Maladaptive Daydreaming: where wild minds come to rest
This might be a bit long so I apologize in advance. I write this in hopes that it might help someone who was in the same place I was in.
Similar to the creator of this website I struggled for years with maladaptive daydreaming. I would often find myself in tears from the frustration of trying to break free from my fantasy world. I knew it was negatively affecting my concentration and causing me to miss out on life.
Its been a long time since I've thought of this website and when I revisited this subject I was able to realize how much progress I have made coming back to reality. When I was at my worst I was daydreaming 98% of the time. I was even daydreaming while having conversations with people, it was that bad, but I really couldn't help myself. Now I daydream much less frequently and I consider it to be healthy daydreaming that doesn't get me trapped in an alternate reality like before.
After many frustrating years of no progress and digging deeper into my fantasy world I decided to look at it from a different perspective. I started asking myself hard questions about my situation. Why am I daydreaming about this thing in particular? What is it giving me that I'm not getting from my current life? When did this all start and what caused it? The answers were upsetting but it gave me insight that helped me heal.
I started daydreaming compulsively at the age of 13 after family trauma. I won't go into the details but I understand now that my coping mechanism was to create the perfect family in my head. It was addicting, I was getting love and support through my fantasy that I couldn't find at home. The fantasy grew and slowly started taking over my life. I would deal with all of my problems the only way I knew how- by hiding in my fantasy world.
As I got older my problems would change and my daydreams would quickly adapt. I had the perfect friends in my head who thought the best of me, I had romantic relationships full of love and acceptance, anything I lacked in reality I could make up for in my head.
While these daydreams were comforting and truly made me happy I knew something had to change so that I could be happy in reality without my crutch which was actually holding me back.
I revisited my past to cope with my trauma in a healthy way. I accepted what happened, forgave myself and my family, and started the healing process. The peace I made with that changed everything. I formed real relationships in reality and no longer relied on the ones in my fantasy. I realized through time that I was more present than before. I made attainable goals that I achieved. I was getting real love and affection from others and I was learning how to love myself. Piece by piece I rebuilt my life and who I was as a person without my daydreams.
I also separated the things I fantasize about to encourage healthy daydreaming. I'll ask myself if this daydream is compensating for anything I'm lacking and then try to reevaluate my situation to ensure my needs are being met rather than hiding in my world. I make time for healthy daydreaming by taking walks where I'll think about books that I've read or abstract ideas rather than fake people I've created.
I can't tell you how much better I feel now that the addiction doesn't have complete hold on me. I don't write this to brag, but rather to encourage others to keep finding solutions for their own personal maladaptive daydreaming problem. Everyone is different in their journey and I hope my story is helpful. I understand your struggle and I wish you the best.
For me, therapy did wonders. I'm glad you moved on from your past and lead a richer and satisfying life. :)
Revisiting past trauma has been the hardest part of overcoming maladaptive daydreaming for me. Thanks so much for sharing your story. It was really inspiring, and I hope one day I'll be able to say my addiction doesn't have a hold on me.