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Telling Someone

How to tell a loved one about maladaptive daydreaming?

One of the hard parts of having any psychiatric condition/disorder is telling someone about your symptoms and struggles. Mental Health is often stigmatized, and often even those who care about you don't know how to handle information about your problems. And when it comes to maladaptive daydreaming, since it's not an official diagnosis, many people often approach it with a lot of distrust. Therefore, many people struggle to tell someone about this disorder due to shame, fear, concern, or sometimes a lack of guidance. But as with anything, it is important to tell those close to you what you are going through, your triggers, and your struggles so that they can support you the best way they can. Let's go over a few tips so you can find the confidence to open up to someone close to you.

Do your research

It will be a lot easier to tell someone about your condition if you have all the basics down already. There are communities like a subreddit and a discord server about maladaptive daydreaming where you could ask questions. You could check out resources like and Eli Somer's (the principal researcher's) own YouTube channel, the ICMDR website about ongoing research, and of course, this blog that you can use to gather some information. Check out this wiki for a comprehensive list of resources and communities.

Direct them to resources

Most people aren't going to have the time and energy to read a complicated research paper. Still, you could direct them to easy to understand resources like videos made on maladaptive daydreaming. Recently, a few other community members and I discussed this psychiatric condition in a panel discussion aimed at people who don't understand maladaptive daydreaming, perhaps direct the person you are trying to talk to, to that discussion. DimmerSwitchDisco is a great YouTube channel dedicated to discussing maladaptive daydreaming that is easy to understand. And Psych2Go made an excellent digestible video explaining this condition. The number of resources is growing every day.

Explain why it's important

Since this is a newly discovered condition, it is easy for people to jump to conclusions or find it trivial. Try to clear up these misconceptions from get go and be clear on how what you experience is different. Try to explain how this negatively affects your life and why it matters. Perhaps give concrete examples of how the condition is maladaptive. Maybe you get dragged behind at work, or your feet hurt all the time due to the pacing. Whatever your concerns are, explain them. It's hard for people to know where exactly you are struggling without being told.

Don't pathologize all daydreams

When hearing about this disorder for the first time, people tend to react with, "I daydream too, do I have this." And it can be misleading since 

a) almost everyone daydreams 

b) some people are immersive daydreams but don't have the compulsion, and it doesn't negatively affect their life. 

It is important not to stigmatize a completely healthy activity. When explaining this to someone, be clear about that.

And lastly, be patient

Maladaptive daydreaming is an under-researched concept that is hard to wrap your head around. Even those with this disorder, many sometimes don't know a lot about it, forget people who have never experienced it. So expect some confusion from whomever you are telling and be patient. You might have to go back and explain a few key facts again, perhaps add anecdotes, etc. But be prepared to have to come back and explain it over a few separate conversations and know that most people mean well and are just trying to understand. Good luck!