Wake butterfly –
it’s late, we’ve miles
to go together.
Whether you decide to wean yourself off gradually or go cold turkey, physical cessation of engaging in MD is a prerequisite for stopping it. Force yourself to stop daydreaming for a certain period of time – not in order to stop MD altogether – but in order to release and identify underlying toxic emotions and pain that fantasy is censoring. You will be surprised what will come out. As already explained in the first part of this series, once you have familiarized yourself with the pain, loneliness, fears and once you have surrendered to them and gradually accepted them, you should lose the impulse to use MD as an escape method.
Now, a question: is MD an attempt to run away from yourself or an attempt to finally reach yourself?
I say both. If you embrace negative feelings and face them, that should stop you from using MD for escape purposes. However, you will still want to use fantasy to temporarily come in touch with detached feelings and parts of yourself. Now let’s see what we can do about this part.
When you finally decide that you are going to try to put an end to this madness, one thing usually stands in your way: emotional bluntness. Inability to connect to yourself and consequently to the real world. Probably the most discouraging feeling in the entire recovery that drives all your relapses.
When you think about it, it’s not bad feelings that torture and compel you to engage in daydreaming as much as it’s the lack of feelings. But what causes this numbness?
Detachment isn’t a product of what we call MD. Numbness was already there – and MD was your way of dealing with it. You wound up numb and emotionally disconnected from reality because you became emotionally disconnected from yourself and MD was merely a response to this. Do you notice that the moment you switch the point of view from yourself to your daydream characters [or idealized you] and use them as receptors instead, you can instantly feel? Or rather, they can feel and you can feel through them. In other words, you are physiologically able to feel. Which brings us to conclusion that you are not an emotionless nutcase or somebody who is beyond repair. You can feel but dissociation stands in your way.
There is an ongoing misconception that maladaptive daydreamers are at disadvantage because our drug of choice is accessible all the time making it perpetually tempting and harder for us to stop while alcohol or meth addicts have to go through some bother to get hands on theirs. Well, not really. We are not special because we are maladaptive daydreamers and we aren’t having it any more difficult than other people dealing with addictions. All addictions involve fantasy. All of them. When a meth addict isn’t taking meth, he’s thinking about it all the time. It’s the first thought that flashes through his mind when he wakes up and the last thought that leaves him before he falls asleep. A daydreamer is not the only one who is stuck in a fantasy world non-stop. All addicts are. We are collectively cut off from the outside world, we are all a bit numb and a bit lost in this ocean of alienation.
Emotional bluntness follows all addictions as their elemental driving force. Numbness, coldness, detachment, inability to connect – these things aren’t specific to just you. Whoever had addiction also struggled with partial or complete lack of emotional response relative to the real world. People addicted to pornography usually cannot experience intimate or sexual feelings with a real person yet, hey, it’s sex they crave. A daydreamer who craves connection to something but cannot connect to anything isn’t any different.
Breaking through the numbness is a slow process. When reality slaps you in the face and your dreamworld crumbles, this does not equal instant recovery – this person who will wake up will still not be you. The numbness you feel upon stopping MD, detachment, loneliness, alienation and cold reality everyone seems to love but you hate – these are not you, they are not your ultimate destination. It it just an ugly, long, sometimes discouragingly long transition between waking up from a dream and actually awakening to reality.
Breaking Through the Numbness
Technically, you can be aware of every single problem of yours but until life slaps you and robs you of comfort zones, you will not start to deal with MD. Many of us need to be challenged and pushed to the edge of our limits in order to start doing things about our lives, just like a smoker needs to hear that his lungs are ravaged before desire for change can be born. You need a specific situation, something, someone who will wake you up, who will tell you in your face that you’re a fucking insecure coward who runs away and is inept to live. I mean, sure, I know I’m a coward, my depression makes sure to remind me of it every day, but when someone else tells you this, it hits you in quite a different way. It hurts. On a very, very deep intimate level. Then you start to get angry – with that person and with yourself. You finally start to process emotionally what you have done with your life, you come in touch with pain that has been hurting you for far too long and you slowly come to your senses. Then you start doing something about it. The main drawback is that we always deal with pain alone. That is not going to work. You can’t do it alone. You need an observer, something or someone external, you need to be challenged, outright pissed off to start making changes.
Get angry. With your therapist who doesn’t understand, with your family that undermines your problems. With the world, with yourself, with reality. Not frustrated but angry. Acknowledge the anger, acknowledge the helplessness and let them wash you clean.
Metaphorically speaking, you are stuck in a body that isn’t yours. I’m not referring to your daydream characters here. I referring to your real self, the one you see in the mirror and think of as foreign and miserable, the same one that is plagued with depression, self-contempt or low self-esteem, which make your self-image completely distorted. Heck, of course you will want to run away and escape from this decaying body, this broken self, because this isn’t you, this can’t be real you – otherwise you would have never wanted to escape from it in the first place. Your mind knows this, hence the impulse for running away. Your MD isn’t a protest against reality, it’s a protest against this broken, distorted self – that is NOT you as you should have been.
Lastly, get angry with this messed up version of yourself, with numbness and dissociation and void. And whenever someone tells you that you messed up your life and irrevocably wasted it, whenever they mention all the things you could have done but didn’t, your seeming lack of passion or interest in real life, get angry with them too because no one knows that every day is a struggle for you, because no one knows what it’s like to not to exist anywhere. Get angry because none of this is your fault. Because you didn’t choose to be like this.
Then start to change things. For somebody who has bottled things up their whole life, anger is an immensely healthy and purifying emotion. Destructive but purifying. It’s the fight component of fight or flight mode that makes one face uncomfortable situations and fears head-on, without running away from them or feeling intimidated. Anger will probably be the first emotion to awake in you relative to the real world. Welcome it and hate everything around you if you want to. Hate the real world if you need to. But hate it with passion. Just don’t be numb to it.
This is where bluntness breaks down and you begin. Seek situations that make you care about something other than your fantasy even for just 10 seconds, whether it’s destructive or warm and beautiful. Try to pinpoint these short, fleeting moments when you feel spontaneity of emotions, when real you awakens – and then hold onto them. In the beginning they are short, followed by a week or two or three of numbness and emptiness, but once they happen, let them be your hope, a reminder that things can be normal. When numbness strikes again, and it will, don’t ask yourself what you are doing wrong. Because you are doing nothing wrong. It’s normal – you simply have to be persistent even when the weight of the void keeps pressing down on you, you have to keep going. Every time you feel like you’re falling and failing, let pain defeat you over and over again and maybe this insane battle will make you feel alive every time you hit rock bottom. It sounds odd but pain, even tough it’s terrifying, reminds you that you’re alive. It pushes you to the limits. MD numbs pain and so it numbs the feeling of being alive. Your dream self may be alive but you aren’t as long as you rely on MD not to fall apart.
You know what the worst thing you can do to yourself is?
Convince yourself that you really are without passion and incapable of feeling emotions you experience in your daydreams. If in the midst of your withdrawal you think to yourself that you will never be the person you are in your fantasies, you are automatically self-sabotaging. Don’t think of reality as something foreign you have never experienced before that everyone suddenly expects you to come to love after years of being absent. Reality is where your feelings are – feelings shape our perception of it to the point one could even argue that there is no objective reality. You exist where your feelings are. All your feelings are in your fantasies right now, but once you transfer them not from your daydream characters to reality, but from your daydream characters to yourself, you will automatically start to connect to reality.
MD is not a split between worlds – it’s the split of the self. You can fuse the worlds together but the emptiness remains because the one who observes these worlds is broken in two. Don’t obsess over trying to stop daydreaming. Don’t obsess over trying to love reality. You’ll fail. Focus on healing the self and cravings will reduce automatically. Your goal number one is to make yourself feel without censorship all the things your daydream characters feel. When you succeed this, you win.
When you finally start to get better and receive positive feedback from reality, you’ll relapse. It’s the ridiculous law of addiction and you can do little to avoid it.
You aren’t a heavy smoker who can just give up tobacco and then find another distraction. MD often bleeds into every possible aspect of your life so when you do away with fantasy, you automatically do away with your entire life, leaving yourself with nothing. There is no one, no home, no reality to return to. If your recovery is going well, you will have more and more moments when you briefly come in touch with your true self [and therefore with reality too], but majority of your days will still be tainted with numbness.
If at this point you really relapse [and chances are very, very high], oh well. It’s actually perfectly normal. Do not spend a moment beating yourself up over it. Cravings will exist as long as dissociation exists. MD is your life force, it’s the energy that cries out to be released one way or another – and you can neither stop it nor ignore it. As I said in the beginning, stopping daydreaming is necessary only in order to let repressed issues out and then feel them with your entire being, which will ultimately liberate you from their toxic grip. If you relapse after you have done your emotional detoxification, it’s okay. From this point onwards, all you need to do is focus on breaking dissociation and healing yourself. If you daydream in the meantime to give yourself a little fix to pull you through the periods of nothingness, make sure you don’t use MD to repress things and don’t let it distract you. Always use it with the idea that things you feel in daydreams can be felt in real life too, that things your characters feel were originally supposed to be yours. The more you come in touch with yourself, the more will your addiction collapse. When you feed MD, you starve yourself – but when you feed yourself, you starve MD. Break the dissociation of the self and MD is gone.
86 thoughts on “Part IV: The Void”
Well needless to say I have been very angry lately, and my stress levels have gone up. While waiting in line at the grocery store I had an anxiety attack. Would you say this is a normal response to beginning to overcome MD? I don’t think my body is used to the stress of being so passionately angry. If I was angry before, it was my character expressing it.
You’re angry or you’re just frustrated? If it’s frustration, you are just imploding and it’s a pretty unhealthy feeling because it keeps you constantly trapped. On the other side, when you’re angry, you’re letting bad energy out and it calms you down.
Anyway, yeah, it’s perfectly normal for anxiety to spike up once you start to deal with things. Your subconscious now knows that MD was trying to repress uncomfortable issues and it’s starting to let them out. Just don’t run away from bad things. Face them, no matter how bad they seem and after repeated exposure, you’ll grow more and more stronger and immune to them.
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Eretaia, i don’t think anyone has ever written anything more constructive and helpful for MD sufferers in the world than you have! If anyone ever tells you something similar to what you wrote on this part, that “you messed up your life and irrevocably wasted it”, just know that they don’t know what they’re talking about. Keep reminding yourself that for sufferers like us, your writing is a heaven-sent soothing balm that soothes us and encourages us. I have faith that, together, we all shall someday be able to defeat this demon called MD.
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Thank you so much! I’m really glad you found it helpful.
Hi, I’ve been MDDing for almost all my life, and yes, what you wrote here was for me too undescribably precious. You gave me the feeling that despite it being a hard battle I can win it. Before I wasn’t even sure I could fight it. What you’ve written makes a lot of sense to me. I think your intuitions are probably very right and want to check by trying to put them into practice. You write with true sensitivity, which made me feel understood to the core of a problem that has dominated my life without me being able to talk to anyone about it for so many years.. It’s a kind of pain which is very hard to convey I think.. Not feeling alone in this makes such a difference. Thank you for posting this.Some of the sentences resonate in me so deeply.
Thank you so much! Good luck! :))
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I found these series of beautifully written posts incredibly helpful and it’s angelic of you to share them with us. I have a question, however, what did you do to overcome your maladaptive daydreaming specifically? Did you just engage more with the real world?
Thanks. To be honest, I never really focused too much on the real world because it could never really compensate for the parts of me that remained stuck in daydreams. Instead, I focused on analyzing emotions in my daydreams and trying to recognize each one of them as mine. I always thought of my dreamworld as something separate from me that I can’t reach, something that will never really be mine and something I’ll ultimately have to give up. But I then I realized that’s not quite true. Every single emotion that your idealized self or your characters feels is something you can feel too. The more ‘daydream emotions’ you manage to unlock in your real life, the more your MD weakens. What I did specifically was look for situations that evoked feelings in me that my characters felt in daydreams. Passion, for example, was a recurrent emotion in my daydreams but, given my depression, I definitely didn’t seem like a passionate person and was pretty indifferent in my real life. So, I continually looked for situations that could make me feel passionate about something. I tried to search for them in real life but I kept failing time after time. But then I realized that there actually was one thing that I was insanely passionate about: my dreamworld. It may sound incredibly silly or wrong or strange, but this was a legitimate reason. I loved my dreamworld with a burning passion and acknowledging this passion made me feel alive. So, for the first time in my life, I realized that being passionate about something was not strange to me. Sometimes, all it takes is one tiny realization that you have a right to your own feelings. There is nothing spectacular about this realization, it’s rather silly when you think about it – but at the same time, it’s so powerful because for the first time after years of two selves being clashed, there’s a feeling flowing from the dream self to the real self. Finally, a connection.
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Thank you. This is truly the first thing that actually changed my life.
Thanks! I’m so glad it’s helpful!
Feeling better somehow after reading all of it…
There is so much i want to do, all of it just to become the person i am in my daydreams, its hard to fix the broken real self…
Finding out that someone (you) escaped it, makes me feel more positive about it…
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I hate the fact that how I have to read someone else’s breakthroughs and was useless and helpless myselves. I hate how I can’t apply myself for a single while and have to pick off of someone else’s mercy. I feel inadequate and in my fantasies I am a big intellect with others bowing down to me but in real I could always be running in circles like a headless chicken left at other’s mercy.
You go on dissecting each and every layer of thinking with such finesse. I was supposed to be that, it was to be my identity. If I can’t be that I might as well not exist.
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I was like you as well, i felt that way until i worked hard on myself in the real world, but nevertheless you have to take others breakthrough in order to make a breakthrough yourseld, even einstein himself took the breakthrough of newton to come up with his relativity
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Hii…thankyou so much for this article..bcz of it i came to know that i am a patient of maladaptive daydreaming..in my dreams i am very passiinate towards my work..very intelligent spontaneous lively..while in real life i am boring..each day i was having these daydreams and because of this while studying i am half in my dreams..thats why i take too long to accomplish small things..i feel i dont have a strong memory …i forget thoroughly studied topics easily..and people tag me as dumb..i am fed up of trying hard to remember things..i revision two three times still i get blank during viva…my friends say i react very late on jokes..please help how can i focus on my studies..
Hi Medha…Even i went through this trouble almost all my school and college life..I had the brains and capability of being a topper but just because of MD I never really focused on achieving things in real life..But now I have developed a few techniques which help me focus on studies
1.Try to sit with someone and then study reading out a bit loud rather than just in your head ( It can be your parents, group study with friends or library or someplace where people are around)
2.Don’t try to study at night but during day hours only.At night chances are more that your brain will wander around a lot.
3.make small timetable..like for next one hour or so and not of complete day or week at once…hour by hour when you start following your timetable you will gain more confidence.
4.Try to revise stuff by sitting infront of the mirror and reating out loud.This will help you stay in present and focus completely on revision..
I really hope you follow these tricks and they help you study well.
Wow, Eretaia. I really appreciate how much thought you’ve put into the construction of this essay.
Ever since I was little, I’ve rarely made an appearance in my daydreams. I’d create husbands for my sisters, people who went to my church and my school, but they interacted with my real friends and family and rarely ever with me. I usually didn’t exist in the daydream. Thanks for touching on that.
Thanks for the quote from the heroin addict at the very beginning. I was not expecting it to be from a heroin addict–it sounded so much like something an MDer would write.
So, part of me is like “Yes! Yes! Down with the daydreaming! Let’s get on to the real life part!” But then there is this other part that not only says (as you mentioned) “Ah, but you’re happy here in daydreams, aren’t you?” but also says, “But this IS who you are–the creator of worlds and people. Others are stuck in their own selves, destined by fate to one time and locale and finite mound of flesh, but you–you are the homeless artist, the First Lady, the unmedicated schizophrenic, the teenaged comedian, the Hasidic Jew, the vegan Autist. You slip into and out of identities like clothing, a whole closet-full of costumes. Other real people, they have their stories and their gifts. This is your gift and your story. You are the Story Creator.”
…But then some days I am pacing around at two in the morning daydreaming and don’t get enough sleep, and hurt people and want to feel guilt but can’t, and am sad for some reason for a few seconds until a daydream turns on and steals my sadness, and don’t want to be with people, and after eight solid hours of daydreaming want to stop but can’t.
Is it only a coping mechanism? When I was around five years old, I began to draw stories. At ten, I began writing chapter books. Do you write? How can you tell the difference between a story and a daydream? I can’t always tell. Maybe it’s like a gourmet chef with a food addiction? She really does have a gift, but has to set aside the gift–the artist–to figure out why she misuses food, and then, once recovered, can go back to the culinary arts? Is it ever possible for her to go back to the culinary arts after that, or will it be forever tainted, like a recovered alcoholic trying to go back to his job as a bartender?
I want to find the real me, but I don’t want to give up the writer me. Is it either-or?
May I ask, what was the turning point for you, when you said, “I MUST quit this daydreaming business”?
I just replied in Wild Minds forums. :))
Hey @eretaia, I really loved your article on this and to be honest your article is the only one that goes in depth on this problem. I really would love to learn more about how to get back to your real self and find out who that person actually is. I was wondering if you had an email or any social media where I could talk to you more about how you went through the process and how to really get back to being happy. I really appreciated your article it made so much sense I really hope you write back thanks for reading.
Hey! Sure, you can contact me on Wild Minds forums here: http://wildminds.ning.com/profile/Eretaia
(But you have to send me a friend request before you can send me a private message. Forum rules, it’s silly, I know.)
Or you can email me at eretaia@gmail(dot)com.
Whatever works best for you.
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i’m scared i can’t face my negative thoughts
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Thanks for writing these posts. Beautiful work. I finally accepted I have MD today, and I’ll follow the advice posted here to get better.
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Thank you. I’ve been struggling with MD for almost as long as I remember. It’s only a couple of months ago that I stumbled upon your blog and found out I’m not alone in this.
I think I was around 7 years old when I started MD. I’ve struggled with depression since I was 13. When my depression was at it’s worst I constantly felt numb and detached and even my daydreaming almost stopped. But when I slowly started recovering my daydreaming came back more than ever before.
Having read your blog made me analyze my emotions and feelings (those of the chracters in my daydreams) once more. It has slowly opened the door to a lot of things I’ve tried to suppress for so many years. As I said I’ve been daydreaming since as long as I can remember. Reading your blog made me analyze my daydreams and realize that the things I struggle with have been ever present since my maladaptive daydreaming started. (of course the problems were there first and than the MD started) Which means it’s all a lot deeper and more complicated than just the depression I have (had). And that is something I’ve never wanted to believe nor accept (nor that anyone around me believed….).
I’m almost 17 now, struggling with complex-ptsd. It’s a difficult journey and my maladaptive daydreaming is still a thing I struggle with on a daily basis. I’m still fighting this battle on my own for the most part and no one close to me knows about my maladaptive daydreaming (nor about the c-ptsd really) but at least I’m slowly accepting that I struggle and have been struggling with things.
Thank you for opening my eyes and make me realize that I’m not alone in this.
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I have been a maladaptive daydreamer since the age of six, so I basically can’t remember myself without it. It was always me, myself in the daydreams, and in situations actually possible to happen, so that I can fool myself that I am just dreaming about the future. I never just paced around; I pretended I need something from another room in the house and daydreamed on the way to get it. Same applied to my school, making me antisocial. Reading and thinking about fanfiction works almost like daydreaming for me. Being bullied at school and not being able to perfectly study some stuff – I am quite a perfectionist – basically push me towards daydreaming. I have had self image issues, as well as a desperate need for male attention – being a girl with a businessman dad that is never at home and no relationships since now. I am seventeen and need to deal with some difficult exams – and daydreaming doesn’t help at all. Also, I am really fond of music and feel like I discovered it too late, wishing to have skills to play metal guitar better than I actually do. I have always been too sensitive, and escaping from this world when facing any discomfort, kinda comfortably numb I’d say. I am really trying to quit and get back to the real world, as I even end up looking at myself in the mirror and not recognising it.
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I cannot even put into words how amazed I am with everything I’m reading here. whoever wrote this, you are a wise and beautiful human being, thank you
Oh, thank you! Glad it was helpful!
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What if you had MD your whole life and then you truly don’t know who your true self is? I believe I dissociated from myself because I was sexually abused as a child or even toddler. I clearly remember using my imagination to escape from the start. I do, however, know fantasy from reality – but lost the sense of self along the way. I’m sad to say I don’t even know my true sense of self and don’t know if I could use those moments of self recognition to know I’m on the right path.
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I’m sorry to hear that. The truth is, it doesn’t matter if you’ve been gone from the very start. It may make this entire experience seem more hopeless and horrendous but it doesn’t make it impossible to come back to who you really are and who you were supposed to be hadn’t things gone the wrong way. The reason I say come ‘back’ is because it is in your nature as a human to yearn for belonging and a place you’d call home. Everyone has such a place, and some like you have never seen it but it doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. Heck, majority of people struggling with this have a major crisis of identity and have absolutely no idea who they are and who they are supposed to be. But if you’ve felt belonging even in your fantasies, this feeling is not wrong. Your fantasies, even though they might be a total and complete lie, allow you to experience warmth of what was already inside you somewhere beyond yourself. You’re daydreaming and are unhappy because you know something is wrong, because you subconsciously know that there is more to you, there’s something more out there and you aren’t getting it. My advice, if you’re not already doing it, it to find a good psychotherapist and focus on rediscovering yourself. You’ve learned some pretty nasty things about yourself and constructed self-image that is probably completely wrong but it’s not impossible to shatter it and reconnect with yourself. Do your daydreaming give you emotional fulfillment?
Thank you, Eretaia, for your reply.
I definitely have the “yearning” for being who I was “supposed” to be had things been different. I cannot help to wonder if I would’ve been more successful &/or more aligned with a career had I not had the fears I developed from having an abusive past. However, there were many blessings that I have had – successful relationships with longtime friends and being able to separate what happened to me and still have the ability to have full emotional and physical relationships with men. (I’m married for 31+ years.) I also take the most pride in being a good mother, and did not repeat the cycle of abuse that so often occurs to people in the same situation as me. I had psychotherapy a few times that dealt very well with my past and fears/anxiety that developed from that; however, when I mentioned my excessive daydreaming, it was dismissed as nothing (not surprising with MD not being known by many).
Even with good psychotherapy over the years, I’ve never been able to stop the maladaptive daydreaming entirely – though there have been times it was much less. You asked if MD is giving me “emotional fulfillment” now. It isn’t “fulfilling” but is taking place of my feeling of “regrets”. I think it is a combination of what would be typical mid-age crisis (I’m 56 years old), and regretting that my fears have kept me from going after what I should’ve gone after in my younger years. My daydreams tend to focus on me being younger / idealized self & rescue themed. Therefore, I absolutely know why I daydream this way (feeling like opportunities have passed me by), but even with my life blessings, I still go back to the MD (which then gives me feelings of guilt). Paradoxically, I do like myself and know who “myself” is, but I remain upset and regretful. The MD temporarily makes me feel better while imagining scenarios, but I then am upset that I can’t be my imagined self – so, I feel stuck. Not having any memories of not experiencing MD in my life, makes it hard for me to believe that it wouldn’t be in my life.
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Eretaia, your understanding of the problem and it’s underlying issues is unbelievably accurate. I feel motivated to quit MD, for the umpteenth time now 🙂
Just a quick question though. I have read on several forums that SSRIs like Prozac and anti OCD medications have effectively reduced the frequency and length of daydreaming episodes in many patients, sometimes permanently. What is your experience? Do you have any information on this?
Just answered on Wild Minds. :))
Eretaia, thank you very much for this. I had to stop reading a lot of times because I bursted into tears.
I tried to stop MD once, but I started having a feeling of emptiness and sadness that scared me too much.
I mostly daydream with love stories, me always having strong feelings towards singers, actreess. Having a family. Finding true love. Being social or showing someone I can do something, being famous.
The thing is I’m a girl and I like girls and I never told anyone about that.
I daydream since I was seven years old and when I was in high school I started isolating from everyone although when my parents divorced I became closer with my mom. But right now the ones I relate to are my mother, my uncle and my aunt. I don’ t have friends and MD makes me feel I don’t want to have any. I have low self steem and when I talk to other people I feel as if I don’t belong to this world, I want to runaway.
I want to have a job, to study something but I can’t even realise what I want.
It always happens to me that after being a whole day daydreaming when I get out and see the beautiful day outside I feel horribly sad and empty. I want It to stop, I want to really FEEL a beautiful day. When you talked about life before MD I remembered how happy I was, I was very young, but I love those times, I was a social person, I had friends. I thought about that song that takes me to that moment and I start crying inmediatly.
Another thing that always seemed strange to me is that when I stop having contact with my father I didn’t suffered, and he was very important to me, he was like a friend, I avoid thinking about him, about talking to him.
I’m sorry for my english and the long message.
Thank you very much.
Hey Valeria. You mean you’re confused about seemingly not caring for your father even though he was important to you? I think you are just dissociated from your feelings. You have probably suppressed so many different parts of yourself that feelings (like suffering over your father leaving) that come from those parts of yourself also end up being suppressed and ignored. You also say you never spoke about your sexual preference and it’s destroying you to ignore and repress such an important aspect of yourself. All these things you are repressing will ultimately come out disguised as sadness and anxiety. Until you let out all those thoughts that are bothering, it won’t be any better.
I discovered your blog posts recently and I honestly don’t know what I would have done without them, thank you so much.
When I understood that it was important to feel my emotions, instead of using my daydreaming to fulfil or avoid emotions, it has helped me so much. However, I have been struggling to let go of and understand something. My daydreams revolve around the same themes all of the time: love, romance, affection, basically everything involved with being in a romantic relationship. I don’t imagine myself, it’s usually through two celebrities who used to be in a relationship. I imagine all of that through them.
From what I understand, you mentioned earlier on that in situations like this, the feeling of love would be so foreign to me that I can’t connect it to my own identity, so I’m transferring it and experiencing it through them. This is very true as I also haven’t been in a relationship before. How would I connect back to that specific part of myself and express that through myself? Is it that I need to try and feel (in myself) the feelings of love that I imagine? Also, would this be related to deeper issues like I struggle to connect to those feelings because I don’t love myself?
Thank you again 🙂
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Sorry for late reply. I somehow missed your comment. There has to be something internal that made you detach the concept of romantic/sexual feelings from your own self. So, yes, this would be related to a deeper issue like low self-esteem or sense of inadequacy. I think two things can happen. Either it’s problems with intimacy itself OR (and probably more likely) it can also happen that you don’t have intimacy problems at all – but if your sense of self through which you’re supposed to experience that intimacy is messed up because of self-hate for example, then it’s self-hate you have address first. The rest comes naturally.
Hey Aamna, we’re on the same boat, I guess in my case it’s low self-esteem, so I’ll start working on it. Have you had any improvements so far?
Reblogged this on Outliving the Maladaptive Dreamer and commented:
Hey Eretaia 🙂
Thank you for the writing.I was feeling trapped in between both the world that I was contemplating the escape.This helped,gave a new perspective..
Hi, i’m not gonna put a bunch of words. I have alot things to say, it’s just that i don’t know how to put them into words. I just want to say thank you for your post, i guess for the first time someone can translate and picture what goes on with my mind and a lot people’s minds. Thank you 🙂
Thank you for writing this. I never knew it had a name or that other people also experience what I experience. I have been like this my entire life and I’m in my early 50s now. I have never told a soul about it. It’s something I just don’t talk about. Sometimes it interferes with my life and sometimes it doesn’t, so that is why it is so easy to keep going back to it. This article is so informative! I appreciate it.
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I don’t know how I came across this and I don’t know how much struggle you have gone through to be able to write about MD with such clarity, but I know this: you just changed a life somewhere in this world, a life you will probably never be directly a part of, my life. But you just changed it. Saying thank you doesn’t even begin to cover the amount of gratitude I am feeling towards you and the appreciation I have for the fact that you took the time and pains to write this guide for others like me lost within themselves. Thank you so much.
Ahhh, you’ll make me cry. :)) I’m so glad I could help! Good luck!
I writed your post over and over, but I can’t get angry, never feel something, isolated from the world. I talked with my parents about MD. It didn’t work. Can you give me some advices?
Get a good psychotherapist. Can’t give you a better advice than that.
Thank you then 🙂 I will write my experiences.
I almost made it. But i go to gym four days in a week. Everything is cool, everything is okay but when i start lifting or running it starts again. And I MUST go to gym. What should I do? I lost my progress again.
Do you really think a total stranger on the internet can just dive into your mind and tell you what to do? There is no single recipe, no universal formula I could just tell you.We are all different. We all have different reasons behind why we retreat from ourselves, which means we all have different reasons feeding MD. I’ll say it again: if you are lost, find a psychotherapist.
Lol. Just let me thank you then, for all your words that helping us. I hope I success one day.
I’m sorry I can’t give you a concrete answer. If there was a definite path to follow, I’d be the first to share it but it all comes down to digging into your mind and seeing where things got blocked. You can’t deal with things just from the surface. Avoiding triggers, doing other activities to override daydreaming, these things just mask the problem. Your cravings, your daydreams come from parts of your personality that constantly remain unexpressed. As long as they are unexpressed, you will have daydreams. Expressing them isn’t easy job. It’s like learning to walk. You have to gall down hundreds of times until you finally become comfortable with it.
Heck finally I found a psychotherapist. What should we talk? We will talk about your 4th post. I found a translator btw. He will translate it. Is there any advices you can give me?
I’d say you have to be careful how you approach MD. Don’t just say: ‘Hey, you know, I have this new disorder you’ve probably never even heard of.’ Approach MD as a psychological addiction. That’s what it is. It’s a mechanism that does two things:
1. it helps you run away from certain issues (and both you and your therapist need to understand what you are trying to escape from);
2. it helps you temporarily come in touch with positive feelings you otherwise can’t access in real life (like healthy self-esteem, for example). You need to understand what you’re coping with, and then the treatment would depend on what your underlying issue is. I’d recommend discussing the content of your fantasies to understand what kind of feelings you’re trying to make yourself experience.
Looks like the author of this article doesnt understand that people who have MD also feel anger. Hell, it might be because they were naive, expressed their passionate feelings, and were humiliated for that, that MD started.
So blame goes to those who have MD, but the real environment is supposed to be a good place where if you are treated like shit, its only your fault, and you should just internalize it, be magically stronger. Ok.
Are you kidding me? This article is all about releasing internalized anger and emotions blunted by MD. Go read the article again. But properly this time.
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Wow You have no idea how much your articles have helped me and I only found this yesterday! Been having MD since I was like 10 and I’m 26 now. I cant remember what life was like before the MD took over. You are totally right about feeling through the idealized version of me. I feel like I can cry through my characters in MD but I can never ever cry in real life…I’m trying my absolute best to stop daydreaming at all costs. I feel kind of numb right now but I guess I’m supposed to feel that way. Thank you so so much for writing these. You have truly opened my eyes.
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Hey Eretaia, This is the best article I have ever read on MD! Hands down this makes so much sense and I’m sure people will relate to this. Just a quick question, how long did it take you to cold turkey from MD?
I’ve been going a month now, and already I have seen some improvements but this week my concentration has hit a low and my motivation has just sank. I know this is temporary thing but I’m so determined to push forward and beat this once and for all!
I’ve had MD all my life since I can remember. I’m 32 now and I’ve started an online business with a friend and its going great. I just hope blips don’t impact my work so much because they destroy a lot of my emotions.
I’ve always felt like MD ruined my school grades and my sporting achievements, But deep inside I knew I could do so much more better and still feel like today. At the end of MD I know I will be reborn again and I’m gonna work my ass of to achieve the things I missed out on growing up.
I didn’t even know I had MD til just a few weeks ago, and theres been some hard lows in my life due to this issue. So knowing I have a problem and fixing it is something I’m looking forward to!
I could of never spoken to anyone about MD! it’s been a real nightmare but its showed me how strong I am coping with this.
Thanks again for this amazing article! You will of helped thousands of people,
Hi Iggy! Thanks for your kind words!
It’s an unpredictable process. Relapses and cravings are driven by two things. First is running away; when your issues and conflicts are identified and made conscious, relapses driven by your desire to escape from them should not happen anymore. Took me three months to go through this myself. But this doesn’t stop relapses driven by your desire to experience positive things you experience via fantasy. Those will stop when you relearn how to experience directly things you can only experience through fantasy now.
My advice: don’t let relapses or craving bother you. They are signs. Signs that a part of you is still missing from that emotional wholeness you are supposed to be. Listen to them. Whenever you are hit by a strong craving, break it down and try pinpointing what you’re trying to experience through an episode of MD. Is it good self-esteem? Is it just a distraction? If yes, distraction from what? From low self-esteem? If yes, what caused this low self-esteem? What are the attributes that make you continuously lose it? How do you reverse it? Just ask questions to yourself. Addiction happens because there’s an aspect in us that didn’t develop properly in conscious awareness so we resort to fantasy to make full use of this aspect. When this aspect is brought back to conscious awareness, cravings stop automatically.
Thats awesome advice! Thanks again for your time!
Okay. I know you’re bored of me and my boring questions. I know I’m kinda “please help, im a noob, plea please” but you know, i wont stop, i am just 15 years old and i have to make a life. I want to live like normal people, i want to fell in love like other people. Thanks to MD and my bipolar I can’t feel “normal”. I asked stupid questions for now but I read your blog over and over and I want to ask some questions again. But now my questions gonna make sense.
Firstly, how can I approach my idealized self? In one of your comments, you said “sometimes i think it’s not about expressing yourself. It is about clash between you and your dream self.” Okay, I’m talking with my therapist, she still has dumb ideas but we are trying to find “me” and I’m trying to find who I am. Remember, I was asked you to “what should I do exactly”. Should I follow my dreams and reach my feelings? Accept my pains? Well I can’t access them too. Find who am I? Describing myself to a therapist isn’t working too. Ask myself who am I? I tried everything. I’m trying to love me, love my dreams but I’m doing something wrong. But what? I cant figure it out. Btw back to my question, I have a lot of narcisistic daydreams. What should I say? “Heck you Eren, you are not a person like this you’ll never be!”? or “Oh yeah you are really clever handsome powerful human.”? I cant approach it everything ends but they don’t. Please Erataia answer this.
That’s what therapist is for, Eren. I can’t answer these questions for you because I don’t know where your answers lie. All I can say is, if you don’t feel comfortable with your therapist, change them. You daydream because you’re not expressing an aspect of yourself. It’s up to you and your therapist to find it and find WHY it cannot be directly expressed.
I can’t pay more money to therapist. You are my only and last chance. Just please, try to explain again. I am sitting on my chair and daydreaming, what should I do first? After that how is my mind gonna respond that? And how can I overcome it? etc.
I am aware my emotions. I know what I care about but I never can approach them. Can you explain what is letting go, where should I read, what did you do, please just how can I let go?
“As long as they are unexpressed, you will have daydreams. Expressing them isn’t easy job. It’s like learning to walk. You have to gall down hundreds of times until you finally become comfortable with it.”
Teach me how to express it, I have to see myself in the mirror, but I can’t find myself, if I do it, I’ll success.
Can we make a Skype call, or can we discuss this with instagram, facebook or somewhere else I can catch you? Please Erataia I’m so sad. I can give you a site that you can be anonymous, you dont need to show you are.
thank you for your article and for existing in life and sorry if my questions or my MD events or explanations may sound weird, i just wanted to ask you and it may sounds pretty odd, why does people usually MD about having some kind of special powers or hidden powers in the form in another fictional character??, does it goes back to the fact that one didn’t reach his full potential or i know that i have the potential but simply i didn’t work hard for it because i am a lazy dickhead.
that may sound crazy kinda feels embarrassing to talk about it but i MD about this “power” it may signifies intelligence…,being awakened by the main fictional character in my MD and once it awakened the main fictional character personality changes and he becomes exactly the opposite from who really was/is , does it make any sense ?
Hi.I am also a daydreamer.When I observed this feeling and my disability to cure it, I suffered alot. I tried to change its suffering to positive perspective. I had improved my personality with the help of daydreams.But here is the time I decided to get rid of it,not because I hate it,but because I want to live in real now.The fear of loosing my best part of daydream got answered in this blog. It was really helpful.Thank you so much for this writing.
I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for writing these articles. I usually zone out when I read anything but I was actually able to follow up with every word – with understanding and feeling – of all these articles, and I have a much better grasp of my situation. The truth is I started this whole daydreaming thing out of loneliness and sadness of how everything was in my life. I’m in my first year of college and I have nobody to talk to, nobody who wants to be my friend. And I just realized this recently, what the core of my daydreaming was about and how it started. Before that I didn’t look too much into it but it really started to become a problem now that I’m in college because I’m not able to do any college work because of it. But reading your articles – it truly helped me, more than you can imagine because now I know what to do about this. Your writing is beautiful, clear, and sincere to all of us suffering with this horrible disorder, and I want to thank you again for taking the time to help us with it. God Bless You!
P.S. Reading your articles felt like I was reading about myself, it was so spot on! I believe it was in the other article when you said something like you feel like you’re real self is missing, dead, or asleep. You described me perfectly – that’s how I’ve been feeling with myself: dead! And it really sucked. But I’m going to read your articles many more times and do what you recommend until I finally conquer this shit! Thank you!
Thank you for your kind comment! 🙂 I wish you good luck!
You say be angry. But I’m fed up getting arrested by the police. I am fed up getting into huge arguments. Plotting revenge and scaring people. When I get angry, God help whomever is in my way.
How can I thank you enough for these excellent, insightful writings on MD. I have been suspecting about having this issue in my life but recently I started to become more aware of it and its effects on my life ever since I was little. Your writings have been incredibly precious to me, I sincerely thank you for sharing them with us.
Love and regards,
i can’t tell the difference between anger and annoyance
First, i am sorry for my bad english ı hope you can understand me. I have a MD patient since ı was born. When my mom was pregnant to me, she got a dangerous drug because of sick. So ı born as a person that have chromosomal ilness. I have anormal finger and body system. But my iq is okay. Even ı am at the school one of most successful. But ı have no friend. And my dad has strict rule and he is narcist. My mom doesnt let me to do anything at the house. So all ı know studying. I am asocial.But when ı was 10, ı realized ı want somethings diffrent and ı cant do them in real life. In my mind ı do all of them. I searched what is that. And ı understood ı am MD. Your writing is awesome. I have never seen like it. I want to say thank you in the name of all MD patients. I ask you just one thing: i cant see in me a power fihgt with MD. I am still afraid. I cant go back to reality. Because reality means nightmare for me. I hope you take my situation seriosly and guide to me
”MD numbs pain”
Parhaps most important factor for me. Pain of not in place where I dreamt( may be day dreamt) that I would be by now. Needless to say my life is fucked up at present. Most common solution to avoid MD is avoiding isolation and sitting idle. But the Funny part is I was paralysed in 2012. The two things I have in abundance are isolation and idleness. Tough I have recovered 70% physically at the time of writing.
I used to think MD is normal, I never saw it as some sort of disorder. Now I realise why self help books don’t work for me. In fact I have stopped( ok reduced) reading them. I feel like I am hard wire to day dream. I have been day dreaming since I knew my name. And another funny thing is that I am trying to make a career in field that require concentration to the level of obsession.
When I was looking for reasons as to why MD habit develop, trauma was first answer. I straight away rejected it or blind folded myself or turned my eyes, blocked my brain. But I guess trauma it is. Now when I think why I am daydreaming since the age of 4 or 5 I have an answer. My mother died when I was infant( I don’t know exactly when, neither anybody told me nor I ever asked). My father is in army so my aunt took me with her. Well long story short I am emotionally messed up and on top of it I am an introvert. people think I am emotionally strong, which I am not. People thinks I like living alone, which I don’t. People think I don’t like to talk much, which I like. My introverted character gets in way of clearing things up.
So maybe I live my true self I day dream. Where I am myself or at least the way I want people to see me.
I don’t know what I am writing anymore. To get to the point again “ MD numbs pain”.
I don’t know if you visit this page anymore but Thank You Eretaia for making me think a little deeper.
You are right in thinking that imaginal world acts as a receptacle of bits and pieces of what should have been the real you. Fantasies emulate a sense of belonging that should have come naturally to you but didn’t. So, you have to rediscover the side of you that was left behind and never got a chance to grow. Underneath MD, there can be emptiness or pain, and underneath this pain and emptiness are the dormant, undeveloped parts of you that never integrated into the conscious. These parts are like a small child that was forgotten and needs nurturing, and until this child is released and given a chance to grow, you can’t grow emotionally either. MD is a symptom. Behind this symptom is a turmoil. And behind the turmoil are the parts of you that got frozen in time and that need addressing. So, I think, the only way to get things moving is opening up to pain and seeing where it leads you. Ideally, with psychotherapy.
All my daydreams have one thing in common: I’m doing something big, something that makes me like myself, feel beautiful, the best version of me. I’ve been dealing with the fact that I’m completely different from my idealized self, I’m very insecure in real life, it’s painful to write this down but that’s what I “found out”, a part of me always knew, especially when I was younger, I was always very shy and in my diary I can find things that show low self esteem and insecurity. If i think about it, most if not all of the things I’ve given up (learning a new language and playing the guitar) were because in my daydreams everything was better and those things were getting small and discoraging until i gave up. I think my biggest challenge is to break this emotional dullness. It is very difficult for me to express myself and even writing, it took me about three days trying to do it. I have always kept everything to myself since childhood. I believe I am not the only one who has difficulty in expression and wanted to know how to start doing this, I know it takes time and it will be difficult, but I don’t want to live with it for the rest of my life, regretting that I didn’t do certain things because insecurity spoke louder. I have this difficulty with everyone around me, even my parents or friends. I sincerely want to know what I can do about it.
P.s: Can i translate your blog to Portuguese? Unfortunately there isn’t so much about MD in Portuguese and I only found your blog thanks to my intermediate English. I would love to do it, giving all credit to the author of course, to talk to other people who have this same addiction here in Brazil 🙂
Yes, sure, you can translate it. We can even put your translations on this blog if you want. :))
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I was waiting for my vacation to be able to start the revision, I had some problems with time but finally got it. Thanks for letting me translate! https://guidetomd.blogspot.com/
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This is great! Thank you so much for translating it and helping spread the information! I will link your translations here as well. :))
Ohh, how should I credit you? I don’t know your name/nickname :))
“Bela” it’s great to me (my nickname)
Just added a link! Thanks again so much for your translations! 🙂 I’m sure people will find it very useful as the site gets a lot of traffic from Brazil.
I think I actually use MD to feel LESS, not more. I have ASD, ADHD, anger issues, and severe anxiety. I feel EVERYTHING ALL THE TIME. I hurt, because I’m constantly over stimulated and over emotional. My family, my friends, my coworkers, my teachers, they’ve all told me that I overreact. I’m too sad, too happy, too angry, too excited, and I’m always punished and ridiculed for it.
When I sink into MD, no one is bothered by me, and no one is harassing me. I can experience things with a safe barrier too keep my emotions and feelings dampened. Is that unusual? Is it still MD if it isn’t quite like you’ve described?
Its still obsessive and addictive, I do it for hours on end (just last week, I spent 37 hours in bed, without getting up to eat or drink or anything, just in my own head), it affects my ability to function normally, its still more important and comfortable to me than reality. All that is the same, but I’m not numb outside of MD, more like I’m on fire and being electrocuted, and MD is my relief from it. It’s less ‘violent’, for lack of a better term.
What are your thoughts? I don’t know how to go about fixing this, but I know I need to. Before its suggested, I have tried medications, obviously to no avail. I’ve tried exercising to wear down my energy, it raises my adrenaline and causes my anger issues to flair. I’ve tried eliminating excess unhealthy sugars from my diet. I’ve been to therapy, I’ve tried the tricks, and I’m still living in a world that I can’t keep. Any suggestions? Maybe other resources?
sadly I can’t really help you but I just wanted to say you’re not alone. I feel the same way. I also have ASD and I use MD as a way to escape reality because it’s *too much* for me. Too much sensory input, too many feelings, too many people I don’t understand/can’t connect to and so on…
I think both ways of using MD (because you’re feeling numb or the opposite, too much) are valid and important to talk about.
You can’t imagine how grateful I am to you for sharing your experience with MD.
I read all your articles multiple times and they helped me to understand my situation I don’t even now if you would see my comment but thank you so much.
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I’m so glad! I’ll probably post another article very soon. Good luck on your journey!
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Thank you for replying 😊
I’m looking forward to reading your next article !
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I have only learned about MD in the past few days. Over lockdown, I started emerging myself in Star Wars to get around my loneliness, lack of friends and dealing with the effects of past bullying. Now, I can’t stop. Literally. I’m failing school and my real friends always catch me daydreaming. It became gruesome in my head, and I am desperate to escape… I LOVE when I’m around people cause, for once, I can escape my mind which I find myself longing for, yet I HATE doing it. So about three months into MD and I wanna stop. This post made my cry a lot 🙂 And I have decided to go Cold Turkey with it. I can do it, I know that… But I don’t know how to deal with the Numbness… Since I haven’t been in MD that long, will it be just as hard? I can still feel often, but it’s in the average moments I can’t. Thank you so for this article… I REALLY needed it and it was just what I was praying for 🙂
Hi there Erataia, I was used to read your blog a lot, when I was younger. I was just 15 back then. While trying to fight with my personal issues, I was also trying to deal with Maladaptive Daydreaming. It was literally most difficult fight in my life, especially since I was just a child. Anyway, after some time, I really somehow cured my posionous dreams. I really dont know how, but after that time, everything went great. I realized I am someone else, and someone better. I cant see any reason why I was hiding from myself with dreams. How our brain works is really sucks. While dreaming, I was know that was just a coping mechanism already, but knowing that doesnt change anything. I needed to feel so much pain to become myself again. Sad and ridicilous thing is, I relapsed after some time. I dont even know why, there was literally nothing could cause that. And, after some times of.. “heaven”.. I started to feel like I fell into hell again. Though, I really tired fighting with his, going to physcologist and telling “hey, I am dreaming” and he/she looks like “yeah I do that too, whats the matter?” and trying to explain your family members that you cant even focus to something…
Anyway, back when I was younger, I think I kept you too much busy, lol, you even started to not respond me after some time (dont get me wrong, you are awesome, helped me a lot, I am not in any intention to judge you. I would do the same :D), but now I wont do that. 2020 was really a harsh year. I was forgot everything related to Maladaptive Daydreaming after I started to feel better, in order to create a new life, and forgot my past. But.. yeah.. Here I am again reading the articles, over and over. While just trying to express my thoughts and feelings just for nothing, also wanted to check if you are doing okay. Hope pandemic didnt affected your health. Please be safe.
I can’t feel anything I don’t know why my life is a mess 2 of my relatives just died very recently but I feel fine I font know why it bothers me any advice?