Hi everyone; I've been an immersive daydreamer since I was a kid. I'd say it turned maladaptive when I developed social anxiety: I used it as a way to have a life (in my head), but over time realized that it was keeping me from having a real life & enabling/reinforcing my anxiety-driven habits. I wasn't fulfilling my goals, just daydreaming them. 

My daydreaming in the maladaptive way has gotten better with time. The fuller my real life has become, the less I have felt the need to daydream as a coping mechanism (not that this just happened on it's own without effort, but tldr). However, I made a decision along the way that I am wondering if anyone else has done, or if anyone has done something along the same lines: 

When I made peace with the fact that giving up immersive daydreaming was a battle I didn't want to fight (it feels like a core part of my identity), I decided I needed to find a way to incorporate it in my life in a positive way. I had always wanted to be more fit, & would try to run distance, but had trouble with motivation (jogging is boring by itself lol). 

I gave myself permission to daydream in the context of running. I blast my favorite movie soundtracks and whatever other music I'm feeling that fits the vibe of the daydream, and it turned running from the most dreaded task into something I genuinely look forward to at the end of the day. 

Not to say I never daydream in other settings, and that it is never, ever maladaptive (because lets be honest, it's easy to fall into), or even that I immediately fell in love with running; but it really has helped a lot. Having a healthy outlet has been a good way for me to separate it from the attention I need to be giving my own life; and I was also able to utilize it in fulfilling one of my goals. 

TLDR: I'm wondering if anyone else has found a way to incorporate their immersive daydreaming and utilize it so it's more "adaptive" than "maladaptive?" I guess I no longer see my immersive daydreaming as the enemy, although it once was something I was absolutely addicted to, taking over my life.  

Thoughts? 

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To me it's like slipping a cigarette or two per month and then claim that you're not a smoker because you're not doing it daily. One day you'll fall off the fence eventually, and that's going to be either healthy lifestyle or back to square one.

I gave it a second thought. Just couldn't put my finger on what exactly bothers me about this topic, but now I understand.

On the one hand, it's the right way to deal with any addiction. Since usually it's impossible to go cold turkey, it's easier to set gentle limits, then gradually increase them instead of trying to axe a habit you've had for many years. That's rational, at least in my opinion.

My pet peeve with trying to befriend MD, a mental disorder, lies in the way MD operates for many people. If your brain responds to the trigger music by losing focus and giving into idling movement, then jogging is playing devil's advocate here. Assuming that it's the movement that clicks with your MD, this method sounds great as a temporary solution, but to reap the best results of it (such as realizing that MD is not a part of your identity), you'll have to set a date when you're ready to move on.

I understand where you're coming from. I think we see it fundamentally different ways. I don't see immersive daydreaming as harmful until it becomes maladaptive daydreaming. To me, it's a separate thing entirely to have immersive daydreams vs MD, & by doing this I was able to get to the point where it's not taking over my life, which is what I consider maladaptive.  

Apologies. You stated ID felt like a part of your personality, not MD. I overlooked that one.

From the research I've done so far, I know that IDers don't suffer the same consequences as MDers. But they're still trying to simulate scenarios, emotions and feelings that aren't fulfilled in real life by dreaming about them. Is that true for you?

It's all good. Well, it's the same kind of daydreaming experience for me: very immersive and detailed; I can come back to it hours or days later and pick off where I left off and have very emotional and involved experiences daydreaming.

As far as simulating scenarios and emotions missing in real life, I'd say it just depends and changes over time, as daydreaming does. Sometimes this is true, and sometimes it's just pure escapism, like with a tv show. 

In the past I felt dependent on immersive daydreams for my emotional wellbeing and coping; and that's when I learned about MD. Now that I'm not dependent on them, I feel like my daydreams are just daydreams; even though they are still very immersive. Hopefully that made sense 

That makes sense, but that's also what confuses me about ID. At face value, it looks like normal daydreaming to me, just cranked up because of your innate creativity. I won't be surprised if the majority has it the same as you nowadays, given how disconnected is the world that we live in.

I mean, if you look at the bigger picture, more people are trying to escape the real world in different ways. Tools for that are many. Akihiko Kondo who literally married a hologram is a famous example. I don't condone or condemn that, but it shows that there's a global problem that pushes people towards inventing and living in their own realities, rather than trying to fully live in the current one.

Which brings me to my point – I don't see a big problem with trying to incorporate MD into your life until it loses its grip on you and stops being MD, basically. Whether ID is something to stop at is not really my place to judge, mostly because of the doubts I have about it as a branch of MD because of the reasons I've just listed.

So it's just out of curiosity that I want to ask you, can you guarantee yourself that when another stressful period enters your life, you'll be able to hold MD off as someone who is already susceptible to that?

No idea. It's possible it could take over, it's also possible I'd have better coping strategies. It's something I'll have to figure out as time goes by. For now, I'm just happy I found something that works for me, and even works well. So I'm curious if anyone else has had successes with it. 

I want to hear from other people, too. I for one wouldn't leave anything to chance because of personal experience with doing exactly that.

I don't think I can make my daydreaming more "adaptive" than maladaptive. Is that even possible? I learned my lesson to not delve into fantasies too much. Even if I tried to incorporate the daydreaming into my everyday life, it still wouldn't make a tread of difference. In fact, people have found out that I do this stuff, simply by reading my body language and the fact I don't address to their commands. It's just not going to work with me. MD brought me nothing but trouble, and I would've been better off without it. 

I like to think that I’ve made a similar shift recently. Something that’s helped is that I now think of my daydreams as a “tutorial level” or “mini game” for the real world, rather than an alternate place to live. I use daydreaming to have fun or brainstorm solutions to my real problems, instead of to try to forget my real life.

Did it succeed in minimizing the time you spend daydreaming?

That depends on what exactly you count as daydreaming, I guess. The amount of time in a daydream is the same or higher.(I haven’t been keeping track very carefully, which, given that I’ve had severe MD in the past, is a bit irresponsible now that I think about it.) The amount of time watching media the characters come from (my daydreams are basically fanfic) is reduced by a lot, which is good because I was excessively watching TV and movies before and one of the shows had a lot of language and imagery that made me upset. I recently stopped watching that one show altogether because once I realized those characters had outlived their usefulness it was easy to just shove them into the background. I also don’t care as much now about characters being accurate to the way they are in a show because when I daydream I’m not trying to live in a show anymore; I’m more focused on doing whatever seems fun or doing thought experiments about a real-world problem.

The main change in using my daydreams productively is that it’s made me feel more happy about my real life. :) Because I don’t run from my problems anymore, I feel more confident.

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