My Personal Experience With Maladaptive Daydreaming


I'm new here and I just wanted to talk about my personal experiences and see if anyone can relate. I'd really like to talk to some other people with similar experiences because up until recently, I didn't know there were other people who had this.

I've been daydreaming since I was at least seven, maybe younger. It started as something I did when I was bored. I'm an only child and while I did have a group of friends, sometimes I still ended up playing by myself. I really didn't mind though. The first "world" I made up (that I remember) started as a game when I didn't have anyone to play with at recess one day. It was what I think is just normal childhood "make believe." I would act out all the characters and make up little stories. That was as far as it went. As far as I know that's pretty normal.

But while most children seem to grow out of that, mine got more intense. My second set of characters lasted much longer and were much more developed. That world was what I daydreamed about for two or three years. It became a thing I did all the time. Not just at recess or when I was bored. I always had a storyline going in my head and while I could stop doing it if I needed to do schoolwork or something, it was always there. When I would listen to music I would have to think of a way to apply the songs to my story. A few of my friends knew about the characters and would sometimes help me write little scripts and stories for them.

When I grew out of those characters, I went a few years without having a set world or plot. I would still make up stories and act them out by myself all the time. They just weren't always the same characters or world. Occasionally, I would even use characters from TV shows or books or musicals that I was obsessed with at the time.

It was almost three years ago that my current world of characters came into my head. Overtime, I've developed the world extensively and written down a lot of the stories I've made up. I still act them out by making facial expressions and mouthing or whispering the words. I'm now at a point where I feel real emotions when I do it. I have made myself cry at times.

But I can't say it's been a negative thing. I've read a few other people's experiences and a lot of them seem to be negative. Honestly, I've always loved daydreaming. It's always felt like a creative outlet or a comfort. When I used to go to school, it was something that kept me entertained throughout the day. I've used it as a creative thing. I write down the stories for my own enjoyment. A lot of people say they've lost a lot of time to daydreaming but that has never been an issue for me. My brain can't stand to do one thing at a time, so I tend to daydream while also doing other things. Sometimes I have chosen it over work or sleep, but never to an extreme extent.

When I was curious recently, I Google searched something along the lines of "Constantly making up and acting out stories in your head" and I found some articles on Maladaptive Daydreaming. I've never related to anything more than the descriptions of most of the symptoms and I've asked the friends I have who know about it if it sounds like me and they say it does too. But reading about it really scared me. Since a lot of people tend to have negative experiences with it, I read a lot about treatments and people wanting to be treated. But I really don't want to stop daydreaming. I don't know how to live without it. It's comforting and I really enjoy it. There are days when I feel like I've run out of stories and I don't daydream on those days. I'm actually sadder on those days.

I've read that it can impact relationships or that it can be because of low self esteem or not liking your reality. Honestly, I don't know if that applies to me. I would say I have a nice life and I wouldn't say I love myself, but I don't think I hate myself either. I have gotten shyer as I've gotten older and have some trouble making friends but I do have a group of friends. I've also heard that some people make characters that they want to be like. I think I do this to some extent. A lot of my characters have qualities that I would like I think. One character has a job I'd love to have. So maybe that's part of the escapism aspect. But right now, I feel that I don't let it control my life. Sure, people think I'm weird sometimes, but I still try to actively participate in the real world before my daydreams.

Maybe it is unhealthy though. The fact that I'm somewhat addicted to it and couldn't imagine life without it is a little concerning. I really don't know. I'd really like to talk to some other people who can relate to any of this. I just want to know more about it. Sorry this is so long.

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Comment by Jessica Ballantyne on January 21, 2021 at 5:49pm

I started to quite MDD at 30, when I took up an important job at the office, and I realized that I was old enough to live on my own. Unfortunately now I'm 34 going on 35, I'm unemployed in this pandemic and I still live at home. I'm really embarrassed about it and if I didn't ever daydream like I did, and pay attention to my life, I would've been independent and successful. How I quit is that I got scared and uncomfortable in my skin about what I've been doing. My friends and peers moved to other parts and I never saw close ones ever again, so I was very isolated with my parents and sister. It was harder to face mornings and evenings that I didn't have a social life, being busy in my daydreams to pay attention people. So I began to get creeped out that I wasn't growing and adapting properly, woke up to the same rutty situations day by day. Not going places and meeting new people. It began to get really bad for my health. Especially now that coronavirus has struck, it worsens my rutty way of life even more. Eventually my so-called MDD is dissolving as I grow into my mid thirties. I look back at my life and it's uncomfortably silly and frivolous to reflect on, in fact, I cringe remembering my mindset in my teens and twenties. My head is also starting to hurt with tension, as I drink often and not as cognitively active. I actually blame my MDD for making my head go soft. Nearly turning 35, I feel to "big" to be stuck in my parent's house and not drive a car anywhere, and walk no more than 2 miles a day. I want to make a fresh new start, if it means a new career or hitting the books. I feel like I threw 11 years of my life away, and could've done much better things if my head was grounded on earth. In contrast to my friends and peers, I feel pathetic. It's just a valuable lesson learned; if you want to get ahead, stay with others, stay grounded and stay focused. 

Comment by Life must be on January 21, 2021 at 4:33pm
Jessica ballantyne how did you quit daydream how you do it and how old are you
Comment by Jessica Ballantyne on January 21, 2021 at 3:52pm
Some people can damage their life with simply daydreaming, and others can manage living two lives without conflict. Apparently, I failed to conceal that I do this. Practically, everybody I've met found out my secret, just by looking at my eyes. Even after I quit MD, I still sit still and look blank faced, so people assume, "Oh, she's daydreaming again. Her eyes are dazed." So I actually have to try so hard to look animate and alive as possible. Still, after doing years of MD, even if I don't dream, I still look like a robot. I haven't even socialized much for years, so people can just tell these things. And if I don't listen or think about what happens next at one given moment, someone near me can be get hard and mean, and rapidly assume I'm not with it. I guess it's because I have Asperger syndrome, and it makes us come out spokish.
Comment by Life must be on January 21, 2021 at 3:16pm
I van Not so much writing but all the story it's like my
I think that I do it why I am bored or waiting for something so much important that's why I dream about it and I make it perfect at my mind
Or when I just need a little happnes
Its dangeures? At what age it's more dangeures ?
Comment by Jessica Ballantyne on January 15, 2021 at 6:03pm

I've been a MD'er for roughly 15-20 years, but I eventually quit, because it was getting freaky. I didn't manage to get my own life and adapt into the world very well. But I'll be blunt. I feel like I've been walking about daydreaming for my own pleasure and entertainment. Not that my fantasies will guarantee that I'd have a nice and positive life. I was thick and quite naive towards this gift. In the end, the consequences were terrible and I was sorry I ever started it. In fact, my family constantly rants that I stare into space a lot. 

Let's put it this way. My alternative worlds were very fake and weren't true to real life at all. However, I was buried in my head long enough that it made me actually believe things will get better and happier. Overtime, I started to realize that my life was getting very "rutty and disappointing" and my health was suffering. I was losing out on opportunities, such as work, travels and relationships. I was growing extremely quiet to an extent nobody wanted to be my friend. I used to have hobbies and interests that faded for my desire to just go daydream. When I go back to subjects I used to learn in high school, I'm still good at history and english, but anything else I'm decelerate. 

I'm also in a career that isn't kicking, which I struggled in for 10 years, and I'll have to do something else. I still haven't saved enough money to finally move out of my parent's house. This coronavirus is making it difficult more than ever, and it's even brought on another recession. 

So I learned that it's very important to stay with people and listen to their good advice. Work very hard to get where you want to be. I say this, because times are going to get tough, you'll get financially jacked, the government won't give a shit, and new job won't probably come for a year. If great job news comes around the corner, take advantage of it and do you very best, listen and observe, and don't fuck up. Above all, keep your head to the ground, this is crucial if you want to succeed. 

Comment by MarshallL on January 15, 2021 at 2:49am

Hi Grace,

Your story is my story and I just found out about MD. I thought I was the only one.  I started daydreaming when I was 12 and made plots with people from there. It's been many many years. One man has been constant and I always seem to put him in a role of protecting me. The plots usually last 3 - 4 years and I enjoy my stories. I am immersed in them and make a very happy life. Sometimes rich, sometimes famous, sometimes living in a log home on the most beautiful lake, but they always center around family and friends. I have friends and a great career, but always felt something was missing. I guess I made that part up. I function well in my life, but daydreaming does make me somewhat of a procrastinator when I can put things off. Music is definitely a stimulant to my dreams. Thanks for your story as I could relate. As I said, it's a new discovery, and I am probably addicted. It's good to know there is a name for it. Now I guess I'll begin my search for a cause. I can't imagine never dreaming and like you I don't love myself, but I don't hate myself either. I can so relate to this. Ann

Comment by Valeria Franco on January 13, 2021 at 12:32pm

Thank you for your sharing, your questions are normal, healthy.

I was one of those people who wanted "to heal" (I was not sure if I wanted to get rid of dreams at all at the time, but I definetly wanted to gain control and stop waisting time). 

I got rid of dreams and I said to myself: "If I had any doubt about getting rid of them, it was just because I didn't know how much better life is without dreams".

But any person is different. Someone may actually enjoy dreams without having any damage in life.

From my point of view, I would just wonder: how would life be if lived... intensely?

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