Maladaptive Daydreaming

S

silly me

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This is kind of embarrassing, but i'm wondering if anyone else can relate?

I grew up in an abusive family/community. It was pretty much the norm, for many of us in our neighborhood. We were poor, like everyone else, and made the best of it. And in many cases, poor and physical/sexual abuse went hand in hand.

I discovered books and reading. And it was then, i discovered what is called Maladaptive Daydreaming. Fairy tales were my trigger.

I was an ugly fat kid who was desperate for attention, and needed an outlet (other than food and being slapped around). I think it was when i read the fairytale, Snow White or Cinderella - that i began "day dreaming".

That one day, whether it was at home, at school, in the cafeteria, didn't matter. A knight, or a handsome man would ride up on a white horse or in a nice car, and take me away to a "better place." In my daydreams, i was beautiful, was never bullied, and if i was, i banished my enemies or they rued the day they incurred my wrath.

Over time, my "trigger material" went from books, to stories from the Bible, guys in Church (usually pastors/preachers/elders), to finally seeing my handsome saviors on television, music videos and movies.

Over time, i began to realize that this happened in the worst and even best times in my life. I could be in the most abusive situations, be it, work, marriage, school, etc.? But whenever i had that chance alone, or even any down time? There i was fantasizing that i was someone else, with someone else, in another world where everything was perfect and stress free.

If things were going well? There was always that "impending doom" that happiness never lasted long in reality - but it always "happily ever after" in my fantasies.

There were manifestations in real life. i was becoming absolutely irritated and depressed. The more i couldn't face life, the more i would fantasize how reality SHOULD be.. my husbands, boyfriends, friends, school, finances, etc.

I even remember being mentally or physically uncomfortable/frustrated/powerless many times - and wondering when that celebrity i always dreamed/read about was going to show up and rescue me. Surely, this fantasizing was leading up to something. The celebrity/savior, of course, never did drive up in the limo with a dozen roses, and i had to learn to face life on life's terms.

Over the years, i learned it was called "day dreaming", "fantasizing".. which is for "normal" people who know when to turn it off, and on. But not for those of us who actually use it as a coping mechanism.

For those who, like myself have an addictive/compulsive personality - (especially an over achiever), it was a place to escape whenever i could not face real life.:unsure:

I did notice, that the longer i stayed in my dream-world? The harder it was to deal with people/places/things. I even remember, thinking decades ago.. Maybe, just, maybe, that if i stayed in my fantasy world long enough? There might be a chance that i would never come back.. that must be the reward.

Well, it didn't work. I'm here. I learned to face reality over time. And i'm here to tell you, that fantasizing is great, occasionally? But in the long run, for every second that is used running away from life, the moment we come back? Life doesn't just "go away"..

:redface:
 
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Anon_21

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Hi, I think I can relate to that. I just started a post in the BPD forum this morning about my recurring 'episodes' of wanting to live another life, be someone else, even though I have a great family and don't want to leave them.

I have never experienced abuse but have always used books as a means of escaping my depression and social anxiety in the world. Now that I am locked in, so to speak, with a husband and child, these episodes are getting stronger and lasting longer, making me believe I want a different life--or that at least part of me does-- and maybe if that part screams loudly enough, wants it badly enough, I will get it somehow.

I keep waiting for a reply to my post, for someone to help me understand what I've been going through, give it a name or some kind of reasoning behind it, but I believe you just answered it for me right here :) I have never heard of maladaptive daydreaming, but this gives me hope. It's hard to fight an enemy you know nothing about.

Thank you so much for the post, I am going to do some research on this. Best of luck to you!
 
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I've never thought about it until now but I think Maladaptive Daydreaming was one of the primary reasons I went so long without seeking help/treatment. Situations that would be a red flag for most people (lost jobs, ending relationships, brushes with the law, etc.) were easily ignored. But, as you've noted it also made it harder to deal with reality.

On a not unrelated note this is why I consider the "Law of Attraction" to be a load of bovine manure. It turns out that actually working towards something > sitting around thinking about it. On yet another tangent this is why Calvin from Calvin and Hobbes is one of the most personally relatable characters.
 
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I've never thought about it until now but I think Maladaptive Daydreaming was one of the primary reasons I went so long without seeking help/treatment. Situations that would be a red flag for most people (lost jobs, ending relationships, brushes with the law, etc.) were easily ignored. But, as you've noted it also made it harder to deal with reality.

On a not unrelated note this is why I consider the "Law of Attraction" to be a load of bovine manure. It turns out that actually working towards something > sitting around thinking about it. On yet another tangent this is why Calvin from Calvin and Hobbes is one of the most personally relatable characters.
I agree about the Law of Attraction trend everyone is talking about these days.

I remember people saying in church that if you kept whatever you were after on your mind, and basically visualized about the outcome, claimed it and worked toward attaining those goals? They would manifest in your life. This was basically, Law of Attraction.

Well i visualized and claimed:

Cary Grant

Vin Diesel

Prince

The Rock

Sean Connery

Michael Jackson

The Hemsworth Brothers

Donny Osmond

Michael Landon

Martin Sheen

Tom Cruise

Idris Elba to name a few...

And not one of them manifested - except on the television.

I will say, when i was younger that Law of Attraction wasn't hard to manifest our horny elders/pastors/or ministers. They were already fleecing anything wearing mascara and a girdle in our flock..

That's when i learned at a very young age: "All dogs wear a collar..
 
S

silly me

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Hi, I think I can relate to that. I just started a post in the BPD forum this morning about my recurring 'episodes' of wanting to live another life, be someone else, even though I have a great family and don't want to leave them.

I have never experienced abuse but have always used books as a means of escaping my depression and social anxiety in the world. Now that I am locked in, so to speak, with a husband and child, these episodes are getting stronger and lasting longer, making me believe I want a different life--or that at least part of me does-- and maybe if that part screams loudly enough, wants it badly enough, I will get it somehow.

I keep waiting for a reply to my post, for someone to help me understand what I've been going through, give it a name or some kind of reasoning behind it, but I believe you just answered it for me right here :) I have never heard of maladaptive daydreaming, but this gives me hope. It's hard to fight an enemy you know nothing about.

Thank you so much for the post, I am going to do some research on this. Best of luck to you!
Thank you!

And if you check out YouTube, there are quite few videos about Maladaptive Dreaming. There is also a famous movie called: "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty"....

So many people found they could relate to this Ben Stiller's character. This was basically a case study in Maladaptive Dreaming for millions of people who didn't even realize they were doing this. :)

I also wanted to add? That it mostly started whenever i was in stressful situations. As early as the age of 4 or 5 years old when i learned to read or admire pictures in books of beautiful, happy, people? That's when the triggers would kick in.

Over time? That MADD (Maladaptive Dreaming) started getting out of control. It would happen when i was bored, content, and began bleeding over into moments when i needed to be a critical thinker and focussed on a difficult task.

When i first read about MADD, i thought it had something to do with anger issues. LoL..

There are videos and even books that address it, with techniques to help bring us back to reality ..
 
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S

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I’m not sure if this is the same thing but with me, my trigger was and still is music. I had a very messed up childhood so I would listen to music and fantasize. I did it so often that it would merge with my dreams and eventually I had a hard time telling if I was in a dream or real life. I have a lot of memories that I don’t even remember, actually there is a lot of my past I don’t remember. I got over that with a lot of alcohol. And eventually fell in love and had babies and sobered up and avoided music. But now in the last 3 years it seems to be coming back. When there is music I start going into daydreams, sometimes when I’m driving and I don’t know how I got from one place to another. And lately My dreams have been merging in the first 20 min of my awake. Throughout the day I’ll have flashback into my dream and not even realize it’s a flash back. Anyway not sure if that’s the same thing. I also used to fantasize about being saved, intensely.
 
Anon_21

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Music can be a trigger for me too. I'm still a little uncertain about what exactly maladaptive daydreaming is, if that's what I'm doing, but I go into depressive episodes where I feel this desperate need to be or do something else. I fantasize about it (or him) repeatedly before I finally snap out of it and settle back into my rather pleasant reality (never understand why I want to leave). It is usually triggered by dreams but music can do it too. I relate so intensely to the song that I feel a desperate need to reach out to the singer, like we were meant to be together or something. It scares me and makes me feel guilty since I'm happily married.
I was thinking your driving thing, not remembering how you got somewhere, might be a dissociative thing, but I kind of do that too. I get sucked into my thoughts or daydreams so intensely that I wonder how I was able to keep driving safely. At least our bodies kind of go into autopilot while our minds wander...
 
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I’m not sure if this is the same thing but with me, my trigger was and still is music. I had a very messed up childhood so I would listen to music and fantasize. I did it so often that it would merge with my dreams and eventually I had a hard time telling if I was in a dream or real life. I have a lot of memories that I don’t even remember, actually there is a lot of my past I don’t remember. I got over that with a lot of alcohol. And eventually fell in love and had babies and sobered up and avoided music. But now in the last 3 years it seems to be coming back. When there is music I start going into daydreams, sometimes when I’m driving and I don’t know how I got from one place to another. And lately My dreams have been merging in the first 20 min of my awake. Throughout the day I’ll have flashback into my dream and not even realize it’s a flash back. Anyway not sure if that’s the same thing. I also used to fantasize about being saved, intensely.
Music can be a trigger for me too. I'm still a little uncertain about what exactly maladaptive daydreaming is, if that's what I'm doing, but I go into depressive episodes where I feel this desperate need to be or do something else. I fantasize about it (or him) repeatedly before I finally snap out of it and settle back into my rather pleasant reality (never understand why I want to leave). It is usually triggered by dreams but music can do it too. I relate so intensely to the song that I feel a desperate need to reach out to the singer, like we were meant to be together or something. It scares me and makes me feel guilty since I'm happily married.
I was thinking your driving thing, not remembering how you got somewhere, might be a dissociative thing, but I kind of do that too. I get sucked into my thoughts or daydreams so intensely that I wonder how I was able to keep driving safely. At least our bodies kind of go into autopilot while our minds wander...
Wow!

You definitely brought up a good point. Yes, music was also my trigger. Especially love/romantic songs. Heck, even some "feel good" music. Where i would not imagine myself and the person i was in a relationship with - but usually some one else. Usually the singer of the song, or a celeb. Always someone beautiful..

I used to travel quite a bit for my job. There were a few times, i would hear some music on the radio - and there i went. I would be consciously driving, but my mind would be with that musician who was singing - to me, of course.. Or the song playing would be the "back ground music" while myself, and of course "the man of my dreams" - usually a celebrity/artist, would be making love to it, and gawd knows what else.

After reading about MADD, i learned that being in the moment is really important, especially during stressful situations. There are some instances where MADD can be useful, if you use it creatively. Every time i read about how famous authors or movie directors imagine their characters, etc.? The usual response is: "I go into some sort of trance."

I believe that "trance" is a day dream or for us, it's a trance we kind of use as a coping mechanism versus a tool to make money..
 
Anon_21

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Would any of you mind elaborating on how your daydreaming affects your reality? I'm still trying to come to terms with mine. For me it's not just a straight-up being fine in reality, then getting lost in a daydream, like in Walter Mitty. It's days-long episodes. I will be fine one day, then wake up one morning (usually triggered by a vivid dream or someone new I find attractive) and all of a sudden I feel like I am in the wrong life and don't want to be this person anymore. I have a fantastic life but still go through these episodes where I get really depressed and want to be someone. That's when I engage in daydreaming to imagine all sorts of other experiences I want to try. Is this how it is with anyone else?

I'm extra concerned at the moment because I'm currently in one of those 'episodes' and can't figure out how to snap myself back into wanting my reality again. :( It's all so confusing and alarming because I have a great reality, I just can't always convince my mind of that and would appreciate any advice on how you all come out of your daydreaming phases...Thanks so much for any replies
 
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I will be fine one day, then wake up one morning (usually triggered by a vivid dream or someone new I find attractive) and all of a sudden I feel like I am in the wrong life and don't want to be this person anymore. I have a fantastic life but still go through these episodes where I get really depressed and want to be someone. That's when I engage in daydreaming to imagine all sorts of other experiences I want to try. Is this how it is with anyone else?
Well, looks like you've already nailed it. The bolded is exactly how my daydreams would affect my reality.

I would look at my husband, who is sweet as can be? But when i did my MADD, i was, of course wondering why i couldn't be with the ones i fantasized about.. Why wasn't he rich, gorgeous, muscularly built, or the perfect alpha-type characters i saw in the movies?

Then there was my job.. I've had many careers, and walked away from the modeling/sports modeling/bodybuilding industry. When i see the ladies who "made it" - of course, i go through the MADD, when i put on my scrubs and worked as a wage slave.

MADD affected my life because, regardless of how many times i go into fantasy - i still have to deal with the fact that it's not real. And of course, that feeling of being "let down" by life or fate..

The anger as to why:

Why can i imagine this and it not be true?

Why give me this ability, yet it does not serve a purpose?

I think it's the same feeling as taking recreational drugs, and having to "come down" from that high..

Same outcome.. You leave reality for a certain time? But, as you can see - even drug addicts aren't exactly happy to deal with reality either. Which is why they take the drugs in the first place.

MADD is just a drug that is legal, and more readily available to those of us with obsessive/compulsive personalities.

I read about it, but the techniques used to wean off of MADD are pretty much in a nutshell if you go to Youtube and type in "Maladaptive Dreaming" in the search bar.

I, personally struggled with having to "stay in the moment" for a while before realizing that in the end, it benefits me. How? By staying in the moment, i won't "lose my mind" - when frustrating situations DO pop up..

staying in the moment helps me to appreciate everything i have, versus, compared to what i WISH i had...
 
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Anon_21

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Thank you so much for sharing that! It is such a relief to meet someone who goes through this too. Your original post gave me hope and insight but I got discouraged again when I couldn't find much about it online. My thoughts started taking over again, making me question every decision I've ever made and feeling guilty for 'not loving' my husband enough. But this was very helpful, just knowing it is happening to others the same way. I will work on mindfulness and learning how to stay in the moment and hopefully can avoid these episodes in the future. You are right, there is a certain amount of anger involved. I start feeling entitled to things I don't even want and then angry that I can't have them. Becoming a stay-at-home mom has given me way too much time to ruminate...
 
Anon_21

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Hi, just wanted to give an update. I was still feeling very tangled up yesterday...shortly after posting I ran to the drug store, smiled at a delivery guy, and proceeded to fantasize about him on the way home--until I passed the rec center, and then I started fantasizing about what would happen if I started going there, who would I talk to, what would I say...

And that's when it finally occurred to me what I was doing. Those two fantasies were so trivial and not at all related to the larger daydreams I had been having that I didn't even realize I was doing it. Since this thread was still so new I was able to catch myself and go oooohhh, stop that. I guess that's what mindfulness is, I just didn't realize it.

This is all still very new to me, but after realizing how often I was daydreaming and viewing it as an addictive habit I need to break rather than some kind of mid-life crisis that meant I didn't love my husband anymore, I was finally able to start letting the dream world go and come back to my reality. I feel better today than I have in a while and will be much more vigilant about catching myself drifting off and staying in the moment. Just wanted to share in case anyone else stumbled across this insanely interesting thread. (y)
 
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