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I was a Maladptive Daydream for 20+ and it is still there today

Today I am 31 years old. I've been a maladaptive daydreamer for roughly 20 years.

It started when I was 12 years old (circa 1998). I had problems fitting in at school and couldn't seem to communicate with peers. I had Autism too, so it was hard to relate and connect with people. While guys and girls were starting to like each other, they would hang out in groups after school. Whereas, I was so different and 'peculiar', I often went right back home to watch TV in my family's basement lounge.

Well, here it goes. I was watching a old episode of the original Star Trek series, starring captain Kirk, Spock and Bones. I previously saw a biography of William Shatner, so I suddenly had a heart melt over his Captain Kirk portrayal. Silly giggles began to escape my lips and my stomach turned to butterflies. In future, whenever I watched a movie or a TV show, I had a crush on a new actor that portrayed a character I really liked. I would develop stories in my head of having relationships with these characters, going on quests or adventures and doing very interesting things with them...like in a TV series.

However, since then, my imagination grew stronger as I started entering Junior High. Peers in my eighth grade class started catching me laugh at 'nothing' in the room. They often wildly teased about what was so funny and made remarks about the weird facial expressions and bodily gestures I made while I was daydreaming. They even began to mimic exactly what I appeared like whenever I was laughing at 'absolutely nothing.' Daydreaming has also made me extremely quiet,
so many students refused to be my friend. Throughout High school, As much as I daydreamed about needing a boyfriend,
I couldn't win a date with a guy because they just found me 'way too quiet' and so very strange.

Due to daydreaming, my High school grades weren't very good, but I earned a good enough average to make it into an Art & Design College. There I studied Art, Illustration and Graphic Design. I successfully earned a Bachelors Degree and was eager to get a full-time job that I'd really enjoy. However, I found it very hard to land a job spot, and employers were turning down my resume and portfolio—not finding me very skillful enough in Graphic Design and suggested I stick with 'The Arts.'

One day in August, the summer I graduated, I came back home from an interview for a restaurant role. My head was clouded with too much daydreaming after traveling on a bus. So when my dad phoned us to say he was arriving back on his flight from London, I picked up the phone to answer his call....but didn't give my mom the phone. I just hung up and didn't even go down to tell her. When she found out, she was so ballistic and started throwing her arms way up in the air, and bringing them down to the floor shouting "Earth, Earth, Earth...!" over and over again. She then had a stern, cold and hard discussion with me that I never forgot for life. She told me that I will NEVER be successful in any career - not even in administration & clerical duties - that I should stick to MY ART. She also compared me to a couple of the wackiest short-lived artists who ever lived in history. She started sounding just like my former school peers—all nasty and cutting.

Well, as my mother had said it. I struggled in the workforce big time. Whether it was a job in a sign shop, an office, a design studio, a fast food place, maid service, warehousing, a retail store...or anywhere, employers had to terminate me for reasons such as poor communication, not working very fast and not using my critical thinking skills—but most of all for Daydreaming. There were moments in my career path where I did Daydream while I worked and employers often noticed something was very Odd that I didn't Listen, Watch, Move Fast nor Think so they'd start to question or give criticisms.

So, nowadays, I am work from home as a Visual Designer and Writer for Blog Posts. In spite, I still live with my parents, working at home is very nice and my clientele is very pleasant. I make a good weekly salary and my career in graphic art is climbing. There is no harassment coming from other people. There's nobody to question as to why I look so dazed, why I laugh at 'nothing', why I won't listen up, why I make faces or make weird and shaky movements due to my day dreaming. Though, my family still catches me grinning and 'laughing' out of the blue, whether at the dinner table, kitchen area or in the TV living room.

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Comment by Sian on May 15, 2017 at 10:54am

I can really relate to your story Jessica, because in some respects I can see myself.  I too was lonely at school, and bullied and turned to the hero of a fantasy TV programme (not Star Trek though) for daydreams.  I think the trouble is if you are hit by a powerful crush at a that young age - about 14 - it stays with you for good, especially if you have no outlet in the real world (as you and I didn't).

In my case I messed up my exams because of it, had no real talent for anything, and have been doing rubbishy jobs ever since.  On the plus side I did manage to control daydreaming in my late teens and started having normal boyfriends, and I am lucky enough to have a lovely husband and children.  Actually at one point I stopped the whole daydreaming thing completely, and I was very pleased to have done so, but its come back now in later life.

My thing is always running when I'm daydreaming so people say, why are you always running? But I think you're very brave to be so honest about it, I'm not sure I would be so honest - even now!  After all these years.  Its not something you talk about.

Comment by Jessica Ballantyne on May 5, 2017 at 7:03am

Yea, well, I don't make enough income to actually live on my own yet. I quite disappointed in myself for believing in my daydreams...that amazing things would come to life. When I left high school, I believed that I could just walk out there, and see many existing places, even without having to invest in it! People get serious about choosing a University for a very intelligent reason, so they could have a future and afford things too!

Comment by MatthewR on May 4, 2017 at 10:46pm

Wow. I totally relate to all of this. I've never been diagnosed with autism. However, I did struggle with mutedness growing up. I spoke rarely and just had a lot of difficulty relating to others. I was the last kid on the playground still playing make-believe. Everyone else grew up and eventually moved on, doing normal things that teenagers do. I didn’t, because I was too busy daydreaming. Unfortunately, my dd’ing got the better of me. I never finished university, and my occupational choices since then have been limited. It's very, very difficult for me to concentrate, and i find myself dazed or just generally slow to react. I do what you do: I laugh out loud, I make gestures, and I pace obsessively in circles. I know it drives my parents crazy sometimes (I also live at home). I'm very happy to hear about your career, tho. At least you can earn an income doing something you enjoy. I wish i could ask you more about it. Visual design sounds very interesting to me. Welcome to WM!   

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