Life without MD and what it is (not)


If someone were to give you a pill that would cure MD, would you take it?

Would you end this?

You could call this a typical dilemma that eventually slaps every addict in the face and keeps them in maddening state of duality, yet this is such a sly question to ask oneself because you can’t answer it before answering another question first:

What is a ‘cure’ to you? What is your definition of life without MD?

Based on how you answer this one, the entire process of overcoming MD becomes preshaped in your head, paved with obstacles you expect to encounter, sacrifices you expect to make, side-effects you expect to suffer. If, to you, losing MD is like seeing all books burned is to a writer, will you be eager to overcome it? Of course not. If your idea of recovery is flawed, if your final destination is supposed to be a throne built on self-sacrifices, you will subconsciously do everything to never ever arrive there – even if you are consciously headed that way. Overcoming MD is a bit like intentionally walking into fire, and your instincts are programmed to make you hesitate.

But what if there’s no fire at all? What if it’s just our fear of fire and being burned that is holding us back?

If fantasy is the stubborn art of holding on, letting go is its opposite. By letting go, it’s almost as if you are committing a metaphorical suicide, a sort of self mutilation, where you give up bits of yourself embedded in a daydream in return for something that is supposed to be freedom, hoping the world will someday make sense but never being convinced of it. A part of you is terrified of overcoming MD because to you, somewhere at some tucked away part of your mind, there is a hardwired, irrational belief that overcoming MD means losing yourself. And if recovery is only a compromise where you have to choose the lesser of two evils, where being free of MD means losing feelings or creativity or oneself altogether, you will instinctively sabotage all your conscious efforts centered on quitting – which is expected, and maybe, the most human thing to do after all. Reluctance to overcome MD is based on this very belief that one excludes and nullifies another – and yet, this happens to be a fallacy. Do you in your hearts of hearts really believe that in order for this to end you have to make such a bargain? If overcoming MD means losing what makes you human, would you settle for such a compromise and go as far as to call it a cure? Is that supposed to be freedom?

It may seem counterintuitive but, while overcoming MD does involve an immense, insane fear of letting go, it ultimately does not involve losing or giving anything up because there is nothing to give up in the first place. Everything was and will always be yours and the only problem all along was you not realizing this.

Fantasy is a canvas onto which you paint and project what was already inside you. When you lose fantasy, it is canvas you lose, not your creativity or the colors or your feelings. But without the canvas, without something through which your passion materializes and becomes (elusively) tangible, your true colors are never shown and your feelings never come alive – and right here you falsely come to believe that it is your passion and creativity that are gone. They are not – you are just missing a canvas to paint them onto. Without the canvas, they go inexpressible, indefinable and hidden from you. But they are still there.

The fleeting feelings that come with fantasy are like radio waves to your mind that is an antenna and a receiver, where signal is always there but without the antenna and the receiver, waves are never converted to music and in turn, music is never heard. Likewise, without MD, you only lose that temporal, fleeting access to your feelings but not the feelings themselves. How many times have you heard someone saying that they won’t give up MD because it would take away their imagination? The problem here is, MD does not make you more creative or imaginative, it does not make you a potential writer or give you any particular talents. If you are creative, you were always creative and MD was merely giving you a chance to express through fantasy what you always carried inside you and what could have been expressed in myriads of different ways had you been more confident of yourself. Your feelings, your imagination have always existed and will exist regardless of MD. But these traits and feelings all need a healthier platform than fantasy, a canvas through which they can be materialized and observed, through which they can be truly experienced: you – with a healthy sense of self, self that allows itself to experience entire spectrum of feelings, without diverting and changing them so that they hurt less. How can a daydreamer’s broken self that runs away from itself host feelings when it can’t even handle itself?

By overcoming MD, you are not overcoming imagination or fantasy but your addiction to it. Don’t be afraid. At the end of the day, the only thing you are letting go is a false sense of comfort and the urge to censor and always be in control of your feelings. Everything else is still there, awaiting for a healthier canvas, awaiting for you until it can manifest again in some other form. Surrender to the feelings as they really are and see where they take you.

Characters and Attachments

Daydreams are not so much about your fictional lovers or friends as about you. You are projecting what little is left of your hopes to the characters you dream of being emotionally involved with so when you lose them to reality, you are also losing the image of yourself where you have finally reached self-acceptance and that frail, fleeting sense of belonging. Fantasy is made of metaphors where your unconscious doesn’t always pick the most explicit ways to talk back to you but when it does speak, it is telling you something big and your daydream characters are its expressions. They are not randomly invented or picked up personas or identities, they are mirrors and personifications of unresolved issues that are bothering you, they are feelings that slip in and out of selves. Your feelings. That is why abandoning them feels as if your soul got torn off – because in a way, it did. It is specific emotions you crave to experience and, with characters being embodiments of those emotions, your craving automatically extends to characters and you are caught in a web of dangerous attachments. And if your insatiable attachment to characters originates from attachment to your own dissociated feelings, then you are virtually attached to something that was rightfully yours all along and you were elusively reclaiming it back through MD.

Most of us think of these characters, i.e. feelings as something separate from ourselves, something that came as a gift when we first plunged into MD, and consequently, something that will have to be taken away from us once we let go of MD – and it is from this construct that the pain and unhealthy attachments originate – from never really recognizing that they were always supposed to be yours. This is the crux of dissociation after all: inability to recognize parts of yourself as your own, falling for your own illusion of separation over and over again. You mistake the part for the whole and then wonder why you feel so incomplete.

Analyze your fantasies and characters and when you think about them, think in terms of feelings. If one daydreams about being a singer, it’s not the role of a singer that one craves and that creates the high – it’s the feelings that come with it, the confidence, the effortless flow of emotions. People don’t get addicted to drugs. They get addicted to feelings that drugs trigger in them. When one gets addicted to benzodiazepines, it’s the feeling of calm and spontaneity and absence of anxiety that is the main catalyst for both creating and reinforcing addiction, not the chemical formula of the drug. It’s the feeling of calm that one is always returning to, not the drug itself. Same goes for you. While the narrative content of your fantasies does give you incredibly important cues on where your issues lie, it is not being a hero or having the adventure of your life that you want – it is the feelings these situations and scenarios awake in you.

Fantasy is a bit of a non-self state. Just like in dreams, identities get muddled, you change forms and selves, you experience emotions through other people and it becomes hard to tell where you begin and where others end. And yet, all your characters are you in a way – they are vessels into which you incarnate bits of yourself and pretend they are someone else, they are personifications that go beyond the self and identities, they are manifestations of your ability to receive and give love, of your spontaneous self, free from inhibitions and anxieties of your current self. Even if you daydream about real people, there is no reality other than that inside your heart and everything else is just a projection canvas for it, even other people.

No other drug or addiction will give you as much information about what is going on beneath the surface as fantasy. For example, in third-person fantasies involving love between two characters, sometimes, love is just love and sometimes, romance has absolutely nothing to do with romance and the two characters can represent two conflicting views or beliefs that the mind is unconsciously trying to consolidate. Every character in your fantasy is there for a reason. They are riddles to be cracked and translated to a feeling that needs to be dealt with, which eventually makes the attachment to that particular character or fantasy resolve on its own and takes away the feeling of duality.

It took me a lot of pain over the past few years, a lot of internal struggles to be able to write what I just wrote. I don’t even know if these conclusions make sense to someone who hasn’t felt at least once that they have the right to the feelings experienced in fantasy. It’s a tough road ahead, probably with more failures than victories, but if you focus on strengthening your sense of self, there is a point where duality slowly starts breaking and feelings from fantasy start to bleed in the real self. It is in daydreamer’s nature to engage in a dangerous self-negation, becoming lesser so that fantasy can become greater because to us, for one to become stronger, the other indispensably has to become weaker. And so you learn to toss yourself aside, convinced that you can only have one at a time, never quite knowing that this split is reconcilable.

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131 thoughts on “Life without MD and what it is (not)

  1. Luc says:

    I dont know about this, but everyone I ever asked treats MD like some kind of curse. When I realised I had MD I was feeling really bad, since everyone was telling me that its wrong. But honestly MD never really affected my real life, I am doing what I would be doing without it. Just when I feel like I need to pass sometime, for example in long car drives, or when I feel like I really need some kind of comforting that for now noone can give me. I fully realise that the world there can never be real and I understand what the fantasies mean. Is it really wrong to run away for a while?

    Like

    • sunayrine says:

      I am not sure about others, but for me MD started as “benign” I was young and I didn’t know how to deal with stress. It was just telling myself a story before going to sleep so that I would not remember the bad day that happened to me. My problem is after 20 years, I became addicted and forgot how to face things. It just now I realize that most of that stress was just about not being able to talk about things and they weren’t that terrible. It just that using DM rather than facing things made them bigger than they were and made me weaker in a way that I became afraid to even try to feel them. When I started I was 13. Now at 32, I find myself rediscovering how to manage anxiety. Like you it didn’t really stop me to live, as I was successful professionally and had friends and all. It just that it was the best part of me, the more courageous and empathic me, and it was shut down from others. Living in dreams is not bad, but I found that’s not really living.

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    • Quiet Warrior says:

      Luc, i’m still trying to figure that out myself. Currently, my daydreams are triggered by the Lord of the Rings characters. Yes.. finally i said it.. My day dreams are usually triggered by extraordinarily good looking characters in movies. Especially “Action” movies, replete with muscles, bravery, fighting skills, weapons, compassion and giving to those that are in need or being bullied.

      I live in a in a Mexican Bordertown. Being a Native American bi-racial, i am bullied, taunted or attacked physically daily. Sad to say, since child-hood, no one has never really stood up for ME. Over time, the moment i would see these iconic superheroes in TV or in a movie, i pick out the one that is the most attractive as my day dream character to protect me from my (every day) bullies in my head.

      Looking for support in this community is useless. The police are far worse – especially if you’re attractive.

      I started doing meditation at night for an hour through Binaural Beats. You can just plug in on YouTube. They are free. What works for me are the ones for “Overthinking, worry, depression, anxiety, and earthly drama, etc. 432Hz). It really has helped. It teaches me Mindfulness, and living in the moment. But most of all, to stop looking for a “mind savior” to deal with my bullies.

      I have no idea how Binaural Beats work? But whenever i try to “plug in” to my fantasies, i just can’t. I wind up concentrating on my breathing, and just being aware/observing of myself and my surroundings. Mindfulness.

      Just being honest here. I think we’ve been brainwashed to look to our imagination or daydreams through fairy tales, savior-movies, hero worship and religion. I know i waited for gawd to fight my battles for over 50 years, and he never showed up. No angels, no savior, not even the devil. Sadly enough, others who are bullied, are brainwashed to believe that silliness in our area, look to us, who work on our athleticism, and fighting skills – to fight for them, and give gawd the credit. Putting US at risk. Makes sense why those that fight seek other warriors, real or imagined for peace, comfort and protection.

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    • Aisha says:

      I don’t think they think about things, exactly. Maybe they remember videos they watched or things they’re gonna do in a couple hours, but I imagine they’d spend more time occupying themselves with actual activities then using their mind as entertainment.

      Like

      • Eretaia says:

        Everyone daydreams. Anyone can get lost in thoughts for hours and immerse in mental scenarios. What do you think artists and writers do? It’s not daydreaming and fantasizing that make you a maladaptive daydreamer. It’s addiction to these states. Everyone eats, and everyone daydreams, and everyone can have sex, and those who have a problem are not those who are doing it, but those who are doing it compulsively.

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  2. Lois says:

    Thanks for stressing the fact that I should work on achieving the feelings I desire from MD. Yet I find it hard to determine which feeling I desire when I have torture /rape dreams. Others I can readily identify and these have been helpful so far. Please can you help to identify the feelings I am craving?
    Thank you for your effort to respond to people’s comments. I even learn from what you tell them as they’re very similar to what I go through.

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    • Anonymous says:

      I’ve had dark daydreams like these. In the end I realised the feelings I crave from them are the feeling of being strong enough to survive such a thing, as well as the feeling of receiving comfort or sympathy afterwards (so basically it’s to do with self-esteem and attention). Unless you’re daydreaming about being the perpetrator rather than the victim, in which case idk because I haven’t experienced that. Either way, good luck figuring it out.

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      • Anonymous says:

        Thank you for saying that. I was wondering for some time now why am I having dark daydreams. I often daydream that my main character is a victim, experiences a lot of emotional pain. It’s interesting, because it’s almost never physical. I imagine her losing people she loves, being tortured psychically, having to make difficult decisions, being isolated from society, being lonely, almost anything so she could have a big emotionall reaction to it.
        But I really wouldn’t want any of this to happen for real, nor would I like to experience it in any way. But at the same time it kind of looks like it, why would I imagine it otherwise?
        I think it might actually have something to do (like you said) with wanting to be strong enough to survive those things. My main character is always alone and rarely gets attached to anyone, but when she is, she can’t live without them. And she is strong, much, much stronger than I am.

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    • Yom says:

      Thanks for reddit

      Psychoanalytic therapy is expensive to me… and … well, I’ve tried but it didn’t brought anything even after several month… but you don’t only have to find the good therapy but also the good therapy.
      About love, what about you? are you able to completely fall in love of somebody and live that love relationship?

      Like

      • Eretaia says:

        Most of the times therapy doesn’t work is because the therapist isn’t good or the patient is being too secretive about what bothers him. IMO, psychoanalytic approach is the most appropriate form of therapy for anything fantasy related, but yes, unfortunately it is quite costly.

        To answer your question, love was never a problem for me. It’s not the part of myself where I’d need fantasy to help me express it. For me, fantasy was embodiment of meaning and purpose of life, not love. And I recovered that meaning in real life.

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  3. Sophie says:

    I’m a Maladaptive Daydreamer and I have only recently realised. I’m 14 and don’t know what to do about it, I told my mum and she just laughed and said I’m going crazy. (That didn’t help my self esteem 😅) I have told one of my friends about it and she said it sounds cool but it’s weird.

    To be honest I don’t want to stop daydreaming, it’s not getting in the way of my school studies, hobbies or anything like that. And I use my dreaming to pass time or as an escape. All the characters in my dreams are people who inspire me, if anything dreamin has helped me become who I am and what I do. My story in my daydream has inspired me to become fitter so I workout everyday now, I want to do someone amazing with my life so I’m setting goals.

    Is this bad? Should I give it up? What if I give it up but than want it back? What is it like not to daydream all the time? I don’t understand why it’s happened to me.

    Like

    • Anonymous says:

      Hi!
      I have to say, that I would love to be able to turn my daydreaming into something making me live better and actually helping me through my life, I am quite jealous of you 🙂
      If it helps you – don’t stop it! Most of us here just have to stop MD, because it destroys our real lifes, it makes us not wanting to do anything but daydream. I am not an expert, but I think that the only thing you have to do is to always control it. Control the amount of time you spend doing it. If it is only to get inspired or because you are bored sometimes, then it’s good. But when it becomes your life, that is when you have to stop. Don’t let your fantasies be the only place where you feel really alive…
      I am sixteen now and I can quite relate to you on the “parents laughed at me” level 😛 I think they just don’t understand fully the problem. “You can’t stop dreaming? What do you mean you can’t stop? Just stop!”, “Just pay attention to what you are doing at the moment”, or “That’s weird” are the reactions I got haha :D. They were right though, that is weird 😛
      V.

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  4. Anonymous says:

    Thank you for this text. It’s made me think about my characters and what do they really mean to me.
    I have to say, that I have a problem with attachment. I have this main character that I am turning into every time when I daydream. Her story has been going on for about three years. I have to say that I started to feel like her and… to think like her in reality.
    I realized it when I one day watched some video on youtube and I had this reaction that people have when you too experienced something and you can relate to someone. “Oh, you too?”.
    Then moments later I felt like something was wrong. I realized that I didn’t actually go through that, it was my main character!!! It never really happened!
    That was when I got really scared. It started to happen more and more often, like I am losing my real self!
    Don’t get me wrong, I know that my imaginations are only that and I know that I am not my characters. I am not confusing reality and dreams, I am confusing.. feelings…
    Did someone have a similar thing? How to overcome it when even if I am not daydreaming, this character is somewhere inside me?
    Thanks in advance
    V.

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  5. DreamyAnon says:

    I just gotta say first and foremost, to you, who wrote this, thanl you so much.
    Thank so much so expressing every single thing that i could never tell anybody, and thank you for showing me that theres a way to stop this from wrecking me.
    In my fantasies Im confident, nurtoured and loved, I have the people i admire and love the most by my side and still my depression and sexual abuse history eat away at me and i dont know what to do…
    I go through vicious cycles of being able to day dream constantly without having anyone draining me socialy and im content but in autopilot. I wake up, I smoke a joint (to make things worse I use mary anne to help my anxiety and my sleeping problems) and i go off into my little world where all this love and pain and happiness await me and when i, ocasionally, get aware of myself, high out of my mind, crying so firmly over something that didnt happen all that is left is emptiness and shame.
    So thank you, for letting me know im not going insane and that I still have some control over my existence. Im honestly just tired and want to habe somewhere to belong to…

    Like

  6. Anonymous says:

    this article has made me break down into tears. Ive been with md for over 5 years and in that period of time, shorter than a lot of other sufferers, its destroyed the very things my brain created md to cope with. In such a short time I’ve lost friends due to regression in social behaviors, I’ve lost weight due to inability to eat because I’m simply unable to focus on anything else, my grades have suffered because I no longer sleep well (at most I get maybe 4 hours per night) and I no longer sleep well because any sleep I get is time away from my daydreams. I honestly feel as though md is eating me alive and swallowing my personality and emotions whole. I feel like a shell of the person I used to be and I’ve tried millions upon millions of times to give it up and I still have no success. I know I need help but everyone I go to doesn’t understand and tells me to just stop. Trust me if it were that easy I would have never had md in the first place.

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  7. Emma says:

    I gotta say, all these comments have really helped me go through this MD thing. Mine started when I was very little, say 5yr old. Let’s call a spade a spade. MD is not something that motivates you, rather it gives you a false sense of motivation. I used to MD about great people motivating me, but when I want to start the goal I was motivated for, I chicken out or I go 20% into it and never complete it. I mean how can you do it in reality when you spend the time MDing. Like the author has rightly said; you have to learn to love thyself. I realise now that part of what makes me MD is bcos I wanna be someone else. So what I do now is pray! But not that kinda religious prayers. Every moring, I look at myself in the mirror and praise each part of my body! I MD about being powerful, and then I literally feel the power, I assume any emotions I have as the feeling of power, good or bad. I stare at my eyes and praise myself until I feel it. It might seem stupid at first but when I practised it for 2weeks, I started seeing a rise in confidence and a sense of real identity. And then I stay in the present moment. But how? I literally think through all I do. Now this is really the big idea. I will give an example; when I want to arrange my room, I talk through what I am doing, more like explaining to an audience how to do the said task. I move the chairs to the left because the angle is nice. Hmm what can I do to make this dirt go away. What if i use a brush instead.
    When I eat, I eat mindfully; hmm this food is spicey, oh! the salt isn’t evenly spread. Of course all this talking should be in your head. So that’s it! Mindfullness for me isn’t the ability of having no thought. Rather it’s the ability of thinking and taking action simultaneously in the now. And when you think and take action through out the day, you become productive and MD is gone for good. But before you try any of these ideas, make sure you follow through with the author’s ideas. I have overcome Md by the help of the author’s advise and what I have written here. I hope this helps.

    Like

    • MDOVER says:

      I gotta say, all these comments have really helped me go through this MD thing. Mine started when I was very little, say 5yr old. Let’s call a spade a spade. MD is not something that motivates you, rather it gives you a false sense of motivation. I used to MD about great people motivating me, but when I want to start the goal I was motivated for, I chicken out or I go 20% into it and never complete it. I mean how can you do it in reality when you spend the time MDing. Like the author has rightly said; you have to learn to love thyself. I realise now that part of what makes me MD is bcos I wanna be someone else. So what I do now is pray! But not that kinda religious prayers. Every moring, I look at myself in the mirror and praise each part of my body! I MD about being powerful, and then I literally feel the power, I assume any emotions I have as the feeling of power, good or bad. I stare at my eyes and praise myself until I feel it. It might seem stupid at first but when I practised it for 2weeks, I started seeing a rise in confidence and a sense of real identity. And then I stay in the present moment. But how? I literally think through all I do. Now this is really the big idea. I will give an example; when I want to arrange my room, I talk through what I am doing, more like explaining to an audience how to do the said task. I move the chairs to the left because the angle is nice. Hmm what can I do to make this dirt go away. What if i use a brush instead.
      When I eat, I eat mindfully; hmm this food is spicey, oh! the salt isn’t evenly spread. Of course all this talking should be in your head. So that’s it! Mindfullness for me isn’t the ability of having no thought. Rather it’s the ability of thinking and taking action simultaneously in the now. And when you think and take action through out the day, you become productive and MD is gone for good. But before you try any of these ideas, make sure you follow through with the author’s ideas. I have overcome Md by the help of the author’s advise and what I have written here. I hope this helps.

      Like

  8. Ana says:

    I am able to recover because of you. I needed you. And I thank God for you. You are so brave, I’m scared to tell anyone about what I’m going through. But you were there for me. You made me feel understood. You make me realise what I need to do for now on. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

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