Maladaptive Daydreaming: where wild minds come to rest
Firstly, I’d like to express how excited I am to have found this community! Like many of you, I have been wrestling with this particular “quirk” of mine since early childhood. The only people who aware of my unusual habits are my parents and older brother who have previously caught me in the act… though they do (did) not really know what it is that I’m doing. No one does. At one point, I even had a boyfriend who vaguely described something that sounded like what I did to ‘activate’ my imagination. Instead of using pens (like I tend to do) he said he used a drumstick or a broken paint brush. Despite the nature of our very close relationship, however, neither of us elaborated on exactly what we imagined because both of us seemed to understand that it was a private matter. For a while, I was content to think that perhaps this ‘imaginative play’ might have been even been relatively normal, though most people kept it a secret. Using your imagination seems to be more appropriate for a child than what society expects of a well adjusted adult, after all, so it made sense to me that people wouldn’t talk about it.
So, I kept it as a private indulgence and hadn’t really thought much of it until it eventually began to take over my life. You see, towards the end of my senior year of high school and well into university, I began to exhibit symptoms of severe depression. I was tired all the time, slept a lot, and I grew increasingly apathetic to the goings on of my daily life. I was unhappy and unmotivated. My imaginative play became something of a coping mechanism, because it was the only time I actually felt relaxed and non-anxious. But soon, I found that I was spending the majority of my days engrossed in these fantasies or other escapist activities that fueled these daydreams, such as certain books, games, movies, etc. I had always been a writer, and I previously used my imaginative play to formulate stories, but now, I found myself stuck and obsessing over how to make the scenes ‘sound right’ and my imaginings became ruminative rather than creative. I hadn’t completed a story or a scene since I can remember. I have an entire hard drive full of unfinished stories and character concepts that never came to fruition. Despite this, my mind continues to drift. It’s not uncommon for me to let entire days and weeks pass by engrossed in this imaginative loop, gathering ideas and scenarios from random youtube videos or movies, or anything that relates to or derives from the fantasy or history genre.
Of course, I did not realize that these were ‘triggers’ until now.
You see, the psychiatrist I am seeing chalked it up to a previously undiagnosed ADD and that my depression was comorbid with the condition I never told her the exact nature of my daydreaming… I actually didn’t think it was the main problem. I get the feeling that this was her last resort after being unable to figure out what was wrong with me. She finally put me on Ritalin after she had me go through an entire cocktail of antidepressants that my system has either rejected because of the side effects or the ones that did work for a while, eventually conked out on me altogether. Thus far, I don’t see the Ritalin as much of an improvement; it just makes my daydreams more intense and easier to drift into (although when I am in the right environment and sit down to do work, I have to admit I do concentrate better).
After finding this community, it’s like I’m seeing all this very clearly for the first time. I think that I’ve become addicted to daydreaming as a coping mechanism/form of procrastination and everything else is an outgrowth of that addiction. Nothing else is really wrong with me. I think I’m fairly intelligent and socially well-adjusted. I’m not a bad-looking girl either, and I’m lucky enough to have nothing but positive friendship and relationship experiences in the past few years. I do not understand why I’m doing this, or why I have let this take over my life this way. I am fully aware of the consequences of putting off my reality, but I do it anyway.
I’m both saddened and comforted to know that I’m not alone in this. Perhaps finally having a podium in which to express my experiences with this might help us all—I can see that I’m not the only one who has kept this a secret—and I look forward to hearing all your insights as well. Maybe we can all work together to alleviate our discomfort with this somehow.
In the meantime, it seems that I’ve gotten carried away in talking about myself. I apologize for that. All I initially set out to do was to say, “Hello.” :)