rejection sensitive dysphoria

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    Brittany Johnson

    How Rejection-Sensitive Dysphoria Can Prevent You From Initiating Intimacy

    Rejection-sensitive dysphoria (RSD) is a person’s heightened sensitivity to actual or perceived rejection. It can be quite frustrating to live with, as it doesn’t just make me hyper-emotional when I do get rejected, but it stops me from pursuing new things on the basis that I just might get rejected. It’s the ol’ “You can’t fail if you don’t try” theory turned lifestyle. So what happens when you apply that lifestyle to your intimate life? Intimacy and sexuality are two very normal parts of human life, and they’re also very vulnerable things. While some people do believe that sex can be just sex and nothing else, for others it’s not that simple. A lot of people don’t like making the first move when you’re just flirting because what if you’re rejected. But sex is a whole different ball game. Also just to say it, we’re talking about consensual sex and intimacy during this story, nothing else. This isn’t “They said no so now I’m going to weaponize and gaslight them over it.” Not at all. This is about someone’s personal feelings after being turned away when looking for an intimate moment with a trusted partner that they respect and care for. Have you ever been in a room with someone before an intimate moment, wanting a kiss or more, but you’re too afraid to try because what if they rejected you? Or maybe you did try, they rejected you, and you start spiraling thinking that you’re undesirable or gross, and making it deeper than it ultimately may be? That’s rejection-sensitive dysphoria. They could be turning you down due to libido differences, or they’re busy. However, due to the intense vulnerability that can come with intimacy and how pervasive RSD is, it’s genuinely a recipe for disaster, which stops people from even thinking of trying. They deprive themselves of their needs, while also putting the responsibility on the other partner to always instigate intimate moments. While some don’t mind that, others may. If you struggle with this, there are some ways to work through it: 1. Communication is key. Try communicating with your partner about RSD and how it’s impacting your intimate life. It has nothing to do with the partner, and everything with the traits of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Ever ything starts with proper communication. 2. Scheduled intimacy can actually work in your favor here. Schedule a time with your partner to be intimate, and test the waters by agreeing that you will be the one to initiate the moment. Start small. It doesn’t have to be everything, but maybe it’s small. If your RSD is bad enough, initiating a simple cuddle session could be hard. Start small or where you’re comfortable, and then push yourself a little more every time moving forward. 3. Aftercare aftercare aftercare. Aftercare after intimacy is crucial, and it comes in many different ways. Sometimes it’s cuddling, other times it’s video games or maybe baking cookies together. You should always embrace aftercare for sure, but here you pushed yourself and did something that was very hard to do. Aftercare in this case is even more important. 4. Communicate after all is said and done about what worked, what didn’t, and maybe what you can try moving forward. Once you’ve had time to think, come back together and discuss how it felt. It may even help to talk to a therapist about this as well. Talk about initiating intimacy, your feelings around it now that you’re trying to get over it, specific things your partner did that helped, and maybe some things they did that didn’t. What would help you more? Praise? More touch from them? Sit and workshop it so the next time you try, you can learn from the first time and hopefully become more comfortable with it. You deserve intimacy, and you shouldn’t feel afraid to go after it due to RSD. It’s such a delicate game, but that’s when having a supportive partner whether platonic or romantic comes in handy. Just remember regardless of how your RSD hits you, no does in fact mean no and that’s an irrefutable fact. You got this. I believe in you.

    Community Voices

    Have you ever been in love with someone you couldn't be healthy with?

    <p>Have you ever been in love with someone you couldn't be healthy with?</p>
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    Brittany Johnson

    Coping With Rejection-Sensitive Dysphoria in High Rejection Rate Jobs

    So, you have rejection-sensitive dysphoria (RSD) and you decided to work in a high rejection rate job. I’m not judging. In fact, I’m that person with RSD who works in not one, but two to three high rejection rate industries. I’m a writer and performer by trade, meaning I’ve heard no more than I’ve heard my own name. In the beginning, I was a bit naive and thought I’d be an exception to the rule, and then I wasn’t. I was rejected left and right by publications, literary agents, editors, casting directors, casting teams, and people whose names I have never even heard. It’s not because I’m not talented or gifted. I’m incredibly skilled at the things that I do, but in these industries, it’s not about talent. It’s about luck. Sure you have to have the talent to back it, but talent only gets you so far and that’s the hardest thing to accept. The tough part about rejection-sensitive dysphoria is that any amount of rejection, whether it’s actualized, perceived, or otherwise can send someone into a debilitating spiral. RSD can be a true hindrance in life that stops us from pursuing new opportunities and hobbies, people, and even situations. Failure and rejection for me are synonymous at times, so my choice to work in the fields I do could be considered ill-advised. That being said, even with all the no’s, roadblocks, and doors slammed in my face, I’m thriving. Maybe it’s just due to how often it happens, or that I expect a “no,” while hoping for a “yes,” but either way I’m able to exist and grow in industries that my brain shouldn’t really play well with. How? Operating by these four key principles: 1. It takes 99 no’s to get one yes. This is advice my mother once gave me, and it’s what I credit to my being able to keep pushing on even when things aren’t technically going my way. I force myself to think of rejection and denials as a countdown, versus a true roadblock. This slight mindset shift helps me not see every no as the end, but rather just as a part of the journal. 2. A delay is not a denial. One of my mentors loves to say this, and boy has this saved my ass. If you’re in an industry where you’re just waiting for the “yes” to change your life, but you keep getting “no,” then it’s easy to feel like a delay is a denial when it’s not. A delay is just that, a delay. What you want is still coming, and it’s going to be perfect for you because it’s going to be for you. This is another mindset shift that really helps me deal with the countless forms of rejection that I get a week. 3. You’re in control the entire time, not the other way around. I know this doesn’t seem accurate because you need their “yes,” but hear me out. Let’s look at the acting industry. Movies need what to make a movie (generally speaking)? Actors. Without actors, it’s really hard to make a movie. Casting directors would have no one to cast and crafty no one to feed. Ultimately, they need you, you don’t need them. These industries rely on people being passionate enough to continually pursue something where their chance of failure is inherently greater than their chance of success, but that puts a lot of power in our hands, because if we decide to say no and enough is enough, everything stops. 4. Everything, and I mean everything is subjective. Even things that aren’t subjective are! It’s so maddening only because you could be perfect on paper (whatever that means) and still not be the perfect fit. As enraging as that is, what we have to keep in mind is that even our tastes are subjective, and subjective opinions are very different from objective facts. Someone having an opinion that you aren’t talented or worthy doesn’t mean that you aren’t. Someone disliking your project doesn’t mean it’s not good. It just means it’s not right for them. This could be due to personal taste or bias, but it doesn’t stand up to your actual value or worth, no matter how you may feel. Rejection is hard, but these four principles, affirmations, whatever you want to call them, are what keep me going and in the game. There have been so many times I wanted to give up and quit, but then I remember that I’m only on my 46th “no,” and so I have 54 to go before I can really make any decision on whether or not my project, or myself, is viable. You’re in control. You have power, even if you don’t actually feel that way.

    Community Voices

    Are you able to draw the lines between ADHD & bipolar traits?

    <p>Are you able to draw the lines between ADHD & <a href="" class="tm-embed-link  tm-autolink health-map" data-id="5b23ce6600553f33fe98e465" data-name="bipolar" title="bipolar" target="_blank">bipolar</a> traits?</p>
    3 people are talking about this

    Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria and Fear of Failure Following My Dreams

    There’s a particular aspect of ADHD that has been the bane of my existence and, more specifically, my goals in life: rejection sensitive dysphoria (RSD). For the uninitiated, rejection sensitive dysphoria is a symptom you wouldn’t necessarily associate with ADHD. If emotional dysregulation and anxiety had a baby, it would be RSD: the constant fear and perception of rejection in all its forms. Teasing and criticism sting like arrows. I’m always on the lookout for the minute signs that I’m being “rejected,” my thoughts spiraling into self-criticism and depression when I believe I’ve perceived said rejection. It can come from anywhere and anyone; a long-time friend, my fiancé, my coworkers. Most damaging, though, is the way it has kept me from following my dreams. It might not be a surprise, but my long-term dream is to be a writer — not only articles and personal essays such as this one, but also fiction. I have a master’s degree in creative writing; I have a vague scattering of published short stories and a finished (but problematic) first draft of a young adult urban fantasy novel that is extremely dear to my heart. And yet… My fear of failure is intense. The thought of trying and not succeeding is enough to keep me from trying at all. Even writing about this feels mortifying, like I’m peeling away a mask and showing a vulnerable side of me that I am — you guessed it — afraid is going to be heavily judged, criticized, rejected. Critique and criticism are a part of life, particularly for creative pursuits like writing, so I know how important it is that I am able to cope with this particularly troubling aspect of ADHD. In order to get there, though, I also have to find a way to pursue my fiction writing dream without this fear of rejection holding me back. What if my fiction isn’t well-received? What if it’s not as good as the story in my head? What if I’m incapable of doing it justice? Recently, I took a step that might, in a small way, help me take a step in the right direction. My writing mentor (the incomparable Maya MacGregor) invited me to participate in the Inkfort Press Publishing Derby, an annual competition of sorts where authors old and new are challenged to write a novella with a preassigned cover, pseudonym, and title. And, there is a catch — one which may simultaneously be the aspect to help my rejection sensitive dysphoria: it’s entirely anonymous. In September, participants will self-publish their novellas under their anonymous pseudonyms without revealing who they truly are until later. So much of my rejection sensitive dysphoria feels tied to my identity as Matt Sloan that, in a way, publishing under a pseudonym has lessened some of the fear I normally attach to my writing. I don’t quite feel the same terror; it’s a low-stakes environment where I can test my strengths. If I don’t succeed… well, that’s OK. At least, it feels OK right now. My response to this might change in a few months but for now, I feel like rejection sensitive dysphoria has lost some of its power over me. It’s a battle I didn’t think I could win, but with this, I can at least try without the grand fear of failure that RSD brings. For the first time in recent memory, I feel excited about the prospect of writing and publishing something new. If you too live with rejection sensitive dysphoria, could this help you? Doing something you love in a low-stakes way, without the fear of failure breathing down your neck? I’d love to hear from you. You can find some other tips for coping with rejection sensitive dysphoria here, if this wouldn’t fit your lifestyle. Regardless, I want you to know that it’s going to be OK. I can say this to you now without the immediacy of RSD, but failure isn’t the end of the world. We try, we fail, we try again. It doesn’t determine your worth. Keep up with my journey on my website,

    Quick Strategies to Manage Your ADHD and Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria

    Like many of us, I am continually learning how to best navigate life with my unique challenges. My very-late-in-life attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) diagnosis threw me sideways as I attempted to wrap my head around this discovery. When I was diagnosed, I was finally able to understand who I was and, in part, why . The usual suspects paraded around me during those initial days: relief, disbelief, anger, sadness, grief, and confusion. Over time, they passed by a bit less often and took their leave a bit earlier. With sites like The Mighty, a good therapist, supportive friends and family, and a smidge of pharmaceuticals, my ADHD remains a part of me but not front and center. Usually. Except when this one little thing happens. It is then I am reminded that my brain does indeed function with ADHD and Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria (RSD) tendencies. For the longest time, until my diagnosis, I didn’t know there was a biological reason for my behavior. I just considered it one of my many (many) shortcomings. This “little thing” goes something like this: Sometimes when there is an event and I feel hurt or threatened, I am triggered. The event feels significant to me, and there may indeed be a genuine reason to feel upset. Having a reaction that reflects the severity of the situation is understandable. That’s what most people do. But not me. No. During these times, it isn’t my tendency to just have a reaction. On a scale of one to 10, with one being the calm of unconsciousness and 10 being feeling completely hysterical, my inner gauge jumps to 12.  Not slowly inching upward, with the possibility of arresting or reversing the emotion but instead to 12 straightaway. My mind goes from zero to off-the-chart in less than a heartbeat. My brain is hijacked by the “fight, flight, freeze, or fawn” response—the reaction typically exhibited when one meets a bear in the woods or faces any other imminent threat to one’s life.  Being excluded from a party or having my work critically diminished does not actually rise to that level of threat, but at that moment, it feels that way. Typically, the brain invites Executive Function and Impulse Control to the Emotion Party to keep things from going off the tracks. In my case, they are initially refused entry. My mind has a private pre-party. Just me and my devastation or rage, without those critical seconds of impulse control. I liken these moments to tornados. They can become intense very quickly, have the power to do damage, and aren’t always visible to the naked eye. My reactive emotions also build quickly. More emotion floods in unchecked, and the storm gains strength. The emotions are powerful, and navigation is made difficult by the shifting currents. Inside the storm, I cannot accurately assess the cause or find the best way out. As quickly as it arrives, though, the storm passes. The clouds dissipate. The darkness brightens. The turbulent winds calm, and the intense emotions fade. Nothing had changed from moments before—except for my mind, which has allowed reason to return. This doesn’t necessarily mean all is well, but things now have a heck of a lot better chance of improving. The axiom “Knowledge is Power” is spot-on. Finally understanding my modus operandi, I am continually working to change it. Here are my top three strategies for changing my emotional reactions with ADHD and reactive-sensitive dysphoria: 1. Wait before responding to my ADHD symptoms. This is my personal five-second rule. If I become upset during a face-to-face interaction, I distance myself when possible. I may go to the restroom, go for a short walk, or sit in my car until my emotional storm blows over. No calling, texting, emailing, blocking, or contact with others whatsoever (except maybe to say that I need a moment to myself). Absolutely no breaking off a relationship , quitting a job, or making other significant decisions. No hand gestures or lesson-teaching while driving. 2. Challenge my initial interpretation. Is my photography client’s dissatisfied look due to her belief that I suck as a photographer and should find a new career? Or is it because she wasn’t happy with the outfit she chose to wear in the shots? I remind myself to assume the best, summon up my courage, and learn the reality of the situation instead of imagining my own version of events. Sometimes a good imagination isn’t all good. 3. Practice healthy responses with my ADHD. Success breeds success. While I can still experience an initial surge of emotion, I do my best to practice what I have learned and adhere to my new script. I forgive myself when I slip back into my old patterns of unhealthy behavior and promise myself to keep trying. I wish you the best as you navigate your own daily challenges on your personal ADHD and reactive-sensitive dysphoria journey!

    Community Voices

    Social Anxiety Struggles

    <p><a href=" Anxiety" class="tm-embed-link  tm-autolink health-map" data-id="5b23ceb900553f33fe99cc65" data-name="Social Anxiety" title="Social Anxiety" target="_blank">Social Anxiety</a> Struggles</p>
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    Community Voices

    #CheckInWithMe Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria

    I just need to get it off my brain. I have the urge to delete all of my contacts and friends because I don’t feel like I have friends who haven’t rejected me, whether perceived or not, becaaaaause of the way my silly brain works that I’m waiting to get help with.

    Like I feel like everyone got a life and left me behind, and so I don’t try, because I don’t even know how to do the sOcIaL tHiNg. Which is why I’m looking for an autism diagnosis 👌🏻.

    #Anxiety #RejectionSensitiveDysphoria #possiblyautistic #ADHDTypeC

    2 people are talking about this

    Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria Triggers You Need to Prepare For

    Rejection sensitive dysphoria ( RSD ) has been a part of my experience with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) for as long as I can remember, even before I knew it had a name. Rejection sensitive dysphoria is an intense sensitivity to any form of rejection, or perceived rejection. It makes it hard to maintain relationships or control my emotions because it can be so overwhelming. I’ve had to learn to identify the main triggers for me, so I can prepare myself accordingly because many of these triggers can’t be avoided. 1. Messages being left on ‘read’ or ghosting. Most people don’t feel great when they’re ghosted (when someone doesn’t respond to them and disappears like a ghost). For me, it goes a step further and is actually worse when a person sees a message I’ve sent and doesn’t respond, so all I see is a “read” receipt. Instead of understanding the person may be busy or need time to respond, I feel rejected and horrible about myself. I start thinking they don’t like me or don’t want to talk to me, and it becomes hard to breathe. 2. Constructive feedback. I try my best to be open to feedback, especially at work, so that I can improve because I know that feedback is a gift. However, when I am given feedback — in particular by a person in power, like my boss — I perceive rejection and think they believe I’m terrible at my job and entirely incompetent. Even if the feedback is a small improvement, and I know it makes sense, my RSD still gets triggered. I try hard not to show any emotional response even though I’m tearing up inside, especially when the feedback is so often delivered with kindness. I can’t remember any of the good things they said and focus on the rejection. 3. People being late. As someone with ADHD, I understand being on time is hard. I run late all the time. But when other people are late to meet up with me, even by a few minutes, my RSD alarm goes off and I start spiraling, thinking I’ll probably get stood up, or the person didn’t want to come and meet up with me and that’s why they’re late. I also view their lateness as a lack of respect for me and my time and feel like my time isn’t important to them because they don’t care. This makes it hard for me to be patient or in the moment, and happy to see them when they do come. I know it’s not their fault, and it’s perfectly natural to run late sometimes, so I try to hide it as best as I can. 4. Cancelling plans. Life comes up, and plans can get canceled. I understand this on a logical level, but it doesn’t stop me from feeling absolutely gutted when plans get canceled. Regardless of how good the reason for canceling is, I still have the same thoughts around rejection, not mattering, and people not wanting to be around me. The same feeling comes up when I feel like I’m the only one that reaches out to make plans, and the other person doesn’t try to make plans with me. It’s hard because I don’t always feel like I have the right to feel the way I do, so I beat myself up for being so upset at someone because it isn’t always their fault, nor is it usually rooted in malice or them rejecting me. 5. Friendly teasing. This one’s a tough one because I love teasing my friends in a friendly way. It’s a way for me to bond with friends and feel close to them, but sometimes I can’t take it the way I can dish it, and that’s not really fair to my friends. I know it’s always friendly, but one small comment can trigger my rejection sensitive dysphoria and I start to believe the teasing is true, and it stops being funny. The line between “friendly teasing” and “mean teasing” is fine, and depending on how sensitive I’m already feeling, it can change and take me by surprise. 6. Someone telling me I hurt them. I’m human, and often fumble or make mistakes. I always want those around me to feel comfortable with telling me when I’ve hurt them. But similar to my reactions when I’m receiving constructive feedback at work, I find it hard when someone tells me I’ve done something that hurt them. I feel like because of my actions, they don’t want to be around me anymore and are rejecting me. 7. People disagreeing with me. I often perceive disagreements as a rejection of my viewpoint, my experiences, or my opinion. This is further compounded in spaces where I hold the least amount of privilege, so my voice is already rejected on a systemic level. When a person disagrees with me, my RSD kicks into hard drive and I have a hard time accepting that we can both see something differently but still care about each other and feel like I’m being rejected. The tricky part with these triggers is that they’re often not true rejection or rooted in malice. Often, they’re regular everyday occurrences that the average person would probably be able to take in stride. Because of this, I end up hiding my true feelings, shutting down and invalidating my emotions, or withdrawing into myself. I hope that I can find a way to honor my feelings without letting them dictate how I respond to a situation. I’ve found it helpful to do my best to assume everyone is doing the best they can with what they have, and assume positive intentions first before jumping to conclusions about rejection. I want to learn to respond to myself, and the other person, with compassion and grace, because I owe it to myself and the people who love me to believe in their love for me.

    Ways People Experience Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria

    Rejection sensitive dysphoria, or RSD , is a common symptom for those of us who experience attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). I find rejection sensitive dysphoria the hardest part of ADHD, and I experience it almost every day in a number of subtle ways. Rejection sensitive dysphoria is essentially a hypersensitivity to rejection, or perceived rejection, and can result in highly emotional responses. RSD can show up in different ways depending on the person, but here are the most common ones I experience. 1. I’m hypercritical of myself. I never let myself make small mistakes, and feel like I do things wrong all the time. Minor errors, such as copying the wrong email address or forgetting to include an agenda for a meeting, make me feel like an absolute failure, even though I can easily fix it. It leads to negative thought patterns around never being able to do anything right or feeling useless for silly, careless mistakes. 2. I push others away and isolate myself. When I feel rejected, even if I’m not actually being rejected, I pull away from the closest people to me. I ignore messages, or answer with one-word answers when I have to answer. Sometimes I ignore my phone entirely and watch YouTube videos or Netflix all day. 3. I have low self-esteem. Most of the time, I feel really bad about myself and don’t have a lot of confidence. Part of that comes from consistently experiencing intense feelings of rejection that make me feel like I’m not worth very much. This seeps into my self-esteem because I find it hard to feel like I’m good enough when I feel rejected all the time. I often feel like people don’t like me or don’t want me around, and then I start to not like myself either. 4. I set impossibly high standards for myself. Whenever I accomplish something, I pick apart the ways I didn’t do it perfectly. I can be a bit of a perfectionist because in order to avoid any feelings of rejection and avoid the intensity of rejection sensitive dysphoria , I convince myself that if I have really high standards and don’t mess up then I won’t feel that way. I also set higher standards for myself than anyone else does, so I over-deliver their expectations. This can lead to burnout and dissatisfaction for me because nothing I do is ever really good enough for the standards I’ve set out for myself. 5. I struggle to maintain healthy relationships . Because I perceive rejection even when I haven’t been rejected, I get really insecure in my friendships and often feel like something is wrong — read: often feel like I’ve done something wrong — so I end up creating problems that don’t really exist. I need a lot of reassurance from my friends and struggle with taking constructive feedback when I’ve done something to hurt them. At the same time, I also feel hurt and rejected by them even if they haven’t really done anything to make me feel that way. 6. I overthink social interactions and experience social anxiety . Since I’m constantly on the lookout for any signs of rejection and feel it around every corner, I find social interactions a minefield to navigate both online and in person. With online or virtual social interactions. I notice slight changes in text messages and think people are angry with me when they don’t answer, send short messages, or add a period instead of an exclamation point. I reread text conversations, scouring for any places I may have gone wrong, and rerun in-person interactions in my head to make sure I didn’t mess up. In-person, I find myself getting really quiet and reserved whenever I sense the slightest hint of rejection and often have awkward silences, which increases my social anxiety . 7. I experience suicidal ideation. When I feel the intense emotions associated with rejection sensitive dysphoria , I often think about suicide because I just want it all to stop. It’s like the colloquial phrase, “I could literally die of embarrassment” — I feel like I could die from the rejection, that’s how strong it feels. When I feel rejected, I feel like there’s no place for me in the world because no one wants me anyways and the world would be better off without me. It makes it hard to cope in the moment because the ideation can be quite strong. 8. I can have really strong emotions around shame, hopelessness, anger, or sadness. Everything about rejection sensitive dysphoria is intense — emotions are more intense, thoughts are more intense, situations seem more intense, and with that, I feel some really deep emotions. Sometimes when I feel rejected, I get really defensive and angry — irrationally angry and have angry outbursts — while other times, I get really sad or hopeless, like when I experience suicidal ideation. Other times I feel really ashamed, especially if I feel like I’ve let someone down or failed at something. In those moments, I don’t feel like there’s any hope for me. Rejection sensitive dysphoria manifests in different ways every day, so I find it is important to have some coping mechanisms to deal with this. Whether it’s keeping caring messages from friends and going back to them when I’m sad, or reaching out to a friend and letting them know how I feel. I also find that rejection sensitive dysphoria is really intense but then can dissipate quickly so, depending on the situation, I either try to breathe through it and ride the wave or distract myself with funny videos or memes. I always try to remind myself that it’s often the rejection sensitive dysphoria speaking, not me, and to just try and let the moment pass without reading much into it. I hope that with time and practice, I can override some of the rejection sensitive dysphoria manifestations on my own, but until then, I’m grateful and lucky to have friends around to help make it easier.