Saturday, May 2, 2009

Stop Daydreaming. Experience the Here and Now.

I'm stressed.

I know I'm stressed because I'm daydreaming lately. Daydreaming a lot. Daydreaming so much that I start acting out the dream. I start talking my part. I start making facial expressions (in real life) that the daydream "me" is making. Other people don't know I am daydreaming. They think I am talking to myself, acting crazy. This is something I do when stressed. It sneaks up on me, and all the sudden I realize I'm doing it. Once I realize it, I know I need to reduce my stress level, and confine my daydreaming to "at home" until I can do so.

This daydreaming is not healthy: It sucks up massive amounts of brainpower, which then leaves me useless for work or errands. It keeps me from getting proper rest, because these aren't "regular daydreams" or even "dreams." My mind is exhausted when I finish. And, finally, it makes me look crazy, thus opposing my goal of assimilating into the NT world until I can retire. I've often wondered if these daydreams are what professionals call "delusions," but I'm afraid to ask.

The daydreams entice me, though, because in them I'm beautiful, loved, desirable, and wealthy. In real life, I'm none of those things. And the daydreams feel so good.

A daydream snuck into my morning run. I joined a running group not long ago, and I have been forcing myself to interact with others, listening to them chat because it keeps me grounded. It keeps me experiencing the "Here and Now" instead of drifting off into a fake dream-world. But today I arrived late, and was on my own for 8 of the 10 miles. The daydreaming was so intense that at one point I ducked an imaginary fry thrown at me by a friend in the dream. And almost fell into members of my group who had hit the turn-around point and were running back towards me.

This is when I realized I need to stop daydreaming. I need to reduce the stress level. I need to figure out what I'm unhappy about and take steps to fix it, so that I won't be stressed.

I ran hard to catch up to a group of runners, and pushed it the last two miles, listening intently to their stories. I resisted the urge to drop back (and be "alone") so that I could daydream, but focused on remembering the details of their week's events- picturing them in my mind as vividly as the daydreams. It's not huge progress, but it's a step forward.

The "Here and Now" is not as much fun as the daydreams, but it's REAL. It's REAL people, REALLY running with me, REALLY inviting me to eat with them afterward, REALLY inviting me to XYZ event next week. The daydream world is more intense, more fun, more exciting- and there's no pain, no tears, and no one screaming at me "Why can't you just be normal?" But at the end of the day it's not REAL.

I'm curious as to whether anyone else out there has had experiences like this, and what you've done to overcome them?


Leslie Ronald Howard said...

Went through about 5 years of this type of frustrating behavior.

Do you use dairy products? Milk caseins can worsen autistic symptoms.

I forgive you for spending all your time daydreaming. Please forgive yourself and get on with your life.

Have you ever tried to take passion flower in the early evening? It helps me focus.

But nothing works 100%.

SavedAspie said...

Hi. I never thought about milk as a contributor, though I notice my symptoms are much less when I have access to unpasteurized (straight from the cow) milk than when I have to suffer with store-bought milk.

Will look into passion flower, thanks for the suggestion.

Leslie Ronald Howard said...

that makes me wonder if the problems caused by caseins are made worse by pastuerization. The milk I use is pasteurized, but has no Vit D, due to allergies to that.

While it's unclear whether the non-stop daydreams are part of autism, we do have this in common.

I'm experimenting with restricting dairy to nights and evenings.

Wish I could try straight from the cow milk. Bet it tastes better.

SavedAspie said...

I like raw milk. My husband doesn't. I go to great lengths to get it from a source I trust. It aids my digestion and helps keep my appetite at bay. Unfortunately, in 3 months I'm moving to a place which has no availability of this kind of milk in state or any of the neighboring states. Not sure what I'll do then, but for now I'll enjoy the blessing while I still can.

Janet said...

Your post has been so helpful to me! My son does something that I am sure is very similar to your daydreaming. He talks continually about a make believe community populated with animals that have human characteristics. It's worst when he's tired. He can talk for hours without ceasing and the more we ignore him the more persistent his stories become. I've been suspecting for awhile that the stories are connected to his Asperger's. This evening I'm going to bring him by your blog and read this post to him. Maybe it will give us a good starting point to discuss this issue while he's young. I hate to see him pass up opportunities for real relationships because he's off in "story land."

Janet said...

Sorry, I just now read the rest of the comments (posted first, read second). The proteins in goat milk are much smaller than the proteins in cow milk. I think it would be worth experimenting to see if goat milk affects you the same way. Even once it's pasteurized the goat milk is still different on a molecular level.

SavedAspie said...

HI Janet, thanks for posting, and for stopping by. Do let me know if the post opened up any good discussion for you and your son- the whole reason I started this blog is to help others. One thing that people who dream and daydream a lot (especially if it's a response to stress) is that sometimes the dreams seem so real they are like memories- and the person thinks they really happened. This will make other kids think the child is lying.

When I was in grade school, I would have dreams (and daydreams) so vivid that I wouldn't realize they weren't real. That is, I would remember them as if they really happened. The other kids thought I was lying, but I didn't realize what I was recalling wasn't true.

Usually this was when the subject matter was "real life," such as doing things with the other children. I rarely confused the "fantasy" dreams (where I had magic powers, or lived on a cloud and such). But the ones where I was riding bikes with the other kids, or drew something, or talked in another language were occasionally recalled as memories.

It wasn't until I was in college and saw this in someone else (an Aspie who was my best friend at the time) that I realized we had issues. She had the tendency to rehearse how she was going to say something in her mind so much that she would "remember" having done so, but never did!

Take care,


alexmonster, the said...

There were many times in my life when I've found myself practically living in a protracted daydream, usually sparked by some sort of inspiration. They were usually focused on one theme-- developing a talent, moving to a better home, etc. But the dreams always involve my life being *better* somehow.

It's an escapist mechanism. I think that they are a function of my depression. I'm not an aspie, but I'm no neurotypical either, having suffered from clinical depression my entire life. And these daydreams were always hardest to resist during a time of acute depression.

They've become easier to manage since I started taking SSRIs (common type of antu-depressants).

I think that it's quite understandable for us to have the urge to lose ourselves in dreams when our lives are not at their most enjoyable. But I also think that it's equally understandable for us, with our "atypical neurological profiles", or whatever the guys in white coats want to call us, to be more invested in these dreams. They just feel so good!

silent listener said...

Hey I do the same thing. But I can semi control it to the point where I only do it at home but unfortunately it'll sneak up on me hen I am doing hw. I never drink milk though. I never liked the taste. I do eat allot of other dairy produce not so sure about the milk theory. But do not worry you are not alone. It's funny though because when I daydream It helps me reduce my stress but it takes up allot of my time so it is a "give and take" situation. Hope this helps!

Irfan Malik said...

this happens to me a lot, the worst was when i was talking to someone and i would just trail off and like literally make a facial expression or say something form my daydream and my friend would just be like woah what was that? i was able to control it down from that point but it still happens and i cant concentrate on my assignments from school or anything else. i really dont know what to do but the main thing is i try to realize its happening and i try to stop it. but yeah its a constant occurence i guess we have to strenghten our minds to resist this urge. sorry for all the spelling mistakes lol