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

Hannah Gadsby Taught Me I Have High Functioning Autism

The first blog I wrote for Mama Tine Autism had to be about Glennon Doyle. She gave me the words, those words gave me the permission. I was illuminated to the darkest and most sorrowful crevices of my mind. I had a lens to see myself for who I was; a woman who carried trauma from her childhood. She said it was cruel for anyone to try to take my pain from me. It is cruel to try to take away my time to process my trauma. To go, at my own pace, through the steps of the grieving process (please take the time here to research the five steps of the grieving process if you have not studied it yet). She said, the feelings from grief and loss are just as sacred as someone’s happiness and joy.

[Anecdotally, it is the reason I was struck down by Disney Pixar’s “Inside Out.” It boldly delved into mental health. It gave kiddos the lens to study the inner workings of their minds and hearts. It said, sadness is just as essential as joy in our children’s little healthy hearts.]

Glennon Doyle, and all her courage and eloquence, primed me to receive some earth-shattering knowledge from Hannah Gadsby, another hero of mine.

Hannah Gadsby broke Comedy. She saw that there was not a path for that which she wanted to create. And she boldly created her own genre. That is freaking amazing! With “Nanette” and her TED talk, she unpacked her diagnosis of high functioning autism HFA and my heart was shattered and seemingly healed in the same instant. She was talking about me. She was describing me. Her path was just like mine. I was the same kind of alien as her.

My whole body clicked. You know when you’re trying to twist a lid on a stubborn jar? You twist around and around, waiting for the thread to catch. Waiting for it to just sync with home and you can finally close the damn jar? That was me my whole life, up until my 36 years of life. Constantly buffering, hoping, waiting, just looking for home. And with Gadsby’s performance I felt that successful relief. Thirty-six years is a lot of wear and tear.

The relief, the diagnosis, comes with a relief that reflects the magnitude of the wait. It was cathartic to say the least. It was a a beast of a burden. And it dissipated like a magician’s cloud of smoke. It was heaven on earth. It was every ooey gooey cliche, because it was true.

I encourage you to watch Gadsby’s “Nanette,” her TED talk on YouTube, her Skavlan interview on Youtube, and “Douglas.” She so eloquently breaks down what it is like to have grown to be in your thirties before receiving a HFA diagnosis.

Wishing you growth, comfort, and warm fuzzies,

Mama Tine