Where wild minds come to rest
I have a daughter who is a MDDr. She acknowledges that she does this, but doesn't see a way to stop. I have tried to encourage her to use some of the methods here and she is starting counseling again in a few weeks. I just don't know what to do to help her....as someone with MDD do you want a reality check (seems like she gets angry when we point it out)? Do you want the triggers removed? Do you want someone to remind you that your real life may not be perfect, but it can be better if you spend time in it? She is 23, no social contacts whatsoever that are her age. If you could tell someone how to help you...what would you say?
Whitney...thank you so much for your honesty and suggestions. You reminded me of some very important things that I need to do better. All four of my children are adopted from CPS and I have tried to work with each of them on the issues and struggles they have. I have tried to tell each of them that their OCD/MD/ADD (or whatever, I hate labels, but sometimes it's a relief to give it a name) is just a part of them. It will be with them in life. The condition is like a person in the back seat that is trying to tell them which way to go. They have to remember that they are in control and tell the passenger so....and most importantly, never let them drive.
I really, really sympathize with you and your daughter. I was the same way at her age (I'm 32 now). Unfortunately, my parents never intervened, and I only spiraled further into self-imposed isolation. I dropped out of school and lost the few remaining contacts I had. I was completely shut off at that age. No friends. No work. No experiences. No life. I was in the hospital. I saw counselors off and on over the decade. I was placed on various medications, none of which worked. I was very miserable and lonely, and I thought about suicide frequently. I really wish my parents had been more proactive in helping me, but they are not very sophisticated people. My family tends to avoid conflicts by not acknowledging them. I became a shut-in for several years, and even to this day, I think, "What the hell were you thinking, mom and dad??"
It should be obvious that letting your child disappear into their room instead of living fully and engaging with the real world is about the worst possible mistake a parent can make. It's as if my parents thought so little of me that they just left me there to rot. My mind was pretty warped then, because I had no contact, so I became paranoid and even more anxious. But really, what person doesn't want to get out of the house, fall in love, make friends, go on adventures, grow and mature, gather experiences?? Why didn't my parents want me to have a life? Were they stupid or something?!
But here you are, and you're doing something about your daughter's health, and this is such a weird moment for me, because I wish more than anything that someone had stopped me and helped me get back to reality. You have no idea the torment of being alone for so long--I can't stop crying because I'm still alone, and I have a lot of anger and regret about those years. I won't get that time back. Ever. Don't be a rotten parent. DO SOMETHING FOR YOUR DAUGHTER'S SAKE.
What Whitney says is absolutely true. And I also used to get very upset when someone interrupted me, because it's like being yanked away from heaven. it's really difficult to get back into the daydream when someone bothers you. I used to hate it so much. If I could go back in time and tell my parents what to say it would be something like: "Please, I love you, but I think you're drifting away. I don't want you to die here alone in this house. I don't want you to miss out on life. I want you to have friends again. I want you to fall in love. I want you to be adventurous, because life is short, and because all the little things that we are afraid of are so, so silly. DAYDREAMING IS NOT WORTH IT. DON'T DIE HERE. GO!"
For me, MDD is not about the daydreaming, per se. It's just a coping mechanism for how shitty I feel on the inside. It's a neurotic symptom that allows me to compensate for feeling inferior. I can't stand myself, so I escape the present to lead an imaginary life where I'm all the things I know I'll never be in real life. I often imagine future scenarios instead of working towards them. I have very low self-esteem, because I feel I never accomplished much growing up. I never struggled. I always avoided things. My parents are to blame for being "helicopters" when I was younger, but I'm 32 now. The responsibility is my own. I'm ashamed at the poverty of experiences I've had. I feel like an alien, profoundly disconnected from others. I wish now more than ever that I could rejoin the world and be just like everyone else, but being social is still very difficult. If I had developed these skills over time, then this wouldn't be so difficult now.
Long story short. Don't abandon your daughter. Don't let her slip away into a hellish existence of isolation and loneliness. Do whatever, just don't stop doing something. You may need to broach difficult topics like how to take pride in our self-image, how to have a healthy sexual relationship, how to let go of old hurts and preconceived notions about ourselves, how to try new things and explore, even if they turn out less than stellar--and it would really help if you and her did something together--if both of you got out of your comfort zones and tried something, like dancing classes, or some kind of social club. Do it together. I can't emphasize that enough. Gently nudge her toward the other humans in the room, and don't let her drop out at the first sign of trouble. Be a parent for christsake!
I really, really hope this helps. You've got kudos for coming here and talking about this. I'm happy for that. Your daughter has a fighting chance with you helping her. Take care, and I wish all the best in the universe for you and her!!!
Matthew, I am so humbled that you would be willing to tell me your story. Yes, I cried through the whole thing because this is not a movie...this is someone's pain. I'm not a great parent, believe me. I always thought this daughter was the easy, quiet one. That's how she was able to pull away. She seemed happy, just shy. I actually could relate to the fact that the "real" world is so much harder, stressful and confusing. I mean, who really wants to play all those head games that they do in high school? I really thought it was a "coping mechanism"...that it was her way of being in control when she could not in the real world. I actually just found the name for this in the last six months. Before that, I thought it was OCD and a compulsive type disorder. So, for your parents, they didn't have access to the vast information that I have through the internet. There is such a fine line when you love a child, but don't want to do things to push them away. My greatest fear was if we confronted her and pushed our agenda, then she would move out before she was ready. So, maybe we looked the other way when we should have said more.
You are such a young man...you say you are 32...so much life to live and things to experience. The internet, TV, movies...they all make us feel like we are dull and lead unexciting lives. Life is only lived in moments. Try to have as many good moments as possible. Hug a pet, smile at someone, mail a card to an elderly person, do something for someone else...that is what will give purpose. Don't measure your life by what you see around you...most of it is unrealistic or false (like all the Instagram and Facebook posts, talk about depressing). And whatever you do, don't beat yourself up for what you haven't done, if you do you're taking precious moments away from the present.
Your advice is invaluable...one of her therapists several years ago mentioned dance class for her. I thought it was for the OCD and it didn't make sense. We are looking into a Yoga class so upon your advice, I will definitely follow through (and that will be out of my comfort zone lol).
Please continue to reach out to people, to not be so hard on yourself and to find help for the MD. You sound like a great person with so much to offer!!!
I'll be honest, your daughter's situation looks bleak to me, but it's a very good thing that you're actively trying to help. As Matthew pointed out, it can make the difference between the problem being solved in a matter of months, or decades, or not at all. Now, due warning: what follows is my own experience. So far I've seen it resonate a lot with how other people go through this kind of situation, but there's no way for me - or indeed, anyone - to know what exactly is going on in her head. It's too subjective to know for sure. Talking about these things in third person pretty much seals off a lot of necessary information.
You mentioned how she gets angry when she's given a reality check. Have you considered that she might get angry not because you reminded her that her daydreams aren't real, but because you reminded her of something she's already well aware of? She might not even be angry at you, but instead at herself if her situation is anything like mine was until a couple of years ago.
It's possible that your daughter perceives the world around her as hostile and alien, a place she feels she must reject. If she feels that reality is overwhelmingly negative and beyond all hope of reconciliation, odds are that she's retreated into a fantasy world of her own making, the purpose of which is to compensate for what she feels she needs, but cannot have. Emotions are the focus of all this. Emotional health is essential for our well-being, and overwhelming impossibility with no visible way out is something our brains don't take kindly to. In her daydreams, she would try to feel the comfort, satisfaction, happiness or peace of mind (or any combination of them) that she feels the outside world has denied. However, this process is doomed from the start. No such "simulation" can occur without the inevitable realization that ultimately it's all fake, and if we're talking about feelings she has never actually experienced, she would only be able to daydream about her own speculation about what they might be like, further distorted by what she would want them to be like. This, in turn, has very dangerous consequences on her standards and expectations, which have an extremely high risk of being skyrocketed to impossible heights, only worsening her view of reality and pushing her further away. It's a mad vicious cycle that would eventually trap her in a mental bubble-cage that can be incredibly difficult and painful to break out of.
Note that in all this, she would be aware that what swirls around her imaginary world is not real. This isn't schizophrenia, she could still tell clearly and immediately what is real and what isn't, and would know that something's wrong. The issue stems from how she feels about the comparison between the two.
There is nothing you - or anyone else - can do to help her directly. Your only option is to look for ways to push her (or rather, cause her to push herself) towards coming to terms with both reality and her own feelings. If her need to reject reality and retreat into fantasy truly comes from a distorted and corrupted point of view, it must be brought down to clean up the mess, but discreetly. Trying to do it yourself will not work. Instead, you must poke her way of thinking in the right spots. There won't be any visible change at first, but her mind will react, and if the right conditions occur she will challenge those distorted views herself and maybe even break free and "wake up". I believe this would happen naturally in the end, but without intervention it could take too long.
These are my two cents. I hope I helped in any way, but I can't stress this enough: be very careful if you decide to follow up on what I said. I might be completely off the rails with this and I have no way to be certain. If I'm wrong and her condition is nothing like what I know, it could result in even more damage.
Good luck, I hope you can help her and this situation becomes just a memory.
Camoran...again, excellent comments from you and you clearly have battled these things yourself. I did see the information and printed off an article about MDD and gave it to her. I was excited to see that it had a name and was not truly OCD. I told her that I gave her the article not because I expected it to fix everything or change her, but that she would realize she was not alone. To date, I don't believe she has read it.
You hit the nail on the head when you talk about emotions being the key. And yes, I know she wants to feel all those emotions but as you said...its easier within the walls of fantasy where there is no rejection, perfection, or other person's emotions to deal with.
I do need to gently push her toward other people and experiences as suggested by Matthew and Whitney...but you are correct, it has to be her choice because there is nothing I can do...except not give up on her...which I have no intention of doing.
She knows she is adopted, has known since she was around 4, and the circumstances behind it. She also knows that her biological mother drank during her pregnancy and that she was malnourished when removed from the home. During parental visits, at the age of 2, she used to sit under the table while the other sisters talked to their mother. I'm sure the stress of what was going on pushed her into creating her own world. When she was in second grade, her teacher approached me and said she had never seen a student like her...it's as if she didn't know how to reach her. I explained that my daughter wasn't really going to school...she was "pretending" that she was going to school. Like what she did during play time at home. I had to explain to my daughter that there was a difference.
Camoran, I appreciate your thoughts...you are right, it may get messy and I will be wary of pushing too far, too fast. I am hoping her therapist will research MD enough to be able to tackle it head on!
Good luck, I hope you can help her and this situation becomes just a memory.
Matthew...as the phrase goes "I don't know the amount that I don't know!" You are providing information that I have never researched so that is my next step.
I was actually very frustrated with my parents because I felt they did not "push" me hard enough. I got decent grades so that was fine. I wasn't in sports, that was okay. I had anxiety about college so I got married and a job right out of high school. Literally, until my children turned about 10-13, I thought my parents were responsible for all that I did and didn't do. Then I saw my (other) sullen 13 year old daughter. She was rude and she didn't want to do anything. We encouraged sports, no. We tried to bribe by giving her drum lessons if she would try track. No. She did not want to talk to us, be with us, listen to us, period. She hated school and barely made it through. Got a job and a boyfriend and moved out. That went on for the next seven years. She now is starting to realize that some of our advice was for her benefit, that we weren't trying to be controlling.
Your situation is different, I realize that from reading what you wrote. And I will never know what all you have been through....I just know that even if my stubborn daughter could go back to her 13 year old self and tell her what she is in for...it probably wouldn't make a difference. She was at a mental state..at that time..and in defense mode to any suggestions and advice. She really hadn't developed enough to think ahead. If you have had no tragedy to toughen you up...be thankful.
Do I still wish my parents had pushed me? It's a moot point because: I am, the sum of my parts. My anxiety, my creativity, my wallflower tendencies. They would still be there even if I went to college (but I probably would have dropped out). The experiences that most affect my life are the ones I had when I was on my own as an adult...the conscience choices that I made. Good and bad.
I will research the info you gave me and I appreciate the response! I also hope I have not said anything that will make you uncomfortable...I am just sharing what struck me persoally like a lightening bolt!
Sorry, I deleted my last message. I think I ranted a bit more than I intended to. But you're right, we're not really receptive to advice until we're ready for it. So it's a bit silly to constantly think about what might have happened, or what could have been done differently. In the end, it's better to just let that stuff go, and move on. The best moments are the ones you choose for yourself, like you said. I hope you are well. Take care!
Ranting is completely acceptable on a forum page...the fact that you are on here trying to help others proves you are going in the right direction. It's a choice we have to make every day, to live above the line. Some days are easier than others...but the good thing is, we get a new start every 24 hours. Good Luck to you also.
I absolutely agree with you, it's important to get engage in a lot's real life activities and relationships , that will help to divert attention from daydreaming and suppress it when it arises.
Thank you, Aziz...I am finding this out more and more. Had our first appointment with a counselor (went some years ago but starting new) and she had some great ideas. Choosing things that are pleasing in reality will act as a reward to return when she feels the need to slip away. Good Luck to you!
Aziz Seyidov said:
Searching, I used MDD as a coping mechanism for childhood abuse. Now, it is my natural default when I feel uncertain, fearful and scared. I like my MDD because it is a safe place to fall. I pretend in my real life as I go through motions, settled for things because I was taught I was worthless. I pretended so well, I ended up with a normal life. I seem to have a big personality, a loving marriage, lots of friends, and a great relationship w/h wonderful sisters. I’m successful. Yet, I still spend 2-3 hours everyday DD. It is because of DD that I can adjust to my life, that I can accept mediocrity, that I can live without violent and chaotic reactions to triggers.
Your daughter had a rough start, as did I, but what she has that I didn’t is a mother who loves her. I dissociated so much when I was a child that I never learned how to feel safe, loved, wanted, or happy. So I’ve faked it and now after years of loving myself and developing my inner child properly with years of intense therapy, I’m truly seeing worth and value. If you met me, you would think I was the most put together and amazing person. And I am, just not how others describe that image. I survived and I’m happy. I also still DD because I learned how to utilize it to help me feel safe and wanted. Your daughter can learn how to adjust to her MDD. She can deal with her pain and feelings of worthlessness with therapy. She just has to see what is at stake if she doesn’t. Ask her to come here and read.
We MDDers aren’t broken, we are just trying to cope with pain and internal struggles we didn’t have the tools for so we made up our own.