I think there is some kind of disorder where a person lives a soap opera of sorts in their imagination.
I had it when I was younger. I dreamed up these characters; they were very real and have names that still sound so familiar in the back of my mind. For six years I would live their lives out in my mind. I created thousands of stories about them, I dreamt about them before I fell asleep, when I was bored after an exam, when I came home from school, in the car driving to and from places. All I had to do was close my eyes and I was transported instantly to them in their special world. Their pains became mine and their passions were my own.
It was my secret, nobody else knew. I became so adept at it that I could even imagine them with my eyes open.
It was incredible. I didn’t need to watch movies or TV serials anymore. I had my own, and it was more precious than any story I’d ever read.
Oh, I still know the details of their lives from the moment they were born until their became old enough that their children were adults. I knew their characters inside out, and I still do, years later, when I have ceased to think about them so much.
I will remember them in passing now, a fond smile and an invisible sigh.
I find I want to write their story down, and bring them to life with my words. But I am afraid I can’t ever do them the magnificent justice my brain could.
Recently I stumbled upon an article describing the very symptoms I displayed – making up a story in one’s head so consuming that it almost took over daily life – which in my case was true because I would close my eyes anywhere just to think about them. Even when I had things to do, I preferred to think of them. I found an online forum describing people who do this as ‘addictive daydreamers’. I found that it was odd, to spend hours and hours of the day just – daydreaming. Doing it at the time felt wrong, in a way. I felt as though if I told anybody, they would think me a lunatic.
I found out that it was called ‘maladaptive daydreaming’ – and the part of the brain that lights up when an alcoholic sees alcohol, lit up in test subjects when they thought about their ‘daydream’. Some people genuinely suffer from this and it affects their lives in an extremely negative way. They usually develop this condition if they have been victims of abuse, imagining a life and characters far removed from their pain. The condition is sometimes extremely debilitating for them.
Thankfully, in my case, it was just a result of boredom. I still managed to study hard and do well, and as I grew, by the age of seventeen, the habit had lessened considerably and soon vanished completely.
I know that I got comfort from this daydreaming addiction. I know that I felt fulfilled at times when I was lonely, that I never truly felt alone because I always had my vibrant characters to think about, and follow through their vivid lives. I know that I would seek to daydream at any chance opportunity, and went to bed hours early so I could close my eyes and just think, curled in a ball. It sounds so weird, looking back at it.
Have you ever experienced this? What are your thoughts?