A few basic details:
- age 28, can't remember a time before I did MD. I remember being distressed by how much of me it took off and feeling unable to stop as early as 7. I've been aware of the name of it and that others do it to for maybe the last 3-4 years
- I do it in a fairly stereotypical way based on what I've read - I pace compulsively, it takes every waking moment unless engaged in an externally enforced task, I like to listen to music while doing it, I skin pick, I catch myself speaking or doing faces out loud
- affects my life negatively in a range of ways I won't bore you with here, but includes relationships, some elements of health, work and general activity/self fulfillment.
- have tried repeatedly to stop! Hoping this community might help to give me the accountability /support to get some control over it.

I do love my daydreams and characters etc which I part of the problem, but I give them so more of my attention than my own life with the inevitable fallout from that. It's a deeply unhealthy relationship I have with them at the moment. If possible I would like to just do it an appropriate/controlled amount but if need be would go cold turkey

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Hi Poppy,

 

I had been daydreaming and picking my skin since about the same age as you and had tried to stop a couple of times but never seemed to get past it. Here are a couple of points that helped me:

  • I had always tried to stop when I was exhausted by the reality of daydreaming ruining my life. Those where also the times when I had the least willpower, so I began quitting daydreaming and picking my skin in steps at times when I knew I’d be busy with other stuff and mentally in a good place. I first stopped daydreaming throughout lectures by taking notes like crazy. I stopped daydreaming in the car by singing along to new music every day. I stopped picking my skin when I moved to a new place and met new people.
  • I also tried focusing more on inviting good stuff in my life. One way was starting to exercise and eating a cleaner diet which both helped a lot with my mental capacity to stay away from daydreaming when it tried coming back.

 

  • It has also been critical to me to realize that I wished my life to be different but instead of doing something about it I had spend years and even decades dreaming my life away with nothing to show for. I quit daydreaming when I was 25 and have never looked back. It’s not that life is suddenly easy and perfect but I am enjoying actual life now.

I quit picking my skin about a year later and am still struggling due to side effects to endometriosis medication. I have come to terms with it though and am continually coming closer to who I prefer to be. A clean diet and some vitamins have helped greatly.

 

What has also helped me was one post by someone in this forum. It was a post in July 2017 and it had one sentence that had touched something within me:

“There’s no way MDD can give you the future you expected, but only in your imagination, not in the realistic world.”

By the time I read that post I had always though I’d be at a very different point in life: I had expected to be married by then, having great friends and a high-level job. Instead, I was single, I had been emotionally distant the few friends I had and had just started over career-wise living at my parents’ place.

Nothing changes if we ourselves don’t put in some effort. It doesn’t have to be much but a little bit every day/ week/ month can go a long way. It might take some time to see some change and there will most likely be setbacks but we have such a beautiful mind and don’t need to settle for a life only in mdd.

Wishing you all the best for your road ahead!

Hi Judi,

Thank you for your lovely supportive post! It's good to hear from someone who's been in a similar position and come out the other side. Interesting that you also did the skin picking thing - I wonder if there's a link in terms of self soothing, or something else?

I've tried to stop countless times, some with more serious intent than others. I'm actually not feeling that motivated right now but I'm in a good place for it in terms of life and environment so I want to give it a go. I suppose I tend to feel more motivated when I'm miserable and things are going badly, but those are the times it's hard to make positive change do won't necessarily stick! So trying to motivate myself now, when I'm more in control of my life and more time to fill it with real rewarding stuff (rather than the mental junk food of daydreams).

Also interesting that you found exercise and clean diet helped both as a distraction and in itself to keep your mind clear. I'm hoping to overhaul my diet and exercise too so good to know that might be a side effect! I'm a little leery of doing the classic thing of trying to change it all at once but sometimes it's easier to get motivation that way.
In terms of how I'm getting on so far:

- have quit sugar as of yesterday (lots of hunger pangs despite not restricting calorie intake at all!)

- trying to fix my sleep - I've noticed this has a huge impact on how much I daydream. I've stopped shift work recently (hence the attempted life overhaul - ever changing shift patterns were sabotaging every previous attempt I made)

- trying to build up exercise habits again - I run but have been bad with it lately

- have been trying to listen to podcasts in some situations where I would usually just daydream (e.g. walking, cooking) I've tried this before but they don't usually hold my attention, the guilty feminist us doing a good job at the moment though! :)


Things I'd like to add in:

- start off saying 'no daydream in x situation' and building that up - Jui it sounds like you did something like that and it worked for you? Might start with none while getting ready in the morning, and getting ready for bed at night.

- branch out more with exercise types - join a gym or a sports club of some type, incorporate socialising

- am planning to team up with a friend to form a sort of mutual accountability arrangement where we check in with each other

- suspect I will need to find an alternative creative outlet - I always start to feel a serious lack of this when quitting



I have serious issues with sustaining positive changes and the daydreaming is both cause and effect for that. The trouble is I've tried and failed to change so many times I've lost a lot of faith in my ability to do so. However the alternative is just to give up, which if I follow it through to the likely conclusion means just acknowledging my pretend relationships will always be more important than real ones, I'll always have a fairly boring life in reality, superficial friendships only, lacking competence in daily life, and most likely die alone.

Which is too depressing to let sit. So when I feeling like giving up on giving up I just think about what that would really mean for a while!

Hi Poppy,

 it seems like you are at a good place and very aware of how things are for you. I tried quitting a couple of times before I finally got through. Eventually I just reached the point where things worked together well. I hope things are going well for you! A step-by-step approach has certainly helped me!

I feel like your description is very accurately: “However the alternative is just to give up, which if I follow it through to the likely conclusion means just acknowledging my pretend relationships will always be more important than real ones, I'll always have a fairly boring life in reality, superficial friendships only, lacking competence in daily life, and most likely die alone.”

It's how I felt before I was finally about to leave it behind me. There really is a foggy real life ahead when we choose to stay in our dreams instead of reality. Some might be able to sustain an emotionally rich life while continuing daydreaming but I was certainly not one of them and I knew I never would be. My daydreams consumed the friendships I had, my education and my future. I managed to hold on to some friends and graduated with acceptable grades, but it was only shallow and generic. It’s still frustrating looking back at all those years I “lost” though staying in my dreams when I could have made so much more out of my actual life. In the end though I am grateful I quit at the time I did.

 Congratulations on quitting sugar! I have found sugar being a big issue for my mental health and have moved towards healthier snacks. With the diet changes I went all in from day one. I started following a plant-based diet and with that over time moved away from processed food to healthier choices. Sometimes I still reach out to some less healthy foods for comfort and joy but I have over time found many perfectly health meals that are very comforting too.

 As far as skin picking goes: I do believe it had been about self-soothing. While daydreaming it had also been about doing something with my hands while my mind was busy. I had developed a self-hate towards my body and am only slowly finding my way out.

Hi Jui,

In terms of how the quitting sugar is going - I'm typing while eating a particularly tasty maple & pecan cake. It only lasted a few days sadly. It;s not the most concerning of my unhealthy habits though in the long run it probably is one I should address!

I think part of my problem is I can be very self aware about why I want to cut down on MDD, & can wax lyrical about how it suppresses and takes over from my actual life. Unfortunately this doesn't translate to actual changed behaviour - as soon as i'm bored or between activities i go back to it. And if i keep myself too busy or surrounded by people to do it I get extremely snappy and start craving it like nothing else. It's difficult to unpick cause and effect with my low boredom threshold and MDD - did i start it as a little kid because i couldn't stand to have any time spent unstimulated or disinterested? Or am I so intolerant to boredom because I've always been abe to make up a story that perfectly suits my emotional and entertainment needs of the moment on the spot? It's bizarre how long I've been doing it - I distinctly remember doing it in it's current form at age 5 (used to tell my friends we could only play every other breaktime because I needed to have 1-2 times in the school day where I could skip up and down and daydream.....yeah it affected my relationships). My mum ven said she remembers me spending a solid hour just making two toys talk to each other continuously age 18 months which I think may have been the very earliest form. Essentially this is something I've done my whole damn life so it's hard to know where to begin unpicking it. From the moment I open my eyes in the morning, before I even get out of bed and switch off the alarm I have to pick the DD of the day to be able to get moving. 

To quit I'm going to have to reeducate my brain into a whole new way of thinking it's never done before and I'm honestly not sure how, or if it's even possible or healthy to do so. But in it's current system has so many problems and has left me feeling like I'm missing out on my own life.

I'm sorry to hear about your body related issues, I'm glad it's starting to get better for you. It can be such a hard thing to deal with. I think mine initially started with a fairly early puberty and freaking out about the changes my skin was undergoing and wanting to get rid of it, but now has become habitual, compulsive and yes maybe self soothing. 

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