Thursday, January 8, 2015

Beautiful Daydream - Maladaptive daydreaming and social anxiety.

I know that I spoke about coping mechanisms briefly in my previous post and about maladaptive daydreaming. I will go into a lot more detail I this post.

Okay, so this is bit of a challenge for me.
I don't know if its just me or other maladaptive daydreamers feel the same way, but I am very attached and protective of the worlds I create for myself. So to talk about them is a little hard for me.

The reason I am doing this is because I find very little information about this. And I find even less personal stories about it. I actually didn't even know there was a word for what I was doing until a couple of months ago, and that there were other people that did the same thing.

So first, some facts.
Maladaptive daydreaming is excessive daydreaming. Maladaptive daydreamers are usually people who have social anxiety or depression. Maladaptive daydreaming goes a step further than regular daydreaming. The daydreams are extensive, vivid, and intricate. The daydreamers become emotionally invested in the characters and become attached. They are usually not separate daydreams each time, but a one long daydream with, a plot, main characters, reappearing characters, friends, and villains.

Although unlike schizophrenics, maladaptive daydreamers know the difference between reality and their fantasy, they have trouble stopping the daydreams or focusing on regular tasks. Some people have experienced a negative affect in their real lives.

These daydreams are often accompanied by a repetitive movement in the daydreamers along with laughing, gesturing, whispering, crying, and other facial expressions and movements. The daydreamers are trying to emulate the characters in their fantasies.

A big part of maladaptive daydreaming is pop culture and the world around the daydreamer. Anything from a song, commercial, TV show, movie, book, photo, etc can trigger a daydream to start. Majority of the time some of the characters or places already exist in a movie, book, show, or some other form of pop culture.

So now that we're done with the facts, I will tell you about my experiences in maladaptive daydreaming.

I have been a maladaptive daydreamer for as long as I can remember. My first memory of a daydream is what I like to call "the bread and butter bird". When I was about four or five and my aunt would walk me to school she would always say bread and butter when she split a pole. It was some type of weird superstitious thing. Of course me being only four I began to say it too, but as I also had social anxiety I never felt comfortable enough to say it out loud, so I would say it in my head. Thus the bread and butter bird was born. He was a bird that only ate bread and butter but he could only eat if I said "bread and butter" in my head. He lived in a world where they loved to be fat in the summer and thin in the winter. Its silly I know, but I was four! Lol. I still find myself visiting my old bird friend on occasion. He was my main daydream until I was about six.

My second daydream was of a boy named Kevin. He would walk with with me school and play with me when I had no one to play with. I very clearly remember telling my mother and sister about him and being very clear that he was my imaginary friend but it was alright, because I knew he was imaginary so I wasn't crazy lol. He was my main daydream and stayed my main daydream from then to present.

Kevin started out as the main character I guess you could call it until about middle school. He then was demoted into second main character, and "I" was introduced into the picture. Before this I, as in my actually self would interact with my daydreams and they would interact with me and the going on's in my life.  When "I" was brought into the picture my actually self took a step back and I became the main character in the form of a girl named Iiolana. Iiolana (Alana, don't ask me why I spelled it like that) was Kevin's best friend. This is the time when pop culture began to have a big impact on my daydreams. I don't feel comfortable going into to much detail, but this is when my daydreams started to get more detailed and more character's.

Later on Iiolana got demoted by the current main character (CMC) whose name I don't feel comfortable saying and I really don't want to get into to much detail about the current daydream. But I will say the Iiolana and the CMC are friends, not best friends, but friends none the less. Kevin is also still there, and him and Iiolana are now in a relationship. What I will say is that my current "cast" for lack of a better word has been here since high school with a couple of add on's over the years. They consist of 8 "main" girls 14 "main" boys and about 25 other minor characters. Pop culture has made a huge impact on my daydream but my main characters "me" are never a part of the pop culture influences.

Although I am the main character majority of the time I do go into the minds of the other characters and act as them form time to time, but majority of the time, they kind of act on their own. Its kind of hard to explain.

Although this has been my main daydream for years I have had a couple of other sub-dreams while I've had this big main one.

There was the two guys Neji, and Hajii. I believe I was Neji. As you can tell this is from when I was heavily into anime. And, no Neji was not the character from Naruto, the only influence I took was the name. They came about when I got my DS and used the picto-chat to "chat" with Hajii. And yes, although I am a girl Neji was indeed a boy in this daydream. They didn't last for very long. Only until about the time that I stopped using my DS.

The other sub-dream was the vampires, as I like to call them. Surprisingly the only influence I took from pop culture in this daydream was the fact that my characters were vampires. They were also a pretty extensive daydream with about 10 characters in total. Which is the most that any of daydreams have had besides the main daydream. In this daydream I was also a guy, named volcad. This was one of my longer sub-daydreams. I liked this one so much that I often times tried to revisit it after it had died down, but for some reason I just couldn't get back into it.

Surprisingly the only other daydream that I have been able to revisit along with my main one is the bread and butter bird. Lol I think I find it hard to let go of the first one I can remember. Its also the most simple of the daydreams and the easiest to get back into. Its like revisiting an old friend.

Now for the effects it's has had on my life I'm not to sure about. I have never been the best at keeping friends, but I think that has more to do with my SA and less to do with my daydreaming. I do sometimes find myself having a hard time focusing on things when I'm when I want to be with my daydreams or when something happens and I suddenly have inspiration to do something in the daydream.

I know that I am horrible at directions because ofmy daydreams. Because of my SA I don't have a drivers license so I am either on public transportation or being driven by a family member. Most of the time I use this time to daydream. Its not like I do it on purpose. Its like my body can't even help it. I have to actively make myself pay attention and stop myself fro daydreaming if I really want to know directions but even then I still get them wrong. I think my daydreaming contributes to my bad sense of direction but I think that might just be something I would be bad at even if didn't daydream lol.

Most of the time I can incorporate what I'm doing daily into what I'm doing in the daydream. Like if I'm going shopping then the me in my daydream is also going shopping, of I'm taking a shower then the daydream me is also taking a shower etc.

The most time I daydream is either right before I go to bed or right after I wake up. I have a hard time getting to sleep but I'm not sure if that's because I daydream at that time or if I daydream because I have a hard time falling asleep. On average it probably takes me about 30 minutes to fall asleep. Which gives me plenty of time to spend with my daydream.

As for the facial expressions and the gestures and what not, I do find myself doing those a lot. Never when I'm around other people. I will laugh, whisper, cry, gesture, and make facial expressions as if I'm actually the daydream "me".

I find myself having a hard time letting go of my daydreams. If I could get rid of them with a majic pill I don't think I would. I am too attached to them. I am very emotionally invested with them. I don't think they have a detrimental effect on my daily life or that they would on my life in the future. I don't just sit in the house all day with my daydreams. I incorporate them into my life so I don't just spend hours at a time just sitting alone with them.

Daydreaming is one of my coping mechanisms. It's what helps me get through my days. I don't know how I would get through my days without daydreaming.

Although I use this blog as a personal diary that I can just express myself anonymously I do hope this post will help someone who is also a maladaptive daydreamer.

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