Maladaptive Daydreaming: where wild minds come to rest
I'm not really sure where to begin, so I guess I'll just explain briefly.
I'm 18 years old (soon to be 19 next week) and I've been suffering from MD since childhood. I was bullied a lot as a kid because, a) I was smart, b) I liked to read, and c) I was short, so in order to escape from all the traumas, I'd sit in class daydreaming the hours away. Not exactly the qualifications for a "popular" kid in elementary school. But I digress.
My MD has never really been that much of a hindrance. Sure, my mind would wander off in the middle of class (as well as plenty of other situations) but it was never anything too serious. Now that I'm in college, it IS a problem. I can't get through five minutes of class without my eyes glazing over and my mind running off. I can't fall asleep at night anymore because I'll just lie in bed fantasizing about something or other. I just bought my first pack of sleeping pills today in the hopes that it will help, but if it doesn't then I'm at a loss. When I'm walking anywhere, I'm only half aware of where I'm going and what I'm doing; sometimes I'll find myself standing outside of my destination without having realized I arrived there two minutes ago. Seeing as I go to college in New York City, that's not really the safest thing.
There's a bunch of other situations where my MD kicks in, but those are the main problem areas. The thing is, lately I've been considering telling somebody about it so they can help. There are a few things problematic about this:
Now, I'm not a hypochondriac or anything, and I've done my research, so I know without a doubt that I do have MD. But without an official diagnosis, I don't know if anyone would even listen to me. I don't want to pay to get evaluated by somebody, and I certainly don't have the money to pay for medication and/or therapy.
I'm just at a total loss of what to do. I printed out a bunch of articles to bring if I do decide to meet with somebody, because I want them to know I'm not making this up. But like I said, I don't know who to go to.
And I don't want special treatment in class. That's not why I'm going through all this trouble. But when I get called on randomly in class and have to continuously apologize for not paying attention, I just want my professors to know that it's not because I think the class is boring. I just can't control myself.
Who do I go to? What do I tell them when I go for help? I'm not sure. I've never done this before.
Also, kind of unrelated, but is there anyone who has kept it a secret from their parents like I am? Have you ever thought about telling them?
And a third thing, I'm not sure who's familiar with the article "Excessive daydreaming: A case history and discussion of mind wandering and high fantasy proneness" by Cynthia Schupak and Jesse Rosenthal. But as it turns out, Mr. Rosenthal is located here in NYC. Maybe I could email him/go for a free consultation? I dunno. It's just a thought.
I'm so new to this. I just feel more comfortable talking to people who know what I'm going through. Any help is greatly appreciated.
Hi Mila! I can help you with some of these answers. As for being "officially diagnosed with MD" there's no such thing. It's not a recognized condition, so very few doctors know about it yet. As for if you should tell them.......well it's kind of the luck of the draw. If you want to tell a doctor, you have to find one who's willing to accept that you may have a condition that they don't know about. Many doctors will probably diagnose you with the next closest thing that they're familiar with, like depression or something. You may or not have whatever they diagnose you with as well, but this isn't it. In my opinion, a good doctor always treats you like a partner in your health. It sounds like you're a REALLY smart woman who wants to take care of herself. Doing research is great. After all, no one will ever know your brain better than you, no matter how many PHDs they have. You'll know what feels accurate.
If you do want to get therapy, here's my advice:
1) and CRUCIAL. Find a doctor who's open-minded and will treat you like a partner in your own health. Then it will not matter if they've heard of Maladaptive Daydreaming or not. A good doc will know that there are new conditions being discovered every day and will help guide you through the healing process. If a doctor refuses to listen and dismisses this issue, I would tell them off and then run. No one should ever talk down to you.
2) Do exactly what you planned and take all the research and info you can find. Take Cynthia's study and all the other info you've found. Feel free to send them here. It helps to know that a real doctor is studying this and that many people are going through this with a lot of common symptoms.
3) As for people talking about it.........well, for various reasons, most people don't want to. I chose to live openly, and it feels great. It takes a lot of energy and discussion though. Everyone has questions, and you have to know how to say why this isn't depression or something else. Some will be skeptical, but if you explain it well and with confidence, many will be fascinated. As for parents...........well, they often tend to be a bit more skeptical. You just have to be super prepared and know how to talk to them in a way that they'll listen.
As for Cynthia............well she's probably my favorite person in the world right now. I turned to her when I was sobbing and desperate over a year ago and she's been WONDERFUL. She has so much heart that it astounds me every day. She really, really gets us, and she really, really cares. After talking with her for a long time, I wanted to get involved and spread the world. That's part of what inspired me to start this site. She's still working on her study and would like to educate the psychological community. It takes a really long time to do that, but she's working feverishly. You can email her at email@example.com if you want.
I hope this answers some of your questions. Feel free to contact me any time if you need anything. I'm always on my computer doing stuff anyway. We're all here for you. I know it can be tough at times, but you're definitely not alone.
P.S> How adorable is Rupert Grint?
Hey there Mila,
We're a bit similar in some ways. I too was bullied as a child, but it was mostly due to the fact that my family was of low socio-economic status. I also got teased a lot because I wore glasses and didn't conform to the demands of popular school culture. I've been daydreaming since I was a child, but it only became an issue for me in the past three years when I began my master's degree. I've managed to make it through my education with halfway decent grades and this degree means a lot to me, so I want to excel. In the first year I struggled substantially, and it got worse after I suffered several emotional traumas. The daydreaming became a crutch, and the amount of time I spend doing it has escalated since then. Something that I do to regulate my daydreaming and keep myself in check is to use it as a rewards system. Whenever I have a paper due or a long lecture to sit through, I tell myself that if I complete my tasks, I can daydream afterward for a set time frame. This allows me to a.) get something accomplished, and b.) daydream without feeling guilty/preoccupied. When I'm in a lecture, I force myself to dissect every word my professor is saying, and although tiring, it helps me focus. Self-regulating techniques are quite beneficial. Now, this technique obviously suits me, but may not be of help to you if your goal is abstinence. I personally don't want to stop, I merely want to reign it in. Just passing along some info.
I have only ever told one very close friend about my MD, and this only occurred after she disclosed her daydreaming. Even then I didn't fully expose the frequency of my habit or the detail of my fantasies. It's funny - I'm going to school to be a therapist, and I'm too nervous to speak to a mental health professional about MD for fear of judgment. Guess that's something I'll have to remember when I begin seeing my own clients.
As for talking to people in your life about MD, only do what you're comfortable with. If you do decide to consult a professional, I suggest going into the meeting with supportive research and a level head. I fully agree with Cordellia in that your doctor should work with you and be open to what you're experiencing. I'm of the opinion that a truly good doctor will want to learn about new conditions like MD and be interested in the research to further assist others.
Take Cynthia's survey! It was a very cathartic experience for me. As stated above, I'm not open about my MD, but writing everything out felt amazing! The more input she receives for her study, the more accurate/useful it will be.