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  • Julie Jenner

Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria – RSD



Learning to live and keep up as a neurodivergent brings so many challenges.


The way we process, our understanding of other people, all the unwritten rules about human interactions, and so much more. For me, one of the harder parts of my spicy brain is the RSD.


For those of you who don’t already know this term, it’s all those strong feelings we have when we fear being rejected by someone else. It’s that uncomfortable feeling when a text or call isn’t returned, or when we misunderstand something and worry we have upset someone, or we think we got it wrong again. Whilst what we think happened might be down to our own (often wrong) perception and what we think happened, the feelings are very real and can drop a mood very quickly. The urge to hide, or disconnect from others to stay emotionally safe, is a strong urge to fight.


When RSD kicks in for me, a level of paranoia kicks in. I begin to convince myself that I have upset everyone, all my interactions with people leave me waiting to get told off or told what a horrible person I am, even my closest people become a difficulty as I am expecting to be rejected and abandoned yet again. I avoid others, I don’t even text if I can help it, and will avoid social interactions as much as I possibly can.


One of the other areas I struggle with, which makes RSD harder and more likely, is my strong attachment to chosen people, and the amount of times this has ended in an abrupt ending that I rarely understood. It was the case that I’d make a new friend, or start a new relationship, and once I decide I trust them I am all in. This can lead to a belief that they would not lie to me, my literal thinking causes me to assume people mean what they say, my focus on that person can cause me not stay in touch with others, which would bring more balance and healthier friendships. I would get tunnel vision which led me to believe that one person was enough, and that I was enough too.


Being so attached to one person meant that my sometimes fragile self-worth could get knocked more easily as I was not giving myself the opportunities to see where I was getting it right, and to reach out to people who did value me. The more alone I kept myself, the worse the RSD would get.


When this pattern happens over and over, the fears can get stronger, the behaviours for me to hold on tighter increase, the belief that not everyone will leave becomes harder to believe, and feelings of failing yet again are difficult to deal with. Over and over I was left with the constant feeling of being too much or not enough.


Thankfully I have worked hard enough on myself to rationally know that none of these feelings are relevant to what is actually happening – at least they are very rarely relevant. I have learned to recognise when I am dropping into this familiar place. I can sense when I am pulling back from others and am fearful of what I might

be told.

Whilst I am not saying it is always possible, and it is almost always difficult, the best way I have found to overcome these feelings is to reach out to people who I KNOW do care about me. I share honestly how I am feeling. I state very clearly what I need, which is usually just a bit of social time and to connect with people. Distraction can help, but I have found RSD difficult to pull out of by myself.


If you can relate to any of this, please know you are not alone. Please know that a lot of the uncomfortable feelings you are having are probably due to some over-thinking or not quite understanding a situation. Know that these feelings might be triggered by one person, and that most of your fears about rejection by everyone are not real.


The annoying part of this is knowing you have unconsciously created many of these feelings yourself. The good part is knowing that if you created the feelings you can also soothe those feelings.


Be aware of who your trusted people are. Be very clear about what you are finding difficult and what you need. The people who care about you are not going to make you feel worse, and given the chance could help you feel a lot better.




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Hello, I'm Julie, and I provide a non-judgemental safe space for you.


I specialise in offering online therapy sessions - where you can heal in the comfort of your own home.


Remember, I'm here for you. Talk to me. Talk Helps.

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