My Personal Experience With Maladaptive Daydreaming

Hi,

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 Saturday

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 Friday

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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