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  • Writer's pictureBritt

They Hate Me...I Know It - RSD

Updated: Apr 2

Living with ADHD sometimes comes with some other issues related to it, such as: anxiety, attachment issues (I'll cover that in another post), behavior issues like mood swings, learning disorders, financial struggles, balance issues (seriously, how many things do I run into on a daily basis lol), and finally, what this post is covering, RSD, or Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria.

RSD is when you have significantly heightened, intense negative feelings, and severe emotional pain that’s difficult to control in response to any rejection. Give this website a read if you're interested!

This could be someone not being able to hang out with you, breaking up with you, offering you criticism (even if it's constructive), teasing (which is meant as fun but our brains take it wrong), a miscommunication, when someone turns to talk to someone else over you, etc. It can really come from anything.

Now, nobody enjoys rejection, but with RSD every rejection, no matter how small, comes with BIG, BAD feelings. Instantly, your mood can change from being excited to work or hang out with someone to thinking, "They hate me...I know it". You can have many thoughts of negative feelings towards yourself, calling yourself names, saying, "I'm so stupid. Why am I so annoying? I wouldn't want to be my friend either. I suck at this job."

It can be so hard to fight against these emotions since, with ADHD, we don't have the best track record with emotional regulation. These thoughts and feelings can circle our brain for hours, days even, especially if you have a little bit of OCD (mine's unspecified - but OCD really plays a part in how often things circle around and around in our brains).

According to studies done (this is in the previous website as well), if you have ADHD, you are more likely to have RSD. Which kind of sucks, because, like I said, we aren't great at regulating our emotions or letting things go easily. Most people can just take constructive criticism as a way to improve, but with RSD, it becomes a horrible issue in our minds.

The website goes over some symptoms that people with RSD are likely to have. RSD isn't an official diagnosis, but there are common symptoms found in people who struggle with it. People with RSD are more likely to:

* Be strong people-pleasers

* Feel more embarrassed or self-conscious

* Have low self-esteem and self-doubt

* Display sudden outbursts of physical emotions like anger, tears, and sadness

* Engage in negative self-talk

* Have difficulty managing their reactions

* Find it draining to manage relationships

* Suddenly become quiet, moody, or show signs of depression or anxious feelings

Before I knew about this, I always wondered why I had such a hard time with rejection when it seemed as though others just took it in stride. The feelings of anger and hate I had towards myself were intense and never seemed to leave. It made me feel rather hopeless and sad. Knowing about RSD has made me understand where the thoughts come from, and why I can't take rejection without beating myself up about it or feeling like everyone hates me. Of course, knowing why doesn't fix anything, the thoughts don't disappear the second you find out you struggle with this. It probably won't ever go away (except maybe when we're grey and old and don't give a crap about anything lol).

But - knowing you struggle with it can help you form some coping mechanisms to fight against the thoughts that come every time you get rejected.

Here are some coping mechanisms that seem to help me when I'm struggling with the emotions that come after a rejection.

The first one is reminding myself of the good things. For example, if someone at work gives me constructive criticism, I try to remind myself of all the good things I have done at the job so far and what good things the boss (or whoever) has said about me before. Another example is if a friend can't hang out or cancels plans, I try to think about all the good times we've had, that they've been with me for years and we've gone through tons of shit together without them leaving me. This can help you see things from a new perspective and help you shift the negative thoughts to some good ones.

The second one that seems to help me is coming up with some affirmations: "I can make mistakes and still be a good person," "I am stronger than I think," "My brain is unique and creative," etc. Anything that helps shift those negative feelings into positivity will help you get out of that hopeless, sad, spiteful mindset that the RSD is putting you into.

The third is distraction - seriously, it sounds simple, but it helps. RSD and ADHD make you focus on thoughts over and over and it's a good idea to distract yourself with other things until those thoughts go away. For me, I really enjoy reading or writing and they seem to really help distract me from those thoughts. Sometimes, this doesn't work and I'll have to try another distraction method or a different coping mechanism.

The fourth is mindfulness. Remember that every emotion you're feeling is valid. Sometimes, it helps to sit in it and try and figure out where those thoughts are really coming from. You acknowledge the thoughts and feelings, name them, and really experience the feelings and then after a little bit you let them float away. My therapist described it as seeing them floating in a river, acknowledging them without getting upset that you're having those thoughts, and then you watch them float away. She was actually talking about meditation and getting distracted, but I think it works well in this scenario too.

The fifth is perspective -- look at the situation through the other person's eyes. It helps to connect with the reality of your situation. For example, if you get hurt by some teasing, try to see it from the other person's perspective. They only meant to have some fun, they didn't mean it as seriously as your brain is taking it. Or if someone offers you criticism, you can see that they didn't mean it in a hurtful way but rather in a helpful way. Looking at the situation from different perspectives can help you put your thoughts and feelings to rest. Again, you would acknowledge them, but then show your brain that the person doesn't hate you and that those feelings are not necessary right now.

In a weird way, our brain is just trying to protect us. It's wired differently from those without ADHD and RSD, but it is still trying its best to keep you aware and safe. You can thank your brain for protecting you but gently remind it (and yourself) that, sometimes, the situation is not as harmful as it first perceived. Hopefully, if you repeat these coping mechanisms enough, you can teach your brain how to respond to these situations in a more beneficial way.

RSD won't ever go away just like ADHD won't just disappear, but hopefully, we can learn how to handle the RSD and train our brains that we are unique and that situations aren't always there to hurt us. And even if they are said to purposefully hurt us, we shouldn't let ourselves ruminate on these thoughts until we have hateful feelings and depression. We let the thoughts come and go, like a stick on a river. We feel them, we acknowledge them, but then we let them go.

It's hard and sadly that difficulty won't go away, but I'm hoping with practice it will get slightly easier to help our brains see that while we are wired differently, we are unique, we are creative, and we are beautiful human beings with beautiful minds.

For the suicide and crisis lifeline, dial 988.

— Live well and laugh often, Ravens. Signing off for now, Hyperactive Raven <3

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