Maladaptive Daydreaming: where wild minds come to rest
I'm so glad I found this site. Just like so many here, I was completely aware that others did this until recently. MDD is not well known by any means. I would love to share my story for anyone who is curious.
I'm not the type of person you would likely expect to have a disorder like this. I'm young, vibrant girl living in the U.S. I'm outgoing, friendly, and very passionate about my various pursuits. I'm at the top of my class (I've had a 4.0 GPA all my life). I'm active in my community; I play sports, act, and work as an ambassador to a women's right's organization called Girl Rising. I love fashion, makeup and literature. I'm also vegan, an aspiring cook, and bisexual. I write books in my free time, as well as draw and play piano.
Now that's quite a picture, but it helps explain my story...
In my childhood, I was constantly moving around the country. I had many friends as a kid, and I was always outgoing and friendly. However, after 20 elementary schools (I have moved over 30 times) people began to seem a bit insignificant. I began to think of friends as temporary and disposable, because I knew that I would always move again within a few months. Relationships started to mean very little to me as the years went on. My MDD began then.
I never thought anything of it as a kid, and I only started to realize that I did it when I was twelve or so. That year I moved to Washington D.C. If you don't know, D.C. is extremely expensive and a modest living is worthless there. My father has always been a tightwad, but it really started to show then. I slept on the floor of the shady, cockroach-infested apartment he was renting. He was too cheap to pick a safe neighborhood or even to buy me a bed. At this age I was also a bit pudgy from youth and stress-eating and that didn't help my mental state. My father was, and still is, a [functioning] alcoholic, and my mother was mostly absent due to depression.
In school I was always considered exceptionally intelligent, and after an IQ test that year it was determined that I would go to a special, advanced school in a very expensive part of D.C. I went to school with kids much smarter than I had ever encountered, all of whom were supremely rich and talented (some went to Harvard at age 14) so instead of shining I felt insignificant.
My young mind couldn't cope with it all, so this is when my daydreaming became less of an indulgence, and more of a necessity. I became absolutely addicted to TV shows and YouTube, images of girls who had perfect lives and everything I wanted. It helped greatly numb the pain of me missing my friends, struggling in school (even as a gifted child) and living in terrible conditions.
I would lay in my bed after school and just daydream and watch TV all night. I had no siblings and no one to spend time with. At this stage my fantasies were mostly normal and more materialistic than emotional. This behavior and thinking led to a childhood depression, which isn't surprising given that mother had been depressed for years at that point (due to my father's abuse).
Eventually, my parents divorced and I moved to live with my mother in the rural midwest. I was just entering high school, and it was then that I entered a stage of numbness. I was done feeling pain and crying about my life and loneliness. I literally became numb to my own emotions. My mother, of course, thought this was odd. I seemed a bit like a 40-year old, and a bit like a psycho. I didn't cry. I didn't do much of anything at all. I smiled when she told me to smile, and sat perfectly still and quiet for hours on end. I never did much to comfort her (which looking back I bet was because I thought she was weak). No one would have known at this point that I was a MDD, or that I was even daydreaming. I never physically move my body or twitch in anyway when I'm daydreaming. I just look lost in thought.
I started high school (grade 7) I was sleeping on my grandparent's couch, where I lived (and slept) for two years. My mother had no money or job, so we had nowhere else to go. I spent my days exercising profusely, working very hard in school and, of course daydreaming. There was no where to go. Nothing to entertain me. After all, my town has under 1,500 people.
This is where my daydreaming turned into a full-fledged world. I had no alternate self in this first "world" I created, but it was very intense and vivid, and unlike before, emotional. I created deep emotional connections with the characters in my head and real life sort of phased out into the background.
After many years, I still live in a tiny town in the midwest, surrounded by corn fields. I have since overcome depression and "emotional detachment" and am now happier. I live in a small, but safe, house and will live here until I leave for college.
For me, MDD has been supremely helpful, and that is why I'm sort of confused as to whether or not it is truly a disorder for me, or just something about me. When it was strongest in my life I was very alone and I needed comfort. Without it the pain of loss and sadness might have completely overwhelmed me. I'm a perfect student, always able to concentrate through long lectures and text passages. I am still friendly and passionate. I like going out with friends. I feel very in-control of my own life, even if I don't distinctly enjoy it right now, and I'm always tethered to reality. I have goals and hopes for the future. I care very much about how others perceive me, that they don't think of me as odd or shy. I like to look good, and to be outgoing. However, I still think my daydreaming is maladaptive. It's just for another reason.
The reason I believe that my daydreaming is maladaptive is not that it is in control of my life, because I can go long periods without it, it is that the world that I've created is so much "better" than real life that I still find deep friendships/romances unfulfilling. I would rather enjoy the company of my fictional lovers or friends than a real person. Why? I have lasting, deep connections with these people. My alternate self has fallen in love, deeply, and experienced heartbreak and everything in-between. And that is something I don't know if I can come out of. Will I ever enjoy people more than those in my fantasies? I'm not sure.
I'll see what the future holds, and hopefully I will find that when I meet people in life that I enjoy, that I can put my MD aside to make room for them.
Please share thoughts/questions!