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Escapism - a symptom of depression?

(16 Posts)
LeafCollection Fri 04-Nov-16 11:22:17

Hi,

Was wondering if anyone has had experience of this? I haven't ever gone to the GP about depression but feel I have had it on and off for a long time.

I guess at the moment I don't feel "sad" about anything but I go through phases sometimes of being obsessed with something. So at the moment there's a certain tv show I'm into, watch it religiously of course, but actively search for interviews and research on the cast and then research into other roles they have done, news stories about them etc. Then research into period of time the tv show is set. I get myself swept into that world and life, imagining what it would be like to be the characters. I can spend a good 2 - 3 hours on this a day sad

Is this normal?

I don't know whether it is a sign of mental health issues or just a part of my personality. I was like this as a teenager also, for example I remember reading certain books and wishing I was living that life (fiction stories even) or other tv shows and just wishing desperately I could escape my real (boring) life and be like the "cool" kids.

But the problem is that I am now an adult and have a DH and 2 DC so I can't afford to want to escape real life for fictional happiness. I don't work, kids have just started school full time so I have a lot of time on my hands while looking for work.

Is this much escapism healthy?
Why can't I appreciate what I have?

Thank you for reading

havingabadhairday Tue 08-Nov-16 12:38:07

Saw this and wanted to suggest you look into maladaptive day dreaming.

I'm quite similar to you.

DaisyFranceLynch Tue 08-Nov-16 12:57:53

I do this too, and did it even more as a teenager. I would get obsessed with a TV show, or book/author, or historical figures, or area of research - sometimes I'd daydream about being one of the characters, but it was mostly about wanting to know everything about a particular topic.

I was depressed as a teenager and very unhappy with who I was - I wanted to be like the heroines of the books I was reading, or impressive women from history, or even the cool girls at school or in TV programmes. So I think it was partly a symptom of depression and low self esteem.

But I think some of it is also just geekiness - being really into something and wanting to know everything about it - and also just enjoying fictional worlds.

And there's nothing wrong with either of those things - fiction is made to give us pleasure, and if there weren't people who really loved inhabiting fictional or historical worlds there wouldn't be fan fiction, or Jane Austen themed Regency balls, or events where people dress up as their favourite comic or film characters, or massive fan websites dedicated to particular books or TV programmes.

Is it interfering with your relationships and everyday life and preventing you from doing other things you want to do? Or is it just that you're worried it might be a reflection of a deeper problem?

NovemberInDailyFailLand Tue 08-Nov-16 12:59:47

I did this when I was in a horrible marriage. I have autism, so I always thought that was why, but possibly it was escapism as well.

LetitiaCropleysCookbook Tue 08-Nov-16 13:07:52

suggest you look into maladaptive day dreaming.

Had never heard of this before, so googled it. Interesting that apparently it is a condition that few psychologists have heard of, is not officially recognised (!), and which is mistakenly and frequently misdiagnosed as schizophrenia.

havingabadhairday Wed 09-Nov-16 12:35:18

"Interesting that apparently it is a condition that few psychologists have heard of, is not officially recognised"

I know, but even without official recognition it does give you something easy to google and is interesting to read about. The description of it clicked with me the moment I read it.

LetitiaCropleysCookbook Wed 09-Nov-16 14:37:53

Yes, me too, especially in my teenage years. Am just astonished by the 'we know best about how you're feeling' attitude that persists, and the extent to which misdiagnoses are made. I wouldn't have thought it was difficult to differentiate between this and schizophrenia. Quite worrying, really.

mirime Wed 09-Nov-16 14:46:34

"Yes, me too, especially in my teenage years."

Maybe from about 10 to early 20s for me. Then I made a concerted effort to stop. Still fall back into it though, and I know the pattern. Wasn't so much of a problem before the DC, once you have children though you really can't afford to spend so much time 'elsewhere'.

JaneJeffer Wed 09-Nov-16 14:49:33

I think loads of people do this. Just check out Digital Spy or Tumblr! There are people obsessed with fictional characters of all kinds.

I spend a lot of time in my own little world but I look on it as a form of meditation.

I don't think it's unhealthy unless it's stopping you from living your real life.

GlumsTheWord Wed 09-Nov-16 20:29:44

I did this all through my childhood. I stopped when I got to my early twenties, no idea why. The interesting thing is, I have realised that my Dd has been doing it too - she is 12. I always knew she had a strong imagination, but she confessed to me the other day, that the reason she didn't make friends throughout primary school, was because she chose to 'canter' around the playground daydreaming during every playtime. She actively pushed other kids away, because she wanted to be by herself. I had never been able to understand why she struggled so much to make friends and it makes me sad to think she probably could have. Now, she is at secondary she is still having difficulty making friends but is trying so hard. She still daydreams, while listening to her headphones, but now I know how much it can control her, we will be making sure it doesn't take her 'real' life over.

Looking at it from my perspective, I did it to escape a fairly difficult childhood. I saw it as having a holiday from 'being me' - a means of turning off difficult emotions and escaping to somewhere more pleasant and easy. The problem was, I didn't really engage in real life, and am now finding some aspects of being a grown-up quite challenging.

OP, I think it shouldn't really be a problem if you let yourself acknowledge that real life has to take priority over the daydreaming. Maybe have a set time of day when you allow yourself to do it, but try and keep it compartmentalised, if you see what I mean?

badabing36 Wed 09-Nov-16 21:14:24

Yes I recognise this in myself, I try hard to reign it in now I'm a Mum and I don't really have that much time to anymore.

I've always been ashamed of how much I fantasise and daydream. I agree that when I was depressed I did it more. It's just a nice quick fix for you me problems, imagine some prefect future where you have everything you want or escape into a completely different fantasy world.

I realised a couple of years ago that I was never getting anything done in my actual life because whenever I was on my own I was in la la land.

It's really hard to stop yourself sometimes though.

LeafCollection Thu 10-Nov-16 21:44:17

Thank you for all the replies.

It's interesting that others have experienced this too. I feel it is edging towards unhealthy for me because it does stop me from doing everyday things. Also because I do it most when I feel down or things are difficult. I think I will have to make a conscientious effort to stop or like a pp said, make a set time. Sometimes I feel I am not living life to its full, just thinking about living it grin

Itisnoteasybeingdifferent Thu 10-Nov-16 22:07:30

I spend too much time in MN...

hopscotchegg Sun 13-Nov-16 19:05:06

I do this too! It is different to schizophrenia as it is not about having delusions or hallucinations. It can be a kind of dissociation.

Strummerville Tue 15-Nov-16 20:17:00

The obsessions you describe with TV shows, I can totally relate to. Totally. I get on a "kick" where I watch a show every night, a specific number of episodes, and spend my free time reading about the making of it, the actors, the characters, I follow links and fall down a hole of reading endless reviews and opinion pieces related to whatever it is I'm watching blush. Then when I finish it I feel bereft for a while before moving on to something else.

Some programmes I come back to repeatedly. I'll watch from the beginning for the second, third, fourth time. It's escapism and comfort, I think. I really look forward to sitting down to two episodes of whatever I'm on each night.

It may be ASD-related in my case.

margaritasbythesea Tue 15-Nov-16 20:23:34

I do something similar. I am torn between wondering as you do if it is depressive or whether it is a really great and safe way of relieving stress.

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