Maladaptive Daydreaming: where wild minds come to rest
We maladaptive daydreamers spend so much time and emotion on imaginary people in our head. But we must come to the realisation that even if our imaginary friend comes to life we wont be happy. Some people think that the only solution to maladaptive daydreaming is to make those daydreams come true , convert them into reality, make their real world so perfect that there won't be any need to daydream. But that's not true. Because MD is not like normal dreams, you wont get happiness by fulfilling them.
Simplest way to describe MD is 'Self Hatred' or ' Low Self Esteem' or ' Looking Down On Oneself '.
I had never thought of it this way before. I always thought that I just want some excitement in my life, that I don't necessarily hate myself. But one time in one of our sessions, my therapist asked me to write answers to a few questions :
1) Who am I ?
2) Who do I belong to ?
3) Where do I live ?
4) What do I want ?
you will notice there is an ' I ' in every question.
So I started to ans them and got stuck at the very 1st one . No matter how hard I thought I just could not properly describe myself . Who am I ? sounds like an easy question . But Maladaptive Daydreamers do something called dissociation (Dissociation is a mental process where a person disconnects from their thoughts, feelings, memories or sense of identity). And according to me not having an ans to this question is the root cause of MD
For the 2nd one I easily said 'myself' .
For 3rd question I could not decide what to write, my real house or the imaginary villa I created in my mind (and mentally spent most of my time in ). This is what being split between two worlds is like . You get so emerged in your daydreams that your imaginary house/family/lifestyle are more close to your heart than the real ones.
For the 4th one I answered 'perfection' because I always saw others doing their homework on time, getting good grades, being organized, and most importantly being in the present. I wanted to be like them. My mind raised every person in my life on a high podium and myself beneath them.
That day I realised my actual problem.
Question 1 told me that I am not spending enough time with my real self. I am ignoring my real self to be with the glorified and perfect version of myself. This is such a big injustice with my real self and to compensate for my mistakes I am trying to keep my mind in the present moment with my real self and push my imaginary version far far away.
Question 2 told me that when you take ownership of something, you also have to take the responsibilities of that thing. The moment you say ' I belong to myself', you become responsible for loving and taking care of yourself. You have no right to hurt your feelings or mistreat yourself.
Question 3 made me realise how serious this problem has become. I'd rather stay with my imaginary family and friends in my imaginary house than my real family. This is my biggest mistake. I never appreciated what was in front of me and always chased after a mirage, those fake people who never existed. IMPORTANT POINT : The things which you desire for may not actually be that good or necessary . We keep thinking that once we get this 'Thing' that we want, our life will be set. This 'Thing' may be money , lover , friends , fame , or even superpowers . And we keep dreaming that we are going to get them in the near future. But there is a strong possibility that this so called beautiful future maybe 'garbage' and what we have in our lives right now may be beautiful flowers. Always remember, garbage can only stink, flowers give the real fragrance.
Question 4 is most important, All the daydreams i have ever had were circling around others. I craved others' recognition, others' appreciation, I wanted others to think grate of me. There opinions were most important for me. everybody else seemed to have atleast 1 good quality only I was useless. Low self esteem , comparison with other , not being able to see the good in your self , and unnecessarily saying hurtful things to our self makes us have zero self satisfaction and hence escape to a world in which we think can be perfect. Instead we should understand we ARE perfect the way we are. And please note I am not telling you to hate others or be overconfident about yourself just accept yourself the way you are.