Since I was a child I’ve constantly created scenarios, daydreamed and have had deep complex fantasies. Even now as a young adult, I still deal with this daily. Usually I would create different fantasies or scenarios in my head and I sometimes act them out, even talking to myself out loud. I know I’m alone and I know that what’s going on in my head is only in my head but yet I feel a certain emotional attachment to these fantasies. Typically this is how it goes: I have a crush on a women, typically a celebrity, I go through tons of research trying to learn more about this celebrity (watching videos, interviews, reading articles to get a feel of who they are), then I would form these fantasies in my head of how we are a couple and the different things we go through, basically creating stories or movies within my head. At night I act some of these fantasies out (even the sexual ones) and it tends to keep me up throughout the night (sometimes the only way for me to go to sleep is to create a scenario of myself going to sleep and I’ll end up doing that in reality). These stories play out constantly throughout the day anytime I’m alone. I’m pretty much creating the type of life (or love life) I’d like to have in reality but instead in my head. This doesn’t disrupt my life much, though sometimes it may take me longer to do something because I’m constantly stopping in the middle of something to play out these varies scenario. There’s a part of me that feels like I can’t live without doing this and that life wouldn’t be complete for me if I didn’t do it. Is something wrong with me? Should I talk to someone? Also I research the term Maladaptive daydreaming which also seems to fit me. (age 22, from US)
Thank you for writing in with your question. Daydreaming is not a bad thing and many times can be quite positive if it helps you envision the life you want and you take action to achieve it. However, it can be harmful if it becomes obsessive and consuming because it takes you away from being fully present in your here and now experience. Too much daydreaming and fantasizing serves as an escape from reality, rather than a motivator. It would be much more effective to put this creative energy to use in actually creating the reality you want to see in your life. You may not be able to date a celebrity, but you can develop a real life meaningful relationship.
Because you have been doing this for so long now, it might be best to seek the help of a therapist. A therapist can help you identify negative or unproductive thinking patterns while learning to replace them with more adaptive and helpful ones. You may also benefit from adopting a mindfulness meditation practice. There are many classes and books available these days.
Bottom line: instead of escaping your life, embrace it. Live it!
All the best,
Dr. Holly Counts