff you’ve seen is real anyway because all the “normal people” are the experts on what does and does not exist in this vast universe.
I’m very curious about why so many people have reported seeing shadow people inside their homes and other dark, shadowy figures during something that is clinically referred to as “sleep paralysis.” Could these paranormal entities possibly be interdimensional beings that can only be seen by people who have higher levels of sensitivity? Perhaps if you are tuned in to the right frequency, you can access bits and pieces of data that exist beyond our narrow field of perception in the third dimension. Or are the entities there to feed off the negative energy of those who are suffering or to increase their suffering, perhaps out of spite? I know someone of a skeptical mindset probably thinks all of this is a big load of crap, but I really suspect there’s something more going on here than just hallucinations and delusions.
If you were to question a group of people diagnosed with mental illness or sleep paralysis about their paranormal experiences, shouldn’t each person report a unique experience that is significantly different from what everyone else had seen if it was merely a hallucination? Why do people often see the same beings and have such similar experiences? For example, countless people who’ve experienced sleep paralysis have encountered “the old hag” and “the hat man.” Watch this sleep paralysis documentary if you want to hear about people’s experiences with these supernatural beings. Some say the shadow entities are a race of malevolent supernatural beings, called the djinn, who despise and envy humans. Here is a book, The Vengeful Djinn, that can provide you with more information if you’re interested in learning about that. There were also the Gnostics who said that a group of beings called archons are feeding off human energy.
I’m not really attempting to explain why people with mental illness or sleep paralysis have reported paranormal experiences, but I trust that their experiences are valid and should be taken seriously because I trust in my own experiences with the paranormal. People who’ve never witnessed any of this will continue to ridicule, criticize, be skeptical, and probably say something completely ignorant like “Go take your meds,” but I don’t think we should minimize our experiences and question ourselves simply because it’s not normal to see certain things. Maybe we possess certain abilities others lack that have allowed us to have these experiences.
I can’t say for sure why any of these paranormal events occur. For now, maybe we should try to accept the fact that we don’t know why some people see entities while others don’t. We could also try to understand that our perception of life and the world around us is very limited during this human experience. It is truly ignorant if we were to say with confidence that we know everything there is to know about other realms and the universe. I encourage you to look deeper into these matters with a curious, open mind instead of dismissing anything paranormal with skepticism and self-assured arrogance.