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:
- 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. (CHADD.org)
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
wife, mother, sister, daughter, auntie
outsider, goddess divine