Hi, my name is Alex and maladaptive daydreaming derailed my life. In fact, at certain points in time I thought it had not just derailed my life, but had ruined it.
As you no doubt already know there is something oddly invidious about maladaptive daydreaming. It takes something that is uniquely human, uniquely special, uniquely adaptive – daydreaming – and turns it into something that has the capacity to destroy your life.
Another quirk of maladaptive daydreaming is that it transforms from being something adaptive to something maladaptive quietly. You notice it not at all, and then all at once.
I can still remember the first time it occurred to me that spending hours a day locked inside my mind – working out the same storyline for the umpteenth time – was not normal. I still remember the first time it occurred to me that the hours spent maladaptive daydreaming was impairing my capacity to concentrate, plan, and try to live a more fulfilling life.
I had always considered my daydreaming to be a positive attribute growing up, because I daydreamed about things that were within the realm of possibility.
For example, I would daydream about what it would be like to have a certain career path; mulling over the kinds of pathways it could lead me on over and over again. Creating a script, replaying the script, iterating on the script over and over again.
My story is that I went to an ostensibly elite college, got an incredibly competitive job, and then nearly instantly became trapped in my own mind and on the verge of losing my new job. All because of my daydreams that turned off the moment I fell asleep, and turned back on the moment I woke back up.
My elite college was in the North East of The United States – one of those colleges full of ivy-clad buildings – and my elite job landed me in New York making an absurd salary for the kind of “work” I ended up producing.
How my maladaptive daydreams began, I still don’t know. One day I just realized – somehow having it never occur to me before – that I was daydreaming of a fantasy life completely and utterly divorced from my own.
Instead of my real life taking precedence over my daydreams, suddenly these increasingly abstract daydreams had taken precedence over my real life.
My work suffered, my relationships suffered, and I knew I needed to find help.
I took the rather outsized salary I was getting and began to knock on the doors of New York’s psychologists and psychiatrists. I figured that whatever was happening in my mind – however these daydreams had taken over – would be an easy fix. I’d be given a pill, or asked a few questions, and they would evaporate and seemingly quickly as they began.
I had no such luck. Instead I had a series of $400/hour psychologists and psychiatrists insist that I was worried over nothing; daydreaming was perfectly normal, in fact it was perfectly adaptive.
I pleaded that these were different. These daydreams were so divorced from my own reality that they were just fantasies, but fantasies that I could not leave behind. Fantasies that I was engulfed in every day.
My pleas went unanswered and for eighteen months I suffered under the strain of daydreams that nearly destroyed my young career and made me question who I really was.
I resolved to try to find a solution that at least could work for me. I did end up finding a solution – or rather, a series of solutions that can be used – and wrote a step-by-step guide on it you can find here.
Ultimately, I created this little website to hopefully share more about my journey, my reflections, my tactics for overcoming maladaptive daydreaming, and to provide someone who you can share with.
Maladaptive daydreaming does not discriminate. It affects those in their teens, those in their twenties, and those beyond. It affects those in every social class, every income bracket, and every country.
Ultimately, my belief is that maladaptive daydreaming is something akin to a shadow. Following you around almost always out of eyesight. The way to overcome it is to first recognize it, cast your eye toward it, and study it.
Easier said than done. To recognize your maladaptive daydreams and be honest about their absurdity and their harm is to engage in something quite painful. It’s to come to terms with why these dreams really cropped up, why they have persisted, and what adaptive features they have had for you.
This website was created to share my story and share how I overcame my maladaptive daydreams. My writing on the internet about my maladaptive daydreams (before this website was created) has been read by tens of thousands at this point. I hope some of my words can help you.
When I dealt with all of those psychologists and psychiatrists in New York – finding no help and no support, despite what I paid them – I realized a critical truth: only those who have suffered from maladaptive daydreaming can understand maladaptive daydreaming.
I write because I know that at least some of my experiences will resonate with you and maybe (hopefully) what has worked for me can work for you. Because make no mistake: a life rid of maladaptive daydreams is a better life and it should be not your top priority right now, but your only priority.
P.S. – I compiled my seven-step method and various “tricks” I used to overcome my maladaptive daydreaming in The Maladaptive Daydreaming Course.
It has helped hundreds of those with maladaptive daydreaming and if you are suffering from maladaptive daydreams, I’m sure it can help you as well.