Hello! I'm Jdreamer7. I'm a 25 year old female and I believe I developed maladaptive daydreaming in middle school. I think it started because I felt really alone (I went to a small school and didn't have close friends) and because I was reading books pretty much constantly. I started taking different characteristics from characters in books to make my own characters for my daydreams, and like most people here, I could (and still can) spend hours on end just making up stories, having conversations, etc. Now, I feel like I am mostly triggered after watching movies or hearing songs that I feel like would be a good soundtrack to a daydream, and especially when I'm stressed about something - like work, friendships, or my relationship. It comes and goes.
As more of a background - toward the end of middle school, I remember realizing that it was a problem. I knew it wasn't "normal" and tried to stop, which I think made it even worse. It really was (and still is) an addiction, but how do you break an addiction that's all in your head? It's not like I could stay away from it. Any time I was alone in the house I would eventually end up playing music and coming up with new stories or going back to old ones. My family was also deeply religious and for a while I felt like it was a "sin" because I knew I was addicted to it (my family didn't know about it; it was just something I thought because we were always taught that addiction to anything was evil), which also made it worse because I felt so guilty about it. At some point I grew out of worrying about it being a "sin" - in high school, I accepted that it wasn't going away. It continued through college and now here I am - 25 and still daydreaming. Something else that I've wondered about is that I'm an enneagram 7 - I crave adventure and new situations, and sometimes I think daydreaming was my way of getting that when I was young and couldn't travel. Now, I do both - I daydream and travel.
Daydreaming has definitely held me back at points in my life. As an example, I had a really bad semester in college - I had too many classes, went through a breakup, and felt overwhelmed and deeply unhappy with my life decisions. To get away from those feelings, I naturally turned to more daydreams - which meant I wasn't studying for the hours each week I was spending daydreaming, which made my grades slip even more. It was unfortunate and I was really angry with myself but couldn't stop. The semester ended, and things got better.
I've accepted that maladaptive daydreaming is a part of how my brain works and that it may never go away. I don't try to make it go away anymore - instead, I try to focus on what I need to get done and remind myself that I can daydream when I'm less busy. Since it's something that I'm very private about, the most helpful thing for me is to be in public and out of my house if I have things to do. I'm working on a master's program and always study at a coffee shop (which was obviously a problem with COVID - not my best results) so I can focus. If I'm at the house alone and trying to get things done there, I open all of the windows weather permitting - it helps because I feel a little more like I'm in public with people walking their dogs or reminding myself my neighbors could have their windows open. I also have found running (especially with music) helps - if I daydream during a 30 minute run, I'm less likely to turn to it at home later - plus I get a run in.
So, that's me. If you read the whole thing, thanks for listening!
Yup, I am 19 and have had Md since I was 13 or 14 and I have also pretty much acepted that Md is just a part of me and is most likely never going to go away. I try to avoid certain stress situations that might make me want to escape. Good Luck.