Maladaptive Daydreaming: where wild minds come to rest
This summer I visited with a therapist several times. I struggle with depression in addition to MD.
In our first meeting, I was a bit surprised. Instead of talking about my MD, Janet asked me about my family. She asked me if there were any "villains" of my childhood. When I thought back to my childhood, there was just one person who could cause me delirious fear, though I never thought of him as a villain. I love my brother, infinitely. So why did he beat me, threaten me, and mentally abuse me? And why has it taken me so long to realize the emotional damage it's caused me?
I posed this first question to my mother, she said "your fights were the entertainment". So instead of stepping in and teaching my brother and I how to work out conflicts, she encouraged my abuser.
For the second question, I have not realized the emotional damage because of a very effective coping mechanism, called maladaptive daydreaming. Instead of rotting in the toxic family relationships and driving myself insane, I could escape from the cruelty and neglect.
I am now 26, no longer living with my dysfunctional family. From going to therapy I have come to realize why I developed MD. My daydreams always involved a survivalist plot, where a young girl overcomes extreme hardship and violence, becoming successful in her adult-life. And I think all this time, I have been that girl and never realized it. I couldn't see my own future and was in denial about the pain my family caused me.
My therapist proposes that instead of calling it "MD," it should just be called "AD" or adaptive daydreaming. "Mal" is too negative for something that helped me escape.