Maladaptive Daydreaming: where wild minds come to rest
I've had MD for as long as I can remember. Up until recently, I thought the daydreaming was just because I had a lot of imagination. I didn't think of it as a condition. And I thought I was the only one with this..."problem" (though the only problem I saw with this was the constant worrying that someone would find out about it - personally, I'm quite attached to my dreamworld. After all I went through during my childhood - losing my mom at the age of 17 months, being raised by a stepmother from hell, my dreamworld is the only reason I survived).
Two years ago, when I first saw The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, I immediately identified with the main character. Yep, me too, I "zone out". It's only about 2 months ago that I found out it's a condition, a form of addiction, it's called maladaptive daydreaming, and I have it bad.
My first reaction to finding out was not the relief that I was not alone, no that relief has only been coming recently. My first reaction was to realize it's a mental condition. I've suffered from depression, and sometimes major depressive disorder, for most of my adult life, but somehow, I don't know why, finding out that I had yet another mental condition just hit me like a ton of bricks. For about a month, I spiralled into depression again and totally lost control of the daydreaming, to the point that it was really difficult for me to work and function, generally. I'm only beginning to get back to a more stable state. And now I'm glad I'm not alone, and ready to share with people who are living with this. I'm attached to my DW, and not ready to give it up, but I'm working on controlling it better. One day at a time.
Has anyone else had this kind of reaction, where finding out about MD was a shock?
Yes, you helped! It's just this whole discussion from "professionals" about adding MD to the DSM someday that got me thinking and worrying. I guess that's the extent to which I was made to feel abnormal in the past by my family. In my case, it has been a serious addiction, making me "watch my life go by". But also, it's the only thing that made me survive thus far, so I'm grateful to it. I'm highly creative, and actually want to become a writer. I wrote a novel (not about MD) that I'm trying to get published. So maybe someday... :-)
I think it's just that finding out about it was a bit of a shock to me, don't know why. Maybe the "addiction" side of it scared me, because I know I can really lose control, and then, the rest of my life suffers. But I'm learning to deal with it, reframe it, control it, and try little by little to really live my own life and love being me. When I'm in DM, I'm never lonely. In real life, I feel so estranged from my family, that I feel like a tiny lonely atom without any other atoms to bond with.
Thank God for this community here! And thank you very much for your answer. You've helped tremendously! :-)
First off, I'd like to voice my opinion and disagree that MD is a mental disorder on its own. The way I see it, it's an extreme coping mechanism that is healthy in some cases, but can become destructive in others. It's kind of like how "depersonalization" is sometimes a side-issue or coping skill that goes hand-in-hand with anxiety or depression. (If you've never heard of this term, it's basically where the stress causes you to become unaware of yourself? It's kind of hard to describe, but it's like watching your life go by like a movie. You remove yourself from your physical, emotional, and mental state so much that time doesn't even seem to be passing like normal, like it's all just a blur and you're just watching your life play out from outside your body.)
Yes, it becomes an addiction and no, it's not always healthy, but I'd never ask for any other "condition", tbh. At one point in my life, it was the only thing stopping me from killing myself, and I even managed to stop myself from doing serious damage to myself with a knife. Right now, having no support system from family or friends or anything, it's the only thing keeping me from getting too lonely. Whenever I get anxious I pull out my phone and read one, because I've been writing them down since I was 10, and I can always remember every little detail I experienced and how it made me feel, and I feel happy.
Sorryyy I'm rambling now ^o^ When I first learned MD was a thing, I felt like Moana when she runs out of the cave yelling, "WE'RE VOYAGERS!" I was excited because I always thought I was so strange for getting so excited and obsessed with these daydreams no one else had. Although there's lots of debate as to whether or not it's a mental illness, I really don't see it as one. It's just how you cope. As a naturally creative person you go to a place you made all by yourself, a place where you're loved and a place where you have control. Be proud! Think of how many famous authors or others have had MD! Do you like Harry Potter? JK Rowling has apparently reported having (or has at least reported experiencing habits related to) maladaptive daydreaming.
So, be happy! Your creativity is strong enough to have made a whole new world.
I hope I helped!
Well, currently, my day dream is constantly on and off. To be honest, MD robbed me of my life. It made my life ever worse than it should have been. It broke me apart from everybody I've ever known. I have like no friends right now! I practically have to start my life over again. A career that I had is dying off and I might have to return to school. Meanwhile, I'm stuck at home with my mom who doesn't give a shit about what will come of my future. She already knows about my MD and isn't very happy about it. Yes, finding out I had MD all these 20 years has put me into shock. I never realized that I was "tough out of luck" when I started MD in the very first place. I was very young and stupid at the time, so I knew nothing about mental health. I didn't even realize the significant impact MD would put on my future.
Reason I started doing MD, is that I didn't fit in and my life was kind of boring. I lived in a quiet area of a small town where nothing ever happened. It's not like I grew up in the city. All my peers totally ignored that I existed, so I was very much a misfit.
I spent years dreaming about wanting true friends by my side for this reason. Of course, I did have a couple girlfriends, but there were never any guys in the picture. In fact, most men thought I wasn't smart, because I wasn't very talkative, so they completely avoided me and went for cooler girls.
Growing up, I really wanted a relationship, so I used MD as an escapism from a solo and lonely life I was facing. This actually went on for so many years—and too long. I was too busy living in dream land to find ways to meet and greet with people, pay attention to them and learn all about them. Also, I was very shy and quiet, so I didn't go out so much. Waking up at 32, I realize what I didn't do right, and now I have 8 years to go until I'm 40. So the effects of MD has put me into shock.