There are a lot of symptoms of ADHD that are just awful to live with, but the one that takes the cake by far is rejection sensitivity dysphoria. This fucker, THIS FUCKER will fly in on a broom and shit all over your good day. It'll take a thing you love and make you loath it.
You're out enjoying an activity with friends, something you've been looking forward to, something you're excited and passionate about. And then--someone might say or do something innocuous like "ok ok, calm down." or "wait, that's not going to work."
Or, someone will give you a side-eye and a smirk, or casually brush off a joke with "But anyways--" and suddenly, there's a familiar, awful pit in your stomach. Suddenly, for some reason, you feel stupid for having wanted to participate. You feel like a burden on the activity.
Your interest in it drops like a stone, you don't want to be a part anymore. You want to go home, by yourself and hide from the responsibility of it.
Why? What happened?
A normal human interaction happened that your brain interpreted as "they don't like what you're doing. You're doing it wrong. You're letting them down."
That's putting 'words' to it but there are no actual thought words, it's just a gut punch feeling. The same gut punch feeling you might experience when you suddenly remember that you left your phone on the train or that you dropped your wallet somewhere. Terror. Ears turn red hot
This twitter thread resonates so god damn hard. I’ve posted a bit on Instagram about my RSD (there’s a story highlight on my Instagram profile), but haven’t seen as good of a breakdown of what it’s like as this before.
Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria is a condition that is co-morbid with ADHD and Autism. You latch on to a rejection or a perception of a rejection, and you can not let go of that feeling. Your brain keeps wrapping on it, looping over and over, amplifying the emotion with every single pass, spiraling into darker and darker feelings. Sometimes the emotion comes from a trigger of a previous rejection memory that is stored as trauma, sometimes it is completely new trauma. As the emotion builds, rationality about the events and feelings breaks down, and you start leaping to dramatic conclusions about what you should do (the number of times that I have convinced myself that my marriage was over… 😭). It can strike without warning and instantly reduce you to a mess, or it can slow cook all day until suddenly the pot is overflowing. Then, just as fast as it can start, it stops. Your brain decides it’s bored now, and the emotion flits away on the wind, and you’re left feeling foolish and having to clean up whatever awful things you said or did in the midst of the spiral.
And the worst part is, YOU ARE AWARE OF WHAT IS HAPPENING THE ENTIRE TIME! You know this a spiral, you know you aren’t being rational, you try and try to break the cycle, distracting yourself, trying sensory tricks to break yourself out, but you can’t. It’s happening at a level outside of logical control.
Usually the spiral makes me seek out isolation, I don’t want to be seen, I am ashamed of myself, I need to hide. I go to the garage, or our walk in closet, and I cry and cry and cry, great heaving sobs.
I’ve had this all my life, directly from childhood. Now that I know what it feels like, I’ve identified dozens of memories of previous spirals. During the height of my gender dysphoric repression, they were somewhat contained due to my depersonalization, I would go numb and disassociate instead of falling apart. Transition released me from that prison, but now this beast is off the leash.