10 Things You Should Never Do When Experiencing Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria

 


 

If you haven't heard of rejection sensitive dysphoria, but you've experienced feelings of severe self-hatred, depression, sadness, hopelessness, worthlessness, or rage after someone says something to trigger these feelings inside of you, then you already know what it is.  You may have thought that you were sensitive, or over reactive, or been told that before, but in reality, you most likely suffer from RSD.  

 

It's a real thing that usually happens to those with aspergers who have ADHD.  And it's usually over a small slight (sometimes a big one), and sometimes, the other person didn't even realize they said something that triggered you (and sometimes it's not even something someone said, it can be something someone did, either in the moment, or something you find out about later).  And feelings of RSD can range anywhere from slight shame to complete and total self-hatred and being suicidal).

I know exactly how this feels because I have RSD.  As do both my oldest son and my husband.  We all have aspergers, as well as ADHD.  And after years on end of having no clue as to why I was so emotional over certain stupid things, it felt like a breath of fresh air to find out that it exists, and that I have it.  The biggest plus about knowing about it is that when it's happening, I can recognize it, and usually calm myself down faster because I know what's going on.  In the past, I just had to deal with it until it went away.  Which is awful, because if you have no idea what's going on, you assume how you feel is real.  And you can end up making some HUGE mistakes because of it.  

 

So here are some lessons I've learned about what to do and what not to do when you're experiencing a bout of RSD: 

 

DO NOT

  1. Think this will last forever.  It won't.  Yes, RSD can set off a depression.  That can happen.  But even if it did, know that depression is also an episode, not a permanent state, even though it can feel like it is.  Most of the RSD goes away in minutes, sometimes hours, and usually at the most, a day.  Taking a nap is one of the quickest ways to resolve it.  
  2. Make any sort of decision or take any sort of action.  And I mean this one.  DO NOT make a single decision under the influence of RSD.  Yes, I've had a couple good decisions come out of an RSD episode.  But those were by sheer luck.  Every other decision ended with me pushing people away by either pissing them off, or looking like a crazy person.  Or by me making really stupid choices and deleting things I later wanted back, or throwing things away I later wanted back.  DO NOT MAKE A SINGLE DECISION DURING THIS EPISODE.  This is the most important thing to remember.  Well, besides #1.  Here's the thing, RSD can get bad enough that may want to die.  I've been there.  I know how that feels.  But worse than that, with some people, RSD can make you want to take steps to want to die.  And that's not cool.  Many people who have attempted suicide have said it wasn't a huge thing that caused them to try it, it was just a spontaneous thing after a single stupid thing happening.  That's RSD at it's worse.  So remember this one thing: DO NOT MAKE A SINGLE DECISION DURING THIS EPISODE.  Instead, veg out with some Netflix or whatever else you like, take a nap, and wait for the feeling to pass.  With smaller decisions, like breaking up with someone (though that's major in its own way) or deleting your social media, wait for the feeling to pass and see how you feel about that choice when you feel better.  As for suicidal thoughts, if the feeling doesn't go away after the episode has passed, call your doctor or therapist/psych ASAP.  
  3. Stew in your negative RSD thoughts.  If you let your mind wander to the deep dark places RSD wants to take you to, then you're going to get yourself into trouble.  So don't.  Like I said above, VEG OUT or NAP.  Do not let your mind cycle in the sewage thoughts.  Because it never leads to anything good, plus, it leaves your mind more susceptible to going into an actual depression.
  4. Scroll social media.  Oh wow, if I could give you a quarter every single time I took to social media back in the day when RSD would hit, you'd be rich.  I'd torture myself by going online and look at all my friends and family and play the game "try to find proof that these people hate me".  That's a super shitty game to play.  Now, I did realize that the people I thought were being shitty really were being shitty, but still.  I tortured myself to back up that underlying feeling of self-hatred, and that led me into little mini-depressions.  I eventually realized that having my friends list in the hundreds was causing my RSD to get worse!  So I deleted everyone but my hubby and kids and have pretty much kept my friends list as that since.  People didn't like it, but hey, it's MY mental health I needed to protect, not them.  Then we have the fact I'd got online and really, really verbally attack stupid strangers who said stupid things.  So that became my rule for myself: do not get on social media when I feel bad.  Now I hardly use it all.  So it's a win-win.  
  5. Break stuff.  If you feel yourself losing it, go lay in your bed and try to calm down and nap.  Breaking stuff when you're losing control scares the SHIT out of people (as well as your pets).  And then you're left with broken stuff the next day, which you wholeheartedly regret.  So take a deep breath and remove yourself from what's making you feel bad and just nap it off.  
  6. Verbally attack others.  Easier said than done.  But trust me, you don't want to do this.  You're going to mess up your relationships with others, and you really don't want that to happen.  The same remedy as #5 works here, too: deep breath, remove yourself, take a nap.
  7. Write sad or nasty letters or emails.  This also falls into #2's category, but since this is a specific thing, I thought I'd separate it on its own.  This goes along with #6, not verbally attacking someone.  But also this includes not to write "fuck off" letters, or any other sort of letter.  Don't write heartbreaking letters about how much someone hurt you (or, if you do, DO NOT SEND IT).  Don't go onto FB and write a novel length post about this person (or to this person).  Just don't.  Instead, write in your journal.  Create an "Angry Letter" journal, where you write all your angry letters you should not send.  I write stupid poetry that I don't share with people.  Angry poetry.  And I leave it where it is and don't send them off to anyone.  Because you getting out your sadness or anger onto paper (or computer) isn't about hurting that person (even though you really, really want to), it's about getting it out of you.  You can have a private blog that's password protected (so nobody else can read it) or you can write these things in your journal or on a file on your computer (I have lots of "Dear So and So" files on my computer).  But nothing good EVER comes from sending them.  Ever.  Trust me.  You end up looking like a fool or a total jerk and you'll always regret it.  So don't do it.  Netflix and veg, my dudes.  That's all.  
  8. Throw things away.  Again, this goes with your choices/decisions.  But don't mess with your stuff or someone else's stuff when in an RSD episode.  Just don't do it.  If it's your stuff, you'll most likely regret it.  If it's someone else's, you'll look crazy.  So just go chill and see how you feel about the idea of getting rid of stuff after you feel better.  
  9. Drive.  This is a no-brainer.  Driving while experiencing RSD is like driving while on drugs.  It's never okay to be intoxicated while driving.  And RSD can be either sadness intoxication or anger intoxication.  Either way, you're not thinking with a clear head.  And that means it's SUPER dangerous for both you and other people on the road for you to drive in this state.  Yes, you are in a state.  Remember that.  Let that state pass before you get behind the wheel.  Be responsible.
  10. Intoxicate yourself to numb the feelings.  RSD is a HUGE reason that people either turn to drugs or alcohol or turn back to them after getting sober.  You think you can't handle such big feelings, but I assure you, you can.  The same goes for both masturbation and sex.  Do not turn to the rush of an orgasm to save you from feeling bad.  I mean, it's better than drugs or alcohol, but it's also setting up your brain to expect to be compensated for such horrible feelings.  Which is how addiction happens.  When you numb you feelings instead of letting them pass on their own, your brain craves that numbness.  And eventually, you won't want to feel any feelings at all.  Which can lead to addiction, apathy, and severe depression.  The same goes for mindless eating.  Don't use food to help your mood either.  You can become addicted to anything when you don't want to feel your feelings.

 

DO

  1. Talk to the person who hurt you.  Sometimes, just clearing the air with the person who said something to make you sad or angry can alleviate your feelings immediately.  If the person is not willing to hear you, then the next items on this list should help.  But if they are, sometimes all you need to do is be completely honest with them with how they made you feel and why it made you feel that way (and not be accusatory with them) to fix everything right up.  Sometimes my kids get embarrassed by my chatter mouth and tell me to be quiet, which super hurts my feelings, because I am kind of socially awkward at times, and I already feel dumb for talking at all.  So I have to tell them "When you tell me I'm embarrassing you, it makes me feel so ashamed of myself and makes me feel like never speaking again.  And it makes me want to cry due to my RSD."  They know I have RSD.  My oldest has it, too.  So they are understanding.  So they will apologize and elaborate on why it triggers them when I talk too much.  You have to have a good relationship with the other person in order for them to really hear you, but if they can, this is a great way to stop RSD before it gets out of hand.
  2. Veg out.  Not with vegetables (I mean, if you want to).  But with TV or movies.  Nothing gets your mind off of thinking faster than immersing yourself in something else.  So if you can read, or watch TV, both can help you out of your funk.  Though I would say TV is better because you don't have to "get into it" like you do with reading.
  3. NAP!  Yes, napping can help reset your mood 99% of the time.  Napping is the wonder act of mood elevation.
  4. Exercise.  Jogging, biking, lifting, dancing, or anything to get your mind into your body, instead of running rampant with your thoughts.  And, it's healthy!
  5. Journal.  Writing down your feelings takes your feelings and puts them paper and releases them from your body.  Sometimes fully, sometimes partially.  Just don't leave it where anyone can read it.  I suggest a private blog (I use Blogger for everything!). 
  6. Practice a hobby.  Painting, woodworking, model building, etc.  Just like everything on this list (mostly), anything to take you out of your brain and into an action.
  7. Practice meditation and mindfulness.  Allowing your thoughts to be calmed is an excellent practice and can help make you mentally healthier.  One great Buddhist mindfulness meditation that I use all the time is "I breathe in, I recognize my anger/pain/sadness/etc.  I breathe out, I let it go."  That's it.  And it works wonderfully and calms your nervous system, which gets super ramped up in an RSD episode.
  8. Get lost in soothing music.  As a child, I would have a meltdown or get super upset about something, burst into tears, run into my room and shut my door and turn on "Grace" by Quincy Jones, which was the B side to "We Are The World" on my 45 EP. 
  9. Let your pet soothe you.  Sometimes, when you are in an RSD episode, you just want to punch everyone in the face.  So that is not the time to try to hug your dog.  If you feel super angry at your pets bugging you, lock them out of your room until you feel better.  But as if you feel like you need to be loved, let your dog or cat soothe you.  DO NOT try to make your dog or cat comfort you, because if they decide they don't want to, it can make you feel worse.  My Pomeranian always loves to be hugged, so he's safe.  But my other dogs have minds of their own, so I would never choose them as a comfort pooch.  My Pom is mommy's little boy and wants me to hug him 24/7 LOL  So he's always down for some comforting.  And if I'm crying or feel bad, he's always right there before I can even ask him to come to me, because he knows I need his puppy hugs.  And boy, does he love hugs.  So choose a pet that loves to be held, or hug a stuffed animal if you don't have a real one that loves hugs.  I promise, it'll help, just like a real one (or, it may even be better if your pet is super independent). 
  10. Seek out a good therapist or a trusted friend.  Sometimes talking out your issues can help you see where they are stemming from.  Since RSD is rooted in self-hatred/toxic shame, getting help can help you eliminate that toxic shame so RSD doesn't appear as much.  There is a great book called "Conquering Shame and Codependency" by Darlene Lancer that can help you, also, as well has many other books on the same subjects.  You can also work through this books with others, as well as your therapist. 

 

The main goal here is to not take action when you're deep in the trenches of RSD and to instead talk it out with the person that hurt you, or just wait for it to pass.  And then work on eliminating your toxic shame, which can help create RSD in the first place.  If your RSD is super bad, they can prescribe you medications such as Guanfacine (Intuniv) and clonidine (Kapvay).  They can also give you monoamine oxidase inhibitors which treat ADHD, as well as the emotional issues of ADHD.  

 

If you have ADHD and RSD, then I want you to know that y

ou are not alone.  You are not broken.  You are not hard to love.  You are perfectly imperfect, just like the rest of humanity.  You are worthy of love.  You are worthy of living.  You are worthy.  But nobody can help you but you.  Yes, getting help from others can definitely help, but you have to make the choice to change.  The list above can help you.  But the first step is learning to recognize when RSD is rearing its ugly head.  My husband has RSD pretty badly, and for many years, he was in a deep depression because he believed all the negative thoughts that ran through his head.  Remember, RSD is a liar.  Depression is a liar.  You don't really feel this way.  It's a temporary feeling and you can get past it.  Remember that.  And work on your toxic shame (we all have it, though those of with ADHD, it comes out as RSD).  And heal.  

 

I hope this posts helps you in some way make better choices in your life due to an episode of RSD (because it can hurl us toward some really bad and regrettable choices, which I know from experience).  It's not an easy thing to deal with, but if you have some good coping skills, it can be easier thing to deal with than before.  So good luck, and post below if you have any ideas for more ways to help people cope with it. 

 

 

 


 




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