In Which Jessica Once Again Falls Down the Wikipedia Rabbit Hole
Essentially, if you want a simple answer to a question, do not go to Wikipedia. Or, rather, if you want a simple quick answer to a question, after which you can resume your life and continue with what you were doing, don’t go to Wikipedia.
Opening Wikipedia is like open a time vortex, and you will emerge several hours later, groggy and with useless trivia with which to annoy your friends.
I was probably looking up something psychological – not necessarily, because the Wikipedia rabbit hole is long as winding, and as far as I know, I could have been looking up pasta recipes – and came across an article labeled Maladaptive Daydreaming.
And I got goosebumps.
I want to preface this by saying I don’t think I technically fit this criteria because what I experience is not in place of and does not significantly impact my life, and I probably only relegate an hour or so of my day to it (if that, now that I have a child), but when I had lots of unstructured time (gap year after college, weekends with no plans, etc.) it could easily be a few hours a day.
I borrowed this list of maladaptive daydreaming symptoms from Medical Daily, only because I appreciated the list format, which Wikipedia was lacking – my commentary in italics:
1. Daydreaming excessively in a way that is often compared to an addiction. This is where I fall off the wagon – I know, right off that bat, this technically isn’t me, since it doesn’t rule or dictate my life (not that I’d want it to).
2. This excessive daydreaming often begins in childhood. For literally as far back as I can remember.
3. Books, movies, music, video games, and other media may be a daydreaming trigger. There have been times where I’ve seen a show or heard a song and literally gone to my room as soon as I had free time to daydream about it. Not as frequently, but it still happens.
4. The daydreaming itself is often detailed and elaborate, sometimes compared to a movie or novel. Not such intense narrative threads, and a lot of recurring themes, tropes and character (some from real life, some imagined – some dating back years, since late childhood)
5. Repetitive movements while daydreaming are common (but not always present in sufferers) — pacing, rocking, spinning, shaking something in their hand, etc. This. This was literally the moment I started to feel chills. When I was a kid, we had a little hallway when you entered the flat; when you walked in,the was a doorway (sans door) on your right, and another archway it the end of the hall (also without a door). I would pace that in a loop – through one doorway, down the hall, out the other, back into the living room, through one doorway, out the other, etc. for hours. It drove my mother crazy. In my life now, I have a set path in my bedroom I walk, in an endless loop.
6. They may sometimes talk, laugh, cry, gesture, or make facial expressions as they daydream. People suffering from this know the difference between daydreaming and reality, and do not confuse the two; this makes them distinctly different from psychotics or schizophrenics. And this is what floored me. I mouth dialogue, make expressions and gesture — essentially, act out scenes — to an audience of no one, all while pacing around. And while I’ll catch myself doing it, it’s completely involuntarily. I will become aware of it occasionally when I do it, but I don’t do it intentionally.
7. Some people will lie in bed for hours daydreaming, and may either have difficulty going to sleep because of this, or have difficulty getting out of bed once awake. They may also neglect basic functions such as regular meals, showering, and other daily activities because of their daydreaming. Yes. Just… yes. Well, not so much with the daily activities bit – as I said, it doesn’t actually rule my life – but the rest of it, yes. Spot on.
It’s not a recognized diagnosis, and I know I wouldn’t officially qualify for it anyway, since it doesn’t actually interfere with me living my life (it’s more of a devoted hobby than an addiction), but I found this fascinating, mostly because it never even occurred to me that this behavior — the behavior alone and by itself — wasn’t normal. I think I just assumed everyone did it. It never even occurred to me that it was something strange or unusual.
I have to wonder if it could be linked to any of the other conditions I suspect I have.
Had anyone else ever experienced this? Does anyone else daydream in such an idiosyncratic way?