Ok, so for as long as I can remember, I have felt somewhat different to my age cohort, never really fitting in and always holding a large part of myself back. I figured that people my age wouldn't understand that most of my life is tangled up in make-believe, and that I'd be even more of an outcast if they ever found out.
I can't remember exactly when the daydreaming began to get out of hand, but I'm pretty sure I was still in my mother country at the time. I always got into trouble at school for not paying attention or for wandering off on school trips. I would be "spaced out" during instruction time and would thus have no idea what I was supposed to be doing.
I've always been a private person, and moving countries at 7 years old merely added to this. I have a vivid imagination and I get lost in books and music, becoming the main character or acting out the song lyrics in my mind. Music dictates my moods, my dreams, my ability to interact with reality. I pace during my daydreams, or I lie in bed, depending on the dream and the music. I have difficulty getting to sleep because my daydreams take over, my mind races and I. Find it impossible to "switch off" sometimes. If I'm interrupted during a daydream where I'm in a bad mood, it carries over into my physical life, often sparking arguments or causing my family to bewail my mercurial temper.
I live most of my physical life in my bedroom and I hate it when people come in unannounced. My family are used to it by now, they don't comment anymore when they come in and I'm standing in the middle of the room with my mouth open as though I've been having a conversation with nobody. It's always dark in my room, so sometimes they don't see. The door is always shut if I'm in there, because I get embarrassed when I realise that I'm walking around talking to people that aren't real. Getting caught at it is even worse. I convinced my parent to get a roller blind installed on my bedroom window to keep as much light out as possible and prevent my being seen by anyone outside. I find it easier to surrender to the daydreams in the dark.
I still interact with the world enough that I've completed a Bachelor degree, but if I didn't daydream so much, I'm almost certain I would have made the first cut for Honours.
I find it impossible to daydream when I'm with other people because I get nervous about people finding out, so I make extra sure that I pay special attention. High school was a nightmare of rejection and withdrawing for me, because I wasn't like my peers. I have never had a romantic relationship and I'm 21.
My daydreams are safe and in them I am loved, wanted. The fictional character I inhabit most often has morphed from a boy prodigy to a gay teenage genius. He has a boyfriend I made up myself and they are happy together.
There are times when I have neglected to do the chores I'm supposed to do because I've gotten caught up in my daydreams and chores just haven't been part of it today. Sometimes, my fictional self does empty and reload the dishwasher, swap the washing around or put the vacuum around. Not often, but sometimes.
On my good days, I can draw myself out of the daydreams in order to do what I need to do to have the time to daydream. I can bribe myself into doing chores, getting out of bed or going to my lectures with the promise that once it was done, i would be free to indulge in my daydreams without feeling guilty.
On my bad days, I get so caught up in my daydreams that I don't leave my room until my mum gets home from work. I won't eat, drink or make any effort to engage with the outside world. I rarely leave the house because it interferes with my daydreams. I contemplated suicide in my later high school years because I couldn't bring myself to tell anyone about my alternate reality and explain how hard it was for me to be living in two worlds at once. My education has been dogged by the timeless comment of "She could be brilliant if she just put in a little more effort" from teachers who had no idea how much effort I put into giving their classes the time of day.
My daydreams are the only things that have kept me from being maladjusted, I think, because I was almost always socially isolated during my school years, what with my head being "in the clouds" and having the gall to be a redhead in a school where blonde was the only "in" hair colour. It didn't help that I was a deep thinker, with a somewhat odd perspective. Teachers adored me, because I was quiet, studious and polite. Other students avoided me because I was "weird".
I quit my job because the stress of it was too much on top of my uni schedule and the need to daydream. More often than not, I find my daydreams help me to cope with stress by letting me explore it in a more controlled environment of my own creativity. I work through it by becoming different characters and deciding how they would react to my current crisis, and going with the one that is most effective at minimising both the impact on my daydreaming time and my feelings of stress.
Some days, I have violent daydreams about being in a serious car accident or being shot while at the shops. These are very counterproductive to my efforts to get out more. I can rarely handle having more than one close friend at a time, and sometimes switch from one to another almost overnight, without warning or cause.
I get super-cranky when I can't daydream for long periods at a time. Social functions drain me, and I find myself needing to "recharge" alone in my room with my fictional reality. Camping trips are horrible, because there is nowhere I can go to escape.
Hi, I'm Thandi. Welcome to my life of maladaptive daydreaming.