Maladaptive Daydreaming (MD) characterizes individuals who engage in vivid, fanciful daydreaming for hours on end, neglecting real-life relationships and responsibilities, resulting in clinical distress and functional impairment. Sufferers have embraced the term MD in cyber-communities devoted to this problem because it seemed to uniquely fit their experience and since existing diagnostic labels and their therapies seemed inadequate.
For the most of my life I've been a maladaptive daydreamer without even knowing it. Starting at the age of 7, I slowly adapted daydreaming as a way of escaping the miserable present moment. I was the weird autistic kid in class that nobody really liked. I was mostly standing by the wall watching the other kids play and I hated my life, mostly because I didn't fit in and was made fun of for the most of my life. I quickly used my own fantasy and imagination to escape into my own imaginary world. There I could do whatever I wanted. I could be one of the superheroes from my favorite movies and save that little girl, who has been abducted by the evil forces. I could be an astronaut and travel through the solar system, discover new species and become famous. However, it was all happening in my own mind.
It started off slowly and as I found it more and more satisfying to daydream, the time I spent doing it gradually increased. Several times my teacher told my parents about my daydreaming and inactivity in class. Often I was put in the front row so I could be more active, but often I would slip into my daydreams anyway. It was my drug, a quite satisfying one, always available and with unlimited use. As the years went by, the severity of my daydreaming increased. When I just started daydreaming, it was maybe 1-2 hours a day. When I got older and hit puberty, I could easily daydream for 8 hours a day without even realizing it and that's when it became maladaptive. Those hours were basically dead hours. What did I seriously gain from daydreaming? Nothing useful, except for becoming better at daydreaming. I probably already hit the golden 10,000 hours a long time ago, and I was a master at it. If I could make money from my it, I would've become a millionaire a long time ago.
When I was 12 and discovered the wonders of masturbation and porn, I implemented it to my MD. Watching my favorite porn stars while jerking off, I could easily imagine how I was the one banging those hotties. When being alone, I could easily imagine having fun conversations with Chads, gaming hot girls and being a rock star. I did play some guitar, but my level was nowhere near that of my favorite guitarists. I had no problem having no real-life friends as I could always make some up in my mind. I even started smoking and drinking by myself at 16 as I did whatever I could to get my dopamine hits because they helped me escape the present moment. Luckily I didn't discover hard drugs as I surely would've abused them, and I would end up being a drug addict.
When I turned 17, I realized I was standing at the crossroads. I could easily spend all my waking hours daydreaming. I knew I had mental problems and went to the psychiatrist only to be told I had a depression. I thought I was schizophrenic, but because I could distinguish between reality and fantasy, he rejected that. I wasn't only depressed, I was dysfunctional, and I had no idea why. My BP self thought that once I fall in love with the girl of my life, everything will fall into place, and I will become sane again. My MD was such an integrated part of me that I had no idea it even existed. I felt helpless in a world where not even a psychiatrist could give me an answer for my mental state. I was convinced I had no place in this world and that I had to end it. I would often daydream of ending my life instead of actually doing it. This is where the thing that caused my misery actually saved me from committing suicide.
The age of 19 was my year of transformation. This is where I discovered NoFap and slowly began to purify my mind from years of porn abuse. I then read about the science of neurochemicals like dopamine and serotonine and decided to identify and limit all artificial pleasure, like porn, white sugar, tobacco and social media. Later I discovered TRP and slowly began to see the world for what it really is and saw the importance of having a healthy and fit body. And I lost my virginity that throughout my life got heavier and heavier to carry around. I also started practicing the guitar like crazy to compensate for all those years that I've missed out on achieving my goal of becoming a great guitarist. I suddenly discovered that when I really put my mind to something, like when I go to the gym or practice the guitar, I somehow get a feeling of being alive. A feeling that I've forgotten all about because I rarely felt it for the most of my life.
It was the moment I discovered I've been living in a daydream all this time. I then researched the consequences of excessive daydreaming and discovered the term "Maladaptive Daydreaming". It was when I found the answer to all my problems since childhood. It has all been because I was trying to escape the present moment because it was miserable, which then escalated to living a very hedonistic lifestyle with harmful pleasures like porn and cigarettes. It was like the domino-effect; one addiction triggered the other and suddenly I was addicted to various stuff. But as my body slowly got more muscular, increasing my SMV, and I finally got good at playing the guitar, my peers who once looked down on me and disrespected me, suddenly became more submissive and started looking up to me. Now the biggest thing that helped me was meditation. It helped me living in the present moment like nothing else. At first I couldn't keep my mind still, but with more and more practice, it became easy for me. Remember: "practice makes perfect."
All it took was 6 months to go from being a mentally unstable waste of oxygen to becoming a worthy male.
That was my story of living with MD the most of my life. How I wish I had somebody show me this before.
Now after reading my personal story of living with MD, some of you may reckon having some of these issues yourself if you haven't already before reading this post. You might have read the sidebar a thousand times and daydreamed of getting swole and approaching model-tier girls, but never actually done it. You might be stuck in your childhood dream, but never actualizing it. Your MD might not be as severe as it was with me, but it could suddenly get out of hand if it's not identified and treated correctly. So here I will point out the ways I got my MD under control:
- Live in the moment: Most sufferers from MD use daydreaming as a coping mechanism to escape the present moment. Meditation is often the solution for most mental disorders, however, the pharmaceutical companies can't profit from it, so it isn't being promoted enough, but so many people have benefited from it like nothing else. If you've never meditated before, sit or lie down comfortably and focus on your breathing for 15-20 minutes. Do it every morning and every evening. You may not experience any benefits at all in the first couple of days or weeks, but with consistent practice, you will suddenly discover a much more present and peaceful mind.
- Make your life more fulfilling: Like mentioned above, if your life isn't fulfilling, you may want to escape it. If you work a job you don't like, surround yourself with people you hate and generally live a life that isn't fulfilling your criteria for the life you want to live, then make a change. Generally as people start lifting and generally raising their SMV, they start to feel better about themselves and that can be a basis for making your life more fulfilling.
- Identify the triggers for MD: Find out what triggers your daydreams. For me it was music and movies. Whenever I listened to a song I liked, I would imagine myself to be the singer or guitarist standing on a stage. Or when I watched movies like James Bond, I would constantly see myself as being him and apply it to dreaming about real life situations with people I know. When I first read the sidebar, I couldn't do it without imagining myself gaming HB10's instead of reading for the actual information. For a couple of days, I tried to live completely without any media or anything that could trigger my MD and as hard as it was, I felt much more at peace and forced myself to live in the present moment and got hold of my daydreaming.
- Do reality checks: I started doing reality checks when I wanted to learn lucid dreaming, but I realized I could use it to snap out of my daydreams. Whenever I reminded myself, I would lightly clap my hands for checking if it's reality I'm living in or if I'm dreaming. It can be whatever you want, like whenever you drink a glass of water or whenever you hear a particular sound, use that to remind yourself to get back to the present moment.
- Allow yourself to daydream all you want for a specific amount of time: If you've been a maladaptive daydreamer for a long time, it will probably be impossible for you to let go of it immediately. Allow yourself 1-2 hours(depending on the severity of your MD) a day of daydreaming at specific times. And as you get more hold of it, you will gradually decrease it. It will allow your brain to gradually decrease the amount of time of daydreaming.
I know that much more people have MD than you might think. From the conversations I sometimes have with my friends, I easily concluded that they more or less were suffering from it. Somebody told me how he often daydreams that he and a bunch of girls get attacked by some strangers, and suddenly lying in a pool of blood, he rises and beats up all those who attacked them, becoming the hero. I concluded it was MD because of the times he told me that, while being a big fan of movies with Bruce Willis, yet having nothing going on in his life. The perfect combination for becoming a maladaptive daydreamer.
Remember time is the most precious resource an individual has. If one spends all time in his own thoughts, he won't progress in life and will only get older as time passes by. I didn't even realize I was wasting my youth on daydreaming before I actually discovered I was doing it. If you discover any traits of MD in yourself, use my guidelines and stop being mediocre. You have so much more potential in you than you might realize now.