Where wild minds come to rest
Hello! I'm a teen, and I've had an "active imagination" for as long as I can remember. As an introvert, I've never had any problem entertaining myself--when I get bored, I just create appealing scenarios in my head, zone out, and daydream about them over and over again. Through the years, though, this daydreaming has grown from harmless to somewhat concerning. My daydreaming has become less controllable, and it has become harder and harder to turn it off and focus on the real world. I've always wondered what this condition is. Do other people have it? Am I the only one who relives imaginative fantasies constantly? A discovery on Tumblr and a Google search later, I found the answer. I am a maladaptive daydreamer. I daydream because it makes me happy--it distracts me from the problems in my life, and lets me live as someone else.
Indeed, MD is my form of escapism, except I escape to being another person. I assume most people with MD daydream about themselves, almost like a Walter Mitty situation. I kind of do, but it's a bit different. I daydream about an extension of myself. When I was younger, her name was Alice, but I have decided I like a different name better. Now, her name is Evangeline. I can't imagine my life without her, because she is me. Evangeline is me, but her characteristics and personality have been fine tuned by the real me. This sounds scary, like I have multiple personalities. I don't think I do. I can differentiate between the real me and Evangeline, and the real world and my made up one. My MD basically works like an ever-evolving movie inspired by everything I experience or like in my real life with the perfect protagonist. Evangeline possesses all the traits I like about myself, except amplified, and the opposite of all the traits I hate about myself. Evangeline goes on crazy adventures, chasing after criminals with Sherlock Holmes (the Benedict Cumberbatch version, not the Robert Downey Jr. one), or protecting women from rapists on the street with her combative street-fighting, or wielding knives as a knife-thrower, or partying with Youtubers like Dan and Phil, or lecturing about philosophy at a college. Most of the time Evangeline lives in London, in a giant house with different rooms for all of her exciting hobbies, including an entire library, a music room with every instrument imaginable, all of which she can play, and a giant bedroom with fancy furniture. Evangeline is gorgeous, thin, and strong. She has amazing athletic ability. She is extremely intelligent--a genius who went to college years earlier than is the norm. She likes philosophy, and exploring religion, and speaks over ten languages. She is talented in every sense of the word. But, she is not perfect. She is an orphan, abandoned by her mother as an infant. She struggles to form close relationships, especially those of romantic nature. She struggles with mental health. So, Evangeline is not "perfect", per say, but she is the perfect protagonist. Her story has excitement, thrill, joy, and angst. It's no wonder I'm always distracted by it.
I have MD, and I'm not sure how to feel about it. I have never actually told anyone about this, save for the slightest mention that I sugar-coated extremely, which took place years ago. Daydreaming fills me with an overwhelming sense of contentment. I have always lived with it, and have done little to nothing to stop it. Ever since I was a young child I have fallen asleep every night to my daydreams about the perfected version of myself. Evangeline distracts me from my emotions, but also allows me to express them to myself. When I feel sad, something sad happens in Evangeline's life, but she overcomes it. When the people around her comfort her, somehow I feel better. When I feel angry, Evangeline does something like winning an argument with a sexist, and I feel triumphant. When I feel happy, Evangeline spends precious moments with her friends, who, despite all her flaws, love her for who she is. In turn, I feel appreciated. I've tried to turn this habit into something productive by writing about it, but by the time I conceptualize Evangeline's story into words, I've already moved on to a fantasy that I like more. Indeed, I daydream because it makes me happy. I realize it is a problem, but I'm too content doing it to stop. I'm not sure I could stop, even if I tried. But I wonder what life could be like if I could just live in the moment. What do other people think about when their mind wanders? Do they just think about their actual selves? Doesn't that get so boring?
So here is what I'm wondering--am I alone in having MD revolving around a character? Do other people daydream about extensions of themselves, or different people entirely, or just their regular selves? Is my habit abnormal? Should I seek help? Please do let me know, or share your experiences. I'm new to finding out about MD and this site, but reading other people's experiences is consoling. Thanks for reading!
I know that my reply doesn't really answer to your questions,but I just wanna help and explain the same thing about MD which someone else from this forum explained to me.
I'm not an expert or something but for me is kinda obvious that Evangeline is just your ideal self. She is the reflection of who you want to be, traits which you want to have and hobbies which you want to explore.
Have you heard about Edward Tory Higgins? He was a psychologist who invented self-discrepancy theory. The self-discrepancy theory states that people compare themselves to internalized standards called "self-guides". These different representations of the self can be contradictory and result in emotional discomfort. Self-discrepancy is the gap between two of these self-representations. The theory states that people are motivated to reduce the gap in order to remove disparity in self-guides.
The theory postulates three basic domains of the self:
Actual self is your representation of the attributes that you believe you actually possess, or that you believe others believe you possess.The "actual self" is a person's basic self-concept. It is one's perception of their own attributes (intelligence, athleticism, attractiveness, etc.).
Ideal self is your representation of the attributes that someone (yourself or another) would like you, ideally, to possess (i.e., a representation of someone's hopes, aspirations, or wishes for you).The "ideal-self" is what usually motivates individuals to change, improve and achieve.
Ought is your representation of the attributes that someone (yourself or another) believes you should or ought to possess (i.e., a representation of someone's sense of your duty, obligations, or responsibilities).
Conflict between actual self and ideal self usually ends up with depression if you are not able to meet your own standards,while conflict between actual self and ought self ends up with anxiety and fear if you feel that you can't fulfill expectations created by the close ones (family,friends,etc.)
In your case I believe that maladaptive daydreaming is a response to your conflict between actual and ideal self. When we are unable to become our best versions of ourselves, we fulfill our dreams and desires or work on a traits we want to have,we just "put" everything into the daydreams because it's easier than fighting for life that we want.
What I mean is that is you who was supposed to become Evangeline.But for some reason (which I don't know) it didin't happen,so in order to escape sadness and dissapointment of yourself,you created her. Imagining her life is almost like living her life,that's why you are so insanely addicted to her. And that's why you ended with MD.
Probably without her you would feel like nothing.You would fall in the void and despair,because you just can't stand being you-your actual self. Because you are not her.
I don't know how MD works for other people,but it's always the hidden reason why we prefer our little dreamworlds and imaginary characters than reality. For most of us (I think so) this reason is not wanting to be our actual,imperfect selves with negative feelings and flaws-that's why we realize our desires in daydreams.The post from this site explained it to me perfectly: http://wildminds.ning.com/forum/topics/yes-you-can-cure-yourself-fr...
We don't escape from dull and boring reality. We escape from our sadness, unfullfillment and pain,because we think that we can't do what we want or be who we want to be.
I think you are very lucky to create a character who is,as you stated,extension of you.Daydreams about Evangeline are like specific and detailed instructions about you becoming full and best version of yourself. Evangeline is proof that you know exactly who you wanna be and what you wanna do. But instead of doing all those interesting things:fighting for justice,reading and talking about philosophy,playing instruments,chasing criminals,etc. you chose to transfer your own unexplored interests and adventures which have never happened to her. Evangeline isin't someone different from you. She is everything you desperately want to have. You are like a obsessive parent who forces for example her daughter to be the best in dancing,because she always wanted to become a dancer.
When you start to do all those things Evangeline does (but remember to not to imitate her style of being or her traits,because being fully perfect is just impossible and you will fail). Start to read about philosophy and religion. Start to learn some language. Go on martial arts course.Try to play guitar. You won't become exactly her,but you will start to fulfill your desires and you will be real,full,more cheerful you.
Because you are the true Evangeline.
P.S. As for me,I daydream about best version of myself (I'm me,but having perfect job,perfect body,all my best traits which are much more developed than in real life ) in alternate universe.
I can totally relate to what you're describing. I have daydreams about characters who are extensions of myself, each one having strengths I wish I had. One character is a genius, who could easily find a person's weakness and bring them down with a few words. Another character I daydream about, doesn't care what other people think and do what they please. My main character, the one I relate to the most, is strong and resilient. My characters in a way grew up with me. As I daydreamed about them more, they became more complex. They developed traits, favorite movies, favorite music, and their own personal philosophies. I don't think you're habit is abnormal, and I think writing it down is a good idea. I did the same with my characters and I found that very helpful for me.