Wild Minds Network

Where wild minds come to rest

Hey guys. For those who are following my other topic on curing MD, I finally got some spare time to update and elaborate on some things that I thought were missing in the previous posts. I'm posting it here or you can read it directly on the blog. I hope it ends up making sense for some of you. Here it goes:

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Whether you decide to wean yourself off gradually or go cold turkey, physical cessation of engaging in MD is a prerequisite for waking up. Force yourself to stop daydreaming – not in order to stop MD altogether – but in order to release and identify underlying toxic emotions and pain that fantasy is censoring. You will be surprised what will come out. As already explained in the first part of this series, familiarize yourself with the pain, loneliness, fears and once you have surrendered to them and accepted them, you should lose the impulse to use MD as an escape method.

Now, a question: is MD an attempt to run away from yourself or an attempt to finally be yourself?

I say both. If you embrace negative feelings and face them, that should stop you from using MD for escape purposes. However, you’ll still want to use fantasy to temporarily come in touch with detached feelings and parts of yourself. Now let’s see what we can do about this part.

The Void

When you receive a wake-up call and finally decide that you are going to try to put an end to this madness, one thing usually stands in your way: emotional bluntness. Inability to connect to yourself and consequently to the real world. Probably the most discouraging feeling in the entire recovery that drives all your relapses.

When you think about it, it’s not bad feelings that torture and compel you to engage in daydreaming as much as it’s the lack of feelings. But what causes this numbness?

Detachment isn’t a product of what we call MD. Numbness was always there – and MD was your way of dealing with it. You wound up numb and emotionally disconnected from reality because you became emotionally disconnected from yourself. Do you notice that the moment you switch the point of view from yourself to your daydream characters [or idealized you] and use them as receptors instead, you can instantly feel? Or rather, they can feel and you can feel through them. In other words, you are physiologically able to feel. So you’re not an emotionless nutcase or somebody who is beyond repair. You can feel but dissociation stands in your way.

There’s an ongoing misconception that maladaptive daydreamers are at disadvantage because our drug of choice is accessible all the time making it perpetually tempting and harder for us to stop while alcohol or meth addicts have to go through some bother to get hands on theirs. Well, not really. We are not special because we are maladaptive daydreamers and we aren’t having it any more difficult than other people dealing with addictions. All addictions involve fantasy. All of them. When a meth addict isn’t taking meth, he’s thinking about it all the time. It’s the first thought that flashes through his mind when he wakes up and the last thought that leaves him before he falls asleep. So you’re not the only one who is stuck in a fantasy world non-stop. All addicts are. We’re collectively cut off from the outside world, we’re all a bit numb and a bit lost in this ocean of alienation.

Emotional bluntness follows all addictions, it’s their elemental driving force. Numbness, coldness, detachment, inability to connect – these things aren’t specific to just you. Whoever had addiction also struggled with partial or complete lack of emotional response relative to the real world. People addicted to pornography usually can’t experience intimate or sexual feelings with a real person yet, hey, it’s sex they crave. A daydreamer who craves connection to something but cannot connect to anything isn’t any different.

Breaking through the numbness is a slow process. When reality slaps you in the face and your illusions and dream world crumble, this does not equal instant recovery – this person who’ll wake up will still not be you. Please remember: the numbness you feel upon stopping MD, detachment, loneliness, alienation and cold reality everyone seems to love but you hate – these are not you, they are not your ultimate destination. It’s just an ugly, long, sometimes discouragingly long transition between waking up and actually awakening.

Breaking Through the Numbness

Technically, you can be aware of every single problem of yours but until life slaps you, you won’t start to deal with them. Many of us need to be challenged and pushed to the edge of our limits in order to start doing things about our lives. You need a specific situation, something, someone who will wake you up, who’ll tell you in your face that you’re a fucking insecure coward who runs away and is inept to live. I mean, sure, I know I’m a coward, my depression makes sure to remind me of it every day, but when someone else tells you this, it hits you in quite a different way. It hurts. On a very, very deep intimate level. Then you start to get angry – with that person and with yourself. You finally start to process emotionally what you’ve done with your life, you come in touch with this pain that has been hurting you for far too long and you slowly come to your senses. Then you’ll start doing something about it. Our main drawback is that we’re introverts who are used to deal with pain alone. That’s not going to work. You can’t do it alone. You need an observer, something or someone external, you need to be challenged, outright pissed off to start making changes.

Get angry. With your therapist who doesn’t understand, with your family that undermines your problems. With the world, with yourself, with reality. Not frustrated but angry. Just explode. It doesn’t matter if you lash out at anyone specifically or not, just be sure to acknowledge the anger and let it wash you clean.

Metaphorically speaking, you’re stuck in a body that isn’t yours. I’m not referring to your daydream characters here. I’m talking about your real self, the one you see in the mirror and think of as foreign and miserable, the same one that is infected with depression, self-contempt or low self-esteem, which make your self-image completely distorted. Heck, of course you’ll want to run away and escape from this decaying body, this broken self, because this isn’t you, this can’t be real you – otherwise you would’ve never wanted to escape from it in the first place. Your mind knows this, hence the impulse for running away. Your MD isn’t a protest against reality, it’s a protest against this broken, distorted self – that is NOT the true you.

Lastly, get angry with this messed up version of yourself, with numbness and dissociation and void. And whenever someone tells you that you messed up your life and irrevocably wasted it, whenever they mention all the things you could have done but didn’t, your seeming lack of passion or interest in real life, get angry with them too because no one knows that every day is a struggle for you, because no one knows what it’s like to not to exist anywhere. Get angry because none of this is your fault. Because you didn’t choose to be like this.

Then start to change things. For somebody who has bottled things up their whole life, anger is an immensely healthy and purifying emotion. Destructive but purifying. It’s the fight component of fight or flight mode that makes one face uncomfortable situations and fears head-on, without running away from them or feeling intimidated. Anger will probably be the first emotion to awake in you relative to the real world. Welcome it and hate everything around you if you want to. Hate the real world if you need to. But hate it with passion. Just don’t be numb to it.

This is where bluntness breaks down and you begin. Seek situations that make you care about something other than your fantasy even for just 10 seconds, whether it’s destructive or warm and beautiful. Try to pinpoint these short, fleeting moments when you feel spontaneity of emotions, when real you awakens – and then hold onto them. In the beginning they are short, followed by a week or two or three of numbness and emptiness, but once they happen, let them be your hope, a reminder that things can be normal. When numbness strikes again, and it will, don’t ask yourself what you are doing wrong. Because you are doing nothing wrong. It’s normal – you simply have to be persistent even when the weight of the void keeps pressing down on you, you have to keep going. Every time you feel like you’re falling and failing, let pain defeat you over and over again and maybe this insane battle will make you feel alive every time you hit rock bottom. It sounds odd but pain, even tough it’s terrifying, reminds you that you’re alive. It pushes you to the limits. MD numbs pain and so it numbs the feeling of being alive. Your dream self may be alive but you aren’t as long as you rely on MD not to fall apart.

You know what the worst thing you can do to yourself is?

Convince yourself that you really are without passion and incapable of feeling emotions you experience in your daydreams. If in the midst of your withdrawal you think to yourself that you will never be the person you are in your fantasies, you are automatically self-sabotaging. Don’t think of reality as something foreign you have never experienced before that everyone suddenly expects you to come to love after years of being absent. Reality is where your feelings are – feelings shape our perception of it to the point one could even argue that there is no objective reality. You exist where your feelings are. All your feelings are in your fantasies right now, but once you transfer them not from your daydream characters to reality, but from your daydream characters to yourself, you will automatically start to connect to reality.

MD is not a split between worlds – it’s the split of the self. You can fuse the worlds together but the emptiness remains because the one who observes these worlds is broken in two. Don’t obsess over trying to stop daydreaming. Don’t obsess over trying to love reality. You’ll fail. Focus on healing the self and cravings will reduce automatically. Your goal number one is to make yourself feel without censorship all the things your daydream characters feel. When you succeed this, you win.

Relapse?

When you finally start to get better and receive positive feedback from reality, you’ll relapse. It’s the ridiculous law of addiction and you can do little to avoid it.

You aren’t a heavy smoker who can just give up tobacco and then find another distraction. MD often bleeds into every possible aspect of your life so when you do away with fantasy, you automatically do away with your entire life, leaving yourself with nothing. There is no one, no home, no reality to return to. If your recovery is going well, you will have more and more moments when you briefly come in touch with your true self [and therefore with reality too], but majority of your days will still be tainted with numbness.

If at this point you really relapse [and chances are very, very high], oh well. It’s actually perfectly normal. Do not spend a moment beating yourself up over it. Cravings will exist as long as dissociation exists. MD is your life force, it’s the energy that cries out to be released one way or another – and you can neither stop it nor ignore it. As I said in the beginning, stopping daydreaming is necessary only in order to let repressed issues out and then feel them with your entire being, which will ultimately liberate you from their toxic grip. If you relapse after you have done your emotional detoxification, it’s okay. From this point onwards, all you need to do is focus on breaking dissociation and healing yourself. If you daydream in the meantime to give yourself a little fix to pull you through the periods of nothingness, make sure you don’t use MD to repress things and don’t let it distract you. Always use it with the idea that things you feel in daydreams can be felt in real life too, that things your characters feel were originally supposed to be yours. The more you come in touch with yourself, the more will your addiction collapse. When you feed MD, you starve yourself – but when you feed yourself, you starve MD. Break the dissociation of the self and MD is gone.

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Eretaia, I posted a response on your blog to Part II: Things you are and things you are not...
Siddhartha is a brilliant book. And that is a wonderful quote. I also love the quote on your blog - about Chuang Chou and the butterfly. It really sums up our lives :)

I want to know if you're now MD free? And if yes, how long did this journey take you?
Thanks so much!

I've just replied you there. :)

Oh, I'm in love with Bashō's haiku which is in fact a reference to Chuang Chou. 

Wake butterfly –
it’s late, we’ve miles
to go together.

You don't have to let of your dream self, you just have to awaken them. :)

Anyway, I can say I resolved my MD. I don't feel cravings anymore and I can finally feel things that used to be limited to the dreamworld only. Sometimes I have periods of numbness or mild depression but with each day I feel like I'm overcoming them little by little. I'm oddly optimistic lately (which is strange since I used to be pessimist my whole life, lol). I guess it's an indicator that things are going well. Speaking of how long it took me, I'd say two years. But you have to consider that MD took hold of every single aspect of my emotional life so I literally started from zero. I was completely at loss and I didn't have any point of reference. Also, it's not like I worked on myself all the time or focused strictly on getting better during those two years. It was a very mild process, sometimes I wouldn't do anything but daydream for 5 months, then I'd get a few insights and obsess over them and so on. 

Beautiful words of the haiku. This gives me so much hope. Thanks again, Eretaia :)

You're welcome! :)

Hi Eretaia, No not at all!! If anything I was the one who wrote the novel. :P

That quote about waking the butterfly is pure beauty. 

I wanted to tell you about another funny thing that happens, probably again because of being overly-empathetic. Besides the fact that I wear and breathe in other people’s physicality’s, to make myself feel more euphoric, and not present with my self. Besides that, which is weird on it’s own. 

About four years ago, I noticed this ability to see my reflection in the mirror’s of other people’s particular world-views. For example, if I am talking to someone of a different race, and if race is a big part of their identity, my inner sense of self as I’m talking to them distorts into a character which they would interpret as generically racially-profiled. This can be kind of disheartening, because I notice that a lot of people don’t seem to see me in my full hi-def color and volume. They see a cartoon, pieces of me, if that makes sense. It especially makes me angry when I see what some guys see in me, how they project their fear of failure to score onto me, all that nasty baggage. And I just accept that's what I am when I'm with them, and then only notice in hindsight. 

Maybe I’m delusional and everyone else does this too!  I don’t know. 

In psychology I think it’s what they might call transference. Being an empathetic person, I always accept this transference, I have ingested it and digested it before I am even conscious of doing it.

I used to describe it by saying what if the moon wanted to look at herself as she was, but could only see her reflection in the changing states of the water in the lake. Sometimes her reflection was in fragments, sometimes it was whole when the water was still. But maybe it is self-centered to look for somebody who is like still water to you, and who you think can accurately reflect who you are. Because everyone is swept up in tides of their own, and trying to watch out for stillness too. 

Therefore, I must be my own still water. Then I project that inner knowing onto whoever I meet. In other words, I have been relying on people close to me to reflect stillness back at me, but that’s not their responsibility.

I like describing states of mind poetically, so I get a kick out of this. But I think we understand now!

Wow, thanks for the insight. I am 52 and have had mdd most of my life. It has tapered off with age, mostly because of the overwhelming sense of regret over life impact/opportunities lost. I hope that you are doing well along your journey of healing. My experience has been that's its very important to replace some of the time spent day dreaming with another creative outlet. I really identified with your point about MD blunting emotions in this world.Finally thawing out, waking up to real life.

Nice analogy about the moon and reflection. I have no idea if this phenomenon is somewhat specific to MD or if it occurs to other people as well but if I had to guess, it's probably something that happens to people with low self esteem. I recently watched an interview with one of the most famous writers in my country. His books are incredibly profound, his writing style is beyond amazing but when you see this guy live and hear him talk, you would never tell that he's a writer of such caliber. When he talks, he doesn't seem eloquent, his sentences are clumsy, even his reasoning seems simple. A lot of artists and writers have this problem. But I've always wondered, since he managed to express his inner world and his true colors through his books, is that enough? Or is it just another compensation, an attempt to channel your true emotions into something else because you can't have them raw?



Tila said:

Hi Eretaia, No not at all!! If anything I was the one who wrote the novel. :P

That quote about waking the butterfly is pure beauty. 

I wanted to tell you about another funny thing that happens, probably again because of being overly-empathetic. Besides the fact that I wear and breathe in other people’s physicality’s, to make myself feel more euphoric, and not present with my self. Besides that, which is weird on it’s own. 

About four years ago, I noticed this ability to see my reflection in the mirror’s of other people’s particular world-views. For example, if I am talking to someone of a different race, and if race is a big part of their identity, my inner sense of self as I’m talking to them distorts into a character which they would interpret as generically racially-profiled. This can be kind of disheartening, because I notice that a lot of people don’t seem to see me in my full hi-def color and volume. They see a cartoon, pieces of me, if that makes sense. It especially makes me angry when I see what some guys see in me, how they project their fear of failure to score onto me, all that nasty baggage. And I just accept that's what I am when I'm with them, and then only notice in hindsight. 

Maybe I’m delusional and everyone else does this too!  I don’t know. 

In psychology I think it’s what they might call transference. Being an empathetic person, I always accept this transference, I have ingested it and digested it before I am even conscious of doing it.

I used to describe it by saying what if the moon wanted to look at herself as she was, but could only see her reflection in the changing states of the water in the lake. Sometimes her reflection was in fragments, sometimes it was whole when the water was still. But maybe it is self-centered to look for somebody who is like still water to you, and who you think can accurately reflect who you are. Because everyone is swept up in tides of their own, and trying to watch out for stillness too. 

Therefore, I must be my own still water. Then I project that inner knowing onto whoever I meet. In other words, I have been relying on people close to me to reflect stillness back at me, but that’s not their responsibility.

I like describing states of mind poetically, so I get a kick out of this. But I think we understand now!

I completely agree with this. I tried to stop daydreaming countless times, and the most recent one last about a month. That was the longest I've ever gone. And you're right; when we stop dreaming, we immediately confront the reasons we DD in the first place. All of the repressed pain sucker-punches you right in the face, and you wonder how on earth you're going to be able to make it through life without your fantasy world. But if you embrace the pain, if you open your heart and really let it vibrate through you, the pain disappears. You let it work itself through you. 

My favorite thing about this post that I never recognized though was the part about the numbness. The lack-luster quality of life and the DDer's inability to connect with anything about it... That's truly what makes it so hard to stop DDing! Whenever I tried to stop, I'd just look around at all the lack of emotion and think, "Is this what real life is like? Do I really want to live this way for the rest of my life?" and BAM, cue relapse. But I never recognized the fact that the numbness could dissipate, or that I had a right to my character's emotions. A right to anger, even. 

Thank you for this. You've given me a lot to think about. 

It's strange how disconnected and separate our characters seem to be from us when in reality they are just metamorphosed and buried parts of ourselves and our cravings. But that's what makes MD a true dissociation after all.

Harper Rays said:

I completely agree with this. I tried to stop daydreaming countless times, and the most recent one last about a month. That was the longest I've ever gone. And you're right; when we stop dreaming, we immediately confront the reasons we DD in the first place. All of the repressed pain sucker-punches you right in the face, and you wonder how on earth you're going to be able to make it through life without your fantasy world. But if you embrace the pain, if you open your heart and really let it vibrate through you, the pain disappears. You let it work itself through you. 

My favorite thing about this post that I never recognized though was the part about the numbness. The lack-luster quality of life and the DDer's inability to connect with anything about it... That's truly what makes it so hard to stop DDing! Whenever I tried to stop, I'd just look around at all the lack of emotion and think, "Is this what real life is like? Do I really want to live this way for the rest of my life?" and BAM, cue relapse. But I never recognized the fact that the numbness could dissipate, or that I had a right to my character's emotions. A right to anger, even. 

Thank you for this. You've given me a lot to think about. 

Don't worry, I'll keep the blog updated. :)

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