Are You Daydreaming Your Life Away?

Do you daydream in an excessive way?  Do you weave intricate, elaborate fantasy worlds in your mind?  Do you experience daydreaming as an addiction, or find that it causes real problems in your life? 

If you do, you are far from being alone; there are a lot of people out there who experience this as well.  I've seen many, many people post comments about this issue in various forums all over the internet.

There is a name for this.  It is called Maladaptive Daydreaming.  This phrase was coined (as far as I know) by Dr. Eli Somer, Ph.D.  He has written about this in the following article:

Maladaptive Daydreaming: A Qualitative Inquiry

I have this problem.  I have actually spent whole days doing nothing but daydreaming.  I have had many "lost weekends" where I have done nothing but daydream in an obsessive, uncontrollable way.  Even in my day-to-day life, my mind constantly weaves daydreams; it just does this without my planning or wanting it to.  If you do not experience this it may sound like a joke, but unfortunately this is all too real.  This problem has done a great deal to damage my life, and has significantly affected my ability to function day-to-day.

It started when I was about five.  I would obsessively pace back and forth, creating fantasies and scenarios in my mind.   Much later I would find out that many people with this problem will pace or do some other type of repetitive movement (such as shaking something in their hands) while they daydream.  However, I had no way of knowing this as I continued to suffer through my childhood and into adulthood.  It just seemed to me that I had this weird problem that no one else had. 

When I would occasionally try to research the topic of daydreaming, looking for something that would apply to me and my problem, I would only come across information about how wonderful and useful daydreaming could be.  I never saw any comments or articles about the destructive reality of daydreaming that I lived with every day.

In 2009, as I was searching for information about this problem on the internet, I came across the article by Dr. Somer listed above.  Finally I had concrete proof that this was a real problem that other people had as well.  Later, I found the following article by Cynthia Schupak and Jesse Rosenthal:

Excessive daydreaming: A case history and discussion of mind wandering and high fantasy proneness

 

I contacted Dr. Schupak and found out that she was currently doing a clinical study about this subject.  I was the first person to participate in that study.  The study has finished, and here are the results in this article by Dr. Schupak and Jayne Bigelsen:

Compulsive Fantasy: proposed evidence of an under-reported system through systematic study of 90 self-identified non-normative fantasizers

 

Here is an article about Maladaptive Daydreaming that was published in Scientific American Mind:

Living in A Dream World

 

Itís important to note at this point that people with this problem are not psychotic; we DO NOT confuse fantasy and reality.  We are quite aware (sometimes painfully aware) of the difference between the two.  We know what is real and what is not.  This illness is instead like a cross between a compulsive habit and a severe addiction.

I have posted this information as a way to reach out to others, to let them know that they are not the only one with this issue.  Be aware that there are many of us out there, and that this problem has a name and is a real malady that appears to have it's own distinct symptoms (here is a list of possible symptoms.) There are even several other websites on this subject:

 

Here is a Yahoo forum with almost 3000 members.  People on this site talk about their experiences and compare notes on MD:

Maladaptive Daydreamers Yahoo Forum

 

This site was created by our ďposter child,Ē Cordellia Amethyste Rose:  

She is also has a chat room, where you can talk in real time with other MD sufferers.  

Wild Minds Network

Here is a very good article that she wrote about Maladaptive Daydreaming:

Out of My Mind

 

Some more links:

http://www.experienceproject.com/groups/Suffer-From-Maladaptive-Daydreaming/304795

Facebook.com/Maladaptive-Daydreaming/

I Suffer From Maladaptive Daydreaming

http://thedreamersof.tumblr.com/

Diary of a Daydream Addict

TwistedXFantasies

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/daydreaming

To anyone who is looking for help with this issue; as you can see, this problem has only recently started to be studied.  Few therapists or doctors will have heard of it.  The patient in Dr. Schupakís original daydreaming article was given fluvoxamine (Luvox) a drug used for OCD to control her daydreaming, with good results.  I have tried fluvoxamine myself, but did not notice any improvements.  I am now taking a similar type of medicine (Prozac.) It definitely helps me with depression and anxiety, but does not appear to diminish my daydreaming. However, we have someone on our MD Yahoo forum who is using fluvoxamine and seems to have great improvement.  Iíve heard anecdotal stories of people getting relief from MD by using various meds meant for ADD, OCD, depression, and anxiety.  However, what works for one person may not for another. Obviously, don't self-medicate; see a doctor and ask his/her opinion about the matter. Also, keep in mind that there is NO official medication for MD, as it is not an official disorder - yet.

If you go to a therapist or doctor for this problem, I strongly suggest that you bring in Maladaptive Daydreaming information or some of the above article links to show them that this illness is real and others also suffer from this.

As for myself, currently I just try to stay busy and focused on my life as much as possible, and avoid obvious triggers that I know will make me daydream.  It's possible that cognitive therapy could be used as treatment for this issue.  Iíve also heard that therapy for dissociative disorders could be helpful for this problem.  Here is a list of possible treatment options that I have compiled.

I wish I could offer more help for all those other people suffering with this, but this is all that I can do, simply to tell you that many people have this issue, it has a name, and you are not alone.  As I come across more information I will post it.