For most of my life I thought that I was clinically crazy. I thought that by imagining a reality that was separate from my own reality, I was maladjusted. It wasn’t until I read an article online that I understood what I have been doing my whole life, and it was surprising. I didn’t know there was a term for it. To me, it was something that I couldn’t control. I entered into a paracosm when I was alone, every single time. And it reached a point that I soon began paracosming in public too. It was all in my head, I knew it, but it didn’t help to stop the delusions. I used it to cope with my depression, but it was a coping mechanism that I could not control.
Before I go any further, let me explain what paracosms are. According to Wikipedia, a paracosm is a:
“detailed imaginary world. Paracosms are thought generally to originate in childhood and to have one or numerous creators. The creator of a paracosm has a complex and deeply felt relationship with this subjective universe, which may incorporate real-world or imaginary characters and conventions.”
To my understanding, a paracosm is an alternate reality in which a person lives. It is also sometimes referred to as maladaptive daydreaming. After learning this definition, I began to think that maybe all creative people, or at least authors, had to paracosm in order to create worlds. Phew, maybe I wasn’t crazy after all! But the importance of my paracosm, and I think what separates it a bit from a creative paracosm, is that mine was linked to my depression.
On bad days when I was feeling particularly hopeless, lost, and overwhelmingly sad, I would often retreat to this alternate reality that I created in my head. There, I had developed characters, locations, and storylines. Sometimes the people I imagined were people I knew in real life, other times they would be characters from video games and tv shows. I would talk to these imaginary people through whispers or soundless movement of my mouth. When I paracosmed, the four walls of the room I was in disappeared, and instead I was in another world. I could have been sitting at a bar, or in a park, or a gun range. The locations always changed, and the characters did too. Sometimes I would dress up to fall deeper into the false reality.
Are paracosms a creative tool that artists and actors use to make their art? Or are they a splintering of the mind, linked with mental disorders, depression, and escapism? Maybe it is a little of both. Once I started taking antidepressants, I stopped paracosming, but before that I entered my paracosm well into my twenties. To me, it was a little more than “Playing pretend”. It was a way to cope with my depression and my discontent with my reality.
How does this differ from a schizophrenic delusion? I knew what I was experiencing wasn’t real. I was able to convince myself it was real, but I always knew I was the creator of this false reality. A schizophrenic, especially one who is not diagnosed professionally, often cannot tell the difference between reality and not. I do not claim to be an expert in schizophrenia, but I have gathered this understanding from research as well as the videos I have seen on youtube with people who have been clinically diagnosed.
How many of you think you have experienced a paracosm? Leave your stories in a comment.
Take care, and don’t forget to take your medications!