Mental health issues
If this is your first visit, check out the community guide. You will have to Join us or Sign in before you can post.

ADHD and something important I don’t see spoken about on here

SallyHSallyH Member Posts: 31 Courageous

Hello everyone!


!Warning, this is a super long post so you might wanna get a cup of tea before diving in!


After being on here a while and looking through the posts, not realising I’ve sort of been in search of something in particular rather than having to post about it. But, I couldn’t find anything so here goes.


RSD or Rejection Sensitivity Dysphoria is a condition that comes along with ADHD. There’s still research being done about how it’s caused and how to treat it. I, personally, was unaware of it being a thing until my Psychiatrist suggested I may be afflicted by it. 

Through some research I found many websites talking about it, and many ADHD centred communities chatting about it too. Which is why I thought talking about it here will help not only those with ADHD, or parents of children with ADHD.


So, to begin with. RSD is rather well named as it’s very much exactly what it translates out to. Sensitivity to Rejection that is extremely hard to bear. (And I am definitely in that group that feels it is). During a RSD episode the rejection perceived may not even be real possibly reacting to outside things that have led to negative comments before. 


Many theorise that RSD could be caused by the environment in which someone with ADHD grows up in, as well as it being part of the genetic trait that may cause ADHD itself. It’s unsurprising when studies have shown that children with ADHD receive an average of 20,000 more negative comments about themselves than other children. These can be in the form of neglect, bullying, humiliation, by peers or by family, or really anyone they may encounter. According to WebMD RSD affects up to 99% of Teenagers and Adults with ADHD, and 1 in 3 of those surveyed say it’s the single worst part about living with ADHD.


Since I can’t speak for everyone else with ADHD, nor am I even close to an expert, I’m gonna talk about how RSD has affected my life. 


I’m writing this as I come in and out of a rapid succession of RSD episodes that seem to grow in intensity as they arrive. At 25 I find myself unable to handle even the slightest drop of perceived criticism. Temper tantrums and crying fits are common. I have no energy or self-esteem left and each relationship I have becomes strained and stretched in many ways. 

It’s hard even to write this as my mind works up ways in which this post could lead to more rejection and negativity. The thought that someone may turn on me, telling me it’s not real and that I just need to get over it. Or the thought this post could be ignored without a single interaction. At this point I’m not sure what’s worse. 

Living with ADHD has its blessings and curses. 

The imagination I have is wonderful and vibrant. I’m naturally curious and enjoy finding answers to the many questions swirling around my head. I have hundreds of ideas and I don’t get bogged down in details. The natural optimism I have has got me through quite a lot too!


Then something happens. It could be no fault of anyone else. It could be no fault of my own. A message left on read, a silly comment, something being passed over. RSD takes hold and starts the chain reaction. It dulls everything. ‘They think it’s stupid!’ it says, as the perceived action ripples in my brain. ‘Why did you think that would be a good idea!?’ it pokes and prods like a school playground bully. ‘Don’t you see that everyone hates you? You’re nothing! It screams as the tears start and I feel my heart sink into my stomach. As it smothers me, my behaviour turns. I feel meek and small. My anger boils over and I feel my fists clench. Muscles tighten and it all bursts out as someone asks me a normal question. 

I can hear myself sounding angry and dismissive, wanting to grab those words and pull them back but it’s too late now. Embarrassment flows over me as I’m told not to be so stroppy, and I lock myself away. My Executive Dysfunction prevents me from starting anything that may break me out of this episode. I end up sitting there, crying, paralyzed. I want to reach out for help but god forbid I come off as needy. ‘I always come off as needy’ I think as I backspace texts to people that I know deep down would be happy to support me. 

After a few hours I feel more settled. I’ll wash my face and attempt to indulge in an activity I enjoy. The episode, no matter how long it lasted, has left a mark on the day that’s not easily overcome. 


I’ve had episodes like this for as long as I remember. Sometimes I remember what set me off too. The day I got my GCSE results and my parents offhandedly said I should have tried harder. The moment my A-Level biology teacher told me I wasn’t cut out for a life in science. When my University Tutor compared my artwork to an artist I disliked. The comments I received from an ex-friend during my constant (and seemingly never ending) job search. Even when my ex-boyfriend took three hours to answer a text. 

That’s only a drop in the ocean. The things that stuck hard in my memory. Things may seem stupid to to others hit me the same way as devastating news. 

I’ve taken to not showing anyone outside my friend group my artwork. Only one person is allowed to see my creative writing. My ideas stay deep inside, protected. It’s really no wonder I seem dull to those who don’t know me. 


As I’ve grown older the episodes have become more and more common. Feelings that I have failed those I care about are intense and the thoughts I’ve ruined my life get harder to navigate. I hope for the sake of my future I’ll get into therapy soon. Although I’m terrified I’ll be rejected there too.


My message to parents is exactly what I have always wanted my parents to know. 


Please, please, please, cover your children in positivity (ADHD or not). Love them openly and wholeheartedly. When they’re interested in something, encourage them. Answer their questions. Feed their curiosity. Tell them they’re wonderful, that you’re proud of them. When they share an idea, no matter how ‘silly’ or fanciful, ask them to explain more about it. If they have a plan to make it reality, ask if there’s anything you can do to help. Let them talk for hours on their special interest. Show them the unconditional love that all children deserve. And don’t let it burn out as they grow older. Push them to do their best in productive, positive ways. You will get just as much out of it as they do. If your child has ADHD this may even prevent the horrors of RSD. 


If anyone has any tips on how to possibly deal with RSD, that would be amazing. If anyone with ADHD has any stories about their own RSD feel free to post. It’ll be interesting to hear from people on this topic.


Replies

  • chiariedschiarieds Member Posts: 7,918 Disability Gamechanger
    Hi again @SallyH - I hadn't heard about RSD, so thank you for explaining it so well, as if future members then are looking to find posts on it, yours will come up.
    I'm very sorry this is so understandably more than distressing, & how it impacts on you. You've obviously looked into this a lot.
    As a parent, I totally agree with being positive with your children, whatever problem, or none they may have.....I certainly listened to my son talk about nature, most especially big cats, for hours, & hours (he was described as being 'next door to Asperger's' when he was 19 or 20). I've always answered questions to the best of my knowledge, helped & encouraged them, & they know I love them to bits, & am indeed proud of them (now aged 34 & nearly 40).
    You have great insight for such a young person; I'm sorry your parents didn't understand.
    Just having learnt from yourself about RSD, please allow me a little time, & I will look into this, & if I find anything helpful will get back in touch. In the meanwhile, hopefully some of our community members may relate, if they also have an understanding of this. :)
  • SallyHSallyH Member Posts: 31 Courageous
    Hey there, @chiarieds
    Thank you, I've been seeing a lot of posts about RSD on more American-centric or world wide forums and felt it needed to be pushed into the British light. 
    Exploring what's said about RSD has helped me a lot in realising why I feel so rubbish and angry when it came to criticism or things I saw as 'slights'. 

    You sounds like a great parent, I wish everyone had a parent who would listen to them and indulge their questioning. It absolutely breaks my heart when I see a child asking questions and the adult with them ignoring them or telling them to be quiet. 
    I still live at home due to a long list of unfortunate events and poor luck, and still at my age, my parents shut down any questions or ideas I have. A lot through easily disproven lies. It's made it incredibly difficult to be proud in myself or even trust myself and my ideas in all settings. 
    I'm sure your kids are just as proud at having a parent like you sticking by their sides. 

    Thank you so much, I'll be interested to see what you find. And I'm hoping for more interactions too. 

    Hope you have a great night!
  • Ross_ScopeRoss_Scope Posts: 3,105

    Scope community team

    Thank you so much for your post about RSD @SallyH, it has been really informative for me to read. I didn't previously know about it. 

    I hope others read your excellent  post and find it just as useful.

    Thanks again, it's great. 
    Online Community Coordinator

    Find out more about, and apply for, the Community Co-production Group.

    Want to tell us about your experience on the community? Talk to our chatbot and let us know.
  • SallyHSallyH Member Posts: 31 Courageous
    @Ross_Scope Thank you, It's been a long time in the making. After my most recent RSD episode I felt the forum was really in need of hearing about it. Especially if it maybe helps parents, carers, friends, or partners of those with ADHD understand and identify those episodes. Maybe leading to knowing how to even prevent them. 
    Thank you!
  • Ross_ScopeRoss_Scope Posts: 3,105

    Scope community team

    SallyH said:
    @Ross_Scope Thank you, It's been a long time in the making. After my most recent RSD episode I felt the forum was really in need of hearing about it. Especially if it maybe helps parents, carers, friends, or partners of those with ADHD understand and identify those episodes. Maybe leading to knowing how to even prevent them. 
    Thank you!
    I completely agree with you. your piece will hopefully raise awareness amongst community members and highlight the key signifiers of RSD.
    Online Community Coordinator

    Find out more about, and apply for, the Community Co-production Group.

    Want to tell us about your experience on the community? Talk to our chatbot and let us know.
  • SallyHSallyH Member Posts: 31 Courageous
    @Ross_Scope I also hope my personal writing about how it feels may help people understand that the person they love with ADHD isn't being 'Stroppy' and cant just 'Get over it'. Like, it feels like physical pain a lot of the time. 
  • Chloe_ScopeChloe_Scope Scope Posts: 10,652 Disability Gamechanger
    Thank you so much @SallyH for taking the time to share this with us. I found it really insightful and learnt a lot.
    Community Partner
    Scope

    Tell us what you think?
    Complete our feedback form to help us to improve your community.
  • SallyHSallyH Member Posts: 31 Courageous
    @Chloe_Scope Thank you, I wanted to share how it felt to be afflicted with RSD since I feel a lot of people who don't understand ADHD think we're just being childish and dramatic 
  • Chloe_ScopeChloe_Scope Scope Posts: 10,652 Disability Gamechanger
    I'm sorry you have experienced that misjudgement from others @SallyH, you should be proud of what you are doing to raise awareness. :)
    Community Partner
    Scope

    Tell us what you think?
    Complete our feedback form to help us to improve your community.
  • HannahShortisHannahShortis Member Posts: 4 Listener
    edited November 2020

    I found this really informative and really appreciate the information. I have ADHD and constantly feel little pits of anger when people reject my kindness which can sometimes cause me to rage. I have gone through a lot of rejection prior as I applied for drama school which involved a lot of being told I wasn’t good enough and feeling less than. I’m someone who normally internalises my feelings however during my time at drama school I suffered severe mental breakdowns with some even involving episodes of delirium I have never experienced before after being forced to reduce my personality so I could be a better performer and portray another’s perspective by my tutor. 

    I am sorry you have experienced such rejection however your discussion of this topic has made me reflect on my own. This is definitely something I will speak about with my psychiatrist when I next see her. 

    Hannah
  • Ross_ScopeRoss_Scope Posts: 3,105

    Scope community team

    Thanks for sharing @HannahShortis and welcome to the community.

    I'm sorry you had to experience some of those things, I hope you're doing okay.
    Online Community Coordinator

    Find out more about, and apply for, the Community Co-production Group.

    Want to tell us about your experience on the community? Talk to our chatbot and let us know.
Sign in or join us to comment.