By Yana Riordan
1. You use vivid fantasies of alternative lives as an escape mechanism. In these fantasies, you are always someone who is, for some reason, in the public eye, and certain people in your life are noticing your success.
2. These fantasies are often conducted while listening to music, and performing some kind of rocking motion. Common places include swings, train rides, cars, running or walking.
3. While you’re going about your business and running normal errands, you likewise imagine that you’re someone that you’re not. For example, while walking from the car to the grocery store, you imagine that you are a celebrity being photographed.
4. You begin to think as though you are actually that famous person. You stress over leaving the house not looking perfect, or when you get a new belonging, you imagine speaking about it in an interview.
5. The continuous daydreaming begins to infiltrate your conscious life, and you begin holding yourself to unrealistic standards because of it. It develops a “spotlight complex” in your mind’s eye: you begin to believe you are really being watched in the way they fantasize.
6. The daydreaming can go on for hours on end. It is a daily occurrence, and something you begin to crave.
7. There is a distinct feeling of being “high” that comes with these fantasies, and it’s one that helps soothe the discomforts of everyday life.
8. You have a few similar storylines that you tend to work with: you’re either in some situation in which you perform something heroic, you’re being interviewed about your bestselling book, you’re the star of a movie or a sports team, etc.
9. You can still tell the difference between what is real and what isn’t, even if your fantasies do take hold of your day very often. You know who you are and what isn’t really happening in reality. This is a crucial distinction, because people who cannot do it are often diagnosed with Schizophrenia.
10. This form of daydreaming is classified as “maladaptive” not because daydreaming is bad, but because it is done in response to stress. It is done for the feeling of a high, or relief. It is done to soothe the ego’s insecurities, and make someone feel whole and as though they are reaching their full potential.
11. Very often, the fantasies will include subconscious cues that can let you know what you’re missing in your real life.
12. An important aspect of maladaptive daydreaming is: who are you performing for? Being “seen” is almost always a key component in the daydream, and who you are being seen by – and in what way – can tell you a lot about where you are emotionally.
13. Maladaptive daydreaming isn’t a problem unless you’re using it as a coping mechanism and failing to acknowledge the real issue that it is blocking you from. That issue can become a problem if it goes unaddressed.
14. Maladaptive daydreaming can also become a problem when it begins to interfere with your normal, daily activities. If you cannot do anything without needing to stop and daydream, it’s becoming an issue.
15. Other common clues that you’re doing it include: loud music, repeating verses or parts of a song that make you feel emotional, being ashamed of the fact that you do it so often, engaging in strange behaviors to do it (pacing around the room, mumbling to oneself to act out the fantasy, etc.)