Maladaptive Daydreaming: where wild minds come to rest
Holy cow! After years of thinking I was the only clown with this problem it's both a relief and completely hysterical to discover I am not alone! I'm not here to confess my sins but I will share a few thoughts and experiences on this affliction, for anyone interested. I'm 48 years old and have been daydreaming for what seems like forever. There were traumas early in my life, which may have been the trigger to take daydreaming beyond a healthy moderation. Whatever it was, once I started I never stopped. Social life for me has seen rises and drops in popularity and friendships. Middle school years were bleak, and my grades suffered. This is where my study habits deteriorated drastically. I simply could not open a book and finish reading a paragraph without my mind taking me somewhere else. I'd be running the credits from another film in my head 2 hours later and discover I was on the same page as when I started. Incidentally, that's how it is with me. In my head my daydreams are vivid movies, and I am the director in complete control of the scenes. If along the way something doesn't seem quite right, it's as though I yell 'cut', revise the script and scene, and then yell 'action', and I run the new scene again. Anyway, I focused more on friends throughout high school and got by with passing grades, but my social life improved immeasurably, mainly due to my participation in sports which brought teammates with it. I found that my daydreaming dropped off proportionately to the number of friends I had and the time spent with them. Also, the experiences I had determined the frequency, tone, and setting of the dreams. If I was happy with my real life, then the daydreams were just a pleasant distraction. But if there was any problem or discomfort in my real world, snapping out of the dream became very stressful, because in the dream the problems were solved, yet they remained in the real world. I would find myself in loops of ecstasy then depression. Decades later the intensity of this loop would absolutely horrify me.
College was a blast. The whole newness of everything possessed my mind such that my daydreaming was pushed aside for a while. I found that I could even study and made A's in Calculus and Physics. It didn't last however. A few years went by and I lost complete interest in school and dropped out. In time I realized that my attention span was relatively short. Throughout the years I have undertaken a great many interests, some successfully and some not so much, only to later drop them abrubtly, bored stiff.
From that time to present I have had the same job. But this is just luck. The truth is that at times my boss would instruct me on how to do something, yet thanks to daydreaming I wouldn't remember but a few words of what he wanted done. My mind was trying to run films throughout the instructions. I find myself sometimes concentrating as hard as I can, shouting 'focus!' or 'stop it!' inside. I know I would have lost many jobs over the years had my only employer not been my father.
There is alot I'm leaving out, of course, and many years of good times. But presently I'm in a very bad way. Due to a strained relationship I'm wanting out of, and probably a mid-life crisis too, I'm feeling some regret for the past, and the time and opportunities wasted, in no small measure due to daydreaming. That may be normal for many people. What does not seem normal is that I am uncontrollably daydreaming about these regrets, running 30-40 films a day in my head, how they should have been instead of how they turned out, triggered not by the usual things, but by anything and everything. It's gotten so bad that people at red-lights have begun staring at me, that I am shouting and animating as I'm driving. It got so uncomfortable that I went out and bought a set of those cheap headsets with a microphone attached to put on when in the car. "I'm not crazy! I'm on the friggin phone, jackass!" my eyes scream at them now. It seems to work. I don't get so many looks any more. But even at home I'm pacing constantly. I've found myself escaping to the bathroom whispering, animating, staring, only stopping when I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror, or somebody asks me what the hell I'm doing in there. Sometimes it's so ridiculous I can't help but laugh. Humor has saved my life more than a few times.
But the loop of ecstasy then depression I mentioned earlier has taken a dramatic rise of late, due to both regret and the frequency of my daydreaming. Not to brag, but I am an expert at dreaming at this age. Much better than when I was young. When my dreams gravitate to sad themes, they are bursting with sorrow. And that sorrow is not lost upon awakening. Lately I am screaming 'stop it!' 'just stop it!' inside. It is painfully out of control. The content is personal so I won't go into it. But the intensity of this loop is wrecking my day-to-day functioning.
I've seen querries as to whether this is a curse or a blessing. My opinion is that it is both. I know without a doubt that I have one of the best imaginations in the world, and it has helped me in so many different ways throughout my life. In those times it is unquestionably a blessing. But If you've read this much then I need not explain the dark side.
Many thanks for this site. I think it will be helpful to many of us. I found it through google in desperation.
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