You began daydreaming to escape your chaotic life. You utilized the term maladaptive daydreaming and while it is not an officially recognized diagnostic label, there are empirical studies that describe it as a observable phenomenon. Maladaptive daydreaming is distressful often because it produces negative emotions which can hinder social, occupational and academic performance. Daydreaming is a normal mental activity that is virtually universal. Maladaptive daydreaming, however, is less common and often indicative of psychological distress. In some studies, individuals who engaged in maladaptive daydreaming had higher rates of obsessive-compulsive symptoms and dissociation when compared to control subjects.
It’s possible that your maladaptive daydreaming is a form of dissociation or derealization. In that case, it would be important to learn grounding techniques to decrease these experiences and psychological strategies for dealing with reality. These can be learned in counseling.
Therapists will not think that you are “crazy.” They don’t think that way about their clients. Most therapists will know how to help you but it might be advantageous to choose one who specializes in dissociative disorders. The literature suggests that individuals with maladaptive daydreaming may benefit from cognitive behavioral therapies, exposure and response prevention therapies, mindfulness training, and perhaps hypnosis.
Generally speaking, the best way to find a therapist is to contact four or five and describe your symptoms and ask how they would help. Choose the therapist who is the most knowledgeable and with whom you feel the most comfortable. They will likely be your best choice. I hope this answer assists you in knowing how to proceed. Good luck and please take care.
Dr. Kristina Randle