Maladaptive Daydreaming: where wild minds come to rest
Since as long as I can remember I've had an "overactive imagination." My parents would chuckle about how I talked myself to sleep my entire childhood.
I always have and only have been able to fall asleep daydreaming. The severity of it comes and goes throughout the years. I have phases and periods of time where it bleeds into my responsibilities. Causes problems. But I go through long periods of time where it isn't a problem. At least not from my perspective.
But I want to talk about when it is a very active period of daydreaming. It will happen as I drive. As I exercise. Especially, when I speed walk. And now that I am married I cannot do this - but pre-marriage I would sit on my knees in the bed and drift off that way. I do not have repetitive movements as some have described. I instead speak aloud and have the facial expressions and such of my characters. I act out my scenes with facial expressions. The rest of my body is very still.
Now that I share a bed with someone I've had to be much more secretive about my "quirk" and I wait until all is asleep (I am a momma of two little boys) and I lay in the bed and mouth the words. A barely audible whisper. A train running through our bedroom couldn't wake my husband so in that I feel secure.
In all my life I thought very little of this quirk of mine. I didn't dwell on how it made me different or mental. I did from time to time feel like it was strange I couldn't outgrow this childhood fancy. And of course I WOULD feel shame if someone ever caught me as an adult doing this. But I always have felt pretty secure that since this is mostly a bedtime ritual of mine I won't ever be caught.
I'm 34 years old and a few nights ago for the first time since I became acquainted with the internet I actually googled this behavior to see if I could find others who did it. Since being online I have learned that if you do it - someone, somewhere is also doing the same thing. We are never truly alone. There is always a kinship in that way. The internet gets a nasty rap but for me it has been a life saver on many an occasion.
I have battled social anxiety most of my life. Most people would never believe I have it. I have hidden it with a bubbly peresonality when around people. What they don't know is my chattiness and cracking jokes and my teethy smile has always been a cover for my anxiety of being around them.
Truly, I am very antisocial. And after any event where I must be around people in group settings it takes me a week to recover from it.
Becoming a mother and putting my children first has especially been draining. Not only on the normal level of motherhood/parenthood of small children but also because of how it extends you to being social for your children's benefit. Play groups and such.
So, where I went through periods of time without daydreaming as excessively as I did when I was single and childfree I became so consumed with my babies and such that I would be too burned out to even formulate a daydream. Then as they got toddler, preschool age as they are now I am returning to the excessive NEED to escape into my dreams again. As a reprieve. It's soothing.
At this point still I am not desiring to stop. Even though it's at the point where I will be in them during the day (turning my back to my children to mouth dialogue for my characters) as I wash dishes or prepare meals - I will not hear my 3 year old asking me questions. Or I'll be irritated he has interrupted me.
Of late I am increasingly desiring time to myself. There are days where I wish I could go away fro 24 hours to just day dream. I imagine getting a hotel room and sitting on that bed and just losing myself to a continuous stream of it. I want that more than a vacation on an exotic beach. Or Paris adventure. Just a hotel room with me and my alternative world.
If I do not daydream before I fall asleep - say I have become bored or a little lost in what I need and am lacking in reality that can be fullfilled with a daydream - I will be restless. I will get on the internet and blog or Facebook but also I will look up characters about shows I love. Characters that inspire or "trigger" daydreams. My characters are usually original in look and such but are inspired and always been inspired by the multitude of characters I have fallen for all my life.
I am very emotionally attached to my characters. And through the years they may change in names and hair styles and plots they remain pretty much the same soul. The same man. The same woman. The woman who is always the plucky alternative version of me. Of who I want to see myself as if I was in another world. Another life.
I don't find that my daydreaming has caused major problems on a day to day basis but overall I think it has held me back. As I can blow people off and find comfort, solace in my own mind I don't need anyone else for it. I married a quirky, antisocial man (2nd marriage - the first was one of those mistakes of youth). So, it didn't affect me from these sorts of social norms, relationship norms but then again who I fell for is telling. Someone who is similar in that he is often in his own world most of the time. I doubt it's daydreaming to the magnitude of mine. It's more thoughts and stressing out over situations in his life and how to remedy them which usually is fruitless poor man. But because he is lost in thought so often I suck easily into my daydreams even when seated beside him. In silence.
I also would imagine that my idealism in my dreams gives me what I could never imagine to find in real life. Romantic scenarios that unless I gave my husband a script and we roleplayed - could never happen as they do in my head. Adventures that aren't possible like space travel. Situations where I can be heroic and free. Where I am intelligent and important to a crew - while in reality I am important but only to my family and while that is more than many people have and I don't take that lightly - I am a dreamer. I want bigger things inside my head. And I attain them in my mind and worlds.
But I think mostly I find so much comfort socially in my dreams. Where in childhood I grew up a very lonely child. And as a teen I had a couple close friendships and still only have those two friendships but I've been unable to make other meaningful ones since then and I rarely see them due to long distance and different schedules. So, in my dreams I have those friends too. Friendships I make that save worlds. Teamwork.
The plucky heroine always finds the family she never had. The togetherness she never has attained. A sense of "home" she has never felt.
The man she falls for was always enigmatic and hard. And no one could ever tie him down. But she does. Her uniqueness and her bravery and her intelligent always wins him over. Because no one else is like her. And he fights it and pretends to be aloof and cold but in the end he realizes he cannot function without her. And I dream up this scenario over and over and over. Sometimes the exact same sequence. Falling asleep before I can manage to end it. Sometimes I change it up. In a few years they will probably have new names and a new plot and setting. But as I said before - they always remain essentially the same in soul and personality.
I have a lot of angst. Emotions. Action. And deepness in my day dreams. If I were caught at any given time I'd probably have mostly an intense expression on my face.
I have had a lot of angst in reality. I feel this is cleansing. A way to confromt these emotions that in reality overwhelm me. That I try to block and hide from. In my daydreams I have a safe, comfortable place to deal with them. Apply them to different scenarios.
I am happier because I daydream. Or perhaps if I was happier I wouldn't need to daydream. I don't know. I try not to dwell on that.
I just am pleased that I have found this place. That I now know that this is indeed more normal than not. As a great population of people have this quirk. Depending on severity and the stacking affect of other disorders - some people would refer to it as an affliction.
As for stacking - I have never been officially diagnosed with a few but I've always believe I have ADHD. A touch of OCD. And I was diagnosed (as just anxiety officially) with social anxiety and for years was on medication for it which helped until ...it kind of stopped helping. I never got back on as it would have to be a different drug or higher dose and I was pregnant and didn't wish to take risks with my fetus!
Much of which all these disorders HAVE negatively affected my life and probably pushed me also into daydreaming like I do. Especially the ADHD. In my mind I can zone out and focus well when most of the day I have felt so overwhelmed and all over the place mentally and emotionally.
Well, that will be all for now. More to follow.
Thank you all. I feel a togetherness here - finally a group of people that I can confess this to because they understand. They relate on many or at least a few levels and we can feel less alone. I am so glad to be here and look forward to reading your posts!
And I just got this T-shirt from Walmart! My eyes bugged out of my head when I saw it there!
Despite some differences, we have so much in common. I also pretend to be chatty and talkative in public but in reality I'm actually really quiet and prefer my own company. People have given me advice such as "fake it till you make it". My female character is a great actress and I try to draw inspiration from her.
i forgot, i like your Back To The Future tshirt
welcome, i totally undestand you, and i think the major part of people on this site does.
i daydream a lot too, but most of it is pacing and/or walking, and it has affected me negatively due to the fact that the person in my dd is not me and when i return to the real-life me there is a clash between that two different persons, then begins the disappointment, sadness, etc.
but after many years (since my childhood) of doing it im controlling it, i know i cannot stop doing it, but it can be controlled in your mind.
finally, im with you with the idea that it can be very embarrassing when other people find that we daydream or find us doing it, but part of the process of accepting it in our lives and work hard to overcame that problem is to not feel shame of it (first internally and then externally), its hard, its difficult, its a long process, but we can do it and when we feel that we are ready to start telling people about it, then better times are coming.
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