Maladaptive Daydreaming: where wild minds come to rest
Hey guys. For those who are following my other topic on curing MD, I finally got some spare time to update and elaborate on some things that I thought were missing in the previous posts. I'm posting it here or you can read it directly on the blog. I hope it ends up making sense for some of you. Here it goes:
Whether you decide to wean yourself off gradually or go cold turkey, physical cessation of engaging in MD is a prerequisite for waking up. Force yourself to stop daydreaming – not in order to stop MD altogether – but in order to release and identify underlying toxic emotions and pain that fantasy is censoring. You will be surprised what will come out. As already explained in the first part of this series, familiarize yourself with the pain, loneliness, fears and once you have surrendered to them and accepted them, you should lose the impulse to use MD as an escape method.
Now, a question: is MD an attempt to run away from yourself or an attempt to finally be yourself?
I say both. If you embrace negative feelings and face them, that should stop you from using MD for escape purposes. However, you’ll still want to use fantasy to temporarily come in touch with detached feelings and parts of yourself. Now let’s see what we can do about this part.
When you receive a wake-up call and finally decide that you are going to try to put an end to this madness, one thing usually stands in your way: emotional bluntness. Inability to connect to yourself and consequently to the real world. Probably the most discouraging feeling in the entire recovery that drives all your relapses.
When you think about it, it’s not bad feelings that torture and compel you to engage in daydreaming as much as it’s the lack of feelings. But what causes this numbness?
Detachment isn’t a product of what we call MD. Numbness was always there – and MD was your way of dealing with it. You wound up numb and emotionally disconnected from reality because you became emotionally disconnected from yourself. Do you notice that the moment you switch the point of view from yourself to your daydream characters [or idealized you] and use them as receptors instead, you can instantly feel? Or rather, they can feel and you can feel through them. In other words, you are physiologically able to feel. So you’re not an emotionless nutcase or somebody who is beyond repair. You can feel but dissociation stands in your way.
There’s an ongoing misconception that maladaptive daydreamers are at disadvantage because our drug of choice is accessible all the time making it perpetually tempting and harder for us to stop while alcohol or meth addicts have to go through some bother to get hands on theirs. Well, not really. We are not special because we are maladaptive daydreamers and we aren’t having it any more difficult than other people dealing with addictions. All addictions involve fantasy. All of them. When a meth addict isn’t taking meth, he’s thinking about it all the time. It’s the first thought that flashes through his mind when he wakes up and the last thought that leaves him before he falls asleep. So you’re not the only one who is stuck in a fantasy world non-stop. All addicts are. We’re collectively cut off from the outside world, we’re all a bit numb and a bit lost in this ocean of alienation.
Emotional bluntness follows all addictions, it’s their elemental driving force. Numbness, coldness, detachment, inability to connect – these things aren’t specific to just you. Whoever had addiction also struggled with partial or complete lack of emotional response relative to the real world. People addicted to pornography usually can’t experience intimate or sexual feelings with a real person yet, hey, it’s sex they crave. A daydreamer who craves connection to something but cannot connect to anything isn’t any different.
Breaking through the numbness is a slow process. When reality slaps you in the face and your illusions and dream world crumble, this does not equal instant recovery – this person who’ll wake up will still not be you. Please remember: the numbness you feel upon stopping MD, detachment, loneliness, alienation and cold reality everyone seems to love but you hate – these are not you, they are not your ultimate destination. It’s just an ugly, long, sometimes discouragingly long transition between waking up and actually awakening.
Breaking Through the Numbness
Technically, you can be aware of every single problem of yours but until life slaps you, you won’t start to deal with them. Many of us need to be challenged and pushed to the edge of our limits in order to start doing things about our lives. You need a specific situation, something, someone who will wake you up, who’ll tell you in your face that you’re a fucking insecure coward who runs away and is inept to live. I mean, sure, I know I’m a coward, my depression makes sure to remind me of it every day, but when someone else tells you this, it hits you in quite a different way. It hurts. On a very, very deep intimate level. Then you start to get angry – with that person and with yourself. You finally start to process emotionally what you’ve done with your life, you come in touch with this pain that has been hurting you for far too long and you slowly come to your senses. Then you’ll start doing something about it. Our main drawback is that we’re introverts who are used to deal with pain alone. That’s not going to work. You can’t do it alone. You need an observer, something or someone external, you need to be challenged, outright pissed off to start making changes.
Get angry. With your therapist who doesn’t understand, with your family that undermines your problems. With the world, with yourself, with reality. Not frustrated but angry. Just explode. It doesn’t matter if you lash out at anyone specifically or not, just be sure to acknowledge the anger and let it wash you clean.
Metaphorically speaking, you’re stuck in a body that isn’t yours. I’m not referring to your daydream characters here. I’m talking about your real self, the one you see in the mirror and think of as foreign and miserable, the same one that is infected with depression, self-contempt or low self-esteem, which make your self-image completely distorted. Heck, of course you’ll want to run away and escape from this decaying body, this broken self, because this isn’t you, this can’t be real you – otherwise you would’ve never wanted to escape from it in the first place. Your mind knows this, hence the impulse for running away. Your MD isn’t a protest against reality, it’s a protest against this broken, distorted self – that is NOT the true you.
Lastly, get angry with this messed up version of yourself, with numbness and dissociation and void. And whenever someone tells you that you messed up your life and irrevocably wasted it, whenever they mention all the things you could have done but didn’t, your seeming lack of passion or interest in real life, get angry with them too because no one knows that every day is a struggle for you, because no one knows what it’s like to not to exist anywhere. Get angry because none of this is your fault. Because you didn’t choose to be like this.
Then start to change things. For somebody who has bottled things up their whole life, anger is an immensely healthy and purifying emotion. Destructive but purifying. It’s the fight component of fight or flight mode that makes one face uncomfortable situations and fears head-on, without running away from them or feeling intimidated. Anger will probably be the first emotion to awake in you relative to the real world. Welcome it and hate everything around you if you want to. Hate the real world if you need to. But hate it with passion. Just don’t be numb to it.
This is where bluntness breaks down and you begin. Seek situations that make you care about something other than your fantasy even for just 10 seconds, whether it’s destructive or warm and beautiful. Try to pinpoint these short, fleeting moments when you feel spontaneity of emotions, when real you awakens – and then hold onto them. In the beginning they are short, followed by a week or two or three of numbness and emptiness, but once they happen, let them be your hope, a reminder that things can be normal. When numbness strikes again, and it will, don’t ask yourself what you are doing wrong. Because you are doing nothing wrong. It’s normal – you simply have to be persistent even when the weight of the void keeps pressing down on you, you have to keep going. Every time you feel like you’re falling and failing, let pain defeat you over and over again and maybe this insane battle will make you feel alive every time you hit rock bottom. It sounds odd but pain, even tough it’s terrifying, reminds you that you’re alive. It pushes you to the limits. MD numbs pain and so it numbs the feeling of being alive. Your dream self may be alive but you aren’t as long as you rely on MD not to fall apart.
You know what the worst thing you can do to yourself is?
Convince yourself that you really are without passion and incapable of feeling emotions you experience in your daydreams. If in the midst of your withdrawal you think to yourself that you will never be the person you are in your fantasies, you are automatically self-sabotaging. Don’t think of reality as something foreign you have never experienced before that everyone suddenly expects you to come to love after years of being absent. Reality is where your feelings are – feelings shape our perception of it to the point one could even argue that there is no objective reality. You exist where your feelings are. All your feelings are in your fantasies right now, but once you transfer them not from your daydream characters to reality, but from your daydream characters to yourself, you will automatically start to connect to reality.
MD is not a split between worlds – it’s the split of the self. You can fuse the worlds together but the emptiness remains because the one who observes these worlds is broken in two. Don’t obsess over trying to stop daydreaming. Don’t obsess over trying to love reality. You’ll fail. Focus on healing the self and cravings will reduce automatically. Your goal number one is to make yourself feel without censorship all the things your daydream characters feel. When you succeed this, you win.
When you finally start to get better and receive positive feedback from reality, you’ll relapse. It’s the ridiculous law of addiction and you can do little to avoid it.
You aren’t a heavy smoker who can just give up tobacco and then find another distraction. MD often bleeds into every possible aspect of your life so when you do away with fantasy, you automatically do away with your entire life, leaving yourself with nothing. There is no one, no home, no reality to return to. If your recovery is going well, you will have more and more moments when you briefly come in touch with your true self [and therefore with reality too], but majority of your days will still be tainted with numbness.
If at this point you really relapse [and chances are very, very high], oh well. It’s actually perfectly normal. Do not spend a moment beating yourself up over it. Cravings will exist as long as dissociation exists. MD is your life force, it’s the energy that cries out to be released one way or another – and you can neither stop it nor ignore it. As I said in the beginning, stopping daydreaming is necessary only in order to let repressed issues out and then feel them with your entire being, which will ultimately liberate you from their toxic grip. If you relapse after you have done your emotional detoxification, it’s okay. From this point onwards, all you need to do is focus on breaking dissociation and healing yourself. If you daydream in the meantime to give yourself a little fix to pull you through the periods of nothingness, make sure you don’t use MD to repress things and don’t let it distract you. Always use it with the idea that things you feel in daydreams can be felt in real life too, that things your characters feel were originally supposed to be yours. The more you come in touch with yourself, the more will your addiction collapse. When you feed MD, you starve yourself – but when you feed yourself, you starve MD. Break the dissociation of the self and MD is gone.
Thanks for this :) It is really hard for me to deal with the thoughts that come with the withdrawl and I hope they won't stay forever. I want to do the little things I always daydreamt of doing but often I feel uncertain if I will ever enjoy anything like that. I hope I make it through and not relapse.
This is offtopic but have you seen Fight Club, OP? It is about a different topic but I can kind of see things similar in what you advice and what the movies shows. You know, like the chemical burn scene. Forgive my crappy english.
Yeah, I saw Fight Club. I had to rewatch the chemical burn since it's been a while but yeah, that's exactly it! Nice observation. You know, the whole pain thing isn't just a philosophical rant. When it happens to you, it blows your mind. In the beginning, it's painful and mentally suffocating and right when you think that you're going to explode, there's a moment of complete surrender when you're defeated, when you actually come to terms with it and abandon all hope. You resign yourself and let go and you're ridiculously angry that you had to let go and that you've lost after years of resisting and this is when it happens: a moment when anger and pain wash you clean and strip you of all unhealthy attachments. You get that moment of unbelievable clarity and liberation where your fixations and obsessions fall apart, almost as if you've been healed and reborn. You literally feel bliss. It's like tearing yourself apart to become whole.
In terms of fantasies, you'd either lose attachment for those shallow narcissistic daydreams or, if your fantasies were truly important to you and represented an actual detached part of yourself, they would fuse with you and you would feel like you finally merged two worlds together. It probably sounds mega strange when I write about it like this but it's something that makes sense if you experience it. :)
Also, don't worry too much about relapse. If you relapse, it won't slow down you much as long as you try to be mindful of all those invading feelings that are hard to deal with. The more you identify and surrender to them, the more they weaken.
Thank you for shairing this with us. It was really good and helpful informations. :)
I always get defensive and annoyed when I start reading your posts. I usually think it sounds too Freudian, too generalizing, and too abstract to have any merit. However, once I actually commit to what you have written, you are spot on.
Your post also touched exactly what I am going through right now, it is eerily similar. This past week, I had a series of relapses regarding MD, but I also felt some almost abrupt changes all at the same time - one of them being that I gave up on following lists. I have suffered from depression, and the lists of things I had to do was all that kept me going. I would write who I wanted to become(regarding habits) and then fill out a plan on how to slowly build myself up, month after month, untill I would reach this particular goal.
They really worked. At least for a couple of months at a time.
But they also kept me from accepting how things are now. So much energy was spend on trying very hard - trying to eat x numbers of fruit and vegetables, trying to use x minutes of time on this hobby, trying to say hi to three people on the street etc. - that I didn't have the energy to see the new and ever-changing possibilities right in front of me. So I rarely did something out of the ordinary, every day was the same.
This week, I just grew sick of the lists. I won't say that I get as much done, but the way I take action is automatically different. Does that make sense? I allow myself to not have a schedule or a particular goal, and I really love/fear the uncertainty that comes with it. I just FEEL more. Some people get great kicks out of following lists, but apparently, they are not for me. I sometimes 'forget' to wash the dishes before next morning now, but I have done many things the past few days that I would normally never do.It's silly, I know. But I feel this great relief from just living life one day at a time. I still feel numb most of the time, but several times of the day I get the feeling that 'this particular moment matters!' and I do something about it. The moments are... Mine?
Guess that just fell right in line with your suggestion of being spontaneous. A thing that I have been unable to for years and years, due to being afraid of the self destructive tendencies that revealed themselves when I did.
You are sadly completely right that you can't force these things. No person with MD could just sit down and tell themselves "I will become like this, right now! Today!". It has to arrive naturally, with time(and, of course, the concious effort to not daydream as much).
I am still trying to quit. I have been following your advice trying to accept whatever feelings come up as I go without my MD. I am really pleased with how this is going, and yesterday, I reached a record low for having thoughts in which I identify with my characters.
Here are some feelings that come up repeatedly:
1. Extreme self-criticism, mostly.
2. Not wanting to look in the mirror, for fear of my own harshly critical eye on my appearance. (Even though there's nothing wrong with my appearance, by objective standards)
3. Being afraid of not-creating. Not constantly being on the move. Being afraid of my head being empty.
4. Feeling highly sensitive around social interactions. Sensitive to rejection, and even worse, guilt from rejecting another person, worry whether or not I act like a self-centered jerk without realizing it. Hours after coming home from an event where I spoke to people, analyzing everything I said, trying to look for proof that I said something inappropriate, hurt someone’s feelings, or made someone feel uncomfortable. Sometimes it’s like there’s nothing I can do to feel like I really made a good impression on someone. I feel like I am monstrous, and every time I open my mouth, I’m bound to offend someone, just by attempting to express what I really think or feel. I feel criminal and very self-centered for expressing what I really think to other people. I think “who are you to think they want to hear about what goes on in your head?”
5. Fear of anonymity. Not being able to stand feeling invisible, when I really consider the fact that I am invisible to most everyone. Ironically, I think this comes from not spending enough time as me, because it means that now I have a hard time feeling “Real” when I am by myself. The less “real” my own true subjective reality becomes, the more I look for objective quantification of the proof that my love does matter. That objectification is in other people’s eyes, in awards, in measurable achievements, etc.
6. Perfectionistic about my performance and presentation. As I was traveling to an activist meet-up about an hour after getting out of a job interview, I looked at myself in the mirrored glass on the side of a building and noticed that the back buttons of my high-collar blouse were bunched, and sloppy looking. I realized that they have been this way for the entire interview. This destroyed me. Made me feel like a deeply inferior creep who could never quite get it right. At least, get all the right things together.
I’ve always told myself that I want to hold myself to high standards, because I want to “be the best I can be”. Period, end of discussion. But in holding myself to these standards, I feel I am also cheating or punishing myself, because I know the trials of trying to maintain this high-standard of work productivity, appearance, or whatever can be very hard work. And I want to just be enough for myself, without having to perform for other people. But I can’t help but also feel like this is not quite the whole story. If what inner acceptance I have doesn’t get expressed outwardly, how will I make friends? It’s nice to have a beautiful secret. But isn’t it just as important to communicate?
I don’t believe in needing others to know of my “here-ness”, just for the sake of them knowing. That is an endless mirror of ego, and it will leave you more confused than when you started.
But if it only mattered that I felt content on the inside, then I would just further isolate myself, and withdraw back into my DD-world.
Frankly, Sophie, if I'd read my own post three years ago, I'd think half of the things written here are abstract rubbish too, lol. I wish I could get more specific and give some concrete advice but at the end of the day, the journey is different for everyone. I didn't write these posts to help people overcome MD. I wrote them hoping it'd help people understand MD so they could try to figure out where to seek the exist.
Hey Jane. It's like I'm reading a post about myself, heh.
Perfectionism is just another way to distract the ego from facing the inner emptiness. It's not even about wanting to be the best. It's about compensation, putting up a facade to trick yourself into thinking that you're not falling apart. You're subconsciously trying to fix one problem by fixing another. The reason you feel like a slave to perfectionism, other people's rejection, high standards and so on, is because you don't have a well defined sense of self. If you had one, these things wouldn't chain you and you wouldn't have to search for yourself somewhere outside yourself - in other people's silent approvals or awards or whatever. If you were really content on the inside, your positive energy would automatically get expressed outwardly. When you're daydreaming, you can call that "being content on the inside" but are you really? Where is your "I" when you're daydreaming? The "I" that should be content? It doesn't exist. That's where all problems arise. And that's why you're invisible.
I think I see what you're saying.
I have noticed that if I am keeping a journal while I'm alone, I will start to judge whether or not I put punctuation in, things like that. It hurts to objectify your conscious self when you are all alone with yourself. It's like the "I" that is there when I'm alone is still not fully developed. It is just the only "I" I know to identify with my body. The one that has been transferred over from the grind of the performance of caring and relating. It's all bound up in pressure and image, and society's opinions, and everyone else's eyes. No wonder I don't want to be alone with all that. I don't mean to make it sound like I really compensate and have become a fake person or something. I still project my real self, but it's too doubting, and insecure. I do feel that my real self has a job to do that she is not doing well enough.
I want to be alone with myself long enough to have clarity.
Next time you feel like crap because your buttons are sloppy looking, think if it's really about buttons. Is it even about presentation? Or is it because you hate yourself (or lack thereof) and just search for an exterior reason to justify the inner misery. This is also one of those situations where you should just surrender to the feelings and try to find their root.
For a long, long time, whenever somebody asked me what are my dreams and passions, I'd say I had none. I really believed it. But when I started to deal with depression, I realized it's not dreams that I don't have. It's the "I". Without the "I" to host your dreams and love and passion, you can never really feel fulfilled. You can go to the non-self states like MD or meditation to run away from the emptiness stemming from your lack of "I", but whenever you're back to your broken "I", everything collapses anew. This is what drives the addiction.
So, yeah, you're completely right: the "I" that is there when you're alone is not fully developed. It's missing one part. This exact part is accessible to you in daydreams (that's why you keep coming back to them) but it's completely distorted there and transferring it back to your real self will take a lot of work.
"Then start to change things. For somebody who has bottled things up their whole life, anger is an immensely healthy and purifying emotion. Destructive but purifying. It’s the fight component of fight or flight mode that makes one face uncomfortable situations and fears head-on, without running away from them or feeling intimidated. Anger will probably be the first emotion to awake in you relative to the real world. Welcome it and hate everything around you if you want to. Hate the real world if you need to. But hate it with passion. Just don’t be numb to it."
This was so well written I especially love the part I just quoted above. Thank you so much for writing these :)
Eretaia, You have just made me realize why I have been on such a long-term break from meditation. Is 3 weeks long-term?
Meditation is a non-self state...... and maybe that can become unhealthy for someone who has not really spent time on the home turf of self from where they started the journey. It is possible give yourself a deceptive sense of having what some teachers call "direct indirection", this feeling of not identifying with the senses, the low vibration of Brahman or however you conceptualize it, as being more real than the desire to make ego-driven connections, especially when it's referred to as the only true subject. Too subtle to ever do justice with in words. While that may be all true, and it's something I've experienced in a few moments, it's also true that you need a welcoming house to come home to after you've lain in that field gazing at the stars. Ahem. What I mean I think is that I have been placing too much outside authority in the teachings surrounding meditation. Tackling the specific problems that prevent me from full-time subjecthood make the teachings seem too distant, too one-size-fits-all.
Another phenomenon I've noticed that I might even make a post about- WHY do I enjoy taking on the form of other people in my mind, even when I am self-identifying?
What I do is not complicated when I really look at it. But I'm guessing this intoxicating habit goes along with MD. Say for instance that I am listening to a Kate Bush album, as I was today. When I am out walking, fighting with myself to stay me and the urge to switch feels like the urge to sneeze, instant and full of momentum, I can find peace by joining myself up with Kate Bush, a stream of pictures or a music video fragment. It gets fed into into this slideshow montage-stream in my head, until it's not just me walking to the store to buy milk, it's her walking to the store. Or him. (I never identify with animals, ferris wheels, the Berlin wall, thank god for what boundaries I have left) I realize how funny this might sound, and I promise its embarrassing to write. I've been doing this since preschool. The first time I remember doing it was seeing a cute boy with ginger hair on a kid's show named Shaun and casually explaining to my mom for the rest of the day that my name was really Shaun. In some ways, I recognize this as an accurate instinct about what it means to love another thing. It's the desire for subject and object to merge. You are what you focus your attention on.
But I also recognize that doing this just breathes new life into daily tasks, things that are expected of me, that I often have not much energy to do. I am no longer me shopping, I am now this snazzy new form of someone whose made an impression on me in a movie, musically, in school (and who maybe has a better-developed self?) If I were to muse about myself in this way, it might be hard to focus because I'd be packed too full of criticism.
My question though- does this still not count as identifying with myself? Even if I am here in real time, thinking about buying groceries, yet I ....look like someone else entirely? Lol.
I still don't know what it is about my physical form that I keep trying to switch away from? My appearance is something that someone else might DD about possessing. Yet I have it, and it's this sad neutral zone. To me it's like a busted old suitcase that I dress up nicely but only so that I can keep carrying around these empty projections in. Do you do ever do this?
Jane, a quote from Hesse's Siddhartha comes to mind. (If you haven't already, read this book. I'm pretty sure you'll like it.)
“What is meditation? What is leaving one’s body? What is fasting? What is holding one’s breath? It is fleeing from the self, it is a short escape of the agony of being a self, it is a short numbing of the senses against the pain and the pointlessness of life. The same escape, the same short numbing is what the driver of an ox-cart finds in the inn, drinking a few bowls of rice-wine or fermented coconut-milk. Then he won’t feel his self any more, then he won’t feel the pains of life any more, then he finds a short numbing of the senses. When he falls asleep over his bowl of rice-wine, he’ll find the same what Siddhartha and Govinda find when they escape their bodies through long exercises, staying in the non-self.”
This pretty much nails it. Meditation is sort of like pain. Facing the truth hurts like hell, facing yourself even more but this pain is liberating once you let it ravage you. On the other side, there are people that use pain to run away from pain. Self-harm or self-destructive behaviors, these things are ironically pure painkillers. Same goes for meditation. Some go to the non-self to lose themselves and some go there to find themselves. Still, I think that almost everyone who engaged in serious meditation has or will come to a point where being in non-self becomes insanely unhealthy, where you just want to tear yourself apart, and there is nothing wrong with that. It's one of the common obstacles.
You are what you focus your attention on? Spot on. You raised some excellent points in your second paragraph! I think we can classify an episode of MD as a flow state. You know, the flow states where the observer is so focused on the observed that the observer eventually becomes the observed. The same thing you described. Loss of sense of time, euphoric feelings, reduced anxiety, losing awareness of the environment - these are all hallmarks of both flow and MD so it's safe to assume that MD is a flow state itself. When you think about it, unlike what majority says, MD isn't excessive mind wandering - it's an extremely focused and directed activity. Paradoxically, you're focusing on your mind wandering, but hey, it's still a focus, an intense one at that. While in flow, there's a deactivation of the prefrontal cortex which is, among other things, responsible for our sense of self. So, physiologically, any intense focus implies temporal and partial loss of the sense of self. These states are very common among adrenaline junkies and musicians where people just merge with the activity. However, there's one little thing that makes a violinist or an adrenaline junkie different from us: they are focusing on an external activity. Violinist is focusing on playing his instrument and surfer is focusing on surfing. Daydreamer is focusing on people within his internal thought process. This is one of the reasons why boundaries between us and our daydream characters tend to dissolve and we feel like we are them. I've always thought of MD as a micro ego death (figuratively, if nothing else) - because for a brief moment, you really do abandon yourself and become other people and then you get mind raped and confused because you have no idea where they end and you begin, lol.
Say, you listen to Kate Bush, then enter MD, then become Kate Bush. But is this person really Kate Bush or is it your version of her? I think that people we become in daydreams aren't entirely false and aren't something exterior to us. They are us in a way. You may call her Kate Bush but this version of her is something you created, it's your mental construct, it's completely tainted with your idea of who you think she is. In other words, she is your projection, a mirror image of yourself. There's always a reason why your identity merges with identity of another person. You don't merge with just anyone. Your identity will usually conflate with identity of a person who has that missing part of you we talked about in previous posts.
My conclusion about this is always the same. Our sense of self is so frail that other people's identities and other people's emotions freely enter us. Like an empath that is invaded by other people's emotions, I felt for a long time like I didn't have this barrier that limits and separates me from other people so I ended up taking form of whatever you threw at me. Negative things especially, other people's insecurities, flaws, I absorbed them all and sometimes mistook them for my own. In other words, I didn't exist anywhere. Which is also why I existed everywhere - in other people's identities, insecurities and so on.
What I can tell you from my own experience is that anger seems to reverse these things. It probably has to do with anger being a natural stimulant; when you really, really explode, you'll see that you'll recover your real sense of self for a moment. And in this moment, everything will come into place, you won't care about your appearance, other people's rejections or approvals. When you're at peace with yourself, all facades break down.
PS. Holy shit, I got a bit carried away and ended up writing a novel here, lol. Sorry about that. I really enjoyed reading your post. You have an excellent insight into your own state of mind! :)