Where wild minds come to rest
It was a marvelous day when I found out about Maladaptive Daydreaming and this forum from the article on Vice.
At this point, I forget when it was, because it was shortly before I decided to become a member of this website. I forget it because this website takes an extraordinarily long time before they approve your membership. I hope that any administrator of this forum improves this capability.
I think the best way to introduce myself to members on this website would be to explain the circumstances that led up to the realization that I exhibited symptoms of MD, my exhibition of MD itself, why I think I developed it, and what I am doing to now cope with and improve my life.
I am currently reading How to Win Friends and Influence People, and it explains that it is more beneficial in life to be a better listener than a talker. I hope to connect with some of you and discuss our experiences, and hopefully even win friends in the process.
However, this is not a simple conversation: this is a forum for posting in which we type, not talk. So, I hope that my introduction will serve as an impetus for further conversation.
Part 1: What was happening when I was realizing that I exhibited MD?
I was generally unsatisfied with my college experiences and my career prospects after I graduated. Throughout this long period of soul-searching, I have realized that I have two flaws that were roadblocks on my path to feeling happy: my ego and my perfectionism. To destroy my ego, I read on Quora that a great book to read for that purpose is Infinite Jest. I still must finish the epic, but I had placed great faith and certainty that reading that book will help me move on from my ego. I still have faith that I will be empowered to solve my ego problems by reading this book (currently I’m on p. 48 of over 1000…)
However, perfectionism is more difficult for me to understand how to be empowered to move on from it. Unlike destroying the ego, which is constant, I don’t think my perfectionism was manifested throughout my daily activities, but only in specific instances. To be self-aware in the throes of my actions seemed a tall and ineffective order.
I was then sent the article about MD and found that it seemed to describe so many of my experiences.
Alongside MD, I also believe that I have ADHD, and I will be receiving diagnosis and treatment for ADHD in the next few weeks.
I hope my realization of both will be an inflection point in my life.
Part 2: How I Have Experienced MD
The earliest kind of extremely active and committed daydreaming I did was influenced by two T.V. shows: George Shrinks & Arthur. I wanted to be George Shrinks and experience his lifetime as a clever and ingenious boy. I wanted to be D.W. and excel at her academics and experience the sights and sounds of Elwood City and be better than Arthur. I identified with D.W. because she was petulant and demanding, much like me. I suppose I wanted to be D.W. but with the intellectual power of The Brain. I willed myself to believe that one day I would transform into one of them and enter their world. I would construct these elaborate rituals of dancing and worshipping certain objects and chanting and involved my sister in them, so that if I willed hard enough, I would transform into them.
During this period, from when I was either seven or eight, I started to crave mechanical and robotic movements as a method of living and talking to people. Holding my arms straight at my side, clenching my firsts, and almost marching when I walked around, walking like a robot. I spoke in measured tones and tried to choose each word carefully and stretch my mouth as widely as possible to pronounce a word. I would pull up my socks as high as possible, tie my shoes as tightly as possible, and achieve an overall feeling of tightness and security in how I behaved. I would write very slowly and deliberately so my letters look perfect, raised my hand as straight as possible so that I was perpendicular with my desk. I would sleep with my arms straight at my sides.
I would wait for the mailman to come home, switch the T.V. on and off at exact times when the shows began or ended, and would rewind VHS tapes completely and watched all those tapes through the credits.
I sense this to be an early indicator of my perfectionism and obsessive compulsion, which was accompanied by that daydreaming. One thing I feel is that I completely lack focus and discipline, evidenced by my dropping out of all sports and music and dance lessons from a young age. Was this type of perfectionism a method to help me feel focused and disciplined?
Anyway, my hands could only be clenched into a fist and my knuckles could be cracked for only so long. This heavily imposed type of behavior would inevitably disintegrate, and then I surmise I would engage in laziness, nostalgia, complete chaos and become the King of Wishful Thinking. At least, that is what I do right now.
Afterward, I found my next target for daydreaming: the world of Harry Potter. I was so captivated by that series and of Hogwarts, that despite all my rationality and knowledge of its impossibility, I found myself believing that I would one day get a letter from Hogwarts and that I would be a member of the world of Harry Potter, fighting Death Eaters and conquering all academic subjects like Hermione. In retrospect, I spent a lot of this time with a sense of innate superiority over everyone who surrounded me. That it was only I who was having deep thoughts contemplating God, religion, and the state of our universe. I believed I would get a letter from Hogwarts for a very long time, until I was thirteen years old (which is when one is admitted to Hogwarts).
Another notable instance: when I was nine years old, I was incredibly convinced that The Polar Express would come to our house. I sat in a chair during Christmas Eve waiting for the train, much to the amusement of my family. I don’t remember if I was disappointed after it didn’t come.
My later elementary school years were all mainly happy years: I don’t remember all too much about them in the way of maladaptive daydreaming. But as I had schoolwork and projects to complete, I began to realize I have a penchant for procrastination. As I got into Junior High School and my workload considerably increased, I still completed my work, but began to sleep and then do it very late in the night, and then go back to sleep. But I would wake up in time for school the next day, with all my work completed. I also began to realize around this time that I was gay, and started experimenting with being naked and masturbating to gay porn.
Throughout all this time, I was very much involved in the National Geographic Bee. I always represented my school at the state level of the competition. However, in all five years of my competing in it, I probably studied for an average of less than two hours a year.
You see, I had and continue have an amazing detailed memory, which served me well for knowing a lot of general knowledge and geography facts that few other people who surrounded had at their disposal. Perhaps I had so much faith in this ability as something superhuman, that I ignored or didn’t notice my flaws in temperament, intention, focus, and discipline.
I routinely bullied other students though I had few friends, and was popular in the sense that people were friendly to me. I was and am judgmental of others and incredibly jealous of their success.
My life drastically changed over the summer of my final year of junior high school. Before the year began, I had a n idea that I would, over the summer, study so much for the National Geographic Bee and develop an idealized body, and become a brilliant student and attract the ladies, etc. (I was still in denial about my homosexuality).
I began the year incredibly motivated: I was a year above almost all my peers in maths, I placed well in a national geographic bee the summer before (not THE National Geographic Bee), and I was excited to just be incredibly motivated and ready for school. That slowly disintegrated: I stopped being focused at all in school, and carried out an elaborate system of lies, acting, and excuses to make those surrounding me feel that I was just having mental problems. I was partially successful; even my Dad came back from his extended travel abroad to take care of me. It was during this period that I knew my lies were taking a toll on my family: mentally financially, and emotionally.
I don’t know if I was maladaptively daydreaming about anything specific, or just having faith that I would come out of this unscathed and be a brilliant mathematician, biologist, or whatever else was at my fancy.
During this time, I found the person in my life who inspires me the most of all beyond my own family members: Madonna. In a music class, she was briefly mentioned in a video series we were watching about 80’s music.
I did a light Googling about her, and became intensely and incredibly enthralled with Madonna. “Hung Up”, “Sorry”, “Forbidden Love”, “Push”, Confessions on a Dance Floor, the scandalous videos of “Erotica” and “Justify My Love”, the intensity of “Like a Prayer”, the political nature of the “American Life” video, and the celebratory and gay-affirming “Vogue.”
I was obsessed with Madonna and Confessions on a Dance Floor and made it known to those around me. I continued an academic slump throughout the year, but frequently turned to Madonna when I had the chance. I am not sure that I daydreamed about being her at that time. As I began to explore the Internet more and more, I discovered the next big thing and probably the longest-lasting in my life in which I maladaptively daydreamt: Fashion Shows and supermodels. Chanel, Christian Dior, Gucci, Yves-Saint Laurent, Karl Lagerfeld, Viktor and Rolf, Versace… I watched fashion videos with models, imagining that I was strutting across imaginative runways looking like a unique Adonis, with a distinctive walk à la Coco Rocha or Vlada Roslyakova or Carmen Kass.
I slowly made the transition of where I believed the life of glamour matched, or even exceeded, the life of intellectual pursuit. I wanted to be watched, to be the center of the universe. I understood that I had an innate intellectual gift and that somehow, it gave me the power to command attention, respect, and adulation. Accordingly, I thought I was divine.
For the next ten years, I’ve slowly been in the same state of mind: free of commitment or attention to many things and always failing to live up to intermediate goals I’d set for myself.
During my eighth grade, I was suspended for being generally insubordinate to a teacher. In addition, I had a coach to help prepare me for The National Geographic Bee who remarked that I may have ADHD. We were going through the important features of a list of American states, such as important cities, bodies of water, etc. At the end of the session he asked to see my notes. I was very hesitant. Instead of writing down anything he was saying in that hour-long session, I was writing down all the luxury fashion brands I knew from memory. I ignored his advice until very recently, where I am in the process of being tested for ADD/ADHD.
As that year turned around, I continued with my obsession of models and fashion. I had a desire to be a model, intensely, for the next five years: with a strut that was distinctive on the runway, and being the male model of the moment. I used to walk around with music from fashion shows playing in my ear, and walk very dramatically from place to place, thinking that I was a model. I wanted to be the editor of Vogue or a fashion designer like John Galliano, whom I adored. I was hoping no one was watching me, until one day, someone noticed that I walked with one foot in front of the other, leaning back like Vlada Roslyakova. I stopped walking like that then in public, but continued to listen to fashion show music when I walked places to daydream of my model status.
I continued to compulsively lie about assignments and events and grades to those around me.
The summer of my ninth grade created and cemented my feelings of megalomania.
I received a laptop for my personal use, so I could use it all night long.
I viewed two books that changed the heights I wanted to reach and achieve: The 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History, and The Literary 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Novelists, Playwrights, and Poets of All Time. I had always wanted to be a writer since I was a young age. I began to formulate then of everything I wanted to be: a model, a fashion designer, the most influential person of all time, the most influential writer of all time, someone who helped humanity reach the edge of the universe and become one with God again (panentheism), the new king of a new European empire, the solver of unproven mathematical theorems, one of the richest people in the world, sexually desired by all, changing the world as I knew it. To be clear, I wanted to be all of these things.
It seems incredibly ridiculous as I think about it now, but I know I seriously believed in it, and to some extent, still do.
I found solace in this headspace for the next seven years, dreaming that I could achieve so much, while my academics went to the doldrums, and I treated people badly, just so I could escape to my room and succumb to the world of daydreaming.
I even made up that I had a boyfriend (going so far as to create a fake Facebook profile for him that I would interact with), and making up that I was a famous writer pseudonymously and had an advance, thus I was actually very rich.
After my freshman year of college, my interest in being a model transformed into also being an international film star. I imagined the movies I would be in becoming the most successful and most implanted in the public subconscious. I imagined the speeches I would make at the Oscars. The interviews I would give. The limits of my mystique; the use of my social media, how I would air my relationships, how I would interact with other stars, etc.
I would listen to music from movies and pretended that I was lip-syncing and dancing and acting according to how the music was picturized in the film.
One hurdle here was that I began to label my sexuality as “unwritten” instead of gay, for fear that I would never be able to be so successful in the entertainment industry if I was gay. That seemed ridiculous as I became a little older, so I changed identifying myself that way.
Then, the summer before my final year of university, I became obsessed again with Madonna. I rediscovered her as I noticed that she was putting tickets up for sale for her Rebel Heart concert tour. I became in awe again of her super stardom and her success and records and how she has changed history.
Quickly, I realized that I wanted to be an international film star and a gay version of Madonna. I have few, if any, talents in acting, dancing, or singing.
I would listen to music, any music, and pretend that I was the one in the music video doing the performance.
Up until recently, music, movies, TV, the Internet in general, and YouTube would dictate how I would spend my days in these maladaptive daydreams.
To summarize, I think the following attributes of mine relate to MD:
Part Three: Why I Think I Developed MD
I think I have prevailing symptoms of ADHD that I believe are primarily chemically motivated. I also think I have transference-related issues based on my early childhood and dealing with my friends and family that I have not resolved. These probably cause me to be dishonest and megalomaniacal to shield myself from the disappointments of daily life. This is also probably why I’m exceptionally lazy.
Part Four: What I Am Doing to Move on from MD
I think the most important part of this equation is that I have realized that I suffer from some degree of MD.
I have read that to take someone off from an addiction, much of the structure of one’s life must be laid out as such that one is weaned off those addictive and destructive habits until time and willpower have conquered the addiction.
Specifically, for MD, that means that I will reduce my dependence on music, specifically when I am walking. I have deleted the Music app on my iPhone. I know only listen to music when I drive or when I am taking a shower and getting ready for the day.
Second, I have decided to set out goals, i.e., “Dream[s] with deadline[s].” One thing I am trying to do is practice so that I am mindful of what I am doing throughout the day and see if it is in purpose of these dreams.
Third is for me to do an intense soul-searching to see what makes me tick and how I can achieve these goals, from a framework of optimism and intellectual devotion and lowered expectations, rather than one from megalomania, glamour, and fantasy.
Fourth: Via watching the YouTube Channel, The School of Life, and taking interest in emotional education in general, I am committing myself to finding out where the inflection points lie in my past for where I have become more deeply involved in MD.
Fifth: I would like to seek out whether I have ADD or ADHD. I think MD is generally connected with attention deficit disorder, and specifically, in my case, I think it may relate to ADHD for Gifted children.
Sixth: Limiting entertainment and Internet in general (besides music). Like I mentioned earlier, the fundamental ways I believe I have prevented myself for achieving things are ego and perfectionism. I believe the book Infinite Jest also has to do with explaining the human craving for 24/7 entertainment (thus President Trump), so I would like to understand that about myself in addition to the destruction of ego via the book that I previously mentioned. Thus, I also am limiting my entertainment, as much as possible, to reading instead of TV, movies, YouTube, the news, the radio, and most importantly, the Internet.
Seventh: Do what is necessary to become more patient.
Eighth: Posting to this forum.
One of the items on my to-do list to become productive was to do an honest analysis about how I may have developed MD: as honestly, succinctly, and comprehensively as possible without divulging my identity. And my hope is that this will help accelerate my ability to be accountable and honest to myself. Although I have rushed it so I can move on to more tasks, I hope that this may resonate with certain people whom I can connect with.
Part Five: What I expect from this post going forward and from Wild Minds Network.
I do not want to be addicted to the Internet or having want to check this site too frequently. I hope to form some genuine connections of people who suffer from degrees of MD and share our experiences with each other so that we can help combat what I consider is a harmful coping mechanism.