This happens to me ALL. THE. TIME. Basically any time my wife and I get into a fight, I emotionally pull away. I become so overloaded with emotion that I just shutdown.
RSD (Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria), is the most intense side of emotional dysregulation in ADHD. But the opposite side of the spectrum is less known: sometimes, when feelings get too much, some ADHDers get overwhelmed and shut off unwillingly, leading to emotional disengaging.
This is how it goes: two people meet (friendship/relationship). ADHDers often experience bonds in an intense way, connecting strongly with other people. ADHDers can be very empathic. A first the ADHDer will serve as emotional support and advice for person #2
This is done willingly, which makes ADHDers great listeners and advice givers. But if this situation is unbalanced, leading to the ADHDer being always the listener, it can lead to emotional overstimulation. The more intense the relationship, the sooner this can happen.
At this point the ADHDer can disengage from their feelings. This leads to them being missing, more unhealthy hyperfocus, not answering often or as desired, and sometimes even narcissistic and uncaring. In contrast to stage 1 where they were amazing listeners, is a huge contrast.
Emotional disengaging is something that happens unwillingly, but a defense mechanism for the emotionally overloaded brain. Many ADHDers aren't even aware of what's happening, nor can help it. It's a state of emotional dissociation that can last weeks, months, even years.
It usually feels as a state of apathy filled with background muffled anxiety, like a sleepy state you can't shake off. It's hard to realize this is happening, which can lead to (even more) anxiety, depression and, quite often, ruined relationships.
@ADHDelaide So, what does one do?!? Honestly, that sleepy apathetic state has been gnawing at me for so long I'd basically given up on ever returning to the person I was... Any tips? Cuz I seem to have plenty of time to work on myself! :)
@JimYostJr I wish I had the answer for that... for me step 1 was realizing what it was. Then step 2 (currently ongoing) is realizing it's happening when it's happening (I'm not usually aware until I snap out of it months later). Step 3, sometime, it will be seeing it start and stop it.
@JimYostJr Between disengaging episodes, reflecting on my past and doing some self criticism, self awareness, but also self forgiving, has helped me come back to my old self. Maybe not fully, but good enough. Without looking back, there's not going forward.
@JimYostJr That emotional disengaging can cause a lot of lasting mental health issues though. It can be traumatizing and can require lots of work to even realize it, even more to overcome it. I wish I had some tips, but it's a work in progress on my end (not too advanced yet, I'm afraid).