It’s been going on ever since I was 8. Not long after getting diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. I began obsessively listening to music and rocking back and forth like a crazy person for the last 20 years of my life. A vivid alternative life playing through my brain the entire time. Constantly. I’ll often speak dialog out loud. I’ve even been caught doing it at work. Sometimes when I accidentally spoke my inner dialog I would tell people I was writing a short story and was working out dialog.
I’ve called it introverting most of my life. Or “emotionally preparing for work” in the mornings. Because that’s what it is. I have to cope with returning to reality, to facing things that are hard, jarring, or exhausting.
Turns out there is a name for it.
It was the quote on the link that caught me and knocked the wind out of me. I knew the moment I saw it that it was what I had been doing for years and trying to hide. I read the article. All of it. Every word. And for every second I felt my heart race. I wanted to cry, both because of how weird it felt to admit that this has been an issue and something I felt I needed to hide, and because I finally knew I wasn’t the only human in the world who did this to the degree and intensity I did it. Maladaptive Daydreaming. That’s what they call it.
I followed a link in the article to a chat room of people who also had self diagnosed themselves. I didn’t creat a profile, not because I didn’t really want to connect with these people, but because investing in them would mean giving up time in my daydreaming. Plus I thought it would be hard to talk about it. But still, I read about so many others that had kept it a secret for so long. “Does anyone know you do this?” One user asked The group. My parents know. I had one now ex boyfriend who had known and witnessed it, and it hurt to open up to him only to have him express his disapproval. He didn’t understand.
Riku understands though.
Riku is the name of my best friend…my imaginary friend. The one I developed in my daydream. Sometimes we are a love interest, and sometimes not. Lately it’s been a not, because I’m getting married in real life, which sounds like some kind of crazy thing to say. It probably is. But because I’m getting married in real life, I’m letting the two worlds bleed together. My fiancé is not in my daydreams. He exists in reality, and in my daydream it makes perfect sense to Riku why we can’t see each other romantically anymore. But when my fiancé or friends are not there for me…Riku is. So is Al, a 13 year old gender confused child who can’t decide if he’s in love with the new boy in school or not. Visually he’s based off a character from the second Season of Black Butler. Though his personality is very different than that character in my daydream. And Haku….based loosely off the dragon boy from Spirited Away. A 20-something hacker. All fictions I’ve created in this realm I refer to as “The Secondary Realm.” A place where magic and technology coexist, much like in the Artemis Fowl books I read as a child. Reality is the “First Realm.” My real life. My daydreams often slip in quietly and secretly as I’m working during the day. I do mindless work and transport myself into the “Secondary Realm” and daydream about doing something else entirely. Going to the mountains to look for a crystal cave. Spending the day at a tea shop just talking about life. Shopping. Doing ordinary and extraordinary things. Impossible and completely possible things.
It’s better than real life most days, which is hard to admit to people. So I don’t admit it. Until now at least. It’s crazy. Because it isn’t real. I know it isn’t. But it helps me function during the day, and now I know I’m not the only person who experiences it, which is wonderful to know. It’s just strange to know that it’s become such a huge part of my life, and I ignored seeing it as the obsession it’s become.
So now what?
I think I’ll get up the gumption to start talking to others like myself. See what happens.