Five reasons why immersive daydreaming is my greatest gift

Three years ago, I listed ten reasons why I was grateful to be an immersive daydreamer. That list is still surprisingly accurate, given that I wrote it before the breakdown that transformed my life in ways I could never have imagined. But all those reasons, although valid, feel trivial compared to how I see my daydreaming now. So, here’s my new list of reasons I’m grateful to be an immersive daydreamer.

Immersive daydreaming saved my life

In October 2021, I had a severe mental-health crisis and was suicidal for three days. During that time, I could not see a way back. I was certain that I could not do what life was asking of me. My only option was to opt out. I didn’t want to die, but I couldn’t see any way that I could go on living.

But when I believed I didn’t have the strength, my characters knew that I did. My characters originate in my subconscious mind, so they know me better than I know myself. When they told me that I could find the strength to go on, I was willing to trust them, even though, at the time, I couldn’t see how it was going to happen. I’m certain that I would be dead by now if I didn’t have my characters. And for that reason alone, I will never again be able to see my daydreaming as a wholly bad thing.

I can live multiple lives

I’m curious. I think most daydreamers are. I want to explore everything, experience everything. And that means one lifetime is never going to be enough for me. I want to have it all. I want to see and do things that simply aren’t possible in this world. I’ve been lucky enough to have a lot of therapy since my breakdown. It’s helped me understand how much control I have over my circumstances and my emotions. I’ve worked hard to build a real life that I absolutely love. But I have an imaginary life that I love too. And I am incredibly grateful that I get to have both.

I have an antidote to my inner critic

Even when I’m present in reality, my thoughts are always directed at someone in my imagination. My inner monologue is really an inner dialogue. Often, the person on the other end of my thoughts is one of my daydream characters. He’s assumed the role of an antidote to my inner critic. Whenever I’m being hard on myself – telling myself I’m not worthy, or not enough – my character will gently but firmly contradict me. He reminds me that I’m perfect just as I am, and that I’m just as deserving of a good life as anyone else. For some reason, I find it easier to believe when he says it than if I try to say it to myself.

My daydreams are my source of motivation and inspiration

My therapist once told me that my childhood might have been very different if I’d had one person – a teacher or some other trusted adult – who’d believed in me enough to inspire me to become the best version of myself. And when she said that, I realised that my mind had seen that need years ago and created that person in the form of my daydream mentor. He sees potential in me that I can’t yet see in myself.

When I start to doubt myself, I’ll ask my mentor whether I’m capable, and he’ll give me this amused little smile, as if it’s a silly question, and then tell me that I can succeed at anything I put my mind to. And once he’s said that, nothing is going to stop me from going after what I want, because I will do anything to make my mentor proud of me. He’s the reason I’ve been able to write a book, establish a daily mindfulness practice, stick to an exercise routine and all the other things that have made so much difference to my life.

I found myself in my daydreams

And the final thing I’m grateful for, is that I discovered my authentic self through immersive daydreaming. During my breakdown, I lost my sense of self. It felt as if everything that had happened to me up to that point had happened to someone else. I had no sense of what made me, me. And the old me never came back. I talk about healing rather than recovery, because recovery means getting back to where you were before you became ill, and I’ve never gone back. I’ve rebuilt myself as someone new, and better.

Having to rebuild your sense of self like that, from nothing, is terrifying. I don’t think I could have done it if I hadn’t had a template to follow. And that template was my daydream self. I used her as a model for the kind of person I wanted to become. The process was so natural and so liberating that I came to believe that my daydream self was the person I should have been all along.

I even named myself after her. The person I used to be died during my breakdown. It felt appropriate to let my birth name die with her. I wanted the world to see that I was coming back as someone new. So I chose a new name. I became Kyla. And it’s been the single most affirming and empowering decision I have ever made.

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