Maladaptive Daydreaming – Narcissism or Dissociation?

I´ve always been a dreamer. I don´t mean a dreamer as in “I have a dream”. I mean a dreamer as in heads-in-the-clouds-earth-to-the-weird-philosopher-scatterbrain. I can spend hours and days submerged in fantasy scenarios. And at some point those days add up to years.

Now, dreaming away your life sure has a bad name. It´s what losers do, right? Instead, I should rather go out there and live. And many of my dreams are about doing just that. For some reason, though, I can never really muster up the willpower to do it. To be honest, I don´t even know how to do it. Because I´m pretty sure by now that I enjoy my dreams a whole lot more than I´d enjoy them coming true. I feel like there is just nothing out there for me.

I have real trouble truly experiencing things.  I might go to a concert, or to a club, or to any kind of event and still be dreaming, not getting anything much out of the event itself. I cannot seem to snap out of it. It´s almost like I don´t know how to be awake and how to feel alive. And while I wish this would shake me up, I just have a stupid, uncomfortable feeling, like the guilty conscience you get from overeating. I´d be lying to myself – or much rather: I´d be dreaming – if I thought that after writing this blog entry I´ll suddenly start living.

So this is my situation:  I don´t experience things. I´m cut off from life and while I dream I don´t even feel like I´m missing anything because I have such a vivid imagination. I can imagine things so vividly that I grind my teeth, grimace in imaginary pain/rage or float in ecstatic feelings that I´ve never gotten out of any real (inter-) action. And yet it is never quite the real deal. Nothing ever comes from it. I´m spinning around in circles. When one fantasy is finished, the next one begins. Or it is just repeated.

It seems cruel to me that I have a vivid inner life, and yet the feelings and states of mind it contains are never directed at anything that happens in reality. I feel completely high while I imagine running down a hill, but if    I´d really do that I´d just be scared I´ll fall. Or I´d be dreaming. Also, I might crave somebody´s touch, but as soon as I felt his fingertips on my skin the rush would be over. The sensation might actually feel quite profane and boring. It drives me crazy. There is this old Greek saga of Tantalus, who was forced to suffer thirst and hunger while standing in water that disappeared every time he bend down to drink; just as the fruits above his head were out of reach by mere inches. Now imagine you are Tantalus, just that you know the fruits and the water won´t even still your hunger and thirst. Even if you could reach them, you suddenly wouldn´t want them anymore. That´s me.

I believe the daydream dilemma is really at the core of my depression.

Like I said above, I have been dreaming all my life. Most of the time I was unaware of it. Or let´s say: I was unaware that the good feelings I got out of it were just imagination. Now, I guess it is a philosophical question how real a good feeling is if it is directed towards an imaginary event. But even if you want to claim it is somehow real, that doesn´t make a difference in my case. Because to me the events were as good as real. Sometimes I nearly told someone that today I´d saved the world again. Or what I had said to imaginary friend number 2145. Even my self-esteem stemmed from things I did in my imagination. Sounds scary? Well, it is.

During my teens, though, it became obvious to me again and again that my fantasies were fairly detached from who I was and what kind of life I was leading. One main reason was the growing jealousy I felt towards people who actually did the things I was just dreaming about. Whenever I tried to do them, though, I didn´t seem to get anything out of them. I could not motivate myself to try things, leave alone trying them again. I was a complete follower, just drifting along with my friends. I more or less let my best friends dictate who I was. On the one hand, I was completely self-absorbed, the lone sun of a parallel universe, and on the other hand, I was a mere side-kick in everybody else´s show.

And then came the point when I was starting to believe those dreams were something evil or reprehensible. Why? Because they were illusions. Illusions I had about myself and about the options I had in life. The way I saw it, I was living a comfortable lie, which was bad enough, but it was worsened by the fact that I got jealous at others who were living their dreams and trying to improve themselves. And because I was jealous, I was trying to harm them. Even my best friends. I really crashed. From the great, brave, admirable person I was in my dreams to the pathetic loser who harmed others in order to keep up her illusions and life lies. The higher they are, the deeper they fall – or so it seemed. Because apparently I´d never been anywhere near the upper end of the hole I was living in.

So I tried to go without those daydreams. I decided to give them up for good and see myself in all my ugliness. And I found out I couldn´t do it.

I´d get up in the morning and feel lost. Everything around me seemed strange and far away; hostile, cold and anonymous. I felt disconnected from the people around me, like I was living in a whole different world. (As I write this I realize how ironic it is that as long as I was dreaming, that is, truly in a different world, I felt at home and safe.) I was both desperate and numb, as if something terrible had happened or was still happening. I felt like I could never feel safe or happy again. I tried to keep this up, stay present, not distract myself with anything that could make me dream – be it music, books or even letting my thoughts wander. In the evening I was so exhausted that I fell asleep at 8 p.m., the way you fall asleep after a shock or a crisis.

Over time I realized I couldn´t stay present. I believed this was some kind of resistance against seeing me the way I truly was (and I thought the sight would be ugly). I lost an important relationship over my inability to stay present, because said person blamed me, too. I had already wrecked my mind trying to overcome my numbness and detachedness quite a bit by the time she left; and when she did, it dealt me the final blow. I went into what I´d now call a state of shock. For weeks afterwards I was shouting, crying and throwing things because it tortured me that I still couldn´t break through that numbness and feel something about my loss. When I wasn´t crying out for help, I was walking around like a zombie. I  couldn´t believe I was doing normal things, like seeing people or going to school or dreaming – how could I do stuff like that after my world had just collapsed?!  But what else could I do? Because I didn´t feel anything. Anything other than numbness and a vague sense of despair and anxiety. This is the state of mind I was in when I consulted Dr. Stoneface.

As my complaints, I listed to Dr. Stoneface all the things I was accusing myself of: Self-absorbed, narcissistic daydreams which ruined my relationships; jealousy; inability to live and experience things; inner deadness. Basically, all I could get out was gibberish. And, inexplicably to me, he simply swallowed all that. He didn´t see through my state of shock, even though a colleague of his had already diagnosed me with Adjustment Disorder. He merely assumed that what he saw before him was the “typical” case of a repentant narcissist who had just fucked up her life. “Adjustment Disorder” doesn´t even show up among the diagnoses he gave me.  In retrospect, as the full amount of his incompetence slowly dawns me, it just makes me speechless. Even psychology textbooks say that you shouldn´t diagnose a personality disorder before you´ve treated the acute problem. You have a client in your office who is distraught, cries, talks gibberish and constantly interrupts herself – and you never once question the accuracy of her self-accusations? Wow.

So what am I left with?

The same old impossibility to stay present, and the same old inferiority complex that goes with not really participating in life.

The same old fear that life merely has nothing to offer me which is as good and safe as my dreams; along with the same old fear that I´m living a lie.

The knowledge that the clock is ticking and that I´m still not making anything out of my life or myself.

Is there any kind of help for this kind of thing?

I´ve heard there is an informal diagnosis called “Daydreaming Disorder”, or “Maladaptive Daydreaming”. Apparently “therapies” for this thing work mainly like drug withdrawal or dieting. Use your willpower and some therapeutic methods to free yourself from your addiction/unhealthy habit. Apart from the fact that this would trigger a whole lot of humiliating memories from the time when the friend who eventually left me tried to push me towards breaking that “habit”, the thought of not being allowed to dream anymore is simply panic-inducing. I feel like the world is collapsing down on me.

“Well, see?” I hear in my head. “You just don´t want to. If you don´t want to, nobody can help you. But remember that you only live once; and you are wasting your life.”

I don´t know how many times I´ve tried to make it clear to myself and others that I truly can´t stop drifting away. It´s not a matter of willpower. But nobody ever believed me. They just saw “resistance”. And it really does sound like a cheap excuse, doesn´t it? Dreaming is a lot more pleasant than working hard in real life, isn´t it? So what kind of motivation would I have to not live in a dreamworld anymore?

This inner (and sometimes outer) debate isn´t facilitated by the fact that quite often I ask myself the same thing. This is what I meant with dreaming being connected to my depression. I simply don´t know what there is that´s worth living for. And this makes me feel like some kind of drug addict after all. I need an artificial happiness which is greater than anything life has to offer. I can remain an addict, sure, but then I´m a loser and I will harshly regret this on my deathbed.

If it wasn´t for those dreams, I probably wouldn´t worry too much if I´m a narcissist. But something about these dreams really seems to fit the picture: If I don´t live in my dreams, I feel uncomfortable, even depressed or suicidal. Apparently I am unable to cope with reality. I prefer my dreams, which are quite naturally self-serving. I control that world. I win in that world even when I lose. I might be defeated, but I always know I am the hero. I´m on my own side. I know that all the important people are on my own side. Sounds pretty narcissistic, huh? And I cannot cope without that kind of “supply”. Sounds even more narcissistic. Tough luck for me.

The whole phenomenon also fits another picture, though. Dissociative disorders. I mean – half of the day (understatement) I more or less involuntarily slip away into an altered state of consciousness. I hardly (if at all) notice the world around me. Sometimes at work when people ask me for something I panic because I find I cannot listen to them. I cannot process what they say. I cannot think. When I check the call numbers on the books they want to borrow I do not really read them. I just pretend to be checking them. Happens regularly, almost every time. I hardly even notice it anymore. I barely “wake up” while I attend on them. Sometimes, though, I get a slight rush of panic. What if they notice? And in moments like these I feel like a blind person who pretends she can see.

Here it is, finally, the post I wanted to write about connections between dissociation and narcissism. Told you it was there in my head somewhere. Talk about me being a scatterbrain.^^


36 Responses to “Maladaptive Daydreaming – Narcissism or Dissociation?”

  1. Confessions of a dreamer Says:

    I am very relieved to read your blog. I have been suffering from dreaming I was a different person for 18 years now. I had a terrible childhood and barely have friends, and I imagined I am a famous person loved by many. Did you ever get the feeling of hoping your very unreliasic dream would come true? I do. I sometimes hate waking up in the morning because I wanted to wake up with my fantasy coming true much like in the movies.

  2. I stumbled across your entry and nearly cried. I’ve experienced the same thing you write about and while my fantasies were vivid and absolutely amazing, they were followed by an intense feeling of self-loathing. I hate myself for being a lazy loser who is incapable of feeling anything true or honest. That feeling of self-hate simply compounds until I found a new way to temporarily ease the feeling….drinking. I found that once I started drinking I felt the most alive that I had ever been, the problem is that I didn’t know how to manage my consumption and I ended up destroying some amazing relationships. I’ve stopped drinking and I’m trying to be more honest about the root of my behavior. I think part of it stems back to sexual abuse I experienced as a child and my father abandoning my mother and brothers. I often find that my daydreams consist of me finding this great man and being in love and getting married. In my dreams, this man never leaves, never forces me to do anything I don’t want to do. He loves me unconditionally.

    I think what you’ve done is great. I guess the first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem and you’ve done that and you’ve definitely pushed me to do that. I guess venting on a blog can really help. I haven’t read your other posts yet, but I would perhaps encourage you to think about the content of your daydreams and how that may or may not connect back to any trauma you experienced as a kid or a teen. I know my issues stem from unresolved “daddy issues” that have haunted me my whole life.

    I really do wish you the best of luck, I know how difficult this is.

  3. I experience these excessive daydreams and have for over 40 years. I thought I was mentally ill and hiding it from everyone. Read my blog to hear my story. Please follow me, too!

  4. while I appreciate your honesty and I am only just today understanding this condition you do have a unique ability in your day dreaming. I myself have started a degree in writing as this suits my crazy mind but I also need structure in my day such as a physical practical job because it stops me day dreaming. You need to find a sympathetic community because normal people will not understand

    • White dream Says:

      Hey Spiritual Junkie… it is sad that you are saying “normal people will not understand” because you really don’t know. I suffer from day dreaming as well, and sometimes think that I have A.D.D., but I also have abuse issues in my past. It is pretty damn hard.

    • Many people who excessively day dream are well educated such as doctors and lawyers with a much more structured life than a writer would have. What makes you think you are any more normal than someone who daydreams for in fact, if you were being operated on by a surgeon who just saved your life, you would indeed thank her and see her as someone who is incredibly intelligent and gifted…far more normal than yourself. You would continue to believe she is normal above normal….never knowing her constant internal day dreams.

  5. First off let me say thank you for your bravery . Thanks to your post I realize I have been suffering from MD for as long as I can remember but I never knew it was a condition until today. I’ve been doing alot of soul searching trying to find who I really am and now I see that part of the reason I feel so lost is because I live in a fantasy most of the time. Your story has motivated me to atleast really give living a real life a try. And no matter what anyone says just no that there are people who understand you and are going through the samethings. I hope you find the inner strength you need to start living a real life, in fact I hope everyone who suffers from md does.

    • Thank you for your kind comment. As a word of warning, I used the label “maladaptive daydreaming” rather liberally, that is, I don´t know the exact criteria (it is not a formal diagnosis anyway) and whether I fulfill them. It´s a term that resonated with me, but lately I´m starting to question my “appropriation” of psychiatric and pseudo-psychiatric terms to describe my feelings and behaviors. At any rate, I wish you all the best for your own struggles!

  6. I didn’t realize how much of my life was spent daydreaming until about 4 some years ago. I stopped, cold-turkey, like you mentioned. It got bad. Memories I had avoided thinking about surfaced. I couldn’t seem to cope anymore. I stuck with it though. I ended up in therapy to start dealing with the memories. Figuring things out. I figured out I had Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder, but they told me I had Adjustment Disorder as well. Anyway, lots has happened in the past 4 or 5 years. I started actually believing in the Faith I grew up in (Roman Catholicism). The thing that keeps me out of these daydreams is knowing that God (not God as a concept or God as I choose to imagine Him), but God Himself wasn’t truly in my daydreams. Obviously He is with us always, but when I went into my daydreams to escape this world, I was also going there in an attempt to escape Him, without really even consciously being aware that was what I was doing. That is what I regret the most. How long it took me to realize that having Spirit-led daydreams about the Gospel left me feeling much more fulfilled than my daydreams ever did. I’ve started interacting more with people. I still crave the daydreams and am worried I’ll slip back into a make-believe, self-centered fantasy, but so long as I keep reading the Bible and discussing what I get from prayer with a spiritual director, I feel “safer” in doing that. Plus, I notice I am loving more. Truly loving, and this makes life more bearable. Well, I thought I would share anyway. I still am far from being content in this world, but we are not made for this world. I can learn to enjoy the good and beautiful things of this world and prepare myself for the next, AND I don’t have to forego my creativity/imagination but can let God reach me through that as well.

  7. There are resources that could help. It sounds difficult — on one hand it is very freeing, but then locks you out of a real world. This appears to me like a dissociative response possibly to past experiences. It’s a useful coping mechanism that has been developed, not unlike avoiding confrontation, getting angry, or drinking alcohol. It’s hard to see it as maladaptive because it doesn’t hurt anybody else, but you have seen it does keep you out of the relational world.

    People have been helped using psychotherapy. I would strongly suggest speaking with someone who is well-qualified and has a history of working with dissociation. Don’t just open the phone book and dial. If you have access to a local clinical psychology center, they can often provide referrals. You can also contact a university in your area that has a clinical psychology department.

    It can be a process of getting to know your ability to daydream and how that relates to your interactions in everyday life. It’s not about saying there is something wrong with you, but that you’d like an experience that you don’t have access to presently. Like physical exercise, it just takes time and effort, but it’s worth the time spent. Just make sure you find the right therapist and ask lots of questions.

    Bon voyage. It’s worth it.

  8. I assume your numbness arises from the need not to feel an unbearable amount of pain. I think it is a terrifically good thing that you have found something that helps you cope with both the numbness–which is really unpleasant–and the pain. My suggestion, if you want it, is to find a way to begin to address the pain so that you can begin to experience life again. I wouldn’t worry about the daydreaming. There are worse coping mechanisms out there you could have stumbled across. It’s a credit to you that you didn’t take up drugs, or drink, or impersonal sex.

    And thanks for coming by and checking out my blog. Take care.

    • I´m still not sure what to think about my daydreaming, but it feels good to get acceptance for it. Trying to stop myself from daydreaming has led to some bad mental breakdowns in the past, so not worrying about it might be the better approach at least for now.

      Thank you for your insight.

  9. onlyToday Says:

    Figure out what the exact opposite of daydreaming is to you. Take your time. Do it once. Then do it again. Slowly you will find a balance and you will stop being so hard on yourself. In order to stop hating yourself on the inside, enjoy who you are on the outside. Think of what the chances are of being human? It a miracle, it’s surreal. Embrace your existence in a balanced way. You are a part of the universe that is alive. 1 step at a time. 1 step at a time. Its all going to better. It will all be ok.

  10. courage Says:

    i have the same problems i want to defeat maladaptive daydreaming but its pretty hard because maladaptive daydreaming gives me confidence pride and its very soothing also it feels good

    whenever i try to stop it its like its kinda hard and when i experience dreaming again its really hard to resist

    but to all who got this maladaptive daydreaming
    lets not give up

  11. I am in the process of developing an open forum site on this. Please stop by.

  12. I just found your blog. I can relate. I have been daydreaming my life away except for work where I have to focus I live in a dream world where I have friends and discussions end with me having the upper hand. Now that I know it is wrong I have to stop. Thank you for opening my eyes

    • Althea,

      don´t take my word for gospel! My blog is called “possible truths” because I´m not sure of the accuracy of anything I write! I cannot tell you what is right and wrong! I have at best lay knowledge of the psychiatric terms I use!

      I can understand that someone would look at me and think that this is not who he wants to end up being. But the purpose of this post was never to encourage people to be hard on themselves and deny themselves something that gives them relief. My own experiences with trying to control my daydreaming were painful without being helpful.

      This is not to discourage you, either. I´d just hate if something I wrote over a year ago turned a person who was until now feeling alright about herself into someone who thinks she is constantly, and without really intending to, doing something wrong.

      All the best to you!

  13. I’ve been piecing bits together to figure myself out for a long long time. This is one of the biggest things that effects my life and although I’d never wish it upon anyone, it is always nice to not be alone in such wars.

    Something to consider, one of the many pieces I’ve found for this and many many other puzzles:
    The human brain is an unimaginably efficient thing, it likes to work smart, not hard. So what it does is make things automatic, as much as it can, minimize the need to think, thus “wasting” energy. Nearly 60% of everything you think you see in real time on that every day drive to work or school is reconstructed from memory. 60% of everything your eyes are taking in, the light poles, the houses, picket fences, and everything else that never really changes drastically from day to day, your brain is immediately discarding that data and instead, reconstructing it from memory. Your brain has decided, without you even realizing it, that it’s far more efficient to say “hey, we’re doing this an aweful lot, lets store the data in a special place and simply reload *that* instead of re-process the same data over and over again, that’ll be far more efficient.” This is why occasionally, other cars come from out of nowhere, the real time image of that car you almost hit wasn’t registered before the construct from memory took hold and it seemingly appeared out of nowhere when they raced up to give you a nasty look. This is the root of change blindness.

    The problem is that this automation process effects absolutely every aspect of your life.

    Your emotion and thought responses to stimuli, both external and internal. This is the key.

    Your brain says, “hey, when X happens, we always respond the same way, X event always = Y feeling, lets make this more efficient and develop some pathways to make it automatic.” Many times, the event need only have a similar “texture” to trigger the pre-determined emotional response. Sometimes the fear or anticipation of what X event *might* become is enough. Especially true when you start looking into abandonment issues and the effects on relationships.

    What it boils down to is this: We have been practicing living life a certain way, long enough for it to become an automatic process where even when we’ve come to realize that “reacting” a certain way doesn’t make sense anymore, it still keeps happening anyway leaving us feeling a fool and questioning our *selves* and *minds*.

    The solution is to practice living life a different way until those old pathways get erased, when the brain gets it that those are the “old ways” and we need to start automating “new ways.”

    Knowing a thing and applying a thing are two very different things. This is why therapists and psychology professors still need to see therapists. They know where all this comes from, they know the roots of their dysfunctions, they know it’s BS that their mother still plants seeds of doubt or frustration into their brains. It’s always easier on paper.

    It’s sooo hard to know which “new ways” are the right ways. But it takes changing a whole lot of small parts to start changing the whole. Pick a thing, any thing, do something different.

    I’ve been ruled by my emotions, when I don’t feel like doing something, I now have a dictate that says automatically, because I don’t feel like it, I have to do it. Like feeling anxious about going out and being around people. Or having a quick cereal instead of cooking a healthier breakfast. It is slowly becoming automatic that when I say to myself, “I don’t feel like it,” I instantly grit my teeth and curse myself for saying that because now it means I have to do it. “Dammit” 🙂

    I’m not going to go back and edit this, which is incredibly hard for me to do. I could spend hours perfecting this comment, the wording, the phrasing and punctuation but in the spirit of this comment, I’m going to do something different.

    I hope this piece that I’ve found helps you.

    • Thank you for your detailed and insightful comment. I used to think for a long time that change had to come through either a cathartic moment or a world-changing insight, and both approaches have largely disappointed me. Change through learning and re-learning seems a lot more realistic. It actually does match my experience, at least with regards to the relationship between avoidance and anxiety. Fear only increases by deliberately avoiding what you´re phobic of. I also believe, though, that you need to be very careful when creating new automatisms. Conditioning yourself towards doing something if (or because?) you don´t feel like it can be useful with regards to phobias or to get the dishes done, but going against your own instincts can be rather dangerous, too. During my last therapy attempt, I realized very early that my therapist and I were not a good match, but precisely because of that I stayed, believing that it had to be hard and that I was not allowed to “run away”.

      You said yourself that it is difficult to know which new ways are the right ways. I think before change is possible (or before change can be successful and get you the results you want), you need to find out which of your instincts are reasonable and which ones are crazy, and even with reasonable instincts you might want to override some of them for a larger goal, whereas there are others you will always listen to. Maybe at some later point in life this selection process, too, will work automatically, but I haven´t arrived at this point by a long shot. Right now, it still takes a lot of thinking.

  14. OOOH!!!

    Please remember, scientists have relatively recently discovered that the brain remains plastic through your entire life, long into old age. We used to believe that we became set in stone at a certain point but it’s no longer the reality.

    Our brains may not ever again be as pliable as when we were children, but we are not set in stone. It’s not easy but definitely not impossible!

  15. Just can’t tell how much releiving your post was. I have MD for more than six years and now I am eighteen. My fantasies are extremely weird. These are also multi-dimensional. Sometimes I think I have a girlfriend who is mad at me (though reality is inverse), sometimes I think I am a computer programmer and I fantasy Bill Gates working under me…You must be laughing, but that was not a joke…Sometimes, I dream I have developed a drug that cures HIV within seconds and I am called by various nations like US, Africa to deliver speech at some of their prestigious universities…Don’t laugh!!!…
    But everytime I daydream I know I am not going to be profited anyhow. But still…I couldn’t resist…And it persisted and happens even now…
    I don’t know if I shall ever be cured…But one thing is sure it is going to be a tough journey…But yes, God has chosen me for this journey because the almighty thinks I am the right one…

  16. it may sound odd but ur blog actually kinda relieved me that i am not the only person with such worsen condition . i am also a very heavy daydreamer … but my condition is little different… earlier i used to day dream in pieces , that is,i would dream for continuously many days without doing any productive work and then i would suddenly stop and be able to concentrate completly on my tasks.. and then again indulldge in daydreaming after completion … but now the condition has gone far too worse. now it seems totally out of control. even trying harder cant keep it under control for more than half hour. even the very guilt of having the important time being wasted surrounds me all the time , it feels like i cant feel or sense that guilt..and then i dream even exessively to overcome or better say avoid facing that guilt … even as i am writting this i feel it difficult to concentrate on my thoughts …
    i just wish if could controll it like before .. back then it never used to be that tough …
    one thing is very sure that it very hard to get rid of this whole thing . no one can completely cured of this and in a way a little dreaming is not bad but good for one .
    but deep down i still have that confidance (dont know real or i dream-faked it too!!) that i can get this off my chest and it might be verry tough but its not impossible.

  17. Have been the same for many years,more then a decade. But i have gained a lot of relief now by 1) realising that it is a disorder 2) avoiding triggers like movies,music,tv, idleness 3) meditating 15 minutes daily.

    & ofcrs no alchohol or tobacco.

  18. Tonight was the worst for me. I start walking around the room talking and gesturing wildly when I’m dreaming, suddenly my child saw me. He got really scared and stated crying. He thought I was sleepwalking, but I acted like I was on the phone. Oh god, I’m so upset and embarrassed. He’s 10 – old enough to understand when something is wrong. But he didn’t question my claim and went back to sleep.
    I’m extremely worried now. I don’t think it is right for a person like me to be a mother. I feel guilty for so many things. It’s a miracle that I got married, had kids, held my job…
    But I’m dreaming more and more now and the dreams are getting wilder. It’s like I’m an addict who needs stronger and stronger fix everyday. The drama in my dreams is increasing and also the time I spend in them. I’m losing sight of my goals. I cannot let this happen – for my kids’ sake if not for mine.
    My best friend is the only person I’ve told about this and she doesn’t think it’s that big a deal. She said ‘everyone has coping mechanisms, and yours is harmless and fun, so let it be.’ I don’t think she gets how trapped and helpless I feel.
    What I read here now gives me some hope but I wonder how to break this autopilot mode my brain seems to be on. How to unlearn and learn new habits now? I need serious help. I’m up all night daydreaming because I have work during the day – everyone’s been asking me why I look like a zombie – dark pools under eyes, tired and spaced out. I hate the way I look and feel when I’m in real life.

    • Hi Mia,

      I´m sorry you´re feeling so bad. I can understand your child´s reaction upset you. But isn´t there a possibility to explain to him what is going on with you, in calm, non-frightening words? Maybe he´ll be able to relate. When my cousin was little, she used to run around the room in circles. When I asked her why she was doing this, she told me she was making up a story and it was so exciting she couldn´t stay still. We ended up talking about what kind of stories we like to make up. Maybe this is how you can explain your behavior to your son?

  19. Oh my goodness what can I say! Your article summed up everything that I ever wanted to say in a few paragraphs. I have been living with extreme vivid daydreams that are seemingly out of my control ever since I could remember. This article is the story of my life, I could never have explained it better than the way that you put it. I was crying all while reading this. I wonder if the world will ever believe us–if they will ever realize just how severe this disorder is. All my life I’ve lived with so much grief, sorrow, and sheer mental anguish and extreme guilt over this disease that seemingly has no face or name. I wonder if there will ever been any hope for us, or will we just have to live in this world forever.

  20. Sarah Diesen Says:

    Oh my…I can really relate to almost everything you said! I never realized that how much damage my obsessive daydreaming has actually done to me. I feel like the light bulb just went on over my head. This makes so much sense!! Now I really know why it’s so difficult for me to experience things in real life and to feel the emotions I’m supposed to feel in those experiences. So thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing this!!!! I think from now on, since its exhausting to monitor the thoughts like you said, I’m going to at least make a conscious effort to write down all of my daydreams, so that I channel all of my imagination even more so into writing and can maybe make use of my ability and maybe control it better. Have you tried doing that?

  21. This is all me. I wish I could meet you to actually talk about this. I’ve never been able to explain to myself or anyone else the things that go on in my mind and it’s like your post was actually talking about me. I don’t know what’s wrong with me, but I’ve started getting help because I’m scared of myself now. I hope things are going better for you now!

  22. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I can particularly relate to the self-absorbed, narcissist part. When I understood most of my thought were about myself and my fantasies, I felt alone, like an alien to everyone else and it was scary.
    How do people perceive me? Can they relate to me? Can I relate to them? Do I really know myself? Who am I outside of myself? There is a world outside, and I’m part of that world. It amazed me. It was so obvious, yet it felt like it was the first time that thought had crossed my mind. Every time I looked at a mirror I saw myself, so familiar, yet a stranger. I started to notice I had a body. (I feel the same about my own name. I instantly look around, once I hear it, but when I think about it, it doesn’t make any sense.) To cope with that feeling I started to write about those feelings, and everything I wouldn’t tell anyone. I started to lift every stone in my mind, seeking for any bit of self-shame and denial. I took the next step when I met someone with whom I started to share everything (I mean ->every<- thing) about myself, every good and bad thought. His feedback helps me see myself beyond my own perception of reality. I also started to watch how others acted, the purpose of their actions and the origin of their thoughts and ideias.
    Now I feel like I have a connection to other people and I feel more conscious. I don't mind jumping around, screaming and laughing and crying, while daydreaming, anymore. I know I look like a crazy person, but at least I know I do.

  23. Hi, I am so glad that I found your site. I have been lost in daydreams for as long as I can remember and am just realizing it could be a problem. I think you are being a bit too hard on yourself. You know your dreams are just dreams. You are not delusional. Set time aside regularly where you are allowed to enjoy some dreaming. It may point you in a direction that can help you enjoy your actual life. Writing for children? You are very descript, and very funny. I laughed while I was reading even though you are seriously concerned. I do the very same thing in my life . I think reality is fine but, we are encouraged to think that everyone else’s life is rich and rewarding and even extraodinary . Pop culture has us believing that we will never measure up to what is usually fantasy for most people. Most people have average non- descript lives with highlights like a vacation every so often. Most people live beyond their means and are in debt trying to live a glamorous life that most cannot afford. Try to do little things as often as you can to enrich your daily life. Can you paint, make your living area cozy and comfy for your own self ? Look forward to being present watching a beautiful sunset? Can you take a walk on the beach or in a park and just focus on being there with all of your senses activated? Take your shoes off and get grounded in nature with your feet on grass or sand. It is supposed to help us be in the moment with nature. I am at the same point in my life where I have to focus on making my true reality more enjoyable while still enjoying my vivid imagination. I want to make that work for me . I do not want to throw away a precious part of myself and judge it as wrong or maladaptive. I had to laugh about imaginary friend #2145 and Dr. Stoneface? Really? I am sure he has his own problems with a name like that. Best wishes, move forward in reality, but still enjoy your little bit of dreaming. You might even want to keep a journal. Take care of yourself,

  24. artsygoddess Says:

    Wow, is all I can say. Daydreaming has been a part of my life since elementary school. I have never found anyone who has experienced the same thing. Thanks for your blog and for all those who commented. On some days I am just so ready to accept myself and accept my life. On others, I just cannot tolerate the seemingly nothingness of my life and run back to my daydreaming because, as you have said, it seems more real to me than my life. Thanks again for bringing so many of us out of the closet!

  25. Wow, you express so many of the challenges I have had: lifelong daydreamer (music/movement) awakened to the hole this condition has created in my life, yet unable to face reality long enough to fill the void. Don’t despair, though, you are a good writer and have comforted those like me:)

  26. Cool! Others like me! We’ll get out of this somehow.

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