RSD: Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria

“Rejection sensitive dysphoria (RSD) appears to be the one emotional condition found only with ADHD,” Dr. Dodson says in Emotional Regulation and Rejection Sensitivity for Attention magazine. “Early research on ADHD intentionally ignored rejection sensitivity because it was not always there, it was often hidden by the person with ADHD, and because there was no way to measure rejection.”

Emotional dysregulation is when a person feels an emotion so intensely that the emotion takes over and cannot be subdued. With rejection sensitive dysphoria, Dr. Dodson says the person experiences extreme emotional sensitivity and pain triggered by the perception—real or imagined—of being:

  • rejected
  • teased
  • criticized
  • a disappointment to important people in their lives
  • disappointed in themselves when they failed to attain their own standards or goals

The emotional pain the person experiences is real and extreme, says Dr. Dodson, and not easily dismissed. (


RSD In My Life

RSD has definitely touched my life.  A mommy blogger wrote a post on the subject for Scary Mommy or another such platform (forgive me for not saving the site, I have no recollection of the post). But I was gobsmacked when I read her post.  In discussing her experience with RSD, the author was describing my daughter to a T.  It was uncanny, surreal, validating, scary.  I felt a rush of warmth, that I was not alone and my daughter was not alone in this struggle I could never quite label.  It was enlightening to have a label.  It was wonderful to feel empowered that I may make headway in helping my daughter.  It was terrifying to connect RSD with ADHD.


I had my suspicions about BumbleBee, my eldest girl.  I had gut feelings that pointed me towards an ADHD-inattentive type diagnosis.  Reading this article was the straw that broke the proverbial camel’s back.  I knew it in my heart and my bones.  This RSD thing, which only really exists in the ADHD realm, was the confirmation and motivation I needed to seek help from our pediatrician.


I urge you to study RSD.  Its insidious path is a thief of the highest degree: it steals our ability to build a solid foundation during childhood development; it steals our ability to accept love and develop authentic self worth and healthy self esteem; it steals away the opportunities to tether to mommy, daddy, and siblings during those first precious years; it steals from parents the ability to connect in profound ways to their children; it steals parents’ ability to feel confident in their parenting.


I have been on both sides of this theft. As a lost, untethered girl and the parent to one. And the grief, loss, and pain are substantial.

The trauma is seemingly invisible, but it is obstinate and considerable in magnitude.

I am only now undoing a lot of the damage, the trauma, the weeds of RSD, ADHD, and ASD that have wound their way throughout my foundation. I imagine a foundation meant to be of solid concrete.  Thick, ropey, durable weeds have grown like roots throughout my concrete foundation.  Since my diagnoses, the stubborn weeds have disappeared.  They dissipated like a corny magician’s smoke.  I have been left with gaping holes and tunnels in my foundation. But I am stronger for it.  I have been able to fill the hollows with love, light, healing.  Mostly love I was not able to receive before.  Mostly love that the old me put in a queue because I was so convinced I was undeserving.  Mostly love that I rejected because I was so damn sure I was garbage.


I have found agency, the power I was needing all along, to help myself.  I have acquired skills, resources, and words to help myself and help my daughters.  But most importantly, I have received diagnoses that give me access to the support I need from my doctors, social services, and the community at large.


Sent from a very tender, and still healing Mama Tine


I recommend to start your studying journey


This is likely the Scary Mommy post mentioned above resource


What You Need to Know About RSD


Mama Tine

Author Extraordinaire 

Mama Tine

wife, mother, sister, daughter, auntie

Mama Tine

outsider, goddess divine

Let’s discuss HF autism and honoring your body

Sensory processing disorder is a condition in which the brain has trouble receiving and responding to information that comes in through the senses. 

Formerly referred to as sensory integration dysfunction, it is not currently recognized as a distinct medical diagnosis. (WebMD).

Let me preface this blog with my acknowledgement that I have a lot to learn.  I wanted to post a quick blog on the subject of HF autism, sensory processing disorder SPD, and the debilitating desire to crash in the form of naps. I just woke up from such a nap. I woke up groggy, then refreshed, then with a desire to gather my thoughts and pen them to paper.  It is therapeutic to me to find a home for these errant thoughts, so they stop swimming in my mind and I can lay them to rest (I wonder if this is the ADHD inattentive type in me).

Sensory processing disorder (see WebMD as it was my first source for blogging today) is the inability for folks like me to habituate to everyday stimulation: sound, light, touch.  It feels like everything irritates me, and everyone else around me is unbothered.  It hurts.

Today I had an amazing morning.  Just phenomenal.  I woke up ready to start my day.  My kids were in a good mood.  Al was in a similar sunny mood and enjoyed his commute to work, all twenty steps to the loft where he works from home. I was primed for success.

And I had the most productive morning in ages.  I am not exaggerating when I say I completed two weeks’ of tasks: organization of bills, case management of my daughters, my own health needs, appointments, checking in with my older parents, and more.  Summer home-schooling my three daughters, attending to their exceptional needs, providing a stimulating environment amidst COVID/shelter in place, and making sure they were only consuming appropriate material on their devices (I’m looking at you, YouTube).

So come this late afternoon, I crashed.  Inside my heart and mind I was still riding the wave of energy and productivity.  My mood was positive.  But my body was protesting.  After playing Animal Crossing with my eldest daughter, my littlest one snuggled up with me and I succumbed to my tired body.

I used to carry SO MUCH SHAME on this aspect.  I was convinced there was something wrong with me, I was of inferior quality, and I must be garbage since I just never could get my crap together.  I was known as the lazy sleeping one in my extended family and among my social groups.

Receiving my HFA diagnosis was the event that set me free. I am able to complete more tasks, to contribute so much more to my family and immediate community.  I know the source of my overwhelming fatigue and so I shed the shame I was carrying about my body.  

But I still crash.  At least the depression and shame have been set aside for the most part.  I am managing my anxiety a lot better.  I still take the medications I have been using for an extended period of time.  

But I honor my body by taking these late afternoon naps.  I acknowledge my extreme privilege across the board.  I am a fortunate and lucky person.  My life is such that I can do all these things I do in a day.

I urge you to take a nap, if you can.  If you are in my shoes, please be gentle with your mind, body, and spirit.  

If this describes a loved one in your life, please try to envelope them in understanding.  It is a heavy burden to bear.  Simple, everyday tasks are draining.  They might not understand what they experiencing. And maybe they do, and they are self-shaming and isolating from loved ones.

If you are the caregiver or partner of someone like me, seek your own support system.  It is a draining vocation.  It is exhausting to watch and support your loved one as they suffer.   

More to come, as I have only scratched the surface here. 

Sending you all the warm fuzzies,

Mama Tine