It's long...I know. But I just have to tell someone.

What an interesting thrill it is to find an entire site, filled with people from all over the world, who share in the biggest secret of my life – maladaptive daydreaming. No one knows about it. I’m 32 and it all started for me at the age of 4. I was told while approaching my teenage years that I would grow out of the “pretend” stage of childhood. My friends and family all did. Me? I still live a very vivid pretend life in a pretend world. As a teenager, I couldn’t fathom carrying this over into adulthood...I mean, how would I function as an adult while still playing out fantasies like a child? Surely, at some point, I would grow up enough that I would put it all behind me. Now, as a single 32 year-old, still living at home (though I’m about to move across country on my own), I find that this pretend life has held me back in real life. That’s why I’m here...to try to find some answers on how to cope with this.

On the one hand, I know that my fantasy life is just that – fantasy. Nothing in it will ever happen in real life, not because I’m too lazy to accomplish those things for real, but because my pretend world is not based in reality at all. That, perhaps, is the most depressing part of it all. The upside is that I have this other life that's as real to me as real life. It's everything I could ever want, everything I want to be, and everything that no one else in the world will ever have. In a way, I feel sorry for "normal" people who have to be content with the life that's handed to them. My life in a way feels incredibly full. I've "lived" adventures, befriended people, had fun, and experienced things that "normal" people would never even contemplate. It's completely foreign to me to simply live in the moment, in reality, in the mundane. Of course, I can exit my fantasy world whenever I want and slip into it just as easily as if it were reality. Many times, I am playing the two out at the same time and no one else knows it. 

Probably like most people here, I'm an introvert - an INTP to be exact (Myer's-Briggs personality). A main characteristic of that personality is that they live inside their minds. Mostly, this is to figure out solutions to complex problems, but for me it's a creative outlet. When I was a kid, I was constantly putting on theatrical productions in my living room, directing, choreographing, costuming all of my brothers, friends, cousins...anyone I could recruit. In real life, I was part of musicals and stuff too. In my room, with no one else around, I would pretend to be someone else. Here's the kicker...I would always (or nearly always) pretend to be male. From as early as I can remember, I never liked the idea of being a girl. To me, the boys had all the fun. I was a natural athlete, and as a toddler, my favorite toy was a ball. My favorite characters in TV and film were males, and I would emulate them whenever I could. Even when playing "pretend" with my siblings or friends when we were young, I would always try to be a boy if the others went along with it. 

So, as my MD progressed behind closed doors, I was usually pretending to be my favorite character at the time...whoever it was. The turning point really came when I was 12 or 13. I got into Star Trek: The Next Generation and fell in love with the Will Riker character. He was THE male character that I latched onto and have not let go of since. He's tall, dark, handsome, masculine, popular, and had the best woman ever...Deanna Troi. Like many Trek fans, the characters became my family and I spent the latter part of my childhood with them. I love futuristic stuff, and the world that Star Trek created was perfect. It blew reality out of the water. Ever since then, my fantasy world is centered in Star Trek, with these characters, me as Riker, and I adapt it to my everyday life. 

I'm one of those that acts it out though. I've rarely just "daydreamed" about it. That's not enough. I have to physically act it out...I even dress up as a male to help my imagination a bit. No, I don't have a Star Trek uniform...I don't need to go that far. I suppose it's like a little bit of cross-dressing thrown into MD. 

Anyway, I actually would go so far as to record episodes of TV shows (not just Star Trek), and then act the episode out as my favorite character...mouthing the dialogue, pretending like it was me talking. That was really cool because it added a whole new dimension. I still do this sometimes, but not as much as I used to. There were lots of times where it was just me making up a scenario, and I would whisper my conversations so that no one else in the house could hear me. Plus, when I whispered, I could make my voice sound like whoever I wanted in my head. (My brother did hear me whispering one time and called me out on it. That was embarrassing.)

When things get boring, or a situation occurs where I can adapt my MD world into reality, I do so at the blink of an eye. Suddenly, I'm with one of my characters, we're experiencing whatever I'm pretending reality is at that moment, and I have a companion to keep me company. It's not always Star Trek I delve into, but I'd say 90% of the time it is. It's all in my head and the conversations I have are silent so that no one outside of me knows about it.

All of this has caused me to avoid reality quite a bit. Not that I haven't achieved things...I have. But I've avoided making real friends (I have a couple that I do stuff with), I've avoided intimacy with real people, I've avoided having a boyfriend (it's hard to date a guy when you pretend to be one all the time), I've avoided responsibilities, it's made me late to things, made me miss things, made me feel immature, made me procrastinate badly, and I'm quite unhappy in general. 

I had this idea about taking my urges to dive into my MD world, and writing stories instead. I've written Trek fan fiction since I was 16, but perhaps if I took these stories I make up in my head and put them on paper, I would become this super awesome fanfic writer. Actually, my goal is to work in Hollywood (I've already worked at a studio there once) as a creator/developer of TV shows/movies. Part of that is writing scripts. Perhaps I can channel this thing into something productive like writing instead of wasting my time playing out a fantasy that accomplishes nothing in the real world (beyond helping me cope with reality maybe). 

Though MD has hampered my life and I want to be happy in reality...I've lived with my characters since I was a kid, and it would be very difficult for me to say goodbye. 

Oh, to figure this thing out...

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Hey Sarah! Welcome to the forums : )

I love reading new introductions, because we can all relate on some level. I'm glad you found us. So in your daydreams are you ever yourself or just mostly Will Riker? Do you explore inside the Star Trek universe exclusively? That is where me and you differ... I'm always 'me' but a self idealized me. I can't daydream properly without pacing around, so I find it hard to do unless I'm alone in my room.

As far as coping with it, I don't think anyone has a real solution yet. It's not classified as a actual disorder yet because it's so easy to point it at something else like bipolar disorder instead of accepting that we all obviously have something in common that could be its own classification.

One things for sure, now you know you're not alone and can get a better understanding if your own situation. Maybe you can change it. We're always here for you, no matter how weird it appears to the outside world..we understand.

Hey, Steve. I appreciate the encouragement and support. I've never, ever, been myself while in the state of MD. It's always revolved around acting out another character, 99% of the time it's a character from TV or films. Only rarely have I made up a character, but it still wasn't me. It would be absolutely no fun if it were me.

Yeah, most of the time it is about Will Riker and his life....friends, family, the universe he lives in. Sometimes I'll think of elaborate stories, or sometimes it's small moments. Sometimes it's just hanging out not doing anything in particular. When I'm not alone, I can take a situation...like traveling in a car on a trip (completely boring) and pretend I'm on a shuttle craft traveling to another planet...maybe for shore leave or something. I'll slip into character for a bit and pretend my friends from the Trek universe are traveling with me, when in reality, I'll have people from real life around me. It's all in my head though...no one else in the car has a clue. I wouldn't do that the whole trip, but I could slip in and out of it at the drop of a hat.

This weekend is a big family weekend for me...nephew's birthday and a brother who is moving to another state. I've not had much of an urge to slip into MD land, maybe just a moment here and there. But reality has kept me firmly grounded. Funny thing is, when I moved to California to work in Hollywood, my MD stopped almost completely, and I'd seriously thought I'd outgrown it. When I cam back home, it was nearly two years before it took hold of me again. At first it just wasn't as much fun, but now it's back...maybe not as strong as before, but back nonetheless.

Sarah,

Welcome to the site and congratulations on reaching a point where you are giving your all to understand how to live the best life with this condition. I too am at the point where I’m grappling with the aftermath of having daydreamed for 2/3 of my life (since I was 12 and I’m 35 now). To just go “cold turkey” has proven impossible. I found that even by stopping, there is a legacy that I laid down of daydreams inside me that I carry with me all the time. It’s been taking me years to sort it all out. When I quit daydreaming, I felt happy and good about that, but there was an abyss of emptiness inside, a chasm within me that was the width of the universe. I wanted it all back and yet I had to admit that I was miserable with my daydreams a lot of the time.

When I engaged with reality more and built up the story of myself, the real me, it helped, but having produced so many daydreams created a vast whirlpool of stories, content and characters. The current of the whirlpool needed to be weakened, and multiple rounds of quitting and sorting through, and quitting and sorting through again, have proven to be necessary for me. Ultimately, I want to live without daydreaming, but I want to enjoy life AS MUCH as I did when I was daydreaming. I want the best of both worlds, I know it’s possible, and I’m getting there.

What you said is true for a lot of MD’ers: MD is the biggest secret of our lives. Some daydreamers are open about their condition, but for many, the fictitious characters and story lines are where they really “are”, what they would like to “be,” and what they are really caring about at that moment. It takes a great deal of strength to live this way and to cope with the “deception” that winds up being a byproduct of the daydreaming experience. It’s not intentional on the part of the daydreamer. I have never had any direct motives to deceive anyone in my life, only to daydream my heart out.

When I first discovered that there was a whole online community of maladaptive daydreamers, it changed my life. I was elated, I had hope, I felt deeply human and connected to something bigger than myself. But I have to say that the boost has faded as I’ve tried to work out what I want my life to be, apart from the residue of magic that’s washed up on shores from the ocean of daydreams within me.

It’s the loneliness of this condition that I personally find really hard to bear. And yet this is a Catch-22 for a daydreamer, because to be open and exposed is to be “outed” as a daydreamer, and this is really, really difficult to ponder. To tell your family and friends that you live in La-la Land all the time – no really, All The Time. And that you’ve been doing this for years. It’s enough to not only get strange looks, but for people to question your sanity and even distance themselves from you, which, of course you don’t want to happen because if anything you need MORE people in your life now that you’re trying to quit daydreaming. It’s overwhelming.

You mentioned that you’re main character is Will Riker from Star Trek and that you adopted his identity in your daydreams. I can relate to this a lot, being a woman whose main daydream character is also male, except that he is not a known personality in television or movies or even real life, he’s completely fictitious. However, this hasn’t gotten in the way of my dating men or being relationships with men; that’s not to say that it hasn’t influenced it – it has. I’ve spend oodles of time perusing men’s clothing sites, men’s fashion magazines, and watching and looking at real men, just to get ideas about what my main character’s clothing preferences are and what he would be wearing for a particular scene. Why I get such tremendous pleasure from doing this, I don’t know, and the only reason I haven’t dressed the part myself, for real, and for fun, is that I’ve been too lazy.

So thanks for sharing your experiences and I really appreciate being able to connect and relate to so many things you said.

Thanks so much, Catauxgory for sharing your experience! I'm curious though...how do you reconcile the need to play a male character in your daydreams with being female in real life? I suppose that for me, I've always wanted to be male in real life...but I would never want to be a lesbian or a transgender person. I am physically attracted to men (I'm fascinated by their bodies...maybe to the point I wish I had that body), but I just can't shake this desire to be male. I'm not a bad looking woman...been hit on quite a bit. I dress normally for a female, but do come across as sporty and really laid back. I suppose since I know I can't ever achieve this in real life, I latch onto it and treasure it in my MD life. This has caused me to stay away from forming any kind of romantic relationship, even though I can see the benefits of having a boyfriend/husband, it just feels awkward to me. Wouldn't you know, though, there is a guy I worked with for a while that I was struck by from the moment I saw him, and I've seriously contemplated trying to start something with him. These other feelings I described above are getting in the way though.

I literally feel like I would have to give up my character completely in order to give myself completely to a mate and/or family.

Being female in real life and having my main daydream character be male is a huge dynamic of who I am. I find it tough sometimes to identify as female with everyone I meet, when the reality of who I know myself to be, is more complex. I’m finding it hard to think of a time when I didn’t have this dynamic going on. That is, identifying as just female is something I haven’t done since childhood probably.

Even when I started daydreaming at age 12 or 13, I envisioned my main character to be a teenage boy that I could “be” any time I wanted, and whose life I was free to “lead” (in my head). When I got to be in my 20s, I was done with the teenage boy story, and created a grown male character along with lots of peripheral characters, both male and female.

The truth is that most people don’t go around being one sex on the outside, and harboring a deep and serious wish to be the opposite sex on the inside. I’d have to say I’m a bit envious of people who are perfectly OK with their gender identity. I sometimes want to tell people that they take it for granted, that gender can be a source of disappointment, dissatisfaction, frustration, and inadequacy, and if it isn’t, more power to them.

What makes me able to avoid falling into unhappiness about all this is that I actually don’t see being male as being the answer to my identity “crisis.” Don’t get me wrong, I would love to be male, but I’ve wondered if being a male would really make me happy. There’s a silly expression that applies to this and it’s, “Wherever you go, there you are.” Even if I woke up with the man’s body that I would love to have, it would not essentially change “who I am.” I would feel the same, think the same, have the same interests, strengths, and weaknesses as a person; 90% of me would be the same. I feel like that 10% is maybe the mysterious, unknown part of being male and having a male body that only a real man knows. I can live not having that 10% when I already have the 90%. At the end of the day, gender is just one aspect of who a person is. So, I’m not forever locked out of the experience of being male. I have exactly what every guy has, and every other female, for that matter:  the chance, the challenge, and the experience of being me.

So now I have a couple of questions for you.

What has compelled you to prefer to be male in your daydreams?

Do you agree that even being a male might not change who you are or your happiness level much? Or do you think it really would?

Sarah said:

Thanks so much, Catauxgory for sharing your experience! I'm curious though...how do you reconcile the need to play a male character in your daydreams with being female in real life? I suppose that for me, I've always wanted to be male in real life...but I would never want to be a lesbian or a transgender person. I am physically attracted to men (I'm fascinated by their bodies...maybe to the point I wish I had that body), but I just can't shake this desire to be male. I'm not a bad looking woman...been hit on quite a bit. I dress normally for a female, but do come across as sporty and really laid back. I suppose since I know I can't ever achieve this in real life, I latch onto it and treasure it in my MD life. This has caused me to stay away from forming any kind of romantic relationship, even though I can see the benefits of having a boyfriend/husband, it just feels awkward to me. Wouldn't you know, though, there is a guy I worked with for a while that I was struck by from the moment I saw him, and I've seriously contemplated trying to start something with him. These other feelings I described above are getting in the way though.

I literally feel like I would have to give up my character completely in order to give myself completely to a mate and/or family.

Thanks for the reply, Catauxgory. This is a lengthy reply - I realize. It also reveals some things I've never told anyone, but I feel they may be appropriate to the conversation. I apologize if it's too much.

I can't tell you what compelled me to be male in my daydreams. I just remember from the age of 3 or 4 leaning towards masculine activities in real life. For instance, I got a ball for my first birthday and my parents tell me that it became my favorite toy. It makes sense, because I wanted to be an NBA player at age four, and when I turned eight, I started playing softball and basketball. Sports came naturally to me, and I was always one of the best players on the team...was team Captain on my varsity basketball team. Now, I did have barbies and I did play with those as well. It's not like I totally shunned all girly toys. I hated wearing dresses (but did because it was expected).

When I played with friends around the house, we'd play "pretend" and I would always choose to be a male character from a TV show. To me, the females were boring and never did anything but stand around and look pretty. I played football with my brothers, I even conjured up some kind of boot camp for them when we would play "Marines." I have three younger brothers, so maybe the lack of a female sibling was part of it...but I know it started when I was very little. 

I distinctly remember at the age of four, in my room by myself, playing with a bunch of imaginary characters I'd made up in my head. I don't even think these were from TV...it was just a story I was acting out. Again, I was a male, but I think I tried the female role as well.

Maybe there were some things that happened in real life that pushed me more towards the male role. First, we had some cousins that would visit every couple of years. The girl was my age and the boy was my oldest brother's age. The boys would try to have a little fun with us girls by making us kiss them. Sometimes they would force themselves and try to subject us to their advances. It was all innocent...we were like five, and us girls were bigger than them. We could have overpowered them, but I think we were just as curious as they were. Perhaps it was the feeling of feeling subjective to a boy that made me not like being a girl so much. 

Also, I had this weird friend for a few months when I was ten. She liked to act out stuff too, and we would play house. However, her version was like R-rated. Her parents let her watch all kinds of crap on TV that no 10 year-old should be watching. Me, being very sheltered, went to her house and experienced this stuff for the first time. We would act out all kinds of crazy stuff we saw on TV. I was always the male, she the female. No one did anything against their will, and I was having the most fun of my life. We would actually kiss on the lips, and sometimes get more intimate than that. We never did anything sexual because we were both too young still, but it was probably borderline lesbian..except we were acting out as a male and female. I just remember feeling high as a kite. It was incredible for a while...a girl actually treating me like a man. After a while, it started feeling "wrong" to me and I would literally feel sick to my stomach at the thought of going to her house. So, I ended up telling my Mom everything that had happened between us, and that was the end of that. 

To be honest, I was way more involved with other people when I was a kid, and after that whole incident, I never sought out romantic companionship of any kind. Only in my daydreams. It was about that time I fell in love with Riker, and that's been my other identity ever since. I do remember in junior high and high school, having crushes on some girls, but I would always think of them in terms of me being male. There were guys I found attractive too though. 

As for if being male would make a difference in my life, I've often told myself that if I'd been male, I would have not hesitated to get involved romantically, get married, have kids, taken the world by storm. I think my interests would have been the same, but your question made me think. Would I really want to be a male, or just my character? Have to think about that one. I do kinda think it would be easier to be male in life, and I just like a lot of the characteristics of males...would like to have some and be admired by women. Maybe men admire women the same way? I guess I've always had an inferiority complex about females. 

Sarah, can you add me as a friend so we can exchange private messages? I'd like to take you up on a number of points. Or, let me know if you prefer to keep this discussion public, thanks.

You don't have to be friends to communicate through private messages.  Just go to her page, and click "send message".  

Catauxgory said:

Sarah, can you add me as a friend so we can exchange private messages? I'd like to take you up on a number of points. Or, let me know if you prefer to keep this discussion public, thanks.

Thanks, guys. Sorry, been away for a while. Real life has taken over the past couple of weeks...and I'm dealing with an aging cat that's not doing well. I appreciate all the support here. I've not fully immersed myself in MD for almost 3 weeks, but I do play out little scenes in my head every once in a while. Just haven't felt like getting into it lately. Perhaps it's because I'm about to move across country and make some big real life changes. Felt like I should think more about real life. 

Good luck with your kitty.  A friend of mine recently lost his 15-year-old kitty, so I feel your pain.  I'm cherishing every minute with mine.  

Sarah said:

Thanks, guys. Sorry, been away for a while. Real life has taken over the past couple of weeks...and I'm dealing with an aging cat that's not doing well. I appreciate all the support here. I've not fully immersed myself in MD for almost 3 weeks, but I do play out little scenes in my head every once in a while. Just haven't felt like getting into it lately. Perhaps it's because I'm about to move across country and make some big real life changes. Felt like I should think more about real life. 

Thanks. Mine's 15 too and has kidney failure. It's only a matter of time, and she's not eating much anymore. So, she could pass at any time now. 

Cordellia Amethyste Rose said:

Good luck with your kitty.  A friend of mine recently lost his 15-year-old kitty, so I feel your pain.  I'm cherishing every minute with mine.  

Sarah said:

Thanks, guys. Sorry, been away for a while. Real life has taken over the past couple of weeks...and I'm dealing with an aging cat that's not doing well. I appreciate all the support here. I've not fully immersed myself in MD for almost 3 weeks, but I do play out little scenes in my head every once in a while. Just haven't felt like getting into it lately. Perhaps it's because I'm about to move across country and make some big real life changes. Felt like I should think more about real life. 

That's exactly what my friend's cat went through!  He started feeding him baby food, which he loved at first, but after a while, he wouldn't even eat that.  He tried everything to get him to eat.  Then, suddenly, poor Oscar declined rapidly, so my friend took him in to have him put to rest.  It must have been a heart-wrenching decision.  

Sarah said:

Thanks. Mine's 15 too and has kidney failure. It's only a matter of time, and she's not eating much anymore. So, she could pass at any time now. 

Cordellia Amethyste Rose said:

Good luck with your kitty.  A friend of mine recently lost his 15-year-old kitty, so I feel your pain.  I'm cherishing every minute with mine.  

Sarah said:

Thanks, guys. Sorry, been away for a while. Real life has taken over the past couple of weeks...and I'm dealing with an aging cat that's not doing well. I appreciate all the support here. I've not fully immersed myself in MD for almost 3 weeks, but I do play out little scenes in my head every once in a while. Just haven't felt like getting into it lately. Perhaps it's because I'm about to move across country and make some big real life changes. Felt like I should think more about real life. 

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