I’ve been doing the galloping too, anon.
Try to think back to your childhood, though—were the nature of your daydreams different? Everybody daydreams as a kid, but in my experience I was more “in control” of it as a child. I did it intentionally to fill time or to distract myself, and I could pull myself out of it in a second if I wanted to. It wasn’t chronic. It didn’t get in the way of daily activities, and it didn’t leave me feeling embarrassed. Also: it didn’t take hours.
Right now, I can’t control it. I get an urge, like an itch. Especially when I listen to music. Sometimes when watching films too. I walk for hours, completely immersed, laughing when something funny happens, and smiling when something endearing happens. It feels more pathological than daydreaming in my childhood felt — I used to be in control, and now I’m not.
Another point is (I’m using my personal experience again, unfortunately there’s not a lot of research to draw from — and the available research just draws a link between depression, ADHD, and OCD to MD) is that my current MD stems from dissatisfaction, unlike my childhood one. My childhood was all fantasy and wild imagination, while my current is narcissistic: it focuses on an idealized version of reality where I am the main character, and I am perfect, and every situation and plot line reinforces my intelligence/wit/good characteristics. This is not who I am in real life.
Finally, I’d say another factor is time. I spend 2 - 3 hours daydreaming (with music), and I’d say 1 or 2 hours daydreaming without music.
This has affected my immensely in the last few years. I have lost all my ability to focus. Zero. I lost all discipline—and I will do the absolute bare minimum to get that dopamine fix, which is why I’m addicted to MD. It’s the most damning feedback loop ever. Worse, you may not even notice you’re stuck in it. Everything feels too good in your fantasy.
Come to think of it, chronic MD isn’t that different from using non-anonymous social media. You can use both to engineer a nuanced and idealized version of yourself and project that image with the lowest effort possible. But when push comes to shove, you have nothing to show for it. It feels good, in the short term. In the long term? Well, no.
If you’re interested, check out Paranoia Agent. It’s an anime by Satoshi Kon, and it discusses similar ideas: how modern people use fantasy and memories as forms of escapism to cope with their own lives.
I realize none of this prolly implies to you, but I thought I could share my perspective.