Maladaptive Daydreaming: where wild minds come to rest
Maladaptive dreaming have affected me a lot but it's very difficult to think of my life without it. I just that I will deeply regret letting go of it. I am scared that my life will be plain and boring, it's like my entire personality is dreaming and now I will be nothing without it. Does anyone feel me? I just wonder how former dreamers feel after letting go of it? Wasn't it difficult to adapt to this new life? Even if it was hard letting go of it, have you ever felt that you want to come back to being a maladaptive dreamer?
I'm one of them, I have quitted MD.
Do I daydream? I'm not sure about the answer. I would say I do, but at the same time, I am very aware that what I experience now is way different than it was before. Now I just have some short story in my mind, or I fantasise about real things, or I have vivid creative thinking. Even when I have a story, it's... dull, it doesn't have the same colours and details that it used to.
Life is more interesting now. I take care of having emotions in my life, real ones. I have a space in my life for... "craziness".
I have projects and I volunteer a lot for MD, here and in my Italian community, and that gives me a sense of purpose.
If you think that, well, that's me and not all of us can do videos and run communities, you are wrong.
Everybody can help, everybody can be part of something.
With the Italian community, I have build a team and we are cooperating, managing social media, sharing ideas, making projects. Here, it could happen the same, in time. Just reach out! :-)
Not everything looks bright and pink of course, but it's just life. Work sometimes sucks, family makes me worry, sometimes I'm afraid I'm not good enough to change things, sometimes I'm definitely too stressed out, but that's life, with all our insecurities and weaknesses, and it's fine.
Life's still more worth living than dreams.
I don't want to discourage you but I think you are not quite ready to give up on MD yet. You say MD has affected your life a lot but you are still afraid to let it go. You think your life will be plain or boring without it. All of this indicates that you still like MD. Maybe the idea of letting it go came to you after reading other blogs from here. Have you ever asked yourself whether YOU really want to stop MDing? Or is it just because OTHERS are quitting it.
I am not telling you to keep daydreaming all I am saying is first accept that you still love your daydreams more than your reality. If you accept your problem only then you can find a solution. This is like stage 1 of MD : wanting to hold onto your daydreams.
I can't say anything about people with OCD or PTSD but whenever a normal person daydreams there are reasons behind it.
Reasons regarding internal environment ( thoughts in our head )
1) Maybe you are lonely and have no one to talk to so you go to your imaginary world and have interesting interactions with your fictional characters. So loneliness is your problem.
2)Maybe you are not satisfied with an aspect of your life say your looks, your or your family's financial condition, the place you live in, or maybe you have some health related crisis. So dissatisfaction towards an aspect of your life or maybe your entire life is your problem.
3) Maybe you are going through some challenges like a very important and difficult exam, or a very important opportunity that you don't want to miss. Such things require willpower and are very stressful.
4)Maybe you lost someone who was dear to you or you failed in something or faced a setback. All of these give rise to regret, which is another trigger to MD.
external problems:( which arise due to other people)
1) The people around you keep demotivating you and you are frustrated because of them. To release your frustration you go to your dreamland.
All of these problems make reality Boring, plain, un-interesting, unsatisfying, stressful, painful, or we have regrets about our past etc and so we run away to our imagination and don't want to come back to reality because it sucks.
these problem are the real trigger of MD. Music , TV series etc. are superficial triggers.
Curing MD is solving all of these problem of your life. If the root cause is gone the side effect will be gone too. So next time you find yourself drifting of to your daydreams stop there and analyse your situation. Practice Self-questioning, ask your self what emotions do you feel right now and what problem exactly triggered you to MD. Or like Kalliope told me : write down you current problems and emotions in a dairy read them and find solutions. My MD was triggered mainly because of loneliness and dissatisfaction with my real self and trust me they have a much much better solution than MD.
you see quitting MD is not giving up a part of you. Instead it is letting go a bad habit of escapism for living a better life.
And I don't think I'll ever regret stopping MD. Being present in the reality is a bliss. No matter how much my real life sucks, atleast whatever emotions I feel here are real and touch my heart. I feel ( real) happiness and (real) sorrow equally. I don't feel like an emotionless Zombie with an overdose of daydreams like I used to before.
Once you understand this you desire to daydream will go away and thinking about fictional scenarios in your brain will sound meaningless and silly.
"Curing MD is solving all of these problem of your life. If the root cause is gone the side effect will be gone too."
By this I mean you have to cure your day to day problems first so your real life becomes better and you don't have any need to escape from it. Hence your MD will be gone. Problem are the root cause and MD is the side effect.
Intriguing! Valeria, I love your optimism. It shines through in the interviews and it is palpable here too.
I had considered, but if I'd have written a first answer instead of you two, it would have been much more morose. This version is much better!
I just want to add that, even if you do not get life together, solve all the problems - actually - Even if you do not solve a single problem in your live, in my opinion, you can try to stop MD (for a while, or for a bit), and see what happens. MD causes procrastination on your life goals, and adds delay every single day. So this is a good reason to stop. Maybe, when those positive feelings you feel whilst MDing are drained out of fantasy, but not applied yet to your life (no craziness yet, no friends yet, no living yet), you will start acting a little bit different. Choosing other things to do, other things to enjoy. Even if the canvas of real life is still left grey and muddy, you might start to want to add some color to it by yourself.
Sakshee Dhumal I think it's true, someone may not be ready to quit daydreams. In that phase, we are not able to see how things could actually be, just because we don't know ANY other way of living, as we have always daydreamed.
It reminds me of when in the '90s my father told me about an amazing technology: emails. I was a little girl, I roughly knew what computers were because I had seen them in some office. I couldn't see the point of having emails. Why can't we just keep writing letters? And people (every person!) should have a computer at home, or go to some office to read letters. And what about stamps? How can you put a stamp on a letter inside a computer?
You see, it makes me smile, but little Valeria didn't have the possibility to imagine a totally different world. My judgment was based on my only experience of the world.
It's hard to imagine what a life MD-free could be if you never had one. As Kalliope says, it's worth trying just to see what happens. But you need to do it for enough time to give it a chance, as in the beginning, it's hard.
Kalliope, thanks ♥ Maybe you're right I'm optimistic! I haven't always been like that. Now I see the light.
To answer your questions honestly and spontaneously: I never understood how much MD had affected me. I did not perceive any kind of detriment in my everyday life, I thought it was just a past-time like TV and gaming is. I am honestly, and I'll write what DID change afterwards, so don't understand this wrong, still not sure whether it was truly different from binging social sites in free time. I believe it served the same function as someone posting fotos on fb and counting the likes, and I thought it had about the same impact for me. So your question for me sounds like: Will I deeply regret going off facebook? Without it everything will be boring, and I won't have anything to do! For someone who depends on MD (or FB) for offloading your emotional energy, this is a very difficult and ugly question. I would not have stopped MDing, if someone told me, "that's unhealthy, go do something real in real life!".
What did bring me to stop, and what made me completely and utterly stop, complete MD standstill - was when this forum and the research papers and Eretaia told me a few statements:
The MD story is trivial. The story itself is shoddy, weak, and if I would write it down, it would not be an enjoyable story. If I look at my MD story like a reviewer would look at a novel: My personal story would be plot-driven and not character driven, it would be disjointed. Things would not make sense here and there. Too many Chechov's guns, it gets boring. The side-characters would be one-dimensional and the main character a Mary Sue. There. That's the novel I've been laboring over for years! And it's not even written down yet!! It's got an interesting plot, sure, and I could regale you about lots of adventures. But it's a weak, superficial story.
The MD characters are one-dimensional. They only serve one function: to have a relationship with the main character, with me. They are like cardboard cut-outs, and it was very difficult to understand this. When you're in the story, you don't see how shallow the characters are, because you "feel" them. But these characters are charades from your mind, just created so you can feel emotions alongside them: joy, sadness, pain, happiness. But one important thing is missing, the most important thing that dictates most of what makes a character truly shine, truly come out, the most important thing that dictates how people react in life: uncertainty, and the fear of uncertainty. There are no heros when the outcome is set in stone. There is no tension in discussion when you're sure what your partner will answer. There is no bravery when there is nothing to overcome. There is no stage if you know how the audience will react. There is no entrepreneurism when you know how your shop/company will fare. There is no success without competition. There is no trust without uncertainty. There is only cardboard-cut-outs that make you feel these emotions without the risk.
Funnily, I understood this when friends invited me to a DnD session, of all things. I inserted the concepts of the MD character into the DnD character planner. In DnD, there are two components in playing the game: firstly, you're thrown into lovingly-made situations by one of the friends (the "GM"), that include social game interaction, adventure and hack'n'slash game components. On one hand, you need to come up with your character's solutions to problems, social interactions: you talk as if you were your character, and the GM answers back, roleplaying the characters that are required to be interacted with (the roadside panhandler, the king, the adventurer's guild...). On the other hand, you have a rigid set of rules for your preferred type of hack'n'slash fighting style (ninja, knight, gladiator, sorcerer...). So, what I very quickly realised: No, people did not react to my character how the MD would react, and this uncertainty was what made this fantasy real. This was "reality", not the MD. MD was too tight, bound within one's own head. Also, my character was middling at fighting, not kick-ass as in MD. AND: in DnD, out-of-the-box thinking and solutions can actually be implemented and save your character's life - and when you're confronted with a situation where you don't know the answer, it is MUCH more difficult to be the awesome problem-solver than in MD.
The MD feelings are what are lacking in your life, and should be applied to life instead of MD. I'm running out of steam here, so please, have a look at Eretaia's posts, she explains it well. This is why you are scared that your life will be boring. And that comes from someone who had a lot of magic and fantasy in MD.
I just wonder how former dreamers feel after letting go of it? Firstly? Very nice. Quiet. I felt more in touch with myself. I felt centered. I felt like a winner. I won my freedom. Afterwards, I had some pangs here and there, very specifically: On one hand when I felt emotional, and I didn't have an outlet (such as a friend to rant/joyfully squeal/cry/sigh at), and this i quite well solved with journalling. I wrote down everything I wanted to rant about, and this helped a lot. Posting and writing letters here helped. And on the other hand: when I felt bored. Driving is a bad case, and just mundane boredom when you have a(n) (quarter) hour of nothing-time. Then, not doing MD was restrictive, like a boa constrictor tightening. What helped were audiobooks and non-fiction books (atomic habits!), and just calling up a friend, or writing here. And actually, for the first six months the solution for me was webnovels. This might not go well for everyone - for some this might induce MD again (like a romance story for me). But I read "better" stories than mine, stories that actually were thrilling, and made me happy and so on. Maybe you find better solutions, but it needs to be something ready to make you non-bored, whatever it is. And after this phase, I'm starting to see the serenity, the happiness with myself feeling, the ability to work on to keep it that way. And keep on going. Getting better doesn't stop so easily! There's so many things to explore.
Wasn't it difficult to adapt to this new life? Even if it was hard letting go of it? - No. It was not hard to let go. Not hard to adapt, because there was nothing to adapt to. I didn't experience much of a change currently, don't have more time, but I do have a more aware mind, and maybe can consider other people and myself with more objectiveness and compassion.
have you ever felt that you want to come back to being a maladaptive dreamer? NO! No. Not at all. Absolutely not. It's like going back to bad TV!: You know that it's a weak story without a decent plot, bad characters, bad writing all around. That sofa in front of MD-TV looks really comfortable, the cola and the popcorn are there, the TV just needs to be turned on, but actually, as you turn away from that badly written TV, you see that outside through the window, the sun is shining, and the real wind and real rain can be felt on your body. You will have so much pent-up energy from all that watching TV, how about going out for a walk and lessening the burden of that pent-up energy on you? It's so simple to stop, to turn of that inner MD-TV, and just walk away, when you realize that it's just garbage feel-good TV.
Hi, i just got here. I'm the same, i'm just starting (or beginning to start) to understand MD and fighting it, but your thought are the same i had the moment i decided to do fight. I'm scared too, i'm finding it hard already at day 2 and i fell like i'm not speciale anymore. I don't want get rid of it, but i don't want to be a slave of this excessive energy/time/reality consuming problem either. I guess we'll have to control it and allow it only on specifical times, isn't it? C'mon, show me we can deal with this...
Everybody has his/her own relations with MD, that's why there's no easy solution.
Some alcoholic need to quit their drinking because they know they can't resist if they start sipping a little bit of wine, others are fine and enjoy alcohol on special occasions.
We can deal with it.
By the way. How is day 3 going?
Yeah Luca! Let's do this!!
I think it's most important that you give yourself compassion, first and foremost! Be happy you start something. Congratulate yourself for every stretch of time you've stopped MD! And be proud of yourself that you can live on, even if you feel like you are not special anymore - living under the yoke of the new restriction is tough, but it's worth it. And with time, you will realize that you're much more free and much more closer to who you want to be than before!
Just post when you find yourself on roadblocks! It helps a lot to write things down.
My MD was triggered by living among people who were abusive physically and psychologically so while I was still in that environment, I had to rely on MD to save my sanity and living without it would be harder.
HOWEVER. Whenever I was away, in a healthy safe environment, I'd try to focus on reality more and more. Eventually, I developed an unusually strong appreciation for all things real, going as far as clearing myself not only of MD but of all superstitions known to humankind (took 10 years of training tho). I find this new lifestyle to be very healthy and fascinating. I started reading books about science, astrophysics, watching documentaries about our planet, paying attention to nature during every walk - birds, bugs, clouds... Reality is fascinating and it's healthy to be in touch with it. I'd say that nowadays my life has more spark because I am engaged with things that actually exist, I have my curiosity and I stay observant. I moved out of a country that was bad for me, out of a family that was toxic and even cut ties with them. Reality is 100% bearable now that I've dealt with the core issue.
Sadly, for most humans accepting reality is very hard. Our poor brains have to deal with our intellect while being too primitive to process terrifying facts of the universe, the inevitability of death or futility of certain efforts. I had to go through a hardcore existential crisis in order to get to this point so I understand why most people just can't handle it. It's very hard but it can be resolved positively and if that happens, your life will be better. You will live in the moment and appreciate it much more.
Kristina, you know, you got me thinking: when talking about being more interested in reality, many MDers could feel sort of frightened because they think they would need to begin to be interested in those sort of things they hate of life and adulthood: money, career, clothes, "normal" family, sports, socially acceptable kind of fun, and so on.
But it doesn't be this way. Of course, some things are important, and you need to take your responsibility in life, but you can also decide what is the kind of reality you really want to dedicate your main attention.
If you are happy observing bugs and drawing them in a notebook, well, you need to pursue the kind of life that gives you the opportunity to do it for the most time possible. Maybe not all the time, but you will know while working in a maybe boring job, that you are doing it just because it allows you to go after your passion in your spare time.
In other words: let's answer ourselves "what reality are we pursuing?"
Something else I thought of when you mentioned adulthood:
I think we need to stop scaring people with it. Many people who are miserable in their childhood/ teen years find a lot of liberation in adulthood. It's not worse. It's just different. And you can turn it into an empowering experience. You can:
- move out to live in a better space on your own rules,
- you can learn financial literacy and investing to improve your quality of life and feel more control,
- things like "worrying about clothes" or "worrying about furnishing apartment" should be approached as a fun problem-solving challenge which is supposed to give you nice end results - finding your style let's you express yourself and furnishing creates your unique nice space,
- you can choose what you want your family to be like, at least partially,
- you can still enjoy a healthy dose of socially acceptable escapism through books, movies, tv shows, anime, video games, board games and more because for our generation it's more and more normal for adults to enjoy these things, as long as they are responsible and functional enough,
...and so on. I've found that going through life with healthier attitude, enjoying challenges and solving problems makes reality much more fun. I used to view all that as an obstacle and got discouraged but getting out of toxic environment gave me a chance to change and you should take that chance if you ever get it too. ^^