Everyone experiences failure and rejection in life, however people with RSD are more sensitive to these experiences.
Rejection Sensitivity Dysphoria is emotional sensitivity triggered by the perception that a person has been rejected or criticized. It can also be experienced by failing to meet one’s own high standards for themselves or other’s expectations. Everyone has undoubtedly let others down in life by losing things, being late, etc. but for people with ADHD, these things happen more often so they experience more rejection, failure and criticism than others. These emotional responses become internalized and can lead to extreme changes in mood from depression with suicidal ideation to rage at the subject of the perceived rejection. Rejection Sensitivity Disorder is neurological and genetic in addition to being worsened with childhood trauma.
Over time, sufferers may stop trying; they lose their drive to do something new or take chances. It’s easier for them to simply avoid dating, applying for a promotion, or even socializing. The constant fear of being fired or ruining another relationship is overwhelming.
I stopped trying at one point in my life. There was a time when I was very motivated and had dreams and goals and plans. Then after another 10 years of failure, I just gave up. I sometimes wonder where I am; I see myself in the mirror but I’m lost. What happened to the happy, curious, creative, spontaneous, funny, loving, compassionate, motivated, little girl with all of the big dreams and goals in life?
In discovering and learning about RSD I felt understood for once. I felt validated and vindicated. There is not a lot of compassion for people with ADHD; even when you’re diagnosed and friends, family and coworkers know, it’s hard for them to understand how we can be so “irresponsible” and “lazy” while seemingly functioning like everyone else. Now I understand why I have so much anxiety about everything and it allowed me to stop being so hard on myself. I’m learning how to be positive and less paranoid that something bad is going to happen, I did something wrong, someone is mad at me, I’m going to get fired, everyone hates me, I’m a loser, etc. I trust my recollection and instinct and don’t automatically take the blame for everything. I’ve found I’m usually right in the end and it was NOT my fault. And if it was, that’s ok too; that’s not the point. I don’t ASSUME it’s about me all of the time anymore, something I did or said or ruined. In understanding why I feel this way, I can stop or question the negative self talk before it has a chance to affect my mood, my day and my life.