You would be quite shocked at the vast groups on outlets such as Pinterest. I have been enjoying reading success stories of child abuse survivors (like myself) on Pinterest in the evenings before I go to bed lately. When you search something like that occasionally a pin or two will pop up about mental health. Well tonight I happened across one that had a term I had never heard of, “Maladaptive Daydreaming”. Medicaldaily.com called it “an extensive daydream that replaces human interaction with extensive fantasies that people envision in their own minds. Although it is not a medically recognized term, the concept was first coined by Eli Somer, Ph. D, in 2002. Somer believed that the trigger for this excessive form of daydreaming might be from trauma or abuse.” The website gives a list of symptoms.
“1. Daydreaming excessively in a way that is often compared to an addiction.
2. This excessive daydreaming often begins in childhood.
3. Books, movies, music, video games, and other media may be a daydreaming trigger.
4. The daydreaming itself is often detailed and elaborate, sometimes compared to a movie or novel.
5. Repetitive movements while daydreaming are common (but not always present in sufferers) — pacing, rocking, spinning, shaking something in their hand, etc.
6. They may sometimes talk, laugh, cry, gesture, or make facial expressions as they daydream. People suffering from this know the difference between daydreaming and reality, and do not confuse the two; this makes them distinctly different from psychotics or schizophrenics.
7. Some people will lie in bed for hours daydreaming, and may either have difficulty going to sleep because of this, or have difficulty getting out of bed once awake. They may also neglect basic functions such as regular meals, showering, and other daily activities because of their daydreaming.”
For a split second after reading the definition and list of symptoms I almost (and I’m not completely sure why) felt violated. There is this secret that I have held onto for an extremely long time. Something that I have never told anyone ever in my life. Since I was about 10 or 11 I have daydreamed in a very odd manner. At first I would put CDs in a boombox and put on headphones, throw a cover over my entire body and, in a manner of speaking, soar. Mentally that is. Over the years the daydreams became more and more vivid and intense. I got to the point finally where it took over my life. I almost feel as if I have to explain why that I let daydreaming take over my life. Almost as an effort to be like “Okay Okay, calm down I am crazy but there is a completely valid reason as to why I am insane” Haha….anywho back to the explanation. My mother is insane. Not like the fun, spontaneous cheerful kind either. She was finally certified insane through the family courts and my step-father was appointed her guardian when I was 16 years old. Bipolar with paranoid schizophrenia. She would lock me up in my room or closet for days to weeks at a time. Even when I was in public with her I was so excited that she was around me and not yelling that I was just focused on what I was doing at that time to make sure that kept going on rather than the people around me (probably has something to do with the social anxiety disorder now that I think about it). I don’t think I have ever truly felt included in anything. I have lied to my grandmother for years about feeling involved or included in her church. I just didn’t agree is all. I have used my daydreaming as an escape. Like I am outgoing and fierce and successful…occasionally I will daydream that something bad has happened so that way my head isn’t too in the clouds. Rereading that, I sound like someone who needs to be deemed insane by the courts. It gets to the point at times that I will actually vocalize my part of the daydream. I am aware that I am daydreaming while doing this. There is this part of my mind that is in the background screaming “YOU ARE NUTS! Batty as that witch you call a mother!”
After finding this online and realizing that just like the community here, there are OTHERS. Other human beings who have had the same experiences and have learned to cope in a similar manner. And for some reason that gives me hope that I never would have had without this newfound knowledge.
So has anyone else with social anxiety also had similar experiences that I have had with what I have just found out is called “maladaptive daydreaming” instead of “insane” ?