Maladaptive Daydreaming: where wild minds come to rest
Thought I'd make another blog post that goes into more detail about myself and my MD.
So here we go (:
I've been day dreaming for as long as I can remember. Most of my childhood memories are actually pretend memories. Incredibly real to me but not to anyone else because they all happened in my head.
Along with the day dreaming I'm a pacer.
I must have done it all the time without really realizing that it was "weird"
I was young and everyone played make believe. My parents, my friends, myself didn't think it was odd or different. But then one time when I was 7 or 8 I was at this party thing with my parents.
We were getting ready to leave but my parents were taking a long time so I started to wander off in my head. Without really realizing it I had started pacing. My friend Marshall, who must have been 13 or 14 at the time called out to me and asked me what I was doing. I stopped walking and looked around everyone outside was looking at me with slightly confused and amused expressions. It then quite suddenly hit me that the whole pacing and mumbling to myself was not normal.
I don't think I've ever paced in public ever again.
But it didn't decrease the amount of dreaming I was doing. The realization that I wasn't "normal" made me feel uncomfortable. I kept the dreaming to myself but retreated further into them. In my head I was safe and understood.
My parents were and probably still are aware of the pacing. They don't get it or understand it. They don't realize that I'm still paling pretend while walking in circles like I did when I was younger.
My mother decided it was my way of thinking things through. She noticed that it would happen after I read for a while. This seems logical so I get that that is how she sees and understands it. I honestly don't know what my dad thinks of it.
Once when I was 12 or 11 my dad mentioned the pacing in front off some people. I was mortified and furious.
It's never been mentioned again.
All of my family members have walked in on me pacing but it goes untalked about.
When I was younger my day dreams were fantasies full of magic and princesses and things from novels I'd read.
When I hit middle school they changed. They turned into alternate realities. Versions of my life the way I wish it went.
I got rather depressed for a while, something I'm still struggling with, and in most of my day dreams I ended up dead. Mostly killed off by suicide.
In this period of time I grew very frustrated with my day dreams they weren't very in depth and left me feeling upset and pissed off. I missed the ones where I lived in a castle and had magic powers but every time I tried to enter one of those past dreams it felt fake and false, leaving me even more frustrated and even more depressed.
As a teenager I began falling way behind in school because instead of doing homework I'd pace around and day dream for hours and hours on end.
Escaping from stress and school work into an alternate reality was just so much easier than actually sitting down and dealing with things.
It's that way with hw and with problems, emotional, family, friend problems. I ignore them and disappear into a place where they don't exist.
I need my dreams. Without them I'd be lost.
I'm going to talk about some other things right now but they correlate so bear with me.
I started self harming in 6th grade. And haven't stopped since.
I cut myself. It's an addiction.
In 3rd grade my cat died. I saw his dead body and my life changed.
From that point on my life felt almost dream like. Things went by faster and without touching me. Looking back most memories are a blur. I became numb. I wasn't really aware of this. I didn't understand the apathy. I was in 3rd grade.
But what I did understand was that my day dreams started feeling a whole lot "realer" than my real life.
My real life felt like a dream.
In 6th grade I began to understand this more fully. It started to make more sense. So I cut myself. Trying to feel something that was real in my real life. And it worked.
The pain was real. I could control it. It was forbidden and that alone made it intriguing.
I stopped for a while but once I started back up it becomes too late and spiraled into a full scale addiction.
While I'm honest here and discussing my problems I'll also mention that I'm anorexic.
This disorder has been fueled by MD though I've struggled with eating since I was a very small child.
My anorexia becomes a girl named Ana (this is actually quite common) and she rules a lot of my day dreams. I vanish into worlds where I'm starving myself even more than in real life and that is enough to push me into losing more weight.
I don't really want to go into detail about my anorexia because it makes me uncomfortable. I've been thin my entire life and though I have a serious fear of gaining weight the anorexia isn't about appearance.
Anyway enough about that.
I have several more things I wish to discuss.
the first is that I am so incredibly empathetic that it is slightly ridiculous.
I read on this site that this is common among us MDers. I always thought it was strange. I matured rather quickly and understand emotional things on pretty much every level. I always knew this had to do with my pacing. (I never thought of what I was doing as day dreaming. I just referred to the whole thing as pacing, day dreaming including.) I knew that from my pacing I had been and met so many people and been in so many situations that I had been through so much more than people my age.
I still feel weird saying this because in a sense I know that it isn't true. But to me everything I have ever imagined has been real to me. Very real. I can sympathize and understand almost anyone.
I feel more mature than a lot of people my age and tend to make friends with only people older than me. All the crazy things that teenagers go out and do isn't all that appealing to me.. why? Because I've already done it. True, it was in my head but still. To me it has all been real.
I remember once when I was younger mentioning this to my mom. Telling her that I had been through so much. I went off on a long story describing all my obviously fictional experiences and she simply looked amused and said something about my imagination.
This was other point in my life when I realized "normal" people didn't truly believe in playing pretend the way I did.
I've always been aware of the line between my fantasies and reality but sometimes it does blur. Sometimes I confuse memories and day dreams and even people.
My fantasies are realities… they're just different than the one everyone else is living in. Okay that got off topic but basically my dreaming has made me into one of the most understanding people I have ever met.
My next point is that the day dreaming has caused me issues with connecting to people. I have a strong tendency to push everyone away. I do this because I'm never alone. I have at least one other version of them in my head.
This is happening right now actually. I've been ignoring my best friend and actually pretty much all of my friends because I like the character versions of them better.
It's terrible and I quite honestly don't know how to deal with it.
This also effects my romantic interests. No one ever compares to the people in my head. I have one main love interest in the real world. And he has broken my heart and is completely emotionally unavailable. I fell for him for this reason. I'm too afraid to be in a real relationship with some one so I pick people I can never be with so I can simply dd about them. This is something that I've only recently become aware of.
Anyway last thing:
I'm so grateful that I found out about maladaptive day dreaming and this website.
I thought I was alone. I wasn't all that concerned about being alone with the whole pacing thing. But knowing I am not alone in this and other people understand was a relief and a blessing I didn't even know I was looking for!
I literally cried when I read the definition of MD online.
Knowing I'm not alone is just such a wonderful feeling.
I relate to most of what you've said!
In short, people have caught me pacing, bullying pushed me into daydreaming, and I don't know how to stop, and I am also very empathetic.
I think most daydreamers are a little dissociative. Lately I look in the mirror and I feel like a stranger in my own body, it's terrifiying. I feel like I've lived in my own world my whole life, it's hard to join this one.
It's good when you know what you have, you can take steps to control it. And it's always good to know there are infact, people who understand :) Have you ever been evaluated for ADD or anything like that?
Hi Dev! I used to pace in circles as well, but mine started when I was in middle school. It continued until I left home for university, and suddenly I didn't have any private place to do it anymore (lived in a dorm). My family also knew that I had that habit, but they never brought it up and purposefully ignored it.
I can empathize with a lot of what you write about. Like you, I often felt growing up that I'd been through so much more and seen/done so much more than anyone else realized---but most of it was just in my mind or in books, etc. Did you know that on a lot of levels, the brain can't actually tell the difference between a real experience and a vividly imagined one? That's why sports psychologists will tell you to practice a sport over and over again in your mind, perfectly. You'll actually improve by doing that! In some studies, researchers told people to imagine lifting weights in a specific way a certain number of times per day for so many weeks, and the people actually gained real muscle just from doing that! Only to a certain point, but still...So I guess it's not surprising that as MDers, we feel like we've lived a whole lot and done really amazing things.
But then when we try to do some of them in real life, those "skills" we learn don't translate over. Weird isn't it? It shows that DD isn't exactly the same in the real world, which of course we know. But maybe it can be helpful for us to notice that sometimes. It may feel like we've traveled or accomplished, but we really haven't. And for me, it comes down to choosing that the real world can be more fulfilling than DD, but not in exactly the same way. I think you're right when you say some of it comes down to control. In my DD at least, I know when people will laugh at my jokes, understand what I'm saying, etc. In real life things aren't that simple. And after investing so much time in our imagined worlds, we get way more payoff there than in real life where we haven't invested nearly as much time (in my case at least).
I am glad you no longer feel alone, and if there's anything you ever want to talk about, just let me know. :)
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