Maladaptive Daydreaming: where wild minds come to rest
Hi everyone. I'm new here.
At the end of 2020 I had suffered a severe depression and went almost completely into my head. To be honest, the only reason why I'm alive is because my roommate had forced me to eat and drink during the two months that I had been stuck in an endless disturbing daydream. I was so far into my own little world that I didn't feel thirst and could have easily become severely dehydrated. I owe him my life.
It was after I wrote down those daydreams that I was able to let go of them. That's how it usually is for me. I'll be sucked in and unable to fully come out until I write what I've envisioned. Sometimes, the daydream will play itself over and over until I write what I see and then the story will continue.
I've retreated into my head for most of my life. I think it began as part entertainment and partially a way for me to have some form of control over my life. Oddly enough, my characters are far more tortured than I am, though in some parts of my past I think I've won that contest.
It was after I wrote what I saw in my head at the end of last year that I started to do research to see if there was a disorder that had to do with daydreams. Up until then, I loved my stories, including the dark dystopian ones. I just thought that I had an overly vivid imagination that helped ease the monotony of life and helped me to understand issues that I have from both my present and my past. But, what occurred in November and December still haunts me. I mean, I really could have died. Not to mention that it was also the first time where communication with the outside world was almost impossible. Before that, and after I wrote it all out, I was always able to come to reality when necessary.
The thing is, I know that I should get help for this. I refuse to do so. The idea of not daydreaming for the better part of my day fills me with such an extreme amount of dread that it's as though I would lose a part of myself. I know that they are a part of my imagination, but my stories are also a piece of me. I don't want to give them up for anything in the world. I would rather surrender to what is in my head than to survive reality without my daydreams.
I wonder how many people feel this way? It feels as though I cannot stop no matter what. I know that it can be cured and that I can be more productive in my life. I know that it is a disorder because of how impaired my functioning has become over time. It's gotten worse, I guess you could say. When I was a kid I daydreamed here and there. Now, it's for most of my day. I'll even daydream while watching TV and have trouble focusing on the show or movie.
I cannot stop. I just can't. But, deep down I wonder if it's really that I don't want to let go. In the past, I've tried to limit how much I daydream, but I don't always have such control. It's either all or nothing. There is no in-between. I've been able to push them away for short bursts of time (ie. a few days at most) before I just have to return to my head. The anxiety I feel from the dreams that creep around my conscious mind while pushing them away is overwhelming. I have agoraphobia and I would rather stand in the middle of Time's Square on New Year's Eve than to suffer without my daydreams.
I'm able to be in reality to get things done and be social. But, over the past few years my social life has taken a serious nose dive. I only go out if it's to run errands. While friends do visit me, it's not nearly as often as before because half the time I tell them that I'm not feeling up for company. The most human interaction I have is with my 20 y/o son and my 16 y/o daughter. I do make sure to spend time with them, but even then it's difficult to stay focused on our conversations. I have to make a concentrated effort that is exhausting to maintain. The moment they are done talking with me, I am back in my head.
All of this tells me that I should get help. Logically I know this to be true. But, I still can't bring myself to do so. I used to laugh and say that the stories in my head were simply too addictive. But this goes beyond addiction. It goes beyond entertainment or a coping skill.
I write my daydreams down and have published some of them. My editors have commented that my stories and characters are extremely well developed and they love my plot twists. They cannot believe that I just daydream and then write. Granted, it takes months of daydreaming before I'm ready to sit at my computer and get it all out. But, still, I don't use an outline or try and figure out what comes next. I simply let the story that built itself in my mind be told. Sometimes it's almost like I'm seeing into another world. I know it's not some other reality. But, it does feel that way.
I don't know if I could stop even if I wanted to.
Do you feel the same?
Update...I'm not sure what I'm going to do. But, after talking with a good friend, today, I've realized that to not do something would be a shameful weakness. I don't want to give up my daydreams. But, perhaps I can find a therapist who can teach me some amount of control. Maybe I can get my life back on track and function like I should. It turns out that a lot of people in my life have begun to worry about me and they all seem to agree that I haven't been my usual self in a long time.
I haven't been to a therapist in a few years. I don't know why I stopped. Next week I'm going to go visit family in another state. When I return, I'm going to call around and find a new therapist. I'm anxious about this. But, I've never considered myself to be a weak person and I don't want to be one, now.
Jessica C, you've been through hard times. I'm sorry for that. I'm happy to hear that you are going back on track. And it's amazing you are publishing books!
About your question, certainly daydreaming is something that we could decide to do or not to do... so we can just do what we like with our life, right? Well, I don't think it's that easy.
Freedom is a value most of us share, and we value be free to decide how to spend our life, our days. But are we free in an addiction? Can we really, freely decide we want to daydream?
If it were that way, we should be able as well to stop, and we think we can stop, but we can't. And we keep telling ourselves that we are just doing it because we WANT to do it, but the truth is that we just CAN'T stop it.
Are we really free when we are addicted?