“To create more positive results in your life, replace ‘if only’ with ‘next time.” ~Celestine Chua
I’m twenty-nine-and-a-half and I’ve finally committed to pursuing my dreams of becoming a singer/musician/songwriter, actress, and screenwriter.
But most importantly, I finally feel allowed to live the life I want to live.
I’ve struggled with anxiety and depression on and off since I was fifteen. My coping mechanism always looked the same: isolating myself in my room, listening to music, and making up stories or music videos to go along with songs. I loved to refine these little scenes, repeating the songs over and over again for hours.
Sometimes, the highlight of my day was when I got to go back to my room and listen to that song again—when I got to go back into my dream world.
I didn’t realize then how much I preferred this dream world to my own reality. I’d become disengaged from my friends and family. All I wanted was to go home to my imagination.
Recently, I learned of the term “maladaptive daydreaming,” a mental condition in which a person is in a state of intense daydreaming that distracts them from their actual life. Some say this condition has roots in OCD and ADHD/ADD.
I’m still unable to confirm if I had this or not. But I do know that daydreaming was a coping mechanism I was heavily dependent on to keep my mood up. Because otherwise, my reality always depressed me.
I had dreams of singing on stage, writing insightful scenes, and creating beautiful films. But it all seemed too selfish. Like I shouldn’t feel allowed to “indulge” in my fantasies. Also, it felt self-centered. How dare I want to be the center of attention?
When I finally woke up and got tired of my daydream state, I instantly regretted how much time I had “wasted.”
I would try, obsessively, to make up for this time by scheduling productive activities in my planner. They were reasonable, too: Exercise for just thirty minutes. Read just ten pages of that book you’ve had on your shelf for three months. But no matter what activity I tried to start, I always ended up back in my comfort zone: my dream world.
At first, it was just hours at a time that I lost when I had originally wanted to do my homework. Then it was weekends when I had planned to start a new hobby. And then weeks, months, and years passed. I mostly existed in my daydreams. Reality was just that other thing I had to do during the day.
Somehow, I still managed to maintain a…