MAL: prefix meaning 'BAD, poor, abnormal'

EU: prefix meaning 'well, easily, GOOD, true'

So this is my first post after years of silently witnessing this community.

I've been daydreaming my whole life: from playing by myself as an autistic child, to sitting in waiting rooms for cancer, to coping with helpless situations in adolescence, to now.

I'm not 'cured'. My daydreaming hasn't stopped and probably never will. But I don't mind. Because now I would call my daydreaming a healthy (or at least harmless), integrated coping mechanism, idle leisure activity, mental and emotional exercise, and creative motivator.

What changed over the years was I stopped looking at my daydreaming as a problem that needed to be fixed (even though it was at times a severe problem), and started looking at the aspects of my life that I _could_ control and improve.

For me, daydreaming was a way I could fill the gaps in my life, most of which stemmed from a sense of perceived helplessness. Well, no, some of the helplessness was very much real and outside of my control but not all of it. I started exercising, meditating, writing creatively, seeking out therapy for my anxiety for the difficulties in my life, I became a pre-med student through an opportunity I didn't even know existed until I dared to look. The daydreams didn't stop, but they lessened.

The daydreams did completely stopped when I got my first boyfriend at 25. But, as you might imagine, this was only a temporary fix and, when our relationship started to die, the daydreams came back. In fact, this was about the time I realised my daydreams might be trying to tell me something: that I was dissatisfied.

I still daydream, but I function. I'm grateful to my daydreams now; they kept me from arguably more destructive coping mechanisms such as alcohol, drugs, abusive relationships, and reckless behaviour.

So my tl;dr is: don't be so quick to blame your daydreaming for being a problem. While it certainly can be (I remember weeping that that my daydreams couldn't be real, my head buzzed into pathological numbness from constant highs and obsessive mental forays, and much time lost), ask yourself _why_ you daydream and see if you can address those things. Then the daydreaming might get better on its own.

Also here are a couple of links I found helpful in accepting my daydreaming:

They're not specifically about daydreaming and may seem contradictory but they got good take home messages.

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Hi Medea,

That was a really interesting post to read! I completely agree that blaming your MD and trying to fix it is counterproductive. I find that it goes away on its own the more my irl life is fulfilling. It's a coping mechanism, it's there to help us cope, so when we find that we MD a lot, instead of trying to stop it and beating ourselves down for it, we should ask ourselves "what can I do to make my day better?". In my opinion, it's adding things, not trying to remove MD, that works best. 

I remember being a teenager and young adult and thinking that my daydreaming was ruining my life, but as I aged, I learned to live with it. I went through a long period of time assuming I'd never have a typical life as my friends and family seemed to have (ie. marriages, relationships, careers, etc.). This was distressing.

I learned to get the things I wanted in life, such as a relationship, but hid my daydreaming time as best I could. (Being alone made things so much easier.) According to the experts, maladaptive and immersive daydreaming are two different things. In my case, I was not daydreaming to cope with trauma nor was I distressed by the time daydreaming. I was annoyed by it and wished I wasn't doing it, but it wasn't actually distressing. I would say I'm on the cusp of maladaptive and immersive.

When I check social media and find that every day young people are flippantly using the term maladaptive daydreaming to suggest that it's something they do happily, that is when I have to question whether or not they mean immersive daydreaming.

Thanks Ariane!

Theaxe, should I call what I have 'immersive daydreaming'?

This quote is from Dr. Somer's Twitter account, on December 10, 2018:

"Immersive daydreaming is maladaptive only if it creates distress or dysfunction."

I keep this in mind when I reflect on the times in my life when I actually felt like my daydream obsession was ruining my life. I felt as though I was choosing a dangerous drug even though I knew it was a problem. During those times, feeling out of control with how much I daydreamed, it was "maladaptive daydreaming". I have for the most part understood how to manage my daydreaming-time, and after seeing that Tweet, can say that it's more immersive daydreaming (at this time). 

If you can honestly answer whether or not you actually do feel distress or dysfunction, then that determines whether or not it is maladaptive.

The other factor is what exactly constitutes "distress" and "dysfunction". I sometimes have the tendency to deny my distress and dysfunction because I am self-conscious about dealing with any other disorder that I might have. So, I tend to shrug off things as being typical. I only recently learned that I am a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP), which explains so much now that I know what it is. My distress was easily triggered, but it still doesn't change the fact that I was distressed nonetheless. Unless something drastic changes in my life for the worse, I identify with immersive daydreaming, but for simplicity's sake when I talk about it, I normally just use the term "maladaptive" daydreaming.

Medea Soak said:

Thanks Ariane!

Theaxe, should I call what I have 'immersive daydreaming'?

Thank you for explaining Theaxe. Now, since my MD is no longer a cause for distress, dysfunction, or disadvantage, I'll call it immersive daydreaming.


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