Maladaptive Daydreaming A Mental Disorder or a Branch of the Creative Mind?

Maladaptive Daydreaming A Mental Disorder or a Branch of the Creative Mind?

“I'm often daydreaming, and it's because I've always liked the idea of there being something more than the normal world.”--- Samantha Shannon (From Brainy Quote)
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For my whole life, I have been a homebody. As a child I would stay in my room, listen to the music and pretend to be with the band, playing air guitar and dancing around. I would also re-write movies and television series and add a different character and act it out behind closed doors. When I got out on my own, I did the same thing. Now, living with someone, I spend time in the bathroom and act everything out in my head or in at my computer desk with my eyes close daydreaming. All these “daydreams” took up most, if not all of my time. I felt like I was living in my “daydreams” because, in reality, my life is boring and unadventurous due to my social anxiety and lack of confidence in myself.

These “daydreams” got worse after my first marriage, the one that mentally, physically, sexually, and emotionally abused me. I recently talked to my counselors about this, one of them said, “It is normal to daydream, don’t worry about it.” I told her how “daydreaming” for most of the day is not normal nor healthy. It is bad enough that I am diagnosed with Chronic Depression, Social Anxiety, Chronic Pain in the lower back and the left hip area, and PTSD, and gave up fighting for disability. Having something that is not yet known in the world of mental illness just increased my depression. I had to look up my problem on the internet to understand what was going on with me. Doctors were writing it off like it was nothing, but it is something, and it is called Maladaptive Daydreaming (MD or MDD), and many psychologists know nothing about this condition.

Maladaptive Daydreaming is defined as an ‘‘extensive fantasy activity that replaces human interaction and/or interferes with academic, interpersonal or vocational functioning” (Somer, 2002, p. 199). That Maladaptive Daydreaming entails “…themes typically include highly complex fantasies of social attractiveness, power, fame, and love, as well as other fanciful plots…” ( Somer et al. 2015). According to Sabrina Bachai of Medical Daily symptoms of Maladaptive Daydreaming are:

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.

I can relate to this. I would whether daydream than do my studies, interact with my husband or my cats. Here I am, a writer. A writer who wants to write but can’t because she cannot stop daydreaming her stories instead of writing them down. My daydreams do seem like a television show or movie playing in my head. I do react to the daydreams, especially when someone dies in them and smile when someone makes me happy. I do know the difference between daydream and reality, and I hate getting interrupted when I am daydreaming. But, I have not neglect eating, basic hygiene, nor keeping the apartment clean.

According to the Consciousness and Cognition, Maladaptive Daydreaming is an under-researched mental health disorder and that many people were being treated for having ADHD or OCD. The daydreaming was also reduced and controlled with the drug Fluvoxamine which is used for OCD. A survey analysis was done by Bigelsen and Schupak, and their findings suggested that a population of people who engage in daydreaming on average is 56% of their waking hours with 80% kinesthetic activity (Somer et al. 2015). I do notice I do some movement when I daydream. It also depends on what I am daydreaming about. If there is a fight scene, then I move more than when I am just talking to another character.

Maladaptive Daydreaming is still under research, a theory at best. According to Jordon of The Mind Unleased website, he wonders if the Maladaptive Daydreaming should be …” treated as an illness or an extension of the creative mind.” He wonders if people with Maladaptive Daydreaming “…have a heightened imagination that keeps building upon itself; strengthening itself with every intense daydream that they experience?”

I know that my condition is the result of how I was as a kid (no abuse or anything remotely deemed abusive, just kept to myself), the abuse from the first marriage, my poor health, my current marriage (money problems), and getting old. I know it is an escape from reality that I have grown to depend on. It is because of this condition that I went to school to get my AA in Communications and my BA in Creative Writing in hopes of learning to turn my daydreams into stories, still working on getting them out of my head and onto paper.

So, how can someone deal with Maladaptive Daydreaming? First thing is admitting that you have a daydream problem. Secondly, try to remember when it started, what triggered it and began to avoid the triggers. Thirdly, try to keep engaged, I know it is hard, it is with me. I try watching shows that will not trigger my daydreamings, such as Law and Order SVU. If I watch Supernatural, I start re-writing in my head adding a character and such. Cook, bake, do a crossword puzzle, exercise, just something that keeps your mind focused than daydreaming. Fourthly, speak with a therapist, remember most have yet to hear about Maladaptive Daydreaming but coming forward will help educate them and you. Fifthly, if you can write down your daydreams, do so. I have a problem writing them out, I like seeing them played out in my mind’s eye.

It is good to know that I am not alone in this world. There are two groups on Facebook Maladaptive Daydreaming and Maladaptive Daydreaming Disorder Support. There are people there that you can share your stories. I was amazed to know that I have much in common with these people with Maladaptive Daydreaming. I do not interact like I should, my anxiety and shyness, but I do read what they post.

References and Resources not linked in the article:

Somer, E (2002). Maladaptive daydreaming: A qualitative inquiry Journal of Contemporary Psychotherapy, 32 (2002), pp. 197–212 http://dx.doi.org.ezproxy.snhu.edu/10.1023/A:1020597026919

E. Somer, J. Lehrfeld, J. Bigelsen, D.S. Jopp. (2015). Development and validation of the Maladaptive Daydreaming Scale (MDS). Consciousness and Cognition: An International Journal, 39 (2016), pp. 77–91 http://dx.doi.org.ezproxy.snhu.edu/10.1016/j.concog.2015.12.001

Cover Image Credit: Quotes Junk

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I'm A Woman And You Can't Convince Me Breastfeeding In Public Is OK In 2019

Sorry, not sorry.

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Lately, I have seen so many people going off on social media about how people shouldn't be upset with mothers breastfeeding in public. You know what? I disagree.

There's a huge difference between being modest while breastfeeding and just being straight up careless, trashy and disrespectful to those around you. Why don't you try popping out a boob without a baby attached to it and see how long it takes for you to get arrested for public indecency? Strange how that works, right?

So many people talking about it bring up the point of how we shouldn't "sexualize" breastfeeding and seeing a woman's breasts while doing so. Actually, all of these people are missing the point. It's not sexual, it's just purely immodest and disrespectful.

If you see a girl in a shirt cut too low, you call her a slut. If you see a celebrity post a nude photo, you call them immodest and a terrible role model. What makes you think that pulling out a breast in the middle of public is different, regardless of what you're doing with it?

If I'm eating in a restaurant, I would be disgusted if the person at the table next to me had their bare feet out while they were eating. It's just not appropriate. Neither is pulling out your breast for the entire general public to see.

Nobody asked you to put a blanket over your kid's head to feed them. Nobody asked you to go feed them in a dirty bathroom. But you don't need to basically be topless to feed your kid. Growing up, I watched my mom feed my younger siblings in public. She never shied away from it, but the way she did it was always tasteful and never drew attention. She would cover herself up while doing it. She would make sure that nothing inappropriate could be seen. She was lowkey about it.

Mindblowing, right? Wait, you can actually breastfeed in public and not have to show everyone what you're doing? What a revolutionary idea!

There is nothing wrong with feeding your baby. It's something you need to do, it's a part of life. But there is definitely something wrong with thinking it's fine to expose yourself to the entire world while doing it. Nobody wants to see it. Nobody cares if you're feeding your kid. Nobody cares if you're trying to make some sort of weird "feminist" statement by showing them your boobs.

Cover up. Be modest. Be mindful. Be respectful. Don't want to see my boobs? Good, I don't want to see yours either. Hard to believe, I know.

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Stop Saying, 'I Don’t Want To Get Diabetes,’ It's Rude And Ignorant To Those Who Are Type 1 Diabetic

Nobody wants to "get" diabetes, but some of us have no choice.

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This statement implies that is is a choice to be diagnosed with diabetes as if it is some very controllable condition where I have the ability to decide whether it affects me or not. This is not true.

When I was three years old, I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes also known as juvenile diabetes because it typically, but is not limited to, beginning in adolescence. Type 1 diabetes is a chronic condition where my pancreas no longer produces insulin. This is caused by my immune system attacking the pancreas, ultimately destroying the cells that create insulin. As of right now, there is no explanation known for what ultimately makes the immune system do this, and there is no cure for the autoimmune condition.

Thus, as a type 1 diabetic, I have no choice but to be entirely insulin dependent. Whenever I consume carbohydrates, I must administer insulin to my bloodstream just like how non-diabetic people having a fully functioning pancreas that releases the same hormone whenever they introduce carbohydrates to their digestive systems. The amount of insulin that I administer is based on the number of carbs that I consume; the carbs per insulin unit ratio varies based on the individual and also has the potential to change just as how the pancreas secrets insulin within an individual's body at rates that are unknown. Therefore, finding ways to treat diabetes can be difficult for there lacks a "one size fits all" template for what works best for each diabetic. (This is important to keep in mind for all health conditions: what works well for one person does not necessarily mean that it will work well for a different person.)

There are a lot of other factors that are imperative for my mindful attention in order to stay healthy with this chronic condition. Monitoring blood sugar levels, counting carbohydrates, gaining a true sense of body awareness, and attending doctors appointments are some examples of these other factors that are necessary to keep on top of while living with type 1 diabetes. As you can tell, this chronic condition can easily become overwhelming.

Did I want to be diagnosed with type 1 diabetes? No.

Did I have a choice as to whether I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes? No.

Do you have the ability to control what statements you make when speaking in public? Yes, you most certainly do.

I urge people to resist from saying the phrase, "I don't want to get diabetes" when offered dessert or saying something similar when asked why they are cutting back on how much sugar they include in their diet. Perhaps these comments are in reference to "getting" type 2 diabetes also known as adult-onset diabetes. This condition is different from type 1 diabetes in the sense that the pancreas does not produce enough insulin or the body has developed a resistance to the insulin that is produced; the body does not use insulin efficiently. Another difference is that type 2 diabetes can be influenced by the risk factors of obesity and family history. Finally, type 2 diabetes can also be reversed; this means that through lifestyle choices such as diet and exercise, the effects of type 2 diabetes can be alleviated because the pancreas still does make insulin for type 2 diabetics. This is not the case for type 1 diabetes, thus, these are two different conditions.

So let's say that the ignorant comment of "I don't want to get diabetes" is made in reference to type 2 diabetes. This is still an awful thing to say. Of course, nobody "wants to get" diabetes; why would they? However, even in cases of type 2 diabetes, there are factors that are still beyond the individual's personal control, and even after the diagnosis occurs, as I stated earlier, there are differences in how each individual responds to treatment options. What works for one may not work for another.

Unfortunately, I have been in the presence of people who have made comments within this subject matter. Being a type 1 diabetic myself, the situation is incredibly awkward. Whether the person who made the statement knows that there is a diabetic present in the room or not, they should not be speaking like this. Making this comment implies that there is a concrete choice as to whether an individual is diagnosed with diabetes, of any type, or not. Making this comment implies that you, the commentator, is above those of us who are already diabetic; you are looking down on us in a way because your comment insinuates that you would never want to endure the lifestyle of a diabetic. Making this comment implies that you, the commenter, have no idea what the differences between type 1 and type 2 diabetes are, or that there even are different types of diabetes and how to distinguish between the complications of each. Making this comment implies that you, the commenter, are extremely, unmistakenly, ignorant.

In the instances that I have heard this quick comment be made, some people present in the room knew that I was type 1 diabetic and some people did not. Nobody pointed me out or made sideways glances at me to notice my facial expression. I was not offended by the comment, nor was I embarrassed that I am type 1 diabetic while there is this person saying that they "don't want" what I have. I was, however, extremely disappointed in the comment. I was partly disappointed in the commenter for making such an ignorant statement (that I am sure was probably not meant to be harmful at all), but I was also majorly disappointed in society as a whole. Instances like this have made me realize that, collectively, society is also ignorant of the differences between types of diabetes. Generalizing this condition can result in the cultivation of uncomfortable situations and an inability to understand the complications of each type of this condition.

Finally, and most importantly, whenever I endure experiences such as the one described, I am refreshed of just how utterly important it is for all of us to choose our words wisely and precisely. Even if we do not intend to cause harm by our words, the possibility of that happening is always present. When people say "I don't want to get diabetes," I am not sure they realize just how terrible this statement sounds leaving their lips. In my mind, my first reaction is that I would never say anything like this, but then again, I have this reaction because I am type 1 diabetic. Similarly, would you ever make the statement "I don't want to get cancer" when offered a free session in a tanning bed or "I don't want to get liver damage" when offered a beer? No, because there are so many genetic and epigenetic factors that can contribute to cancer diagnoses and the same goes for liver failure.

It sounds absurd to even read those two examples. How can somebody solely correlate tanning beds with "getting" cancer and beer with "getting" liver damage when there is an abundance of other contributing factors as well as different types of levels of severity regarding these health issues? Well, I ask myself the same question regarding the statement of "I don't want to get diabetes" when somebody is offered something sweet. How can somebody solely correlate sugar with "getting" diabetes when there are so many other factors that are potentially involved? While it is possible that these pairs are related in terms of causation to some extent (tanning beds/cancer, beer/liver damage, sugar/diabetes) there are so many things that we do not know exactly and making generalized statements like my examples above prove to be inappropriate.

It sounds absurd because it is absurd.

Thus, let's all strive to create an environment where we do not make people feel ashamed or uncomfortable based on ignorant statements regarding health conditions that we may or may not know anything about. You never know what people are going through or how a genetic condition, health issue, or disease affects them. Furthermore, you never know what health experiences you will one day be exposed to, whether that condition will affect you personally or if it will affect a close family member or friend. Either way, it will change your perspective immensely.

I vow to always choose my words carefully and thoughtfully to ensure that I can clearly articulate a point with consideration for whoever is present in my audience; you should too.

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