“My real self wanders elsewhere, far away,
wanders on and on invisibly and has nothing to do with my life.”
– H. Hesse
Mechanisms driving fantasy addiction break down with recognition of absence, with poignant realization that your characters are not here, that they have never been here and never existed, that they were never yours. You’re alone, and your most ardent passion, your trump card, that one thing that dissipates meaninglessness and takes away the feeling of crippling loneliness is a lie, just a self-crafted lie to stifle your existential turmoil.
Is it? Was it really that cheap in the end?
You don’t need me to tell you that, sometimes, maybe even most of the times, it takes looking oneself in the mirror and realizing that, god, we really are cracked and some of our daydreams are indeed just that, silly distractions and compensations to feed our messed up ego and get us out of the mud because we are too scared to try and step out on our own. Yet, this is just one tiny aspect of your defense mechanism that happens to be serve one far more important purpose.
What we call MD is not fundamentally wrong.
Before you decide that your levels of fucked up are so high or bizarre that they don’t fit any diagnostic criteria, remember that those cravings driving your MD, they are cravings for life. Life that was denied to you. And there is nothing wrong with that, there is nothing wrong with protesting against the dullness of existing. This is what the most substantial aspect of MD is, this is what MD itself is: your way of frantically holding onto that one reminder that you too can feel alive, in strange and deviant ways, but it’s still your most honest attempt to live. Is it maladaptive? Yes, sometimes terribly so. But still, you are trying to live your life the only way you know it and there is no need to feel guilty over a habit that is merely a manifestation of your insatiable instinct to survive. If you’re in deep, fantasy is where all your feelings escaped to, it’s where you escaped to and metamorphosed into microcosms of intricate storylines and characters, so that your own emptiness cannot recognize you when it comes looking out for you. It’s a game of hide and seek, where you are both hunter and the hunted – but you have forgotten where to search, you have forgotten where you hid yourself.
MD is an extension of you. It is you to the very core of your being. It is the feelings you never got to express, words you never said, beliefs you never defended, traits you never nurtured enough. But these phenomena, they exist as latent possibilities somewhere deep within your mind, they exist as seeds that were left forgotten and never got to flower. But they are not gone, they still can be sensed faintly somewhere on the other side of consciousness. If you are cold, it means you instinctively know the meaning of warmth, even if you have never felt it. That burning love some of you have for your dreamworlds, for your characters, “made up” love also had to come out from somewhere. You didn’t invent it, you didn’t fabricate it. It came from depths of your subconscious that craves and knows how to feel love. If you know how to love fantasy, then you have the ability to love reality too because this war is not about fantasies and realities – it is about you and your ability to love. As I explained in III part: overcoming addiction to fantasy does not mean finally learning to love reality – it means rediscovering that self you sent into exile. The only reason one can madly love fantasy, while remaining indifferent to reality, is because to love fantasy, you don’t need a self. You merely exist as an awareness without identity, a selfless observer who consumes and lives off their characters and idealized selves. But to love and interact with reality, you sure need a well-defined self because it is the receptor through which you perceive reality. Without this receptor, reality cannot and will never get to you. You know what reality is? It doesn’t exist. Reality is molded by feelings, made by feelings, born through its observers. It doesn’t exist without you observing it, without you feeling it.
You have forgotten yourself. You have forgotten in order to forget the discomfort that comes with it and by forgetting yourself, you have also forgotten reality. You’re held back by your own convictions that you are too different, too dysfunctional for this world. Living – what should come off as an instinct, like breathing, like blinking, for you occurs as a sophisticated skill that has to be practiced daily, with crippling bouts of tiredness at each pretense to be alive. Every day is a pretense, every fucking moment, pretense to smile, pretense that what your friend says gets to you, pretense to care, pretense to be alive. But this, too, is a defense mechanism that must be broken. Otherwise, you will always be standing on the sidelines, torn between watching other people living their lives and watching your characters living their lives. But where are you in all of this?
Life has to begin somewhere. Maybe it will not begin with rediscovering bliss, maybe it has to begin with pain, with surrender to all things repressed. Maybe you have to peel layers of yourself until you get to that place where things got blocked. Maybe you have to try to expose your dream self to the world, to someone other than you. Get things out of your system. Your beliefs, your feelings, your demons. You have to let someone other than you observe these feelings, directly or indirectly. I do not know how many false versions of yourself, defense mechanisms and fortified walls will have to fall for this to happen, but for your existence to be acknowledged, for it to bleed into reality, you have to try to reveal what was kept sealed. There is nothing more draining than waking up to the thought that no one can see the dream (real?) you, or touch you, hear you, witness the fires burning inside you, no one can warm up to those flames. There won’t be a single testament of what existed inside you when no one watched. Have you ever wondered, if fantasy is the only place where you feel genuinely alive, why are you so secretive about it? Seriously, what’s the point? Why do you hide the only thing that feels oddly right in a world where everything else seems wrong? Well, of course. You try to live out your daydreams, become the better version of yourself, you direct that energy to the real world, and what happens? The energy hits a wall and never reaches real world, leaving you forever estranged. Feelings you want to express are ideally supposed to flow naturally from your fantasies to your real self, but as soon as they reach your real self (that is, as soon as you try to express them in reality), everything backfires because your state of self is so broken and fragile that it cannot host these emotion, which is what prevents their expression.
To communicate your daydream feelings with the outside world, there has to be a bridge between your own world and the outside world through which these feelings can flow and this bridge is the self. Without it, those two worlds cannot communicate and this is where the split occurs, this is precisely where MD cuts you in two. There is absolutely nothing wrong with having a vivid inner life; writers, poets, artists, philosophers, they all have it, don’t they? But unlike us, people with healthy inner life are not split. Their worlds are communicating with each other, ours are not.
Behind every daydream, there is a feeling.
It drives your plot, it molds your characters. It’s the mastermind behind it all. Every character, every single story is an embodiment of it. The entire narrative content of your specific daydream is driven by an emotion that you failed and continuously fail to express in real life – and as long as this particular emotion remains unexpressed in your real life, by your real self, the respective daydream which is driven by it will not stop.
Every daydream is a personified feeling, a throttled desire to feel something, not to possess. And these feelings, they are truer than anything else, they are bits of the puzzle missing from your real self. The stories you weave in your head are an attempt to salvage bits of yourself, gone a bit wrong, but still, they were born out of your desire to live, out of your desire to change things. It is your primal hunger for life, for emotional or intellectual stimulation, for connection, fulfillment, meaning, passion. The silliest thing you can do to yourself is ignore the hunger and pretend you can live without it. You can’t. You shouldn’t. Instead of obsessing how to ignore the hunger, why not try to find some food for your soul?
But before you can find the food, find your mouth first.
57 thoughts on “Part V: Was it all just a lie?”
Oh my God, this is truly amazing. I’ve come over many articles about MD, but all of them were just saying what is it or what are the signs. None of them were talking about the core problem and reasons. So thank you so much for helping me and many others! You are a great writer and you sure know how to put words together. I hope there will be more sequels of this topic here, I mean… Please…☺😂
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This article described me to the T. Thank you so much for this!
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thank you so much for these amazing articles . i can’t tell you how much im grateful for you sharing you exprience with md. you articles helped me a lot to understand my situation.
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Oh yes, recognizing when you’re about to drift into daydreaming is very useful and every time you catch yourself wanting to daydream, think of why you wanted to do it in the first place. Is it just an impulse? Or is it because you wanted to experience certain emotion in your daydream? Majority of MD episodes are in fact pure impulses that don’t have any particular purpose. You do it because your brain is used to do it. It’s just like smoking – you have a terrible urge to smoke but there’s no particular reason behind it. So, recognizing when your urge is false is quite an effective way to stop the habit.
Of course it’s normal. You’re giving up your only defense mechanism so it’s perfectly fine to be confused or scared or outright terrified. Also, why does it matter what other people think? For the first time in your life, you’re trying to finally be yourself. Don’t let this be sabotaged by obsessing over what others think. The only important person now is you.
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I thank you so much for these insightful essays. I feel like my whole life is a house of cards, that can come tumbling down at anytime. So I am living from one crisis to another, just muddling through. I have this fear that people around me will find out how really shallow I am. Every time something good comes my way, I can’t even enjoy it because it seems as if I had already experienced it in my dream world. Your articles are really shedding a light on why I behave this way.
Hello, Abdul. You’re welcome! I’m glad that you were able to pick up some insights from this. When something good happens to you in real life, you can’t enjoy it NOT because you have already experienced it in daydreams and spoiled the surprise but because you’re not emotionally present in reality to process things that happen in it and make a positive experience out of it. You’re emotionally gone. There is no coherent ‘I’ that experiences reality, which is why what happens there can never result in feelings of happiness or enjoyment. There is no ‘I’ to process these feelings in the first place. Your sense of self is broken, and you’re watching the world through it, wondering why the world is broken. It is not. It is you. This is the reason why reality is unsatisfactory, this is the reason why your projects are unfinished, this is the reason why you seek comfort in daydreams. Daydreams are not your enemy, you called them into your life to fill in a void that was already there.
You’re afraid people will realize how really shallow you are but this version of yourself you call shallow is the same emotionally absent and broken self that can’t experience positive feelings. And that’s not real you, you as you should have been. That lonely teenage boy with low self-esteem also wasn’t you. Because if he were really you, you would’ve never tried to run away from it. You ran away because you subconsciously knew how broken he really was and how far off he was from who you were really supposed to be – a confident and content man and at peace with himself.
Daydreaming is just a medium, a bridge between you the way you are now in reality and suppressed feelings you never got to experience in real life (self-acceptance? healthy self-esteem?). You’re so desperate to feel these things, which is natural after all, and cravings for daydreams are nothing else but a disguised desire for this self-acceptance you never got to realize. Each daydream is a suppressed feeling. Until you find a way to awake these suppressed feelings in real life, there’s no way you can ignore MD. It’ll always come back because what caused it in the first place never got addressed.
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I read all of the articles on this site, and I cried and cried the whole time. I’ve been lost in MD for the past 4 months. It was like every single word was written to me. Thank you for writing this. I don’t know whether I will be able to put my life together again but everything has gotten so bad that I couldn’t cope with anything anymore, and I turned to this. Back when I was in an abusive marriage a long time ago, I went through a time period during which I dissociated when I couldn’t cope with what was going on. And (recently) stuff had gotten so bad in my life that I was like, hey, I remember how comforting that was back then, maybe I could do that again. Back then was like the tiny mini-version of it. This was like the full-blown living-in-a-fantasy-world all day most of the day version. My life has gotten so bad that every time I think about my life I start to cry and panic. And I started doing MD as a way to not have to face the panic and fear and sadness that is every second of every day. Well I’m going to try to stop doing it now. But there is nothing in my life anymore and nothing to look forward to, and I’m worried about starving to death all the time. I go to friends’ houses and feel envious because they have a lot of food in their cupboards. It’s not just that, it’s everything that’s going in in my life, it’s an empty hole. I’m exhausted and don’t know how to keep going anymore, that is why I started doing MD. It was so much fun and felt so fulfilling. But the problem is that the fantasy will always be better than this horror show that is my life, so there is no incentive to stop because it’s “really fun time and emotional happiness” vs. “extreme depression and emotional pain and constantly being scared of not having food and being homeless”. There is no way that the second one will be more fun than the first, so that means you never want to stop the fantasy. Now I’m seeing that it’s a trap… I can get lost in this for weeks, easily. Anyway thanks for writing this. I’m standing in the rubble but will try to pick up the pieces even if it means crying all day every day because that’s probably what it’s going to be. Anyway thank you.
i have some common experience with u…when i was in junior high school,i moved to another city.I used to be excellent in my primary school,but evething is changed since that…what’s more,it’s a totally new environment for me,i almost have no friends in three years.what depressed me now is that i almost forget what the normal life-you know,i mean the life without MD looks like,i almost totally forget about how to connect with real world all the time…But just as what u said,thanks to this web.Hope we can make a progress together.
In the past while my closest friend moved away and stopped talking to me and my cat that had been with me a very long time died, another friend died recently too, I’ve been losing too many people and things and have become very isolated. I think I started doing MD also out of a desire to have something that nobody could take away from me. Because too many major things/people have already been taken away, a lot more things than I even wrote here.
I came across this article looking for some way to help me treat my MD and I wasn’t expecting a brutal wake-up call. Most of the things you talk about are things I had long since resigned myself to believing as an unchangeable part of me completely separate from my MD/mental health issues.
*I literally just started crying and immediately slipped into daydream mode for a couple of minutes and now I’m entirely unsure what I was going to write (welp). At least now I feel like I have some basis on how to move forward with my life and that, perhaps, it won’t look so bleak in the future so thanks.
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well I don’t know what to do in my situation because I also deal with masturbating addiction with all that depression and anxiety
It doesn’t matter how many addictions you have. They all revolve around the same issue in the end. They are just desperate attempts of your mind trying to deal with whatever lies beneath. If you google things about mechanisms behind masturbation or porn addiction, you’ll find similar patterns to those driving MD.
Eretaia, I take it you’ve escaped MDD.
All my previous attempts failed because daydreaming gave me some happiness and quitting daydreaming therefore felt more like a punishment. Why give up something that makes me happy to stay in reality when reality made me feel so terrible?
I’m now on a two day streak of quitting daydreaming but it feels much different this time. I’m comparing quitting to doing exercise – when I do exercise I don’t focus on the fact that I could be relaxing instead, I think about how the pain is necessary in order to become stronger. Same with reality – I cope much better when I think ‘I’m facing the pain of reality to help me achieve the things I want’ rather than thinking ‘I could be daydreaming right now.’
It’s also helped that I actually realised what it is I want. I want to make the world a better place, so it’s hardly surprising I turned to fantasy where I can do that, because in reality it’s seriously difficult and I feel like there’s f*ck-all I can do right now to end the world’s problems. (yeah, deep.) I just had to realise that when I turn to fantasy I’m getting an instant but FAKE version of what I need – I have to stay in reality and work hard to get the real version.
Ok, I know it’s only been two days and I’m talking like it’s been a month. And also I’m ranting. Actually I only have one question; can a recovered daydreamer ever go back to the things that triggered their daydreams? Will I ever be able to listen to the music which I love but which is currently a major trigger for me? Perhaps you haven’t been free of MDD for long enough to know this yourself, but if you have any idea then I would really like to know. Thanks and also thank you so much for this series of articles which has helped me lessen my daydreaming even in the last few months. You helped me focus on reality more and I even stopped dissociating like 2 months ago.
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So sorry for replying late! I’m glad that you’re having some improvements. This road is paved with a lot of unconscious self-sabotage so expect to have a lot of high and lows and most important, don’t get discouraged by them. To answer your question, yes, you’ll totally be able to go back to music or whatever triggers your daydreams in the first place. As I wrote in the last article, each daydream is a repressed emotion and it is precisely the fact that you’re failing to express this emotion normally through your real self that fuels your cravings. Once you deal with it and learn to express it directly without needing to rely on mediums such as fantasy, all cravings automatically disappear and triggers don’t need to be used anymore as mediums for you to express yourself because you’ve grown emotionally and no longer need to resort to third-party media to come in touch with yourself. At this point, your hunger is satisfied and all those small things that used to spark the fire don’t work anymore – because they don’t need to work anymore. You know how a person in love always has a specific song that reminds her of her lover and makes her all lovey-dovey? As long as she is in love with him, the song will be the trigger of pleasant or even nostalgic and melancholic memories. BUT the moment she falls out of love, the song stops making her all emotional. If she’s not over the guy, she’ll return to her song over and over again like we do and she’ll be caught in thinking about what-ifs, but once she sorts out her attachment and genuinely lets go of her lover, the song also loses the value. Sure, it can remind her of a nice period they spent together but the cravings will be gone. Remember: it’s not song she wants. It’s memories of her lover. Same goes for you. It’s not triggers that are your problem. It’s what those triggers allow you to express. When I look back at my own triggers that used to set my cravings on fire and drive me fucking nuts, I’m completely neutral now because I’ve resolved things that drew me to them in the first place.
God bless your soul Eretaia ! Your writing is beautiful! I ve never ever read anything so accurate. I could relate to almost everything written here. I just wish there was someone to talk to but never really opened up cause i didnt expect anyone to understand.
I used to always feel numb from within & thought the cause of all this is Anhedonia. But after reading your articles I ve realised Anhedonia wasn’t the real cause & it was the years of Maladaptive daydreaming that made me an apathetic person. Atleast now I know what I have to tackle. I wish I read this all earlier. I have my Chartered Accountancy exams coming up in a few days. This is my last level & unfortunately my current state has affected my studies & it’s all just seeming impossible. Do you know any quick fix to get back on track?
Thank you for your kind words! Sorry for replying late, haven’t been around lately. For me the best quick fix to get my brain working is exercise. It sounds so simple but after a few days of training hard in the nature (I’d train 2 hours 3 times a week), I get instant improvement after just several days. Motivation, better focus. For me it works like a charm.
Plzz help me I did wht u said..I detox my underlying pain..I had done everything but as u said md is u r daily force ….n u mentioned to express the feelings out I did tht tooo…but still I dd..but the thnxs to u tht I feel better….but still I weave stories in my head …I donno whts wrong ..I dd abt sex …abt my crush in real lyf but as u said in I don’t have tht feeling in real lyf which I had there …I meant Iam not eager for anything. But still I dd…I’m just 17 …plzz help me …I even cry I dd tht Ive been betrayed by my crush ….though in real lyf we don’t talk we r not in touch……I cry here while crying in dd…n I have narcissistic dd …..plzz help say me the way out ….
There’s no quick way out. You have to work through your feelings. You say you’ve dealt with them but seems to me your inner state is still way too chaotic. If you had expressed your feelings successfully, you wouldn’t have now this conflict between feeling content in dreams and empty in real life. It seems like a hopeless situation but it’s not, especially if your daydreaming are revolving around sex and narcissistic themes. If you can access a good school psychologist, they may help you identify insecurities behind fantasies. I can’t give you any quick fix tip because there isn’t one. You have to talk and talk and get things out of your system until you get a better understanding of your own emotional state and identify things that are causing you to feel so perplexed. Can you find a school psychologist or something? You’d probably benefit from it.
I just found out about maladaptive daydreaming yesterday, reading about it in an article. After some research I felt horrible as I’ve been doing that since I was 4 years old, now I’m twenty and I feel I’ve wasted so much of my life and at the same time I keep thinking that if I could quit daydreaming I wouldn’t have anything else, I would be empty. Your guide was the most helpful thing one could possibly find and you ought to know that.
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This really is amazingly accurate. I do wonder what some of the lingering effects of this are. How has it changed my brain chemistry? Is why I have so much trouble focusing on other people when they talk? Or maybe that should be switched around?
I’d say ve been in “recovery” for tenish years. It was a bit spontaneous how it happened. I found myself doing something I had dreamed about doing and suddenly my need to daydream diminished. Not completely, there have still been areas of my life it’s lingered. But I’m currently in the midst of another “shedding”. Reading this has reinforced my resolve. I realize I’ve been redirecting my desires into my daydreams and it prevents me from “needing” to act on them.
I highly recommend for anyone, finding a good meditation coach. One that is familiar with recovery. I’ve been in self study of Buddhism for years. Meditation is the opposite of MD. Especially vipassana and somatic. I’ve been mixing the two. There are great podcasts and books too, but if you do have a lot of trauma a coach is highly recommended to help you get through it or to make sure you aren’t using it as a way to numb I ourself (which I’ve done). I drifted towards Buddhism because a psychic you’d me I had no center. And she was right.
I’d also recommend mind-body exercise – yoga, tai chi, martial arts – these can all help you get back into your body. Actually, probably any exercise or sport that isn’t repetitive, that you need to engage with. It’s essential to get back in touch with your body.
I hope this helps! Thank you so much for writing this!
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Thank you so much. I wan’t you to know that you are literally saving lives. I just found out was MD was and there was no helpful information outside that it does not have any known cure, is not officially recognised medically and there is little research on it. This terrified me. I thought I was stuck with a rare condition that no one I ever met would be able to relate to.
You are the only person I’ve found who is creating a path for suffers to follow. I will follow your path. From the deepest pits of my heart I thank you. You beautiful, intelligent person. Thank you.
Thank you so much for your kind words! :))
Oh my god. I didn’t think that this had a name. I’ve had it since i was 8 years old (I’m 17)and I honestly don’t know what to feel right now. In my case, it didn’t appear because of abuse, i believe it was because my classmates treated me like i was an invisible person for some reason. I’ve always had a loving family and I was a really happy and extroverted kid and made friends easily until i entered school. Maybe because i was so used to be accepted that not feeling like that by so many people had a huge impact on my life. About MD It all started when I got my first gaming console and I suddenly begun to obsess over a character in the game. From that moment i started to obsess over fictional characters compulsively and never got myself into my fantasies, becoming a “fangirl” and a stranger to myself. Although realizing this 9 years after that breaks my heart, thank you for writing this. I finally know what is happening to me and now I can see this is actually the root of maybe most of the self esteem issues that I have. I’m sad and angry, but at the same time I’m happy to know that someone recovered from it.
A lot of people lose themselves in fiction because it helps them get the pained sense of self out of the way. You’re absolutely not alone in this. My story was kind of similar too. It is precisely feeling invisible that made made you seek MD in comfort. It is the same thing with fiction and fantasy, isn’t it? You focus on other people’s lives, other characters, always the others, always forgetting yourself, always being the invisible one.
But why have you become invisible in the first place? Are you scared that you may be judged by others? Or are you scared that you’re not as spontaneous and passionate as other people? The problem of invisibility has more to do with you acknowledging yourself rather than being seen and acknowledged by other people. You probably hate yourself… or at least what’s left of it. But why?
This is beyond amazing. The thing is I understand this and what to do. But, I don’t know how to do it, I don’t know how to put it into place in my life. I’m only 14 and I always thought this fantasizing was wrong, but i never did anything. Then I got the biggest wake-up call ever. It’s been more than a month and I’ve stopped daydreaming, I hardly have any urges and sometimes will get one but I analyze it. However, the thing that keeps coming up is this feeling. It’s the worst thing ever. Every time i get this feeling all i can do is cry and I don’t even know about what. I’m so confused because it will come for 1 week then go away the next. So do you have any idea what’s wrong? Because i feel lost like i have no clue who i am.
Seeing someone so young who has to deal with all this crap always gets me. I was around 13 when I started daydreaming and you’re already struggling to stop at the same age and that’s very brave. Being at loss and not understanding what your feelings are is very normal for somebody who is dealing with addictive behaviors. That’s sort of what addiction is – taming all these shapeless feelings that you don’t understand and that leave you confused and turning them into controllable and familiar emotions that you’re comfortable with. Can you try to understand what exactly you are trying to run away from? MD is not your enemy. It’s just there to protect you from something you may not yet understand. Finding what this is and dealing with it is what you have to do but you should not do this alone. Do you have someone to talk to who’d really be willing to listen to you? Can you visit a psychologist? All you need to do right now is expand your understanding of your emotions, identify bad feelings that render you helpless and push you to MD. You’re 14 and at this age you’re going to have an identity crisis with or without MD. It’s normal to be confused but you should not leave it at this. You have to try to understand and slowly and steadily get familiar with all the chaos inside you. If you had somebody who’d help you do this, it’d be more than helpful. I’d really encourage visiting a psychologist if you can just so you can get all the turmoil out of your system. Something is obviously bothering you and fueling your MD and you have to understand what. There’s some issue underneath MD.
Eretaia, is there any chance I could contact you in private? I have some questions and I would love to talk to you about then, because you are a person who can truly understand me. I had MD since 14/15 years old (I am 19 now). A few weeks back I gave up on DD because I got scared when I read it’s an addiction and since then I am a little mess. I need to know if my feelings are normal. Thank you very much for your posts, now I understand my problems a little bit more.
Sure, you can email me at: eretaia@gmail(dot)com
This article is amazing. It pushes me to quit, thank you so much for this.
One thing, though. I have an okay life is general, but I hate being alone, I’ve realised. I DD about books, movies, and TV shows, only sometimes(okay most of the time) I put in my own characters. And quitting….I feel terribly lonely, especially at night. I half feel like I’m abandoning them. Plus, about relapsing- is controlled DD actually alright? Also, I cant function without DD because its like, whatever I do, from baking to sleeping to playing, my characters are always there. And I cant function without them.
Does this go away? If I actually stop for days, will it matter? Will it make things okay? I’m fourteen, so I’m pretty sure I haven’t completely bulldozed my life yet. Thanks a lot, by the way.
Can I contact you too? I really need to talk about this. My school counselor doesn’t even get the seriousness of the problem.
Sure, you can contact me via email.
I’ll answer you in short here and we can continue our discussion more closely via email then. You can’t really force your mind to stop daydreaming because daydreams are your mind’s way of telling you that something is wrong, something is missing in your life, in you. Forcing yourself to stop fantasizing while hoping it’ll just go away means ignoring that something is wrong. Instead, you should focus on what your daydreams are trying to tell you – what do they give you that you don’t have in real life? You say you’re lonely, right? But why are you lonely? What prevents you from, say, connecting to people of your age? Loneliness is one of the main things that fuel any addiction but loneliness itself is caused by something in you – an insecurity or low self-esteem or social anxiety and so on. Something prevents you from connecting to people and you have to figure out what. When you do identify your insecurities that force you to daydream, and when you fix them, daydreams will stop by themselves.
Firstly thank you so much for your articles on MD. It was the most helpful thing I ve read and the fact that u ve gotten over it gives me hope.
I ve had MD for the longest time. I guess it started because I was a socially awkward kid. Even with relatives couldnt open up and was always the shy one. So my daydream has an alter ego but doesn’t really have characters that I ve made but real people and it’s more like pacing up and down and talking to myself. I feel so weird about this ! Dad actually caught me as a kid doing this when I was sitting right next to him and I didn’t evn realise ! After that I was more conscious.
Of late I ve noticed is that MDing has come down a bit. But I don’t get the same joy as I used to before. In the past few years I have been experiencing apathy but now even MDing doesn’t help me get over it. I don’t find joy in listening to music or watching a TV show I love. Even a guy who I ve always liked asked me out but don’t feel much about that and that’s really sad. And worst is that at home we’re having some financial crisis but even then I can’t experience that stress/pain. Like absolutely no feelings here.
If MDing made me feel better I could live with it but this feeling of being emotionally empty I can’t. And this is so different from being depressed. Maybe worse but idk.
So I want to know what I could do to better myself. I do write when I can and that helps a bit. Anything else which could do ? I am really scared of living like this all my life.
This article helped me lot! First, I would thank the author. I was helpless and lost before I read this article, but, truly speaking it has somehow made me realise that the real ‘me’ still exits, although hard to find. It helped me to get rid of my guilt , and made me understand that all this, is not my fault. Well, only the sufferes know how it is to have OCD and depression. Summoning up, I’ll say that your article proved to be a stimulant for me to start again, this time by being ‘me’ Thanks a lot!
Hi Eretaia, I love your articles, they’re such a refreshing take on MD. Is there somewhere that I can PM you about a project we’re interested in talking to you about? You can contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org
Hi, just wrote you an email. You can contact me there. :))
I’m 17 and struggling from MD. I am very thankful for writing this and giving us hope. I’m doing what you said, I stopped MD’ing. But now I just lay in my bed anxious all day. I know that I won’t be able to keep it up for too long, as it’s just too painful(empty).
I can’t talk to my parents about this, because they will not understand, and thus will not help and I will also just loose their respect. And I was wondering, if I could contact you, maybe in email, if I feel it gets too tough. I know I could be asking too much, as I’m sure you have an awesome and fulfilling life with emotions now, but hope you could find a minute to answer a person who is hoping to get out of this and start living an amazing life too.
Thank you so much!
I just devoured every word of your site here…you have described me to a T. I just stumbled onto the concept of MD and I’m a convert. Been working with a therapist for a couple months about this very problem although, until now, I didn’t know it had a following.
I’ve done this since childhood, and now I’m in my 60s, currently going through one of the most anxiety-provoking periods ever. The first one was in my 40s, and I became obsessed with Star Trek TNG. My life at that time was a series of stressful issues and life events. I so wanted to leave my crazy world and go on adventures with a group of intelligent, mentally healthy people who all loved and supported each other unquestionably, and always did the right thing, and came out safely at the end. I would spend hours at home or on walks, fantasizing about being part of that world. I went through therapy, and came to understand the underlying issues of why I did this. I released a lot of anger, and came out a much happier person. The fantasies subsided to a minor amusement at a healthy level, and no longer caused the incredible anxiety and shame.
Now, 20 years later, I find myself in the same situation. This time, my imaginary world involves a musical group I’ve been fans of for a couple of years. I’ve mentally injected myself into their lives, and endlessly follow them on social media. After a lot of soul searching, I’ve come to realize that THIS fantasy represents many things I no longer have, like youth, strength, health, energy, sex-life, and the fun of discovering the world. My husband and I have had several life-threatening illnesses over the years, and as I get older, I see more of these things occurring to people I know. The sudden death of a friend of mine (younger than me) set me off on a seven-month roller-coaster of fear of death, i.e, loss of my husband, family, friends, self. So my harmless, amusing, little fantasy world took on a more desperate tone.
I compare this obsession to being hooked on cocaine (or whatever). At first, it makes you feel good, and confident, and happy, but too much indulgence makes it twist into something that you need in order to keep from feeling bad. And you know it’s only a short respite from the bad feelings, so even while you’re feeling good, the bad feelings are lurking on the edge of your consciousness, waiting to slither into your happy little world. Eventually, you just wallow in the fantasy, desperately searching for a few little crumbs of happiness amongst all the anxiety and guilt. I actually felt that I was cheating on my husband by going into this world, so my guilt was tremendous.
At one point, in the middle of a fierce anxiety/panic attack, I confessed all my horrible dark secrets to my husband and, to my amazement, he accepted all of it, and assured me that I was not hopelessly crazy, and that he, too, had fantasies. He just took them less seriously. How wonderful to have someone I can share my crazy fears with, who doesn’t judge, and still loves me for it! The relief is tremendous, and while I still struggle every day with this, I know I’m not alone.
There’s so much more I wish to say, but I can’t type fast enough to keep up with my thoughts about this. I am so grateful that Eretaia posted this information. Your insight is outstanding, and you’ve addressed just about every aspect of this malady that I’m experiencing. I’m also curious to find out how many older people out there are suffering from this.
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Dear Janet, thank you for your kind comment. While a seventeen year-old dreams about an idealized future and you dream about qualities you had in the past, it all comes down to neither being able to live in the present. And I think that regardless of what we daydream of, be it being younger or more confident or free from anxiety, with all things taken into account, all one wants is oneself and those moments of emotional presence without being elsewhere in thoughts – and that’s something that only comes in the present tense. As for the fear of death, I think it’s not just one’s age or circumstances that feed it, it’s the silent buildup of depression and different types of anxieties over the years that eventually culminate in that, with or without a legitimate reason. When you analyze your own MD for what it really is, you instantly end up questioning your entire life, if you have lived to the fullest or plain wasted it, and that’s the uncovering of an existential crisis that inevitably fuels that thought that it’s all over. Severe MD is born out of existential crisis but fantasy ultimately hides the fear of living more than it hides the fear of death.
Thank you for this article. You literally saved my life. I am 19 and I’ve been living like this for as long as I can remember, it so bad that I can’t even connect with anything or anyone in the real world. Everything about me is invested in my fantasy world. I can bearly feel anything sometimes I even amaze myself. I could even stay in bed all day doing nothing but day dreaming and it affected my relationship with my family.
You have given me a serious wake up call and it all makes sence now. I know it will be hard but you have given me so much hope.
Thank you so much.
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Thank you for your kind comment, Edy. I’m really happy it helped. I wish you all the luck and don’t ever end up believing that all this happens to be an ingrained part of your personality. It’s hard anticipating a better reality when you have continually been seeing hell, but if you are unhappy with the way you are currently, this is just your mind’s way of telling you that this is not how you were really supposed to be.
Eretaia . Thnx u soo much …I’m almost out of this trap….but still I get rape fantasies n narcissistic fantasies …..thnxs to u that my depression is not tht high …n I really feel very gud but I still I donno y I dd…..it’s lyk I feel my anxiety is the problem ….can u say now what to do???? Plzz I need u r help .
If it’s anxiety + narcissistic fantasies, there are probably tons of insecurities underneath the surface. If you feel you’re stuck in identifying and trying to work through them, I can’t give you a better advice than to look for a psychotherapist.
can you please put all your articles and inside into mobi kindle format it is very much needed.
Oh my God. I can´t believe I found this. Thank you so much for taking the time to post this series. Finally, I found someone who described what I have been alone with for at least the last 15 years. I have felt so alone. Thinking about what is wrong with me. And it is so diffuse, so difficult to pinpoint. I have thought of ADHD, anxiety, bipolar, depression. Some of this I might have, and I might see a therapist, I just have to I have been the clown in social settings for years, never expressing true feelings with the risks that come with it. I generally often feel empty or have some kind of urge to escape the known and underlying shame I have for myself and what my life didnt turn out to be. And when I listen to music, daydream or watch a TV-show these desires of what should have been, I get so high. I live through it. I got my youth back, my life back, the person I should have been.
I will read this again (just read most of your posts out loud to myself and felt both relieved, scared and challenged) and try to go through these steps. This may be the only way I can reclaim the part of me which was lost in the daydreams, and which I meet there. Just like you described, I am so afraid to loose my daydreams. But I also was tortured by this numb feeling for 15 years following daydreamin. I am not sure if I can do this, but I will try.
Oh my God….i am speechless at this..for the first time ever..i actually felt some sort of peaceful and positive touch..I cant thank you enough..Bt still..Thank you sooooo much
Enough and we’ll said sir , thanks
Great article thank you so much
it’ve been 2 months since i stopped my daydreaming..
And I feel awfull.. I couldn’t believe what all came out after 2 weeks of abstinence.. Opsesive toughts, sadness, fear, anger, depression..
And now i feel like i dont exist.. Like this is not my body. Why am i here? All i have now is pain, fear and confuse.
I feel like i’m going crazy. There’s got to be more of life.
And what now? I dont have any urge to daydreaming. I feel so empty. Like omg what have i done to myself. Why..
I hope this will soon dissapear..
Thanks so much for these articles. I’ve had MD as long as I can remember but I finally have the hope that I don’t have to suffer MD anymore and I can recover.
I just read through this series of posts crying the whole time. I’ve never read anything that describes how I feel so accurately. When I finished reading, I wanted to thank you, so of course the first thing my brain did was launch into a daydream about a confident version of myself who is able to talk publicly about MD and cite your posts as a source of inspiration. But I caught myself and realised there is a comment section right here where I can just thank you directly. So, from the bottom of my heart, thank you. Hopefully this is a good first step into recovery.
Hello. Your blog has really helped me reach the deeper level of healing.
I have been a severe maladaptive daydreamer since I was12…. It’s been 10-11 years now, and it has ruined my life in all ways possible. I am on a journey of healing myself and connecting to my real self. I would really appreciate your help, if you can, personally. How can I contact you…?
Like everyone else who comments on your writing I am absolutely amazed at how you are able to describe MDD suffering so perfectly.
Professional counselors, psychologists and even learned academia do not have the profound understanding and touching insight
that you have for this subtle, creepy condition; a condition so subtle that even ones who suffer from it don’t know what is happening
to them. I feel, like many others who have commented, that your writings have helped me way more than professional therapy
ever could. I really believe you are helping a lot of people and many more people need your help.
And yet for all my compliments, there is something that is nagging me about my own situation.
You describe solutions for transitioning out of MDD into reality. But underlying those solutions is the over-simplified notion
that reality is good. Speaking for myself, reality is not good: I know that childhood abuse has caused my MDD and even now
at my age (over 50yrs) i still feel the effects of the abuse because I was abused by a family member. Sometimes that family
member acts like it never happened and sometimes that family member has a subtle way of taunting me-like he knows he abused me,
he knows he got away with, he knows I can never tell anyone, and he knows I can never heal. That is my reality and it sucks.
This also happens in other relationships: recently i met a really cute guy and I could sense that he liked me, but becase of
MDD and depression it was hard for me to respond well to his comments and compliments and invitations. Well I was hospitalized
with illness and was not able to communicate with him at all for two weeks. When I finally got a chance to see him,
he acted like he never knew me and he already has a new girlfriend. So another painful reality, another reason for MDD.
I cannot face this reality. I am safe and happy in my MDD but I am also utterly exhausted by my MDD. I constantly wish
that I could cease existing and have every trace of my existence erased because that is the only way i can escape a
painful reality and exhausting MDD fantasy. I don’t know what to do.
This is the best article about MDD, I came across in internet in all these years. This article explains all about the MDD; like its cause, development and remedy.
As an Indian with lots of social constraints like caste, superstitious beliefs, mediocre education etc, it have been difficult for me to live without MDD. And I have been day dreaming since my childhood.
I have lost so many things in life because of MDD. Yet, I don’t believe that i have got a solution. It is quite impossible for me to put my emotions in reality because of social conditioning all these years. It seems I am a covert narcissist. The psychiatrist around my town may not be skilled enough to treat this illness.
Anyway, I got to know at least about the problem that i have. Thanks a lot for this articles. It is written in a very detailed way and explains from start to end. I hope this article will help more than thousand peoples in world who are suffering from MDD.
I request you to make a video/book out of it, so that it will be a good learning for million peoples. Thanks once again.
This is excellently written, from a fellow MD’er it has opened my eyes. Thank you
How do I find my mouth?
The feeling you lack to express in real life?
I read these terms a lot and im confused with the meanings and where it appears in the process of engaging with daydreams and be faced with reality: