Because I would escape into my mind, my mind became a cage.
Maladaptive daydreaming is something I wish would be discussed in the mental health community more often. Although it is not formally recognized as a mental disorder, it can be harmful to one's overall health and is absolutely considered a psychiatric condition. For me, daydreaming started as a coping mechanism but soon became a detriment to my life. As a youth, trying to avoid dealing with my depression and emotional strains, I would sink into my own mind. I would daydream to the point of obsession. I would rather be half-asleep in a world of my own creation than either fully awake or fully asleep. I would lose track of time, and I lost interest in actually being present in my own life.
During the course of coming out of trauma, focusing on getting well, and admitting to my struggles, I stopped having issues with maladaptive daydreaming. However, the stories I had formed, the connections I had made with my made-up characters, and the fantastical worlds I'd imagined, remained engraved in my mind.
So I started writing them down.
Instead of being trapped in my head of make-believe, I bought my world - my torment, my fight, my love and imagination - into this world. And I learned that broken doesn't mean ugly. Crazy doesn't have to mean bad. And beauty comes from growth, not from perfection. I'm a twice-published author now. I've worked incredibly hard just to be healthy, just to live, but the result has been something great. And not only that, but something shareable, something encouraging. My books are "just" fantasy, but they spread a message of understanding - understanding mental health and the reality of every day, internal struggles- and the magic of simply being alive. Dealing with my own mental illnesses has made me strong, made me empathetic, and encouraged me to find creative outlets... and that, I wouldn't change for anything.