Lifelong "Maladaptive Daydreamer" here. The whole nine yards; pacing while listening to music for hours and hours while creating extraordinarily complex fictional narratives and worlds in my head. Some of my "worlds" I have been curating for over a decade. But I have never felt that this "dissociative disorder" was pathological or disorderly. It has not remotely held me back in life. I graduated with a doctoral degree at the age of 23, was an internationally published researcher by 24, was financially set for life by 30 and I am doing quite well even now, many years later. I have had healthy, long-term relationships (current is 8 years), have maintained significant social connections and friendships and generally thrived throughout my life. This "Maladaptive Daydreaming" has served me exceedingly well as a safe and effective coping mechanism to alleviate the various stresses of our daily lives. It has kept me, in all likelihood, from developing the more harmful or addictive mechanisms that many other people fall into. I do find that my daydreaming get more frequent or compulsive during stretches of particularly stressful life events or prolonged isolation, so I have no qualms with admitting that it is probably a sort of defense mechanism at heart. But regardless, it has never seemed to be detrimental to me.

They say that "the first step to seeking help is admitting you have a problem" but I still am not convinced this is a problem that requires help. Medications like Fluvoxamine or Lithium have been shown to significantly reduce "Maladaptive Daydreaming" but they sound more like shackles than cures and I'm not sure I'd even want to face the vicissitudes of life without the safe spaces in my mind.

Does anyone else consider this "disorder" a net neutral if not beneficial part of their lives or am I merely rationalizing this to myself?

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hey NeverPresent

first off, it's so nice to hear a positive story for once. i'm so glad you haven't felt held back or trapped, and use your DD as healthy escapism. 

unfortunately, thing is what is good, or okay or neutral to one person isn't the same to others. for myself, the only reason i ended up on this site was because i was spending so much time in my head i couldn't study for finals. i felt angry and guilty, and started googling what i was going through until i found WMN.

it's the same as with other disorders. some people are just particular about cleanliness and order- others spend hours washing their hands. it's hard for me to say what MDD is to you, but i feel a much too large part of my life has been wasted on it. thing is, i've learned to work around it, rather than trying to fix it. i had a working routine going which, while affecting my life in the present time, did not have LT effects (at least directly). COVID has thrown that out of whack, and i can honestly say it hasn't been easy.

i do think it has too many maladaptive features for too many people. it's awesome that you're not one of them, and i hope you never are. good luck with everything :) 

I really relate to this. I've daydreaming as long as I can remember. When I was a kid it didn't seem too unusual. I thought I was just "making believe" like most kids do. But I never grew out of it. I have a few different worlds I've created and grown out of to create new ones. It's rarely had any negative effects that I'm aware of. To me, it's been a comfort, escape, and creative outlet. Even though some of my stories have physically made me cry, I wouldn't say it was a bad thing. People have thought that I'm weird (I act out my daydreams by mouthing words and making facial expressions.) but that doesn't bother me much. It's kind of like always having an escape wherever you go. The way my brain works I'm constantly multitasking which means I don't spend hours at a time daydreaming like I've read a lot of people do, I do it while I'm doing other things so I've never really lost much time to it. When I found out what Maladaptive Daydreaming was, I was actually scared because I didn't want to treat it but I was scared it was unhealthy. I don't know if it actually is unhealthy in my case, but I really don't know how to live without it.

Sorry for my english but i am not an english person. However, I hope that my statement is understandable. I had the same. At a time when I had no friends and was being ridiculed, maladaptive daydreaming became my obsession. But over time, when I found friends, his role decreased significantly. My worlds and dreams change. However, I often play well-known characters from movies, fairy tales, books and play their roles, but in my world, on my own terms. It doesn't bother me so much in my life now. I do it when, for example, I brush my teeth, go to the store to get something, go for a walk with my dog. In addition, I study. When I do what I have planned for the day, then I set myself an hour or two to dream. I also didn't see a problem with it until I found out that it was some kind of mental disorder, at least that's what I found out. I was very scared, the more that in some visions I played this evil character who terrified others, was evil, ruthless. Sometimes I was a demon slaying hero, sometimes a vampire who scared others, sometimes a good queen, sometimes a bad goddess. Now, even though I have never had any major problems with MDD, I try to quit. I am afraid that it is unhealthy and that other problems could really develop from it, although it was an important part of my life and it did not take up my time like others, I was able to control it. However, I began to fear that maybe I was abnormal, maybe something was wrong with me. I began to fear that the line between what I imagine and what is really will disappear one day. I've read a few people's stories from here, I know they have a problem with MDD, but they distinguish between fantasy and reality. Even so, I am still afraid that something is wrong with me or that something will be wrong in the future. The more that we still know little about MDD, it is difficult to say whether it is a disease, disorders, or just something we have, but it does not hurt us. Right now, I really don't know what to think about it. The more so because, according to some studies, MDD sometimes coexists with OCD that I found in myself. I am an example of OCD and MDD in a book. I'm going to finally see a psychiatrist. I hope the psychiatrist will help me. However, MDD is still little known, and I am afraid that the psychiatrist will take my problems seriously or consider it as another disease like schizophrenia or whatever.

Grace said:

I really relate to this. I've daydreaming as long as I can remember. When I was a kid it didn't seem too unusual. I thought I was just "making believe" like most kids do. But I never grew out of it. I have a few different worlds I've created and grown out of to create new ones. It's rarely had any negative effects that I'm aware of. To me, it's been a comfort, escape, and creative outlet. Even though some of my stories have physically made me cry, I wouldn't say it was a bad thing. People have thought that I'm weird (I act out my daydreams by mouthing words and making facial expressions.) but that doesn't bother me much. It's kind of like always having an escape wherever you go. The way my brain works I'm constantly multitasking which means I don't spend hours at a time daydreaming like I've read a lot of people do, I do it while I'm doing other things so I've never really lost much time to it. When I found out what Maladaptive Daydreaming was, I was actually scared because I didn't want to treat it but I was scared it was unhealthy. I don't know if it actually is unhealthy in my case, but I really don't know how to live without it.

I feel that my story is quite similar to yours. I do not think that MD actually keeps me from having a normal social life, indeed I go to parties and meet with my friends regularly. I have never really avoided going out just to stay home and daydream, except for the activities I don't really like. But I think that MD sometimes prevents me from studying as I should and from giving my best. Don't get me wrong, I went to one of the most difficult high schools of my area, took my bachelor degree and currently attending a master course. Nonetheless, I never get the best grades because I'm either obsessed with one subject and/or topic or I really don't like it, so I don't care enough to stop daydreaming to study for it. And I feel like my success in studying really depends on the professor, if I really like his/her classes I find it super easy to focus, otherwise I just daydream for hours till it ends. I think I got better now that I'm in a master program because I mostly took exams that I really like, but it was a huge problem in high school.

Hi NeverPresent,

Great topic, and one that I think many people who daydream need to know the difference between what is maladaptive or not. 

According to Dr. Somer, he had posted a reply to this very question with the simple Tweet: "Immersive daydreaming is maladaptive only if it creates distress or dysfunction." (His profile is private, and you must get permission to follow, but for reference, he made this Tweet on December 11, 2018 at 10:20pm PST.

I think it's important to distinguish what the difference is before anyone begins to self-diagnose. There are people who are devastated with constant daydreaming, where the daydreaming has either taken over from real life living, or else it's caused difficulties within trying to live their lives. The daydreaming may cause loss of work, education, relationships, or even created situations where they put themselves in serious harm's way. Coupled with the feeling of distress, this is certainly maladaptive.

Immersive daydreaming, or daydream addiction can still allow individuals to function in society, and live relatively normal lives, holding down jobs, raising a family, and keeping friendships and relationships. They may not like the fact that they procrastinated when it came to getting that garage cleaned out because they preferred being alone and daydreaming, but that doesn't mean a task won't be complete or that they do this with every component of their life. They follow through with life, going to work, going to appointments, socializing, even if after they are finished with these things they may daydream for an extensive period of time afterwards. For those people, the daydreaming has become a bit more manageable, and for some, pleasant ways to pass the time.

There can still be bouts of "maladaptive" moments for immersive daydreamers. I for one can attest to this. I had points in my life when immersive became maladaptive, and back to immersive again. It was based on what sort of commitments I had going on in my life, and who was in my life, and what sort of jobs I had. If I found there was some solace in daydreaming, I took to it instead of dealing with life, and it therefore became maladaptive. Once making changes for the better, the daydreaming became immersive.

Very interesting, I've only just found this forum, so I've never spoken to other people with MD. For me it would be easy to say I only have immersive daydreams, because I have a "normal" life, when I'm not daydreaming. But when I daydream my hands shake and I can't stop it from happening. If I try to stop the daydreams then I get agitated. So I would describe this as maladaptive.

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