Part III: Return to Reality

It’s strange and terrifying to think about return when you’ve been gone for so long. It’s strange because many of us ultimately don’t know where we should be returning to. Is it even a return? What are we leaving behind? If the dream world feels like home somewhere at the back of your mind, then is reality where you should really be?

It’s inherent for a dreamer to despise reality because it threatens the only place where you can exist and therefore your existence altogether. Saying reality can never measure up to the daydreams is understandable from your position, but it’s a very ambiguous statement, dangerously inaccurate too. You know that daydreams feel wonderful because you exist in them, you’ve seen it all, you’ve felt it, you’ve been there and you can attest to just how beautiful and emotionally fulfilling they can be, right? But when you say reality is terrible, are you actually there? No. Do you feel like you genuinely exist in it? No.

This is why you are wrong.

Reality can’t measure up to your daydreams only because you are not here. How can you say reality is ugly when your eyes are shut so you can’t even see it in full bloom? What gives you right to say it’s dull when you don’t even exist in it? Yes, reality can be just as exciting, just as thrilling and mind-blowing and emotionally fulfilling as your daydreams. Don’t use the excuse that it will never compare to the life inside your head. It’s your perception that’s flawed, not the world. Every time you stop daydreaming and try shifting your focus from fantasies to the outer world, you come to a conclusion that not only reality happens to be dull and disappointing for you but outright suffocating. This happens because your entire system is depressed. And thoughts of depressed people are always turned inwards, preventing them to be here, to live in the moment, regardless of how intensely hard they attempt to shift their focus. If you aren’t turning your attention inwards to daydream, you’re turning it inwards to ruminate about how fucked up and miserable everything is. As long as your thoughts are turned inwards, you’re not here. And as long as you’re not here, reality will continue to be terrible for you.

Do you know why you daydream? Because you desperately try to exist somewhere, anywhere, as long as you can exist. Because when you aren’t daydreaming, you are nowhere. And this nowhere you call cruel reality, which you’re catapulted into every time you abandon daydreams, isn’t reality. It’s nowhere. Don’t mistake things.

Returning to reality means returning to yourself.

It doesn’t mean giving up what’s in your daydreams and it doesn’t mean forcing yourself to focus on the outside world and pretend you are what you’re not. It means rebuilding your sense of self until it’s solid enough for you to exist inside your own body instead of existing in dream world and nowhere at once. It means rebuilding the sensors which let you experience positive emotions on your own skin in place of having to depend on and live off emotions of your characters. This new self that will be reborn and that you’ll ultimately be returning to as you return to reality is made up of the same self that expresses itself in your daydreams which means that by giving up daydreaming, you’re only giving up the habit that consumes countless hours, nothing else. As I wrote in the previous post, those feelings of life making sense, of purpose and love and passion and spontaneity of emotions experienced in daydreams, they’ll remain yours. This is the thought you have to remember during your entire recovery. You’re not giving anything up. Your most precious daydreams are you.

There is no such thing as finding a balance between fantasies and reality because if you do so, you will always be split, moving from one place to another and never dedicating yourself wholly to either side. And this is not fair. It’s not fair towards people in your real life and it’s not fair towards yourself. You have to go for all or nothing. When you do go for all or nothing, you can have both. When you genuinely let go of your attachments and daydreams in order to experience and process underlying pain that must be felt for you to stand up and rebuild yourself, they’ll come back to you.

35 thoughts on “Part III: Return to Reality

  1. Maryline says:

    This has helped me more than you can ever imagine. I had been suffering for years, but you knew the perfect words to say without being aggressive or making me feel oppressed . I was able to read EVERY SINGLE word you wrote without daydreaming. No one has ever been able to captivate me so much. Whoever you are or whatever led you to write this I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart and more. I hope to meet someone like you someday. You have saved me and surely many others in our state. Thank you.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Eretaia says:

      Oh god, your comment almost made me cry. Thank you so much for such wonderful words! I’m really glad you could benefit from this. If you have any questions, you can always contact me on Wild Minds forums (same username as here). Thanks once again!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Majdi says:

        Hello, thank you for publishing this. I suffer from MD since i was 7. Everytime i try to stop it i fail, the dreams are 24/7 in my head and i cant concentrate in anything, recentely i started to forget everthing i feel like its getting worse but i cant control these thoughts can you give my some advice?

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Sara says:

    Thank you thank you thank you thank you times one million.
    I never even considered myself depressed. Then, while reading, I took a minute to step outside my fantasy, and for a couple seconds there I felt the nothingness of my reality, and immediately wanted to dive back into my daydream. Now that I’ve recognized it, I know where to start.

    Like

  3. Alice says:

    Hello Eretaia.
    I’ve been with this problem since I was 6 or 7. It was because of familiar problems, and later some health problems. I wanted to scape from reality.
    A year ago I decided to do something with this. I couldn’t bear with this anymore, so I decided to eliminate MD triggers. That helped me. But I’ve had some relapses. There’s no MD if I don’t listen to music with headphones, but when I walk listening to music, even If I’ve been right, I fall again to MD.
    I’d like to eliminate this from my life. The ‘addiction’ it’s controlled (more or less), but I’m not able to feel anything. I’m not sad, but not happy. I can’t laugh. I don’t know where to start to begin to feel again.
    Can you give me some advice of where do I start?
    Thank you for all this help.

    Like

    • Eretaia says:

      Hey Alice. Have you read the 4th part of this series? I wrote about this specific problem there. I’ve dealt with the exact same numbness and maybe some approaches I mentioned there may be helpful for you. Starting to feel again is one hell of a slow process. If there’s any concrete advice I can give to you, then it’s to push yourself out of your comfort zone. MD is acting like a stimulant in a way, so you’ll need a replacement, something equally stimulating to allow you to come in touch with yourself and start to feel again. Anger did a thing for me and a few other daydreamers I talked to (I wrote about it in the 4th article). So, it comes down to seeking activities or situations that will jolt you out of the emptiness and allow you to feel again for a short period. Whether it’s positive feelings or negative ones, it doesn’t matter – all you need is something to stir you up. In the beginning, you need to awake your real feelings for just several moments and then use those moments as a point of reference, as something to hold onto to help you break through the emptiness. The important thing is to keep pushing yourself out of this ‘gray zone’ where nothing happens. If you have any questions, feel free to message me.

      Like

  4. Jason says:

    I am no good at complimenting but your post is amazing. I see myself in every word. Like many, I have struggled with MD and generally an addictive personality for many years and have been trying, unsuccessfully, to deal with it for an equal number of years. When not daydreaming, I often feel like I don’t have a personality rather I am just an extension of others around me. Can you offer any advice on how you worked on being able to express your feelings? I am finding that this has been one of the hardest things for me to do throughout my life and has resulted in many failed relationships. I am very intrigued in your explanation of anger as I can only recall a few incidents in my life that I actually showed anger rather than repressing it through MD. What did you do to get angry and release that anger?

    Thank you so much for your writings, being able to relate to what you say makes me feel less isolated.

    Like

    • Eretaia says:

      Thanks, Jason!

      Hmm… anger, it’s a tricky one. It’s a spontaneous emotion and you can do little to trigger it yourself. For you to get angry, you have to get attacked or have something you care about get attacked, but since a regular maladaptive daydreamer is just an empty shell who cares about nothing but their daydreams, it’s pretty hard to get angry. At the end of the day, you don’t care so why would you get angry? When you feel attacked or invaded by certain situations or people’s inability to understand you, you feel like you want to break down but you’re always holding yourself back from falling apart or fighting back and this is where the problem occurs. This is when you have to do something. When a situation like this happens where you feel you’re being invaded by negativity, instead of being paralyzed and frozen, let yourself fall apart, cry, fight back, try to explain to people if they bother you or simply tell them to fuck off. Lash out. Any way is fine. Releasing anger almost always happen at the end of tunnel of your defenses.

      As for your question on awakening and expressing feelings, if you are hardcore daydreamer, then all your feelings are encapsulated in your daydreams while in reality you have none. Managing to express these types of feelings would actually equal getting rid of MD because MD is nothing else but a mechanism which allows you to express things you otherwise can’t. I wrote a bit about what I specifically did in my reply to Harjot in comment section of 4th article so you can check it out there.

      Sometimes I think that emotional expression itself is not what we ultimately struggle with. When you try to express things you feel in your daydreams, there’s a clash between your dream self and your real self. The feeling itself is not a problem, the clash is. This emotion you’re trying to express is supposed to flow naturally from your fantasies to your real self, but as soon as it reaches your real self (that is, as soon as you try to express it in reality), something backfires. Your sense of self is so broken and fragile that it cannot host this emotion, which is what prevents its expression. The emotion feels foreign to you because you feel foreign to yourself. So, it’s not feelings you’re uncomfortable with – it’s yourself. Expressing certain feeling means getting to love a part of yourself that blocks its expression.

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  5. anonymous says:

    Thank you so much, these writings have literally changed my life. I do feel reborn. I fantasized as a way to escape abuse as a child and still did up until today. I had no idea this addiction was subconciously hurting me until today. I feel like I just realized that Im a person and that reality is real. It was such a huge daily part of my thinking and life, I realized today that this is my issue that’s been fueling my depression and failures. I kind of feel like a newborn, as weird as it sounds. I had no idea others went through this. It’s hard though, I feel like a part of me is missing without transporting myself to the daydream world. I feel so grateful for this I could cry. Thank you so much!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Eretaia says:

      Thank you for your wonderful comment! A part of you really is missing without the daydream world. Daydreams are neither good nor bad – they are just a territory where you have temporal access to all the emotions that you should have but for some reason cannot experience in real life. While events in your daydreams may be silly or too far-fetched to be true, the emotions that come with them can and should be transferred and experienced in real life. When you manage to experience things you feel in your daydreams without actually having to engage in fantasy to experience them, that’s when you’ve really overcome MD. In other words, fantasy is just a mean that lets you experience certain emotions INDIRECTLY, via your characters or your idealized self. When you’ve truly beaten MD, that doesn’t mean you’ll lose those emotions or that part of yourself you feel is missing – it just means you’ll experience them directly this time, without having to use your daydream characters.

      Well, good luck on your journey! It’s a pretty dark road ahead, and you’ll fall and fail many times until you get some sense of control but don’t get discouraged! There’s a way out, you just have to be really, really stubborn. :))

      Like

  6. Misty says:

    I can’t stop crying or re-reading this! Amazing.

    What can I do if the reality I’m living is just to awful to accept? How do I get to my real self without destroying the relationships I have because they are so unsatisfactory I just want to run away ( dealing with disabled kids)

    Like

  7. Tamara says:

    Thank you, Eretaia for an amazing article, which is the best I’ve ever read on this topic. MD extremely affects the quality of my life, I spend about four hours a day on it. I do MD when I need to calm down. For example, I am angry and I imagine myself in a different situation with different people one hundred times or so and feel angry over and over again until I feel calm. Or when I am scared/ happy/ suprised /in love I start to daydream of some situation, which never happened in reality and feel that emotion over and over again for hours until I am calm. I always come late everywhere because for me to leave the house and meet with people is a stress. I always daydream intensely before leaving the house. I also have a wrong feeling that there is a lot of time ahead and constantly finish my work late. This wrong feeling of time calms me down. So I use MD to calm down and feel out of stress. And for me any emotion is a stress, the stronger the emotion the bigger stress. I cannot handle emotions or new impressions. MD will start immidiately. I also have a tendency to fall into emotions and cannot forget for a long time afterwards. I’ll be really gratefull if you give some advice for my situation.

    Like

  8. Robyn says:

    Thank you for writing this. I use to think nobody could ever understand what I’m going through and I’m too nervous to talk to anyone about it because I don’t want to be judged for it. Every time I think about letting go, I get pulled back in, I feel like I can’t live without it. Life won’t be the same. It’s the only thing I actually love but it’s hurting me and the close connection I have with the characters I made up, I don’t want to walk away from them. MD makes me feel safe, secure and in control of my own story. Can you ever really let go?

    Like

    • Eretaia says:

      There is nothing to give up in the first place. Your characters are manifestations of feelings detached from real you and these feelings are an inseparable part of who you are and no one is taking them away from you. What you have to do is make them bleed from fantasy into real you. Your attachment to characters and scenarios is just a disguised attachment to feelings you crave to experience. Some of them, like those of false security and sense of control really do need to be let go of in order for you to work through underlying dark and insecurities that are fueling MD but positive feelings of belonging and self-acceptance, the very same emotions you experience in daydreams, will wait for you at the end of the tunnel once you’ve dealt with MD. Since your attraction to characters is attraction to detached feelings, making yourself experience those feelings for what they really are will put you at piece with both yourself and your characters.

      Like

      • Robyn says:

        Thank you for all the advice!!!!! I really need it. It feels like a constant battle with myself. Sometimes I feel like I can win and sometimes I feel like I can’t. Maybe meds might help but I don’t really want to go that far.

        Like

  9. kim katz says:

    Eretaia, thank you so much for your work. This is just grand !!!!! I wasn’t very sure of willing to quick my MD for I thought they were helping me to cope with real life, I even thought they were helping to reach reality and cure me but now I realize that as long as they exist, the split will always be there and they will only take me away from reality.
    I do not know who you are or what you in real life 🙂 but everyone should read your papers in Wild Minds Nertwork, I think they could help them to reflex on their situation and on what MDD really is. It has woken me up. Now I have to deal with the worse part, the withdrawal and the real me. I hope I will succeed, for I have to !
    Thanx a million, like Loulourose says 😉
    Kim

    Like

  10. Rosebud says:

    Wow. It is amazing. It really helped me. I was suffering from MD from my begining of life. I know the very first memory is I used to daydream. Even today when I watch movie, feel stress, happy I start to day dream. I cant controll over it. and most disgusting thing to me is I engage in daydream with action on reality like smiling, making angry /unhappy face. I fell unsafe, suspecting every one, angry with real person etc are my problem. please help me to get rid of my problem. Iam 27 years old. I think when Iam 7 years from that age I have MD. Please help me.

    Like

  11. Ann says:

    Dear, I found this very hopeful as I am coping with this issue since childhood. My main problem is that I can hardly ever be in reality, even when these few breakdowns of pain happened to me, I was crying and trembling but my brain would immediately find a proper fantasy to interact with me suffering, and situation in my brain develops and I am in a matter of seconds in fantasy, for example, fantasy where some men see me in this situation as capable of deep emotions (which is quality I admire and wish to have) and that it goes to narcissistic- love fantasy, he is in love with me because I have such qualities, he is consoling me, etc. And this is just one example..I am trying to say even when I am feeling something real, , my brain finds a path to turn it into material for fantasy…it doesn’t have to be even such an extreme situation as real suffering, it can be a moment of spontaneity, when I realize, how amazing I was just spontaneous, than again it goes to fantasy..I am completely fed up with living like this, and I feel almost physical nausea to it…In last few months, I started really getting sick when I “overfed” with fantasies and I would really catch some virus and vomit for few days and I couldn’t possibly daydream during that time, but I would feel finally alive…terribly sick and most alive…I feel I completely sucked up energy of my body with life like this

    Liked by 1 person

    • valh675 says:

      This has happened to me as well. I’ve struggled with nausea and vomiting when I daydreamed too hard about fictional characters. It was as if my body were telling me: “Pay attention to me! I’m here! I’m real, they’re not!” And such a strong feeling (even though terrible), like when we throw up, brings us to reality, want it or not.

      Like

  12. marcydel says:

    I feel like there are two different sides of me, one that’s holds the insight (like from this blog) and logically understands the process and why I should resist cravings and let everything resurface, the other that is always desperately scrounging for excuses and permission to daydream even in your writing, that’s all too happy for another go with my characters and alternative selves and to dissolve my hours. It’s the other side that keeps winning.

    I wish someone could just take away my ability to MD whether I like it or not so I can finally process what’s going on. So many failed attempts to not only logically understand what I’m doing to myself, my life, and to my family and my friends, but to finally FEEL it empirically, the anxiety, the numbness, the dullness, the loneliness, somehow I know it’s there but I can’t feel it. I always allow myself to be blinded even though I know it’s wrong. It’s feels odd to say that I’m taking whatever discomfort I can.

    Like

    • Melodie says:

      Wow. This is exactly how I feel. I know I should let go but I still want the feeling that comes with MD. I don’t know how to live without it. I actually fear who I would become without it. I always had it as a coping and defensive mechanism. And I don’t want to trade it a addiction with another one.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Aradhana says:

    I am just reading and got to know so much about myself like I literally related word to word and I want to tell that I have been daydreaming since idk when I was a kid but it never really affected me I was still doing stuffs getting marks and was happy . My teenage years were awful like not having friend people treating you like shit, academically so low and everything started falling apart diagnosed with chronic anxiety and in depression for I guess 4 years now I am 17 🥺. But now I want to work hard for my career and needed such things to help me out alone in order to understand myself to find myself again till now I won’t say that I have completely stopped it but there is improvement. I am reading this 3rd one and I will improve eventually. Thank you so much you have changed my life:)))

    Like

    • Eretaia says:

      I wish you good luck! My honest advice to you: if you can, get a good psychotherapist! You should not go through this struggle alone. Dangers of MD come down to isolation, to thinking we are all alone but also to thinking we can handle it all by ourselves. Noone should go through this alone. You need connection to someone outside yourself.
      The first step in overcoming this split between interior world of emotion and exterior world of reality is breaking this isolation. I’d definitely find a good psychotherapist. It makes things meaningful. Good luck 🙂

      Like

  14. Banana says:

    I was bullied when I was younger. It was emotional and verbal mainly but also physical sometimes. The bullying took place not only in school but also in home by my aunt who lived with us and by my cousins who I stayed with during weekends. I couldn’t tell my parents because I was ashamed of myself for being bullied and I knew they would just tell me to man up and stand up for myself. So instead I just endured in silence for a long time. My only escape was the world inside my head. Whenever something painful was said or I felt hurt, i would lock myself in my bathroom and daydream the pain away. I did this quite often. It even became like a family joke that if you are looking for me I am probably in the bathroom. Anyways, when my parents moved to a different country, the bullying stopped because I was far away from all my bullies. However, the damage had been done. My self esteem and self confidence were in shreds and I developed a fear of people. Worse than that, I became addicted to my inside world (which is what I called it) and I preferred to spend time alone in my room then go play with others. Years later, I discovered that this condition has a name and it made so much sense. Through your writings I am taking the steps needed to go back to myself and rediscover who I am without these daydreams and without the pain of memories. Hopefully, one day I will meet this wonderful person that I have been neglecting. I want to thank you for writing these posts because they have given me courage to share my story that I haven’t shared with anyone before.
    PS. also as a side note if anyone is reading this I just want to add that if you are ever a parent with a child who is being bullied then take my advice and become the most ANNOYING parent on earth and notify your child’s school, the schoolboard whatever it takes. And if it comes to it, transfer your child to another school because bullying is no joke it can cause real damage to a person’s mental health even if its just verbal. Stay safe and happy.

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