Rejection Sensitivity Dysphoria, (RSD) and me

I didn’t know anything about Rejection Sensitivity Dysphoria. Until lately. Until I saw this post from The ADHD Mama. OMG. It is a thing! It has a name!

Then I went back through 55 years. 

I remember my grade 4 teacher telling the class about a show that was going to be on TV called “The National Dream”. The teacher said it would be a series of shows and that it would start on Thursday, which was the next day.

We were gathered in the living room waiting for the show to start on CBC. It wasn’t on. I can remember my reaction like it was yesterday instead of 45 years ago. I became distraught, crying and saying that I knew that every other kid in my class was going to be watching the show that night, and I was the only one who couldn’t watch it.  Somehow it was my fault that the show was not playing on our TV.

The next day the teacher apologized because she had told us the wrong day.

In later years I would plan birthday parties and worry that none of the friends that I invited would show up.

As an adult holding “open house” events for products I was selling, no one would show up, even though I was sure they said they would come by. It must have been my fault, right?

Even last summer when a conversation with someone had me going back over the last 36 years, rehashing every interaction that we had. They probably never really liked me anyway.

It’s only normal because it’s all you know

So many years of being a people pleaser, of being a caretaker and trying to make other people proud of me.
I thought everyone was like that. Well, that’s not true exactly. I knew not everyone reacted that way.   My behaviour  has been called “overly sensitive”, “overly dramatic”, and just “overly” in general. I just didn’t know any other way of being. Even when I could see myself that I was “overreacting” I couldn’t stop myself, and I didn’t know why.

Google here I come


I did some more research, and found this site.

Rejection sensitive dysphoria, or the extreme emotional pain linked to feelings of rejection and shame, commonly affects children and adults with ADHD.

There was a self test, which I took, of course. I scored 67%.  Then I found this post, which I felt the author had written about me.

Being in my 50’s and uncovering answers to questions that I stopped asking has been a real gift. I “self diagnosed” my ADD.  Knowing that there is RSD, and that it’s not “all in my head” (or maybe it is?) has opened some doors for me. I have tackled a few situations lately where I can look at it objectively and assess what it really happening.

In the last few years I have made a conscious decision to take back my power from other people and to not let their opinions of me matter more than my own. Has it been easy? Nope. Have I always been successful? Nope. But finding out about RSD has helped me to reframe and move forward.

I know that I will have other situations to deal with and other people who will still think I am “overly”, and that I have people around me who  know my truest self.

If this story has resonated with you, please leave a comment.


Author: Michelle

I have filled many roles over my life: daughter, sister, friend, wife, mother, Black Belt in Tae Kwon Do, and Grand Master Bikini Competitor. All of these life experiences have provided me with a wealth of stories to share. Words are my refuge and my strength.

8 thoughts on “Rejection Sensitivity Dysphoria, (RSD) and me”

  1. I was diagnosed at about 40 with ADHD/Inattentive type after a two-day long battery of tests. My therapist suggested that I go ahead and apply for disability. I didn’t and I have a decent career, but I’ve always thought I was capable of more. In the last two years, I’ve been working for an amazing and supportive company. They offered some benefits that allow me to dig deeper into my psychiatric health. And I have been doing that for the past several months, by learning CBT and various other skills. Last night, quite by accident I came across the ADDitudemag self-test for RSD. I scored 100%. At 54 years old, feeling like I’ve been dragged through broken glass, I finally have an answer and the euphoria is completely indescribable. This is not an excuse for my emotional outbursts. But it is a reason. And it’s also a reason not to beat myself to shreds every time I lose my shit. I had a meeting with my boss today. If I hadn’t learned this last night, it’s entirely possible that I would have completely over-reacted to a slight criticism and could possibly have lost my job. This is revolutionary for me. Thank you for sharing your experience. You are most definitely not alone.

    1. of course, there is. Hope is the most powerful force we have. The more we learn about ourselves, and continue to grow, the more opportunities there are to make changes for the better.

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