Maladaptive Daydreaming: where wild minds come to rest
Hi, I'm new here. I'm 48 years old, and I have always struggled with obsessive daydreaming since I was in elementary school and I made up stories about me and Batman. I didn't realize that my problem had an official name until I Googled it and found this site! I've tried seeing therapists about it for years, but no one took me seriously. One therapist told me I have an avoidant personality disorder. I've recently found a therapist that understands my craziness, and that's been a relief.
I believe that my dad was a narcissist, and I was emotionally neglected, ignored and criticized constantly. My parents were good with the physical stuff (like feeding and clothing me!) but there wasn't anything much emotionally. There wasn't any affection, praise, compliments, encouragement, support, or empathy. I grew up fantasizing about books and movies constantly, especially about fantasy like "The Lord of the Rings." I don't even remember much about some grades, because I spent every moment in the back of the class writing Hobbit fan fiction!
Recently, I spent two years dreaming constantly about the Harry Potter books, and I just couldn't stop! It really scared me. I got in trouble at work because I couldn't stay in reality. Professor Snape was a huge trigger for me, and I think it's because he reminds me a lot of my dad. I finally stopped because I got a crush on a guy in real life. Then I daydreamed for a year about our future life together! It seems like I always have to have a crush on someone.
So now I struggle a lot with being constantly addicted to romance in novels and movies. I daydream constantly about television shows: Game of Thrones, Outlander, Vikings, Dr. Who (ha ha! Can you tell I'm a nerd?) I'm constantly getting crushes on fictional characters. I think what's the most painful for me is that fantasy characters FEEL real. They feel like they really love me, and I will go through grief if I try to give them up.
I am struggling with depression, and the feeling that I HATE everything about my life. I have no friends, and I feel that I have nothing going for me. I am single, and I don't have kids. I struggle a lot with loneliness. I'm feeling overwhelmed right now with all my unmet emotional needs, and how I don't know how to get them met in real life.
Thanks for reading my long post!
Don't wory about the long post and welcome. You touch rapidly on a coupld of recurrent themes in daydreaming.
(1) being a sort of abuse, trauma, or neglect, not always the violent kind but still. My parents were a bit like that too, physically I was fine, but there was no acceptance of who I was really down there. I always felt like I had to be someone else than who I truly was to please them. So I became who I truly was in my head instead of in the real world.
(2) Your triggers. It seems that a lot of DDers tend to be nerdy and are attracted to the same kind of media. Usuall some fantasy or scifi, at least something with a component that is "not this world", though as far as I've seen here, anything goes and people will just as much daydream about New Girl than about Vikings. I also always have a "crush" on someone, a real or unreal person that I spend a lot of time thinking about, usually my daydream character and that person are involved in a romantic relationship, as silly as it sounds. Sometimes I feel like those relationships are more fulfilling than my actual ones. Which lead me to
(3) unfulfilled actual life. A lot of people who daydream are not happy to stop daydreaming because their reality is bleak and dull in comparison. Depression is common. We meet emotional needs in our heads, like kids that rock themselves because it is soothing and they lack affection.
Anyhow thanks for sharing and welcome.
Thanks, Ivy! Yeah, most of my fantasies have some kind of love interest. Or maybe it's just that I want to be important and wanted by someone. I have not been able to get into a real relationship with a guy. I suspect that I have been so emotionally needy (especially for attention!) that I send off some kind of vibe that either scares men off or attracts mean ones. I am sure I have a pattern of having narcissists in my life as either friends or romantic interests. I guess that fantasy crushes are so much "safer" than real ones.
My family always makes fun of me because I get so emotional about fictional characters in books and movies. Tonight my favorite crushy character in "Vikings" got killed, and I'm totally bummed. I cried for 3 days when Dumbledore got killed.
I can really relate to what you said about feeling lonely and especially having unmet emotional needs. Like Ivy said we're meeting our emotional needs in our heads and I know that as my daydreamed worlds are always so exciting, full of interesting people and emotionally fulfilling that this stops me even attempting to look for healthy relationships in the real world. I really struggle knowing that in the real world I'm not capable of having the life I have in dreams and meeting the type of people I daydream about. I actually get quite upset about this and often daydream about meeting my daydreamed characters in the real world.
Do you still write fan fiction? It looks like a lot of daydreamers have a creative talent (I seem to be an exception to that rule!) so maybe a creative writing class might help a small amount with meeting new people and alleviating some of your loneliness?
I actually think its great when people care so much about fictional characters. With so many people in this world that don't care about other living people and creatures I love knowing that there are people out there that care so much, even if its over somebody or something that only exists in fantasy.
I also struggle with feeling disappointed with people in real life. I wish I could meet people as cool as the characters are in my daydreams. I struggle a lot with feeling invisible in real life- nobody ever really seems to notice me or be interested in me. A friend of mine complains that in real life, people aren't nearly as heroic or noble as they are in movies, and I guess that feels true for me.
I think romance novels trigger me a lot, because the characters focus on each other. Even though I thought "50 shades of grey" was badly written, just the intensity Christian has when he focuses on Anastasia really triggered my daydreaming. I feel that in real life I never get to be "special" to anyone. I'm overweight, kind of quiet, and I don't think those are traits that make men line up to date me! Along with daydreaming, I also suffer from compulsive overeating and social anxiety.
I do love to write, and I've written a Harry Potter fan fiction novel (it was pretty funny trying to get the characters to sound British instead of American!) and a few fantasy novels. I feel that I'm pretty talented at it, and I struggle with sticking with writing consistently. I am really bad about getting lost in daydreaming and then forgetting to write! I live in a small town, and there aren't any writing groups around here. I have a college degree in creative writing and English literature, but all my classmates left for larger cities.
I have not been able to get a real career going. College was kind of my comfort zone, but jobs are just extremely painful for me. I'm anxious around people, and I attract bullies. Every time I'm around a boss, they seem to turn into my father! I just want to live in a castle and be a famous writer. LOL!
I think that wishing to meet the people like the ones in our DD's applies to most MDers. I would love some of my characters to be real but I doubt if I met them in the real world they'd even notice me let alone like me.
I quite often feel let down and disappointed with people in real life but the problem is mine and not theirs. I end up feeling that way because I put expectations on them and I doubt there is anyone alive that could live up to my expectations. Not even me. In fantasy I have control over my characters behavior so I can't get hurt. In the real world its not that simple.
Do you ever post your fiction online or try and get it published?
As the 50 shades of grey trilogy was developed from a Twilight fan series maybe you could try and tweak some of your fan fiction to create original characters? Just please don't ever use the phase 'my inner goddess'!
My DDs and characters are made up, not based on TV shows (if they are it's not conscious). But, I make the mistake of liking people because they resemble characters in my DDs, but when I meet them they are not anything like my characters and I get sad and disappointed. I was almost stalking this man a few years ago because he looked like my alter ego (yes...male alter ego. Something in me must be pretty messed up. I have had male and female alter egos, but my current one since 2002 is quite androgynous) and I wanted to know everything about him, then I realised that if I did meet him he wouldn't match up to my AE and I'd be sad and disappointed again. I once had a mental breakdown because a celebrity looked like him too, and I was so angry because this celebrity was actually a real person and I couldn't handle it.
My AE is the front man of a local pub band but is 'famous' in his hometown, also he's loud and openly narcissistic and is a massive flirt. I'm shy and boring and I always get jealous of people in actual bands because they get to do what I only do in my head...