Wild Minds Network

Where wild minds come to rest

Revalidating Real Life after Maladaptive Daydreaming

Almost five years ago I became entrenched in Maladaptive Daydreaming. I was in deep denial of how badly my degree had been going for the five years previous to that and I took refuge somewhere no one else could go. It ate up days, weeks and months of my life.

More than three years ago I escaped university, retreated home and licked my wounds. MD followed me home.

More than two years ago, I was in a bad relationship that cured MD simply by giving me no time for escapism. When that ended, MD returned immediately.

More than one year ago, I decided I was sick to death of my own mind and started retaliating against MD in every way I could.

Today, I am myself again. Maybe even better.

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I have divided my posts into:

- a summary of all the strategies I found useful, for people in a hurry
- a detailed exploration of everything that triggered and sustained and defeated my MD
- a short description of where I am a year later as of writing this post
- a fancy-pants conclusion

Everyone is different. This is what worked for me, bearing in mind that I had a combination of Attention Deficit Disorder, anxiety, depression and anaemia. I hope the strategies are helpful regardless of how you came to be here.

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Claire I would be happy to put this in other places but I don't know where they are! I just crawled out of the woodwork to post this and haven't researched current MD forums. Can you link me to them?
I will probably wait for feedback before spreading it around though.
Do you know if the discord group still exists?
Thank you for sharing
Unfortubayely my guy spends all his time alone driving a truck.
Hours to dream.
With me i distract him out temporarily but thats not enough cause i only see him once every two months..
He says md is a curse but he tries zports vitamins but his diet is bad.
He thinks he is lazy

This is so touchingly deep and so articulately described.  I am moved by your insight.

Malteser said:

Fatigue - I was tired and frustrated with the world I'd created and the dissatisfying loops, and as my awareness of why I did it grew so did the hollowness become more apparent. I wouldn't just watch their movies in my head, I started to analyse them and name them by the emotions they were replacing.

Loneliness, disappointment, powerlessness.

These came hand in hand with instantly gratifying, sparkling creativity which will always be how I process my life for good or ill (evidently).

When I started to figure out what the daydreams represented, they started to get derailed more easily. If you think you are watching a story about friends and realise you are staring at your own loneliness, you look away.

Wow. So touching and insightful.

Malteser said:

Be brutally honest.

On 02 January 2018 I had a burst of art in the day and a huge bout of daydreaming. I stayed awake all night on 03 Jan refusing to quit/sleep until I had DONE SOMETHING. I had hoped ever since my daydreaming became maladaptive that I could make something out of it. A fanfiction to end all fanfiction - I couldn't, it was too personal. A world-building guide on how to develop ideas from initial concepts -that's what we’re all good at. I couldn't back then, because I had to both expose what mess was in my head and pretend my opinion had any weight.

Well I've gotten in the habit of being kind to myself and I've gotten better at rebelling against my passive identity. At 4am on the third of January 2018 I started to write my world-building guide. About three sentences in I felt the need to explain WHY I was writing it. What came out was a deluge of all the emotions I'd thrown away and all the unhappiness and all the hopelessness I felt from not being myself for so many years and despite so many countless second chances.

I wrote exactly how I felt, with vicious honesty towards myself and towards others, I even allowed my character surrogates to vent about their pointless endless loops, I even apologised to my inner world for the sad state of the source material! I admitted what I had wanted and what I had failed at. I admitted how ill not believing in myself had made me. I admitted that my reasons were justified.

So try a brain dump or three. Your emotions are currently being bottled and suffocated and scapegoated into daydreams. You're allowed an opinion. Externalise it.

Love this.  

Malteser said:

Reclaimed territory

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In response to someone else's (2019) post about what type of dissociation MD actually is:

I wonder if we’re de-subjectifying ourselves. Not sure how that would be different to dissociation/derealisation/depersonalisation. We aren’t saying we’re not ourselves, we aren’t saying the world isn’t real, we aren’t pretending no one else has feelings. We’re making ourselves not be the subject of our own lives. We’re concocting more ‘perfect’ subjects for our imaginary lives, and even if we give them awful trials and deep flaws or unrealistic successes we forgive them and believe in them, but not in ourselves.
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One concept I've found the most empowering during my tribulations is ‘reclaimed territory’.

You're about to go through a break up with your daydreams. You might look at the world listlessly and see it as full of things you can't do anymore.

On the other hand you might realise every single thing you start to do again or place you start to go again or emotion you start to feel again is reclaimed territory.

You are not shutting yourself off from the infinite world of your dreams, you are about to start conquering your new kingdom. You will be so relieved when you meet yourself there again. It's really not scary to stop maladaptive daydreaming, because suddenly you'll have time to build some of the things you've been only imagining.

'Reclaimed territory' is an attitude adjustment that will help you focus on the progress you're already making, and not on how far there is to go.

When I wrote this long article on 08 Jan 2018, I hadn't written since 2014. I wrote 5120 words in half a day, despite being at my job for 8 hours, because I was finally writing about what mattered to me. I, finally, mattered to me.

It took another year, right up to today, to know that it had all worked and that I was 99% free of Maladaptive Daydreaming. To have the attention span to edit something a dozen pages long, and the self-esteem to believe it might help someone else.

I cannot tell you how enough how beautifully you express yourself.  I encourage you to submit an article about this to Psychology Today.

Malteser said:

In Conclusion

Dealing with an addiction that exists only in your own mind is not just a case of taking medication and hoping it blows over.

We decide how we experience the world and when it stops making sense our emotions get tied in knots. When we start to deny what is wrong or difficult we start to suffocate our own thoughts because we can’t bear where they’re going.

An anticipated problem is so much more overwhelming than a real problem if we don’t know how to take action against anticipation. Fears are easily magnified - the real world is more finite. But our true selves and our self-esteem, our will to keep existing, are very precious to us and that is why we are so insanely sensitive to threats against them.

Unlike alcoholics or self-harmers we choose to conceal ourselves in coping mechanisms that don’t cost money and can’t leave scars - crutches that outsiders can’t see and that no one else can take away. We know something is wrong, because we keep needing more of our ‘drug’. Yet we can’t switch it off because we can no longer tell which of our tangled underlying thought processes is causing the problem. Nothing in the real world is satisfying, because it’s out of our control.

It’s common knowledge that humans react to danger with one of three responses - fight, flight or freeze. In Maladaptive Daydreaming I felt as though my body was frozen, my mind was in flight and and my subconscious / dissociated emotions were fighting me every step of the way. Somehow that was more satisfying than being a person.

The first solution is listening. Listen to everything you have to say. It’s not the same as facing your fears, you don’t have to wrestle your exhausted brain into submission, you don’t have to have a solution today. Listening is a precursor to change. Once you stop running and listen to yourself, you begin validating yourself. By the time you understand why you made these choices, you won’t feel guilty and hateful for daydreaming. Eventually, when you start responding to your (real) needs, you won’t need your ‘drug’ anymore.

I found when you completely stop daydreaming, you actually make sense out of when went terribly wrong in the past, and then you feel so stupid. It's as if I left my life behind me, when I started to do MDD, just to get away from reality. Sadly, I have to start my life over again.

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