Maladaptive Daydreaming: where wild minds come to rest
The thing about MaDD that is most troubling to me is the re-playing of events from my past with me coming out as the winner this time.
It is humiliating to even think that I have such low self-esteem that I need to go over past abuses and it is more bad news that I cannot stop this re-hashing of the past and it is terrible that I act out the part where I strangle or kick the s.o.b.
Easy to say I have to let go of the past. Easy to pass judgement on me and tell me I am beating myself up and that I should forgive but the addictive DD behavior continues and if I could stop doing it I would.
It is mortifying to get busted for talking out loud, swearing at someone who isn't there, making movements as if fighting someone. Any counselor can tell me to stop the behavior when I realize I am doing it and to be Mindful and I know they are right and I try to be present and aware of my surroundings. But it is a constant struggle to bring my mind out of my fantasy life into the unhappy real life where I have to live.
I am amazed at the number of people on this website and on the DayDream inBlue group who are day-dreamers.
I wish that I could convince the marginal ones who could quit that they must stop this terrible habit if they can because it robs us of our life.
Dr. Eli Somer makes the case that MaDD is co-morbid with other mental problems - i.e. people with this personality trait often have other mental issues. With me I so have much resentment against so many people and against pretty much the world in general that I live with violent thoughts and when people drive badly and do things that are disrespectful to me or to other people or hurt people unnecessarily it triggers me into going into imaginary revenge.
I have had some small success with Mindfulness, focusing just on breathing. It is a good practice for anyone to do. And maybe I have avoided some episodes of MaDD by being in a space of doing nothing but breathing. Until they come up with a cure that is not worse than the disease or some training camps for us that are affordable and workable that is all I have to work with.
I hope I have not alienated people here by admitting all of this. And I am open to any advice that is practical - just not judgement.
Thank you for sharing, Daniel. This is an interesting discussion. You are not alone. My personal reaction to what you describe is -- No need to feel bad! Or ashamed or embarrassed! If you need to replay an experience over and over, there's nothing wrong with that. I do relate to the desperate desire to get out of that loop though. What has been most effective for me personally has been to say, okay, if my body spirit needs to do this over and over, there's a good reason. I'm trying to get something I need, but I'm not getting it. So I try to identify what I need, and get that for myself. And that can happen in the daydream and it can happen in this world or both! I used to really struggle to stay out of violent daydreams. But I actually do use my daydreaming powers to heal trauma effectively. I saw someone post that it's an ineffective way to deal with trauma, but I've found the opposite to be true. I'm a witch, and I do time travel rituals to go back into specific traumatic memories to sit with myself, to protect myself, to nurture and care for myself in those moments. Or even change the outcomes. I have, and still do, struggle with welding my daydreaming power - sometimes it's unwieldy. But when I can harness it, which I feel largely effect at now, it's the most powerful tool I have at my disposal for healing and for growth. And not just for revisiting traumatic memories, but for healing traumas I can't name that live in my body or persistent traumas that aren't located in a specific event. And also for creating joy and pleasure for myself which are essential for healing trauma. I also find daydreaming to be an effective way for me to explore who I am becoming and what kind of life I want to create. There's a reflexiveness between the other worlds I visit and this one - they change each other. There is certainly some escapism, but sometimes that's needed and essential. I find my daydreaming functions on many levels. I'm only just now learning that other people have this same capacity. And I'm reeling with the diversity of how everyone has learned to/is learning to move through the world with it. At some point, I just decided to stop fighting it. Like if you can't beat it join it kind of a thing. But I also always had a sneaky suspicion that there was something important about it. So I just leaned in. And I daydreamed with complete abandon, and I would call in sick to stay home and daydream A LOT -- that absolutely had a negative impact on my work life, but I'm convinced it was the best and healthiest thing I could have done. I almost got fired from that job. Then I got a new job, and I DID get fired from that job. But for the past five years, I've been very fortunate to have a job with a lot of flexibility and for the past year I have been working remotely full time. Which gives me a lot more freedom to lean into the daydreams. Also, many years ago, I developed a motto: "triage for shame." So, over time I learned to daydream more completely and enthusiastically and whole heartedly and without any shame about it at all (regardless of the content), and it does require jumping through some practical hoops to keep my job and life together / it also requires just not caring about how clean my house is sometimes and things like that. But what I've found is that my capacity for world building is one of my greatest strengths - it's become my greatest sources of healing and growth as well. There are endless worlds inside myself. How magical and beautiful is that? Some of them are bleak and violent, but for me, the releasing of shame has allowed me a lot more agency in how I visit and exit all the worlds. I also really like the advice to shift some of that energy back into THIS world. That's a built in part of all my rituals - give back/pay it forward. That's always a really effective way of creating a positive feedback loop between this world and all the other worlds too, so that, for me at least, they start to harmonize in a way instead of always feeling like I'm being pulled apart in different directions, I feel like an artist or like I'm part of a choir of worlds.