Have you ever wondered why you felt stuck or ruminate on painful past events, so much so that you were unable to concentrate on your daily responsibilities?
You may be struggling with something called rejection sensitivity dysphoria (RSD).
Rejection sensitivity dysphoria is an extremely intense emotional reaction to either experienced or perceived rejection. It’s a symptom that is vastly overlooked in individuals with attention deficit disorder, attention-deficit-hyperactive disorder, anxiety, and autism spectrum disorder.
How Rejection Sensitivity Dysphoria Feels
With the pain of being rejected, individuals with rejection sensitivity dysphoria can experience severe mental, emotional, and physical discomfort. The pain and discomfort are so intense that the individual’s mind is stuck like a tape recorder on repeat. The person fixates on the perceived rejection or experienced rejection to the point that are unable to attend to their daily responsibilities.
Early Negative Interactions
Starting when an individual is diagnosed with ADD/ADHD, anxiety, or autism, they are often criticized, corrected, bullied, and rejected, especially when in the school system. Nothing they do seems right.
How Rejection Sensitivity Dysphoria Affects Me
I was diagnosed with autism at the age of 6, and when I was in the school system, I had no voice, no opinion, was not allowed to draw outside of the lines or be myself. My thoughts were spoken for by others and decisions were made without my consent. I had accepted the changes and walked the straight and narrow, as if I was in the military. I had to adhere to a list of commands such as hold your pencil like this, sit like this, be still, shape up, stop, listen, pay attention, focus, make eye contact, sound it out, etc. I had so many people in my ear with endless demands that I failed to meet and was portrayed as flawed, incorrect, and not good enough.
The continuous negative feedback left me with long-lasting negative effects throughout my life. Me being myself I became the poster child and the target of ridicule, gossip, rejection, and humiliation because my behavior was always misunderstood as being disorderly. During my life of being rejected and being stripped of my unique personality at a young age, I engaged in people pleasing, especially when I got to college because I was so sensitive to being rejected and just wanted to be accepted, which led to years of depression and anxiety.
1. Document/journal your feelings and emotions
Once an acute moment of rejection sensitivity dysphoria has passed you can reflect, document/journal your feelings and emotions. Process it all on paper and let go of perfectionism and accept your feelings and emotions as valid. The more you do it the more you’re able to rationalize and see the facts behind the thoughts.
2. Explore your strengths
Focus as much as possible on what you enjoy doing, what you do well, or even what you have passion for. You are worth much more than your diagnosis. List all the great qualities about you and positive affirmations to challenge self-defeating thoughts. (I’m worthy, I’m strong, I can do it, I’m going to keep going.)
3. Seek professional help/medications
There’s nothing wrong with seeking professional help with your emotions and feelings. Don’t be ashamed of taking medications for a mental illness, because mental health is just as important as physical health.
4. Cut out stress
Do whatever you need to do be joyful, eliminate stress and take care of your physical and mental health. This can include exercise, listing to music, hobbies, or any enjoyable activity that is manageable and effective in helping combat rejection sensitivity dysphoria.
5. Recognize that you persevered despite discomfort:
The good news everything that life has given you from birth to now, you have survived. From all of those uncomfortable moments, pain from rejection, and sleepiness nights, you got through it and more. Write down those to remind yourself of the courage and perseverance that you have. Embrace your sensitivity as a positive and be patient with yourself. (I’m sensitive so I feel things deeper and I can connect with people). Reframe.
You’re Not Alone
Rejection will be an ongoing battle — it’s going to hurt, but you can regroup and practice self-compassion. Think about how would tell a child that was in your situation or how would you approach a child with a scraped knee with tender, care, and kindness.
Your feelings are heard, valid, understood, and accepted. You are more valuable than those who reject and degrade you. You are much more than your mental illness or disability. You are braver and stronger because of what you have and are going through versus the people who are cruel to you. You can live a great, joyful, and prosperous life and overcome rejection sensitivity dysphoria.
Getty image by Yana Iskayeva