Why I'm Not Ready to Seek Help for My Maladaptive Daydreaming #rwanda #RwOT #XF2020

Everyone daydreams sometimes. Whether they’re bored at work, trying to reenact a previous conversation, imagining themselves living an ideal life… It’s fun, and harmless. A comfortable escape when life is a little too much. But they always know when to stop and come back to the real world without any problems.

For some, it’s not a simple trick to pass time. Some people are so comfortable in those fantasy worlds that they don’t get back.

For those who never heard of it, maladaptive daydreaming is a condition in which a person has really excessive and vivid daydreams, to the point where they interfere with the person’s real life. The daydreams are very detailed, with complex characters and storylines to which the person feels a strong emotional connection. Daydreams usually come with pacing, facial expressions, acting out daydreams, speaking out loud… and they last for hours, taking up an unhealthy amount of time out of someone’s day. This condition was first studied by psychologist Eli Somer, but is not classified in the DSM-V as a disorder, although there is a chance it could appear in the next edition of the manual.

In my case, it feels like I’m stuck in a prison cell… except the door has been left wide open. I could leave, I could get help, but I don’t.

The thing with maladaptive daydreaming is it makes you love the prison it built for you. It tells you that even if none of it is real, it’s still better than reality, so you don’t even try to escape. You don’t want to. That’s the terrible thing with this condition. It takes away all your will to fight and you become an empty shell in the real world, your soul trapped in some fantasy simulation in which you have control. In which you’re not lonely, depressed or anxious about your future.

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I have family and friends in these fantasy worlds. I live in dozens of alternate universes and I have a life in each of them that I’m not willing to give up on. I know they don’t exist — at least my brain does — but the emotions I feel in them are real. I’m really attached to the people I know in those universes; I laughed, cried, grieved, even loved there. Most of these worlds have been a part of me for years. I grew up in them, just like I did in reality. So I’m stuck, one foot in reality and the other one in a world that feels just as real to me, and I’m being torn between the two.

I know I should get help for this and I know it’s not healthy, but doing so would mean losing my friends and family in those worlds. It would feel like I’d be killing them.

I’m at a period in my life where I’m starting to realize how much I’m missing and it’s making me sick. My daydreams have started to fail me and to become part of my triggers for anxiety. I spend every day trying to find a balance between my daydreaming and real life, but I’ve lived with maladaptive daydreaming for as long as I can remember. I have no idea how a life without it works. But no matter how hard I try or how much my daydreams make me anxious, I always come back to them. They are my sole coping mechanism; I don’t know what else to do.

There are times when I lose my ability to daydream. It can last days, weeks, sometimes even months. In those times I can’t even bring myself to enjoy reality because I feel so distressed being disconnected from my daydreams. It feels like I’m being ripped from my friends and family. I’m scared they won’t come back. I can’t imagine being happy without my daydreams, but I also know I can’t really live as long as they hold such a huge place in my life.

That’s what maladaptive daydreaming does. It keeps you trapped in a place where you feel at home. You can’t bring yourself to even want to get better. And even when you do realize how serious it is, you stay in a state of denial to not have to deal with reality. It keeps you trapped in silence with shame, the fear of not being taken seriously if you talk about it.

I’ve heard some “Snap out of it! It’s just a daydream!” or “That must be so cool!”

I can’t snap out of it, and it’s not cool. I wish I had it in me to want to get help for it.


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