S2 E3 - 4:13:20, 3.02 PM
8:46PM Apr 17, 2020
Lee Skallerup Bessette
Hey everyone, welcome to this episode of the all the things ADHD podcast with Lee and Amy. Today we are going to talk about rejection sensitivity, dysphoria. I'm going to put some links in the corresponding blog post about it. But this is a one of those comorbidities with ADHD that makes rejection feel that much worse than in normal people. And so, Amy and I talked about that a little bit and the impact particularly on me, and how that has impacted me in the past and continues to impact me now. So with that, I will let myself start talking about it. One of the things is for me that's been a little bit more liberating and trying to figure out who I am Is the rejection sensitivity dysphoria?
Yeah, it is so real and so so what this is what rejection sensitivity dysphoria is is it is a comorbidity with ADHD. And it presents itself often in people with ADHD, where you just take rejection. I mean, again, it's right there in the title, you just take any type of rejection and criticism super personally,
or like you get where it doesn't even exist
yet, or you see where it doesn't even exist. Exactly. And it is an It is literally debilitating.
Oh, absolutely, absolutely. Like, don't want to text anybody, because if they don't text you back, it's because they hate you. Yeah, right. And you'd rather not risk that and it's like, I think it's a really, really bad thing attached to ADHD because most of us I mean, this is a characteristic of ADHD that we are impulsive. Over talkers, right? So if everybody else has five minutes of speaking time, the person with ADHD has 25 minutes of speaking time, and is normally blurting out things that you had no idea you were going to say, right? That type of thing that your mother would grab your shoulder and say, leave. Now, come on, we don't say those types of things, right. And so the odds are high that you've said something in any given situation that probably exceeds the bounds of normal speech. And you've said way more of it than anybody else. And so any sensible person would already be like, Oh, God, I like I'm a bit much for everyone. But when you attach like rejection sensitive dysphoria to that you have so much material that you can parse over in your head about where it went wrong and why everybody now hates you. Right? Are you sensitive to the fact that you know, you talk more than other people and you know, you overshare stuff that other people don't tend to share? And you're hypersensitive to rejection, it is almost enough to make one step. Talking, but not. Yeah. You don't get every time. Well, right.
Yeah. But it also makes that it also feeds into that frustration about not being able to do things properly the way you're expected to. Right. And so, like being late for something, right. And knowing that you're late, I know. This is touchy for you because I know what happened to you earlier this week. And even myself, so. Yeah, yeah. So so I'll tell the story. And we shared this with each other on social media, because it was so bad, but you know, so my daughter. My daughter forgot her instrument. And she texted and I felt partially responsible for it because I she usually leaves the house before I wake up because middle school here is obscenely early and your bus comes at 650. Americans and your early starts at the bank. I know. I know. Well, at least it's middle school because they used to be the high school and then they're like, maybe we Let the teenagers sleep in a little. So she only has two years of it in middle school. So it's, it's, I'm okay with it, I'll deal with it. But anyways, so usually I'm asleep. And so I had woken up at like, 530 I couldn't get back to sleep. So I went downstairs and I'm never downstairs and we're talking and then she loses, loses track of time and, and she ended up forgetting your instrument. So I get a text from her saying, Can you can you please bring my instrument and she also knows that I have to sort of drive past where she goes to school in order to get to work. So I said, Sure, I'll bring your instrument but then it turns and I'm feeling really good about myself and I i braved the you know, drop off line traffic, you know, and all of that and I drop it off and I'm three quarters of the way to work and I get a phone call. And she's like, You brought me my brother's oboe, not my clarinet.
I like my whole heart melted for you at that point when I read Cuz I was like, I have had that morning that just starts off wrong and you make heroic efforts. And somehow the errors just keep compounding.
Yep. When there's more though, there's more. It doesn't stop there.
Oh, no, it just keeps going. Yeah,
no, it just keeps going. So I tell her and I say, well, your dad is still at home because he's because my son still hasn't even left for school yet. Because dad's there to make sure you know, brother goes to school, so the other cars there and so maybe you will be able to convince him to drop off your clarinet. Because I know when I can hear that little cracking in her voice like this is something that may or may not devastate her you know, because it's it's an interruption to her expected routine for the day.
Right. Amen. Yeah,
you know, and so then I get a phone call from my so like it that's fine. And so she I know she's called him because then I get a call from him say Where are the car keys for the second car? I said, Well, I think, yeah, I put them in the bowl last night when I came home because I took the second car to go to swim practice. And he's like, they're not there. And I'm like, are they in my pants? He's like, they're not. They're like, Well, I didn't have my purse with me. So they can't be in my purse, that I leave them in the car. Because I've done that before, too. Don't worry, it's like a 2002 no one's taken that monster. And it's not anywhere. And so now he's mad at me because our loans that have car keys for that car, because, you know, my daughter, like flushed down the toilet when she was 18 months old. The other side. Um, you know, the, so now I've lost the loan set of car keys for a second car. I've ruined my daughter's day because I brought the wrong instruments. And and now I don't know where the car keys are. And that's all I'm going to focus on for the rest of the day.
You only gonna focus on and and for most people, like they just it just rolls off their back, right? They're like, Okay, well, I'm going to get a little upset. But I'm not gonna worry about it. Ah, no, no, I am just like, trying not to cry in the car because I have disappointed everyone. And
just like everybody else's day, and it's hardly even breakfast yet. Yeah, right. Yeah, you still have a full day of work to get through. You're not even at work yet. And like your entire family has been, like, ruined by a series of mistakes that are all attributable to your dysfunction. You're terrible. Right? That's the
cross. Oh, yeah. And I mean, and then and then it's like, I'm really good at catching myself now when I spiral. But I'm, well I'm better. I'm okay. I'm not going to say I'm really good. But I'm a hell of a lot better than I used to be right. And now I understand that to have been the rejection sensitivity dysphoria, right? Where this is that that was my spiraling, um, because one thing would one little thing and then it would just be the end of the world and you know, and And then you have that rational part of your brain that's like, she's Christ, like, what the hell? Right? No one else gets this upset about things like water, you flipping out and then I feel bad because I'm like, I'm just reinforcing gender norms about women being irrationally emotional. And this is, but that's how it goes, right? Like, all of a sudden, like my fundamental identity, I'm a bad feminist because I'm, you know, because I am a bad feminist because I feel bad about not doing being able to do domestic tasks, like everybody else can do them. And, you know, like, it just and I'm being you know, I'm being a bad role model for my daughter, and I'm, you know, like, like that is that and, and, you know, I understand that now as being rejection sensitivity, dysphoria. And, but, but again, knowing that it's there doesn't necessarily make it go away,
right? No, and I mean, that is step one in the 12 step, right. It's like you have to admit you have a problem like That's like when I got diagnosed that I was like, Well, now that I know that I have ADHD, right, I'll be fine. Yeah, something. But that's not true. That's not how it works. Right? So yeah, same thing with you know, oh, I have identified that I am in a shame spiral point to my rejection sensitive dysphoria. Great. Now I'll just stop that. We can't know. Yeah, it's a process.
It is a process and and like I said, I've gotten, you know, I have gotten better at it. I've gotten to the point where, you know, I can I can sort of, at least I recognize it, right like that, like you said, it's the first step and sort of, if I catch myself early enough with like, you know, all of these is the deep breathing helps, right? Like the, the closing your eyes and taking three really deep breaths. That, you know, it really does help. Yeah. But then other times, it's just like, No, no, this is not gonna, this is not gonna
you know, everything else at all. And I'm not okay, sometimes, right? You're just like, Nope, today is canceled. Right? My mood is canceled for today. And if I managed to stay married and my children are still talking to me, then that will be a win that I can't expect, right? Yeah. If it happens, I'll be grateful. But I understand if they've all left by the time I get home from work, you know?
Yeah, well, then then that's, you know, and it ends up. It doesn't have been that way. Right. It was like, today's the day, today's the day that it's,
you know, been as the terrible person that I always knew myself to be. Yeah, right. Today the chickens coming home to roost.
Yeah. And, and I think that I mean, there are and then it's also sort of the, you know, differentiating like, again, it's untangling it. There's no way that like, it's all me, right, it's all me, right, I get that. And then there's disentangling, like if you you know, I have made poor choices. I know that I've made poor choices because of impulse control. Um, you know, and to be able to save Well, that that was the Am I still that person? Right? Like it doesn't make it go away? Um, and it doesn't excuse it. Um, but then how do you sort of explain that is like, Well, no, I'm better now.
Like, in what ways are those kind of like impulsive acts become habitual, as much as kind of neurological, right? Like I know, like so here's something that I have tended to do in the past, I will save like a major housework task, like let's say, doing the gardening in the spring right? So I want to plant my animals and get the patio furniture out and you know, like just sweep, sweep the lawn, break the lot like you know, all the things that you have to do in a yard, outdoor space when it gets to be spring and and previously, what I would normally do is say, we're gonna do like, the main long weekend we're going to do like two full 10 hour days of getting me entire yard ready for the rest of summer. And I did that because it was very hard for me to do things one hour at a time, right would be hard for me to say, today's the day we're going to go to the garden center and put everything in the garage. And then tomorrow is the day we're going to get the patio furniture out. And then the day after that is it like because I just couldn't plan that many things right? I couldn't start and stop and start and stop. Do you know what I mean? Like so I always would batch process things and then binge them so that I would say this entire day is nothing but yard work and I would have to get up really early. And then I would like haul ass for you know, until the daylight ran out and I would be like exhausted and crabby and I would have forgotten some things and would have run out of things that would have made like these emergency trips to the store. And since I've been medicated I like I find that I still have that habit of trying to you know do save my laundry for three weeks and do it all in one very long day or save all of my yard work and do it all in one very long day or save all of my grading and I thought I was only doing that because that was the only way I could Get it done. Right? And to do that that way anymore, like I had this idea like that I would still be bingeing all of that stuff, but that I wouldn't be so miserable because I would be medicated. Right. But it wasn't just that I was, you know, untreated that was making it such misery to do 10 hour binges of anything. It was that I was bingeing for 10 hours on stuff, right. Yeah, that also the problem. But that problem was my only way of coping with my inability to schedule things into smaller, spread out tasks. So So I misunderstood what the problem was there. I thought my problem was that I couldn't cope with 10 hours at a time. The problem was, instead that I was making myself cope with 10 hours at a time because I couldn't do one hour 10 times. And once I got Medicaid, I was better able to plan things and start and stop activities according to a schedule and spread things out. That it turns out, oh, yeah, the problem the whole time was you just cannot do things in intensity. Just like that and be happy, it doesn't matter how much speed you're taking, that's not good for you. Not gonna be happy, right? But that was like one of those completely unexpected insights was that what I thought was just the best way for me to get things done was in fact, the only way I could get things done when my brain was a little bit more broken than it is now. And when my brain is less broken, it turns out this is a terrible way to try to get things done. That was a revelation to me. It probably took me a full year of being medicated before I got to a point. I was like, it's not that the meds aren't working. It's the bingeing stuff is a bad idea. Yeah. It's
Right. It's an anomaly. Oh, yeah. It's like, my behavior is wrong. And I thought I was like, the kind of person that you know, it works best when I just, you know, give her Yeah, but that's not true, actually. So that that has been like very spinny for me to try to think about, Oh, I thought that was my best way of working, but it was my only way of working and it doesn't have to be my only way of working out and it's certainly not my best way of working and that was something I really struggled to come to grips with. And in fact, in every new domain, where I catch myself bingeing stuff, I have to learn it again. Like it might be with grading. It might be with decorating, it might be with Christmas shopping, it might be with meal planning, like all of these things where I'm like, I just need to and then I'm like, Oh, no, here it is, again, I'm bingeing on something, because I don't have to. And I'm still miserable, because this is a terrible way to do things. And I'm like, oh, why am I such a bad person? I'm like, No, I'm learning how to drive the Lamborghini. Right? I'm still bringing my riding lawnmower mindset to the Lamborghini driving situation. And that's why not working and I'm always like, confronting these moments where I'm like, is this really who I am? Is this really what I want to do? Is this my best way of doing things right? Who am I even what am I able to do? What am I capacities? You know, what, what's happening here? Is this just a bad choice? I'm not sure. And I find they come out of the blue these moments, right? And they really surprised me and discomfort me because I don't like to be surprised. By myself,
right? I not in this age,
not at this age, right? I'm like, that I can't control as I don't want to be a mystery to myself, right? Yeah. I'm like, have to deal with everybody else's drama. I don't want to be like going through a second adolescence and dealing with myself, right? But here I am trying to figure out who I am. And it's very weird to forget, like, rejection sensitive dysphoria about yourself. Right? Like, I'm not who I used to be. I don't know who I am. But whoever I was, and whoever I am, they're both terrible people. And I don't like me, right? Like,
oh, yeah, I mean, I
I basically grew up
wishing and and for the longest time wishing I could be anyone else.
I literally Wish I could be anyone else like I did. And it's something really hard to explain to people who just who don't understand that feeling is it's an it's like, No, I just do I didn't want to be I don't want to be me anymore. I don't want to be me. Like, you just, I just I was like, there's something about me. That's not right. And I don't want to be me anymore. Like, could I be somebody else? Anyone else? anyone at all? Like, I would just if I could be someone else. And sometimes I think like I I've been thinking, I've been thinking about this a lot. Now, I've been writing like five memoirs at the moment. Because why not? I guess that's where I'm doing my self reflection and slowing down is like, I'm just gonna write all the memoirs. And one of them was is this idea because I've, I've obviously I've moved around a lot, but I made a really interesting choice. When I was decided to go to university I decided to go to a Francophone University. And basically like I see it now there's lots of good reasons why I went and lots of reasonable reasons why I went and and personal reasons why I went but ultimately, I think the and the unspoken reason why Went is that I really wanted to reinvent myself. And I was going to try to do that in a different language.
Yeah, I mean, that's, like go big or go home. Yeah. People go to university and like, you know, change their look or like I'm not prepping anymore I'm sporting now, right, but you're like, I am going to be a whole new different language speaker. I love that.
So this concludes or that concludes I should say this episode of all the things ADHD. I am Lee Skallerup Bessette. And my co host is Amy Morrison. You can find me on Twitter at ready writing and you can find me at Digi walk. You can always email us at all the things firstname.lastname@example.org as well as visiting our website, all the things adhd.com. Now we'd love to hear from you hear your questions, here your episode suggestions. If you'd like to be a guest, we really want to hear from you. And help make this podcast something that is useful and meaningful for you. I hope that some of this resonated with you today around rejection sensitivity, dysphoria, and also wanting to be someone else to be anyone else. I think that that's, I think that that's something that maybe we can all relate to, and a lot of ways and thank you for listening to it. And we'll see you again next week with another episode of the podcast.