If you read the symptoms from Blog 2, you are probably thinking, “How are some of these symptoms different from a child who is in a mental health crisis?” That is exactly what I thought as well, for each child that I encountered. But, there was always something different about Nebulous kids. The difference typically started with them sharing the oddities surrounding their confessions about seeing ghosts. Please know that this was not a question that I asked the kids, nor did I initiate any other conversations about having the ability to see spirits. For some reason, the children and families found comfort in telling me. One reason that I believe that they felt the need to tell me was not solely due to the mental health symptoms, but of course the parents believed that this confession from their children was not normal. Therefore, the perceived abnormal visions and thought processes of the children are what initially brought the parents and kids to the mental health centers where I worked, for consultation, and that is what we discussed during the psychosocial assessments.
Take a second to normalize how those parents felt for a moment. What if your own children told you that they could see ghosts? Then, the kids had psychological symptoms along with their confessed ability to see ghosts? Any family member who is concerned about their kids would seek assistance from a qualified mental health professional out of concern. Now, imagine how I felt when I heard from parents and children about their ability to see ghosts. It happened so much so, that I started to consult with many other professionals about these children when I encountered them. What changed my thinking, combined with my methods for dealing with these families, happened when one savvy Social Worker said to me, “Who are we to tell these kids what they see?” She also mentioned, “You already know how to assess these kids, so do it.” She and I sat down with our director to discuss these cases many times, because at one agency, the majority of my clients claimed that they were able to see ghosts.
In addition, I consulted with many Clinical and Counseling Psychologists throughout the years about these children. Many of them thought that the psychosocial histories of these families was fascinating, and shared that they could recall some of their clients claiming to see ghosts as well. Those revelations helped me to normalize the children's abilities quite a bit. Several Psychologists even shared with me that it was not unusual to hear perfectly normal clients reveal this information to them. I never learned this in graduate school; I was unsure how to help these families, but I had to learn. At that time, I started to consult with a Pastor in Chicago in an attempt to understand what all of this meant from a practical standpoint, allowing me to remove psychology from the equation.
This learning gets interesting: One of the first things that I learned is that I needed to have my own protection. From what was my thought? I remember being confused. What was I protecting myself from with regard to helping these families? Well, my Pastor was not surprised at all about their stories, as well as my confusion. He shared with me that spirits are around us all of the time. He explained that some people have a veil lifted and although he was unsure why God chooses some people to have this ability, the majority of us are unable to see spirits. For those that can, many do not initially understand what they are seeing. He believed that sometimes, the bad spirits or what he called demons, can negatively impact other people which is why you need to be “prayed up” when dealing with the supernatural. He told me not to go into buildings that the children perceived as being demonically possessed, and to pray over my family at all times especially when encountering with these children. He wanted me to cleanse my workspace, my home, and pray over myself. He showed me how to pray in a way that asked God to send his angels to me, my home, and my office space to protect me. He told me to keep a bible in those places as well, and showed me how to test spirits to determine if they were of God or not. I have many amazing stories about testing spirits too! Believe it or not, it was necessary but...
“This was a lot for me to take in and apply to my life,” as I mentioned to my Pastor.
However, I listened and learned from him for weeks. I prayed for protection in all areas of my life including myself, my family, our home, my office space and building, and the children and their families. And yes, I kept a bible in all places and to this day, there is always a bible near me including inside of my car. Initially, I became that frightened of all of this discussion about ghosts. I prayed a lot, and surprisingly when families saw my bible, they wanted to pray with me as well. No conversations about prayer were initiated by me at all. Reason being, I do not pressure families to conform to my ideologies about prayer and/or biblical principals. It is a choice that they make, but when they did we prayed together and,
“I prayed with the kids.”
At times, the kids did not want their parents to know that they prayed, or learned how to pray if it was not taught to them. That was a tough decision, and risky. Through prayer, some of the kids learned to control their ability to see ghosts. Some kids, however, did not incorporate prayer and that was fine with me. I learned how to use prayer in correlation with the treatment of symptoms that were plaguing these children.
Pertaining to actually seeing ghosts, the most troubling issue for Nebulous children was learning how to turn on or off their ability to see spirts. This included the type of spirits seen, or stopping this ability from their lives altogether. Some kids did not like or appreciate being able to see ghosts, not at all. Understand that at times, their stories were quite humorous, but there were instances of sightings that made them afraid, or the ghosts talked too much and significantly interrupted their lives such as following them to school, hiding in their rooms, closets, and under their beds, walking down the hallways of their homes, and most of all just would not go away. For example, here are a few descriptions of annoying spirits that I heard from Nebulous children below:
“He is our kitchen and will not leave.”
“She stands at the edge of my bed”
“He wears a top hat and walks in the hallway”
“A boy running down the hallway”
“They’re black angels in the building”
“You glow white”
“My kids see demons”
“I believe my kids because I can see ghosts too”
“I’ve seen ghosts all of my life”
“How do I help my child if I cannot see ghosts”
“It’s safe in your office, peaceful, no dark activity”
By 2010 I had enough encounters with children, (and parents), who can see ghosts that I felt the need to study more books, journals, and the Bible. Yup, the Bible and that learning came directly from another Pastor in St. Louis. WHEW to good ole St. Louie because the majority of my experiences occurred in that area with these special children. When you have the opportunity, google hauntings in St. Louis. I learned from my graduate students a few years ago, that parts of St. Louis are known for being haunted, especially in an area where I previously worked.
Honestly, I did not believe the stories that I kept hearing from the families because they were so unreal to me. So, I did what most mental health practitioners would do, I researched. I studied and “fact-checked” some of what I heard from kids by way of their visuals. Years later, my graduate students helped to confirm a few of the stories by way of educating me about the history of sightings in St. Louis. I remember once, I had a case that was so unreal to me that I went as far as libraries to understand the of the history of the grounds where I worked. All true! I even confirmed some of it with the staff who shared their hauntings stories, within one of our buildings, at work. They even named their ghost. Yup, that gave me the creeps; an active haunting, and he was a mean spirit according the children, parents, and staff. I tested out some of these kid sightings and theories with other parents who could see spirits, not affiliated with these children. Same stories from different parents of different children. Wow! No help from me at all. Most of the time the parents would automatically tell me or, I would ask general questions once we had established weeks of rapport such as the following:
“Tell me about the building, land, or office space” (walking outside, or when they leave the office space)
“Share what this means” (maybe pointing to something)
Ironically, I never had to fish for too much information from parents because the majority of the time, they would tell me about it. Down the road, I obtained a license to practice real estate. I learned a lot with that license. One thing in particular was how to research older buildings which became fascinating to me. There was one building, however, that I could not enter any longer after several children told about it to stay away from it. Parent warned me about it as well.
To conclude, as you read these blogs, please know that based upon all of my learning, consultations, and research, I could firmly conclude that the children’s stories, sightings, and also their fears and anxieties were valid. Oh, the stories I will tell, keep reading.