Maladaptive Daydreaming: where wild minds come to rest
As I readjust to the semi-rebooted site, I've seen lots of stories and posts shared by people on here with a common thread: the desire to completely eliminate their MDD. Now, I don't fault anyone for this and support their journey, but I don't think the other side of the coin sees enough discussion.
I've lived with MDD for nearly my entire life. I'm not sure what triggered it, if anything, I think that's just the way I am. The intensity ebbs and flows, but it's always been a part of my life. Unlike what I'm learning seems to be most people, it really doesn't distress me! I have other mental health conditions too, and just like those, I don't have any real desire to "cure" or "eliminate" it. My only prerogative is to manage it in a healthy way it so I can live without disruption. There are obviously parts I don't like, things that I wish were easier, but obstacles like that are just part of life for me. I feel like there's too much of a push for cutting daydreaming cold turkey rather than exploring healthy ways to cope and live with MDD.
Is there anyone else who has an experience like this, or is working towards one? I'd love to hear from other people who live peacefully with MDD or at least want to some day.
Yes. Me. I have had maladaptive/immersive daydreams since I was old enough to have conscious thought - likely during the toddler years, or close to kindergarten. My MD was brought on by feelings of inadequacy. I had a loving, attentive mother, but my father and brother often dismissed me or treated me poorly. It was admitted to me in my adult years that I was a very accidental pregnancy, and actually unwanted. It may have explained my father's quick annoyance with everything I did or said, which easily explained my older brother to "monkey-see-monkey-do".
Feeling so dejected at times by two out of the three other members of the family made me feel rotten. I cried a lot, shouted if I felt misunderstood or was treated unfairly, and acted like a bit of a clown to get attention from them, anything to make them smile and laugh and think I was great. When it worked I felt wonderful. But...it often didn't work.
This is when I found my daydreams to be very pleasurable. I removed my family from my daydreams and my first focus was on my TV crush (John Schneider from The Dukes of Hazzard). I felt happy and it was a good escape. The best part was no one had to know.
It only continued as my relationships with my father and brother never improved. What's more, I ended up going through some "soft" bullying in school, which created more reason for me to daydream about something rather than live through so much hurt.
I have only recently found out that I am a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP), and have been my entire life. This absolutely adds to my emotional response that I have to situations, which may cause me more hurt or feeling than most people. Because of that, I daydream.
But I am not someone who doesn't like my daydream obsession. I've learned to live with it, just as I have to with being HSP. I still work, function, keep a good marriage and home, etc. I always have. But I have had moments in life where I daydreamed the day away on a day off, for example, or backed out of social events to daydream instead. I've had moments where I designate special time to MD. I have only worried about it when I found myself in danger (ie. driving while daydreaming), or not paying attention to key information while daydreaming. These are things I've learned to control so I do not put myself in harm's way.
So to make a short story long, I am not in the camp of wanting to eliminate it. I think it might be because I know no other life than to include it. My daydreams are wonderful, and as long as I can control them, instead of letting my life be held up because of them, then I don't want to stop.
Hello, I am a Mum with a D with very difficult levels of MDD and I have these traits, but to a much much lesser degree, myself. I don't want to eliminate it just support my D in managing it so it works positively for her.
I find it a bit weird that other people don't have a rich internal life.
I live peacefully now with with daydreaming now but Heather L. Keller wrote a really good post about it here https://wildminds.ning.com/forum/topics/how-i-helped-myself
Suffice to say I agree with you: I think integrating our daydreaming is better than eradicating it. It's useful.
E.g. daydreaming motivated me to exercise (I wanted to be strong like my dream self--yeah yeah I know it's corny).
The consensus from Eli Somer and those investigating maladaptive daydreaming is that if your daydreaming does not distress you in any way nor hinder your ability to function socially, academically, or professionally, then your daydreaming is not maladaptive. Having a rich inner life or the ability to daydream immersively is not inherently unhealthy.
It sounds like you might just be an immersive daydreamer, not a maladaptive one, since a major diagnostic criteria for maladaptive daydreaming is that one's fantasy activity must distress them and inhibit their daily function.
This is true. Dr. Somer tweeted this on December 10, 2018:
"Immersive daydreaming is maladaptive only if it creates distress or dysfunction."
For simplicity's sake, I often just say maladaptive daydreaming as most people who are aware of what it is can understand that. Alternates include fantasy obsession, daydream addiction, etc. I would say that for a lot of people there is some degree of ill-feelings about their daydreaming anyway, so even at some points in their lives while there is still regular function, and can live otherwise normal lives with regular ups and downs, there are times when it is regrettable and causes some form of upset. I think this is why most of us here can say it is in fact maladaptive. Perhaps not all the time, but in some degree at some points in our lives.
The consensus from Eli Somer... ...is that if your daydreaming does not distress you in any way nor hinder your ability to function socially, academically, or professionally, then your daydreaming is not maladaptive.
I'm so glad you said this! I'm new to this forum - I JUST discovered there are other people in the world who daydream as vividly and as extensively as I do, and that's amazing! But I'm also sad to find it seems like most people are fixated on getting rid of it and feel like it's a bad thing and carry a lot of shame, guilt, and anxiety because of it. I did too for most of my life, but I focused on getting rid of the shame rather than the daydreaming. I'm also sad to find that it's been dubbed "maladaptive" daydreaming "disorder." Anything that doesn't suit capitalism is pathologized and called a disorder. I'm also ADHD and Autistic. I object to the language of disorder in general. But that's largely because I have an extraordinary capacity to imagine new and different worlds! The way my bodyspirit works is, in many ways, incongruent with the way we have set up our society, and that can create a lot of pain for me, but that doesn't make me the problem. What if we lived in a world where people weren't shamed and rejected for being different? For staring off into space for long periods of time, or losing themselves in other worlds? Or talking to people that everybody can't see? There is incredible power in being able to do that. For me, I've always felt that it was a highly adaptive capacity of mine - the distress has primarily come from living in a society that shames and invalidates that experience. But it has allowed me to cope and HEAL from both persistent and acute trauma, it makes me extremely creative and empathetic. It IS difficult to thrive in a capitalist society, but the world is what needs to change in my opinion.