In love with something outside reality

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

Hello, to whom this may concern. I am an 18-year-old confused and desperate male. As a bit of a background, I am extremely shy and have been known to avoid other people throughout school and other public events. A few months ago, my mother discovered that my father had been having an affair. My parents have since split and are working on getting a divorce and I am currently living in the same house as my mom, two brothers, and mom’s parents, which is a stressful and demanding environment.

A few days ago, I reconnected with an old cartoon show I loved when I was younger. Something about it was enthralling and prompted me to watch every episode, of every season, almost obsessively. After having watched a few seasons I realized that I was emotionally attached to the main character… who, rather interestingly, is not human but animal.

However this emotional attachment has grown to such a strong bond that whenever I finished every episode I promptly fell into a dark depression. I have cried myself to sleep several nights simply because I have found I want to live in the character’s reality–which is in fact not real. I just want it to be… I find myself in love with every detail of this character, and in fact see a lot of myself in his personality. I have reached a point to where I find myself willing to live in a mental state of denial, as long as I can achieve this desire to live in his world. I am afraid I am going insane, though the concept of losing my grip on reality has seemed a bit appealing given my current obsession.

Thank you in advance.

A: Without talking to you personally, I can’t say much that is definitive. All I can do is offer you some ideas to think about. I hope this helps some.

During the last few months, your world has fallen apart. If your family felt like a pretty ordinary family up until your folks split, you weren’t at all prepared to have life change so radically. If you thought your dad was a loyal and loving husband, you now have to reevaluate your opinion of him and what it means to your relationship with him. You not only lost your sense of family, you lost your home. Now you are living with grandparents. However much they love you, however much they are trying to help, you’re still in someone else’s house and a crowded one at that. If all this is true, it makes a lot of sense to me that some part of you just wants to “escape.” When people can’t leave a situation they find unbearable physically, they often do it mentally. In your case, you grabbed onto an old childhood “friend,” a character that is comforting in its familiarity and whose world seems much less complicated than your own.

I’m guessing that you don’t want to talk to your mom because you don’t want to burden her. And I’m guessing that you don’t want to talk to your dad because you’re mad at him. Perhaps you don’t want to talk with your grandparents because you don’t want to seem ungrateful, nor do you want to worry them. That leaves you kind of alone.

I don’t think you are going insane. I do think you need some support. I strongly suggest that you consider seeking out someone who can give you a place to talk out your feelings and who can help you figure out how to deal with all that has happened. Your city has many qualified counselors. If you can’t figure out how to afford that, consider talking with your clergyperson if you have one or ask your doctor for a suggestion. Too shy for that? Try the Boys and Girls Town National Hotline at 800-448-3000. Counselors are available 24/7 to give teens support and advice.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 19 Jan 2010

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2010). In love with something outside reality. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 19, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2010/01/19/in-love-with-something-outside-reality/