Maladaptive Daydreaming Stories: Jessica's Struggle
The issue with maladaptive daydreaming - as you perhaps already know - is that it has the power to sneak up with and grab hold of your life all before you recognize what is happening to you.
When you break your foot, you know not to walk on it. The solution is clear and obvious. Even when you recognize that the daydreams you engage in - that suck so much of your time and energy - are maladaptive there is no obvious solution.
I mean, sure, the solution is to stop daydreaming! But that's something that requires a strategy and perhaps a few tricks along the way.
Jessica's Maladaptive Daydreaming
Jessica went through the Maladaptive Daydreaming Course and told me her story after she had successfully been free of maladaptive daydreams for a few months.
She was a high school volleyball player who couldn't quite balance school with volleyball and ended up struggling to keep up with both.
Instead of choosing one of them or trying new time management techniques she found herself daydreaming more and more about living a life as a airline attendant flying around the world.
Jessica, like many maladaptive daydreamers, was deeply embarrassed by this. Her daydreams interfering with volleyball and school; ironically making them both suffer even more than they were before. Further, she was deeply embarrassed by the nature of her daydreams. How preposterous to daydream of flying around the world -- that wasn't even something she had previously been at all interested in.
What's important to recognize in Jessica's story, however, is how typical this is of maladaptive daydreamers. This is the blueprint so many follow. First, you have responsibilities, obligations, or stresses that become too much to bear. Next, you divert your attention toward a fantasy that is, to be honest, often a little bit absurd.
...The absurdity is logical though. If maladaptive daydreamers were simply to dream about things tangential to our real lives, then it wouldn't be as much of an escape.
However, when you daydream about living a life that's far-fetched, that's entirely outside your own reality, you're released into an entirely separate world. You never need to worry about your daydreams bumping into your own reality while you're daydreaming. They're too far apart to ever be connected.
How Jessica Overcame Her Maladaptive Daydreams
For Jessica, she found her solution. She used the rationality mindset I go over in Solving Maladaptive Daydreaming and one trick (involving poisoning the well) that made her maladaptive daydream lose all of its intrigue.
She then made a choice: she quit volleyball and focused back in on school. Jessica was worried about the fact that with volleyball out of the way she'd have more free time. Ideally this would be spent on schoolwork, but what if it just resulted in even more maladaptive daydreaming?
The reality is that Jessica had broken the power of her maladaptive daydreams, however. As she focused in more on school, and was reinforced by better grades, any desire to maladaptive daydream began to recede.
Jessica's journey wasn't easy. The first week after "quitting" maladaptive daydreaming hardly felt like a success. She'd fall into a maladaptive daydreaming state occasionally, but found it less interesting than before after she had deliberately made her daydreams less appealing.
As her relative success in the "real world" increased so too did her confidence and then one day she realized something: she hadn't engaged in maladaptive daydreaming for over a week.
Maladaptive daydreaming creeps into one's life, takes it over like a parasite, but funnily enough can go away in short order. That's the final lesson of Jessica's story: it can be hard to get up the courage to get rid of your maladaptive daydreams, but don't think of it as a year-long process. It can happen in a blink of an eye and it is absolutely worth it.