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Maladaptive daydreaming

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  • #375114
    Javairia
    Participant

    Hi,

    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.

    #375116
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Javairia:

    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.

    anita

    #375164
    TeaK
    Participant

    Dear Javairia,

    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.

    #375243
    Javairia
    Participant

    anita,

    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 suggesting

    #375249
    Javairia
    Participant

    TeaK,

    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.

    -javairia

    #375253
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Javairia:

    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!

    anita

    #375349
    TeaK
    Participant

    Dear Javairia,

    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.

    #375817
    Javairia
    Participant

    Dear anita,

    Yes I agree with what you wrote.

    Thank you so much. Like always

    #375818
    Javairia
    Participant

    Dear TeaK,

    Thanks a lot for the nice suggestions, I do take walks outside often, but I think I need to slow down a bit and breathe some nice air too! Thanks again.

    #375819
    TeaK
    Participant

    Dear Javairia,

    you’re welcome. Yes, if you could slow down and notice all the little details around you, plus enjoy the fresh air, that would be winning! 🙂

    #375822
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Javairia:

    You are welcome. I was wondering just now, what is the state of what you termed back in April last year, your “‘bad person’ complex”?

    anita

     

    #375926
    c
    Participant

    Hello, I was struggling with what I was calling ‘maladaptive daydreaming’ when I started therapy. My therapist was skeptical of the term but suggested that it was a symptom that will lessen once I addressed my childhood trauma and learned to ground etc. I thought for a while after that it was a form of dissociating, probably true. I came to see though that in my super intense childhood (where I rarely was emotionally or physically safe in the moment) my main way of coping became to imagine a future safe world and mentally live there. I also imagined a future perfect male figure and future perfect family and future perfect body so forth (lol that’s caused me lots of fun struggles lol) – anyway I made a safe world and was able to live day to day and meet the extremely high expectations placed on me. I brought that into adulthood. The good news: it’s no longer my default setting. After a lot of trauma therapy, I could then learn to attend to the present moment, something I believe was impossible for me before and I’ve started to notice I only have these ‘daydreaming’ type of episodes when i’m trying to avoid the reality of something. Like for example if my gut / inner wisdom is screaming at me to walk away from something and my inner child or adult self (ego) wants to cling to it – I notice myself slipping into these escapist types of tendencies. If I attend to my inner wisdom and let all emotions flow freely even the scary ones and am making choices that make me feel safe in my body, I come back to center. I’m not sure if this makes total sense but I definitely have experienced this.

    #375957
    TeaK
    Participant

    Dear c,

    it’s reassuring to know that maladaptive daydreaming is indeed related to childhood trauma and that it can be healed by working on our traumas. It’s fantastic that you’ve managed to heal it, and are now able to regulate yourself with breathing and centering, when you feel the tendency to “escape”. Good work! I hope Javairia can benefit from your experience too.

    #376065
    Javairia
    Participant

    Dear anita,

    Just in time! I’ve spent this past week worrying over a conversation I’ve had with my closest friend. And now when I look back at the whole week of over worrying, it was certainly the ‘bad person’ complex.

    I’ve been feeling guilty and ashamed, that I’m a terrible friend. That my words weren’t the best at comforting her anxiousness over a few matters and her mental health diagnosis. That maybe I even made it worse by saying something that wasn’t the best to say. “Will she even be open or vulnerable with me again?”, “Does she feel worse after talking it out to me?”, “Am I a terrible friend and listener?”

    I don’t want to brush this guilt away by just calling it ‘bad person’ complex. I wish to improve on what to say next time. I want to be a better listener next time. But this guilt makes me feel unworthy of lots of things. Of being their friend, because I wasn’t good enough. Are there any positive affirmations or a different perspective to view these episodes of ‘bad person’ complex with?

    I hope you’re having a good day.

    Regards,

    Javairia

    #376067
    Javairia
    Participant

    Dear c,

    Thank you very much for sharing your experience. And I’m so glad to know you’ve been doing better after all that you had to deal with. These for sure are escapist tendencies. I totally get where you’re coming from, that those idealistic fantasies set high expectations onto your real world and adult self. I find myself indulging in these fantasies that interfere with my future goals,  and expectations. So I tend to write them down and talk myself through each of them time-to-time. But I know they will get out of control and I will not be able to verbalize every single thing one day. So a balance, like in everything, is needed.

    Thanks again for sharing your story. I hope you well for your future and everything

    Regards,

    Javairia

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