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kitesandtrainsandcats
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08 Jun 2023, 11:19 am

Living with Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria
By April
March 20, 2021

https://neuroclastic.com/living-with-re ... dysphoria/

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What is Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria?

Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria, or RSD for short, is a common issue experienced by Neurodivergent (ND) people. It is thought to be caused by increased difficulty in regulating our emotions, which leads to an incredibly heightened experience of rejection.

Put simply, it is an increased sensitivity to rejection (as the name implies), and the rejection does not have to be real. It can be imagined or feared.

RSD can be incredibly intense, and we can feel it to the core of our being as intense physical pain, discomfort, and sensory overwhelm. It can be almost impossible to reign in these sensations when an intense episode is triggered.

For me, it’s chest pain ache and discomfort, and tightness, and not being able to breathe, like a knife has been stuck into my chest. It can come on so rapidly, it can consume me before I can even consciously articulate it.
The snake begins to eat its own tail.

One thing you learn with being Neurodivergent and having RSD, is that often we can recall every intense moment of hurt and rejection like it was yesterday. This aspect can be insidious. If we could forget that hurt, maybe RSD would not be the debilitating issue that it is.


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Living with RSD

Important things first.

Please don’t let anyone tell you that experiencing RSD is wrong is wrong or invalid. It’s real, what you are feeling in terms of the physical and emotion experience is real, and it is valid. We shouldn’t feel shame for the way we experience emotions, or the way that our brains are wired.

RSD can trigger our fight-or-flight responses, often making us feel like we need immediate distance from the source of the feelings. During an RSD event, it’s the worst possible time to take definitive actions about something. You may want to leave a group, quit your job, or sever ties with the person in question.

Our brains and nervous system scream at us to do something, anything to end the feeling, or reduce the risk of it. The best thing we can do in the short term is to find a temporary retreat, somewhere calm, and wait for the intense feelings to pass. Decisions made in the heat of the moment can cause regret and further feelings of isolation.

Someone said to me in a conversation about OCD (a topic for another day), that not all thoughts are true, and we need to understand that.

The same is absolutely true of RSD. To me, when I’m caught up in it, it can feel very much like rumination, constantly turning over a negative thought in my head, over and over, reinforcing it with every loop. It can pull in other thoughts, and soon it feels like a spiral of negative thought.

I’ve found, as I mentioned before, that my RSD thrives in the absence of information to contradict it. That information void, or abyss is where it dwells, in the what-ifs, the maybes, the possibilities, the bigger we make that space in our lives the more it can thrive.

If we have some way to express the why of what we are feeling, it can be good to get it out and articulate it. This might be talking to a friend, or journaling or some other process. Get the thought and the why outside your mind somehow. Bring it out so that you can see it in daylight, instead of just feeling it.


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Joe90
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08 Jun 2023, 7:50 pm

Yes I have this. It's a symptom of ADHD apparently but I think it should be a disorder in itself, as my mother had RSD too and she wasn't ADHD or ASD.

I developed it when I was around 11, but obviously I didn't know anything about it back then. When I started college I got RSD so severely that I had to take a couple of weeks off because I had made bad first impressions and got called a freak, so I just couldn't see myself settling in socially and I panicked. Luckily it got easier as time went on and I fitted in so comfortably that I didn't want to leave when my course was finished.

As an adult it is extremely vital for me to be liked in the workplace. I hate when other Aspies say that I should only go to work to get my wage and not worry about other people. But that's not possible for me to think like that. I don't have many friends so I like to call my work colleagues my friends and see work as the only place I go to to socialise outside of family, and being so work is like your second home it's very important that I feel liked and get along with everyone.


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kitesandtrainsandcats
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08 Jun 2023, 10:04 pm

Joe90 wrote:
Yes I have this. It's a symptom of ADHD apparently but I think it should be a disorder in itself, as my mother had RSD too and she wasn't ADHD or ASD.


Yep, I'm not ADHD and yet there is RSD.
It can make life, shall we say, 'interesting' at times.

Here's a reference,
https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/d ... phoria-rsd

Quote:
Who does rejection sensitive dysphoria affect, and how common is it?

There’s limited available research on exactly who experiences RSD and how common it is. But the condition seems to happen most often in people with ADHD. Experts have also linked it to other personality and mood disorders, but more research is necessary regarding who experiences this issue and how common it is.


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09 Jun 2023, 4:03 am

When I asked my (now former) psychiatrist about RSD, because I was experiencing so much emotional pain and I couldn't explain why it was so intense, this is what she wrote: "The Rejection sensitive dysphoria is irrelevant... a silly new name for an old problem."

I don't know what "old problem" she was referring to. She never said.

But since I don't have ADHD and I don't have problems with self-esteem, I don't think it's a good fit for me.

It has since been suggested that my overwhelming emotions might be caused by Borderline Personality, which I think is a better fit to describe what I personally experience. (And my sister had to come up with this possible diagnosis. Neither the psychiatrist nor the therapist I had been seeing for a year had thought of it. But after hearing about my possible BPD from my sister, my therapist agreed that it seems to fit.)



Joe90
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09 Jun 2023, 8:54 am

When I read about RSD I can relate to everything about it, but when I read about personality disorders I can only relate to the RSD part.

Whenever I type in RSD in Google, ADHD is always the first thing that comes up. I don't know why it's so commonly linked to ADHD. I know ASD people can have it too but it seems to be discussed more on ADHD forums than on this forum (also ASD seems to involve every mental and physical thing known to humanity so it's hard to believe what really is linked to ASD).
Maybe RSD is more common in ADHD than ASD because most (non-ASD) people with ADHD are more likely to be socially driven than most ASD people, so when we fail socially we get RSD I suppose.
I once knew a partially deaf person who was NT (no ASD or ADHD) but suffered RSD because of the way her deafness interfered with her social performance and the way she got teased, bullied and misunderstood by society. So maybe it's the same with ADHD.


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09 Jun 2023, 11:46 am

I don't know why it always pops up with adhd. I'm supposed to have adhd but I don't fear rejection.

Rsd does sound a bit more relaxed bpd to me but I'm no expert on the matter.


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11 Jun 2023, 4:01 am

I think RSD is a trauma response that is present in many disorders. It's common in neurodivergent disorders and conditions because people get mad at us for our symptoms and we internalize all that.


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RAADs: 104 | ASQ: 30 | Aspie Quiz: 116/200 (84% probability of being atypical)

Also diagnosed with: seasonal depression, anxiety, OCD


Joe90
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11 Jun 2023, 2:14 pm

I have been rejected by my peers a lot in my life and also treated badly by random members of the public. So it makes sense that I'm now sort of agoraphobic and fear social rejection. Being so I haven't really been unreasonably rejected or hurt by guys, I'm not so put off by flirting - even though I don't flirt now since I've been in a relationship but the dating world is less daunting to me because of the way I have never been dumped in my life by a guy. So there's no trauma there. But there is with strangers in public and friends, because of the bad past experiences I've had.

When I was at high school I wasn't bullied as in teased in the clichéd way where kids would call you names to deliberately hurt your feelings or the big tough kid with insecurity issues threatening to get you behind the bike shed. I was bullied in ways that didn't involve much intentional purpose at all, it was simply because they couldn't (as in were unable to) walk in my shoes and they didn't even want to waste their time actually bullying or exploiting me, all they did was ignore me, or sometimes speak rudely to me and treat me like I was inferior but still got on with their lives with their backs to me. So I had to navigate my way through high school often alone, which attracted other bullies (as they would usually target those who were on their own). My class peers wanted me to be on my own but didn't care about me, as long as they had each other and were accepted that was all that mattered. All I wanted was to be one of them.

I could list all the times I've ever been socially rejected, and it gives me a mixture of hurt and resentment. I remember a time when I was 13 or 14, I was hanging out with my cousin, who was two years younger than me, at the park one Sunday afternoon. These two girls from my class came walking along, one of them having her little brother with them, who was friends with my cousin. When the two boys saw each other they immediately ran over to one another. The girls said hello to me and I said hello back, but although I knew them just as much as my cousin knew the little boy, they weren't as pleased to see me as the two boys were each other, and when I looked away the girls suddenly went quickly like they didn't want me to go off with them. So I was left with the boys who wanted to play a war army game in the park, which I didn't want to do. I wanted to hang out with the two girls. I didn't even know how they were so friendly with each other outside of school, as one was a tomboy who would rather play sports with boys and get dirty, and the other was a girly girl who was heavily into magazines and make-up and skirts.

I could go on and on naming all the times I have ever been rejected by my peers, but if I did my post would be so long that it would probably overload the site and make it crash or something.
Writing stories about my rejection experiences helps a lot, although I have so many that even in my seven 300-page books I have not been able to write about them all.

And people wonder why I have insecurities now. Although I don't project my insecurities on to others and make them feel bad, I still feel internally insecure - which produces RSD I guess.


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11 Jun 2023, 2:20 pm

Do you feel like that on wp


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11 Jun 2023, 6:41 pm

babybird wrote:
Do you feel like that on wp


No, rejection isn't really what I experience here.


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12 Jun 2023, 12:35 am

Good


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04 Aug 2023, 7:14 am

I'm skeptical that RSD is a condition rather than a symptom. It seems to be a trauma response - most commonly with ADHD but probably also with forms of depression, PTSD, abuse, and/or abandonment.

I'm also confused by the people who say they or someone they know has RSD despite high self-esteem. I'm wondering how these people define self-esteem.

I find all failure to be agonizing and depressing. Rejection is just another form of failure. When that rejection involves an attempted social relationship (platonic or romantic) it's emotionally exhausting because there's an emotional investment which is lost.

As someone with ASD, the difficulty is enhanced and the opportunity is rare, thus every interpersonal failure is greater. It seems like not having a stronger emotional reaction would be irrational because, compared to a NT person, the loss is greater.

I also have abandonment issues...because I've been abandoned. Absentee father. Absentee alternative father figures. Literally left behind by "friends" on a few occasions. Nearly every attempted dating relationship has ended in rejection or getting dumped. Over the course of a decade, literally all my friends moved away for work. So regardless of how that abandonment had anything to do with me personally, it's happened so much that I should either be very sensitive to or completely numb to rejection via abandonment.