Yet, I’ve suffered with it my whole life. No child is born begging for a mental illness or mental challenge or something that will draw negative attention to him/her or make themselves a target. Yet that’s exactly what Maladaptive Daydreaming is and does. The biggest problem is this: The child that has the mental problem doesn’t know he/she has a mental problem because its normal to him/her. Maladaptive daydreaming is never anything that’s officially diagnosed therefore it goes unchecked.
From age 0-10 years old
This covers preschool and elementary school. Before I knew that being abused was not normal I dealt with the imaginary friends and the real life torment. Until age 10 I thought everybody had imaginary friends. The other kids in kindergarten and first grade talked about their imaginary friends so I thought it was normal.
From ages 11-20 years old
This covers puberty, adolescence, and into adulthood. This is where the real problem started. Around age 11 I found out that I was definitely a case for DFCS (they didn’t really exist in the 70’s or at least not around me) and I found out that at age 11 nobody else had imaginary friends except for me. That was a problem. I now had a choice. Either continue acting out with non existent people or sit in silence and ignore those imaginary people who insisted on being there.
I had a hard time focusing in school even though it was demanded of me to make straight A’s and A pluses. I had a hard time making or keeping friends because they were real kids and were mean. My imaginary friends treated me much better. I didn’t even think about having a boyfriend. After all, what was I going to do with him. He was real. The imaginary boyfriend was much better. And I had a hard time controlling extreme anger issues stemming from the household daily abuse. In addition to, going to school with black eyes, busted lips, bruises, and other visible scars for my so called friends to have a field day with, my imaginary friends became more and more real and I attached emotions to them. I relied on them. I counted on them. They were my world. However, I could never tell anybody about this other world I lived in day and night.
I wrote novels and short stories about them and submitted them into contests. I never won but they said they loved my creativity and wondered how I came up with such colorful characters.
From 21-30 years old
I was a single parent and tried a boyfriend here or there and it never worked out because I could not juggle the real world between the imaginary one. I tried holding jobs and going to school but could not focus because of a baby, real friends, real guys and imaginary friends and imaginary boyfriends. I pleaded with the invisible friends to leave. They wouldn’t do it. It was just too much.
I went to 8 different mental health specialists over the abuse and over this imaginary friend business. Seven of them tried to diagnose me with Asperagers, Shizophrenia, Disassociative disorder, told me “people have real problems and get over my imaginary friends”, and extreme Psychosis. All of which were wrong.
I can tell the difference between reality and fiction. I do know that these people are not real. They do age with me unlike Schizo where they stay the same age, I learned to turn it on and off around people but it doesn’t stay off. They always come back as soon as the people leave.
I was prescribed Prozac, all kinds of anti-depressants, and a form of Zoloft that was not named Zoloft at the time. None of those helped because those were not my problem.
One doctor said I suffered from PTSD and the flashbacks that I suffered were promoting this other imaginary world. It was thought if I get a handle on those two major problems that the imaginary friends would stop. I went through mental exercises, workbooks, met once a week to talk about the abuse and how it was the abusers problem and not mine. And we walked through what to do when I have a flashback of the abuse.
After all of that, the imaginary friends continued to be there. I tried ignoring them, I tried to keep busy, I tried act ‘normal’ and none of that worked. They were still there talking to me and engaging in conversation. I had to give in.
Convinced that I was totally crazy and the only one on earth who is totally crazy being 40 years old with imaginary friends that should have left when I was 11, I looked back on how I’d suffered in silence since that day at age 11 that I found out that I still had imaginary friends. I had fought with these non existent people for 29 years and they still insisted on being there throwing my focus off. I started thinking that there had to be others. But like me, they are hiding in silence for the fear of being made fun of or ridiculed for being an adult who still has imaginary friends.
Am I senile? Am I deranged? Is this the beginning of some sort of dementia that’s been sustained since I was a child? In short. What is wrong with me and how to I find others that are wrong and crazy like me?
At age 40 I started searching for answers I had no idea what this was called or if I’d even find anybody else like me. I typed in “Adults With Imaginary Friends” and came across a website dedicated to Maladaptive Daydreaming.
It was like a light shined on me from the heavens above. Thousands of people ranging from age 13 to 70 years old who still had imaginary friends that wouldn’t leave.
Some people had imaginary planet worlds and solar systems. Others only had friends in their bedroom. Some only dreamed of one person and others had whole families and grandkids. The scenarios ranged from daydreaming about astronauts down to being the best plumber in town. Casinos, world travelers, millionaires that own islands and everything else.
I couldn’t believe it! I was not alone and while I can’t say I’m not crazy, if I am, then at least 3000 plus other people that are crazy right along with me. None of us can figure out how we got this way. We just know that we are and if we hadn’t found each other then we’d still be thinking we’re crazy and alone.
Age 41 – present
I’ve been speaking with these people for years now and collectively everybody has tried everything to get a handle on this adult with imaginary friend business. Some people went to neurologists. Some took drugs (legal and illegal). Some filed for disability. Some were just balancing and adjusting on a minute by minute basis like me. Other than chatting with each other online, we remain silent and suffer quietly while maintaining a whole life in our heads.
I eventually got married but it bothered me greatly on how I was going to deal with a real husband and family right along with another world with an already established imaginary spouse and children who I know full well don’t exist but they do, but they don’t, but they do.
Confused yet? I am. But this is the life I live that I didn’t choose, ask for, and sometimes wish I never knew about. But it is and like it or not I have to live with it.
Places you can find other daydreamers: