February 23, 2021 at 10:42 am #375114
I’ve been maladaptive daydreaming for a few years now, or maybe had been doing it since childhood; but the patterns have gotten worse. I :
- daydream for minutes to hours and hours
- get really emotionally attached to story lines and scenarios in the daydream
- make and act out the facial expressions and certain actions
- whisper words, or sometimes say them out loud when I’m alone
- even cry or laugh, based on the storyline (when I get emotionally invested into them)
- consume media, stimuli that trigger or favor my daydreams’ storylines and such
- abandon important tasks, or occasionally real-life conversations, at hand because of daydreaming
At first, I only used daydreaming to prepare for difficult conversations or events before hand. Like, a few days before a class presentation. That was a way to deal with stressful situations and calm myself down by “preparing” earlier. Then around after 9th grade, I turned to be getting severely emotionally attached to my daydreams. And after that I never was able to let go of the attachment to such a world. Instead of helping me cope with stress and negative emotions, it’s making me unable to complete my tasks at hand. I’m unable to verbalize my thoughts lately; daydreaming used to prepare me to process and verbalize my thoughts properly, but it’s doing the exact opposite now. I’m so much in my head that I really can’t tell what has been happening around me all these months and weeks. My head can’t process what’s on the outside, and it’s getting overwhelming everyday to try to explain my brain what’s happening on the ‘outside’ and how to act on it.
I don’t have a lot of healthy coping mechanisms, and I’m lost and confused of what to do with this healthy coping mechanism turned to an unhealthy and addictive behavior now.
And I’m scared to somehow lose my creativity, ability to cope with stress, or maybe a part of me if I let go of maladaptive daydreaming, but it’s not a healthy coping mechanism anymore either.February 23, 2021 at 11:31 am #375116anitaParticipant
Wikipedia on maladaptive daydreaming reads that the term is not a recognized psychiatric or medical diagnosis. The term was coined in 2002 by Professor Eli Somer of University of Haifa who defined the term as an: “extensive fantasy activity that replaces human interaction and/ or interferes with academic, interpersonal, or vocational functioning”.
Everyone daydreams sometimes, but some individuals daydream so vividly of stories with characters, plots and settings, that they feel that they are actually there, in the imagined setting, in the story, being one of the characters, feeling so good being there in the story, that they feel compelled to daydream more and more, and so, it becomes addictive.
* Before the term was coined, I daydreamed that way, every day it seems, while I was in high school, if not earlier. I enjoyed it very much, starting a story in the morning and having it continue into the evening. It was my way to feel good (and it did!) while real-life felt badly, lonely and boring.
There are online forums for maladaptive daydreamers. One is Daydream in blue free forums. net, and another is wild minds ning. com. The latter has this on the Home Page:
“Daydreamers welcome: Maladaptive daydreaming is an extensive fantasy activity that interferes with an individual’s life. Maladaptive daydreamers feel an urgency to daydream, which is similar to an addiction. Their fantasies are complex stories, with characters and plots, and they are very emotionally intense. On this website, maladaptive daydreamers can speak openly about this problem, sharing stories, resources, solutions, ideas, or just feel part of a community”.
I hope one or both of these online websites can be of help to you.
anitaFebruary 24, 2021 at 2:18 am #375164TeaKParticipant
I haven’t heard of exactly the phrase maladaptive daydreaming, but it seems like a way to escape a difficult reality. Children who’ve experienced trauma and don’t feel physically safe in their environment (e.g. growing up in a war zone, or in a violent household, or physically abandoned or neglected by their caretakers for this or that reason), tend to disassociate from their body, to less feel the pain of living in a hostile environment. They tend to stay in their head, in their own imagined world, and daydream. As you said, it’s a coping mechanism, but it’s standing more and more in the way of normal functioning.
I didn’t have the time to read your other thread, but I’ve seen you mentioned the problem of self-harming. That’s usually a way to return to the body, after we’ve disassociated too much. It’s like one disassociates a lot via daydreaming, and then cut themselves to return to the body, to the physical reality. Both behaviors are related to childhood trauma of living in a precarious, unsafe environment.
Do you relate to that? Also, is there a school counselor or someone you can talk to? It would be important that you create an experience of safety for yourself, e.g. by participating in a school group (a drama group maybe?) or participating in a community project. Walking in the grass, spending time in nature, hugging trees etc are all ways to “ground” yourself, to feel that connection with mother earth that feels too scary at the moment.February 26, 2021 at 11:57 am #375243
Thank you so much for the reply. And for also putting in the effort to search it all up, if you did it exclusively for this. I’m grateful
Oh, I read on a past thread of a relevant topic for me, that you had to deal with OCD. I’ve read that maladaptive daydreaming can also be one of the symptoms of OCD. Maybe those two are connected; anyhow I’m proud to know that you’ve made it manageable for yourself by now.
I’ve checked out the two forums you wrote of. Will try posting or interacting there if I’ll have something to talk about on MD. Thank you for suggestingFebruary 26, 2021 at 12:14 pm #375249
Thank you very much for the reply. I do relate to the description you put out. Maybe it’s also a way to deal with unpleasant/traumatic memories as you said. I didn’t feel the large part of grief of childhood trauma until I was 15 or 16, perhaps I was numbing the stressing part of it through this stress coping mechanism; by dissociating.
I do have a school counsellor, and she recommended me to hang in there before being able to move out. She said that I can focus on studying and other personal goals, later I’m moving out for university anyway.
Thanks a lot for the nice suggestions, thinking of going out in fresh air more around trees.
-javairiaFebruary 26, 2021 at 12:57 pm #375253anitaParticipant
You are welcome. There is a connection between maladaptive daydreaming and OCD, but then, there are connections between anxiety and a lot of other mental disorders and symptoms: anxiety in childhood, when it is overwhelming and prolonged, causes lots of problems.
Good to read back from you and post again anytime!
anitaFebruary 27, 2021 at 12:44 am #375349TeaKParticipant
glad you liked the idea of spending more time in nature. When you’re out in nature, try to be present in your body, touch the grass, smell the flowers, touch the bark of a tree, notice the birds, hear them chirping… in short, try to engage all your senses. That will help you stay in the here and now, and not escape into your thoughts.