Nearly everyone with ADHD answers an emphatic yes to the question: “Have you always been more sensitive than others to rejection, teasing, criticism, or your own perception that you have failed or fallen short?” This is the definition of a condition called rejection-sensitive dysphoria. When I ask ADHDers to elaborate on it, they say: “I’m always tense. I can never relax. I can’t just sit there and watch a TV program with the rest of the family. I can’t turn my brain and body off to go to sleep at night. Because I’m sensitive to my perception that other people disapprove of me, I am fearful in personal interactions.” They are describing the inner experience of being hyperactive or hyper-aroused. Remember that most kids after age 14 don’t show much overt hyperactivity, but it’s still present internally, if you ask them about it.
The emotional response to the perception of failure is catastrophic for those with the condition. The term “dysphoria” means “difficult to bear,” and most people with ADHD report that they “can hardly stand it.” They are not wimps; disapproval hurts them much more than it hurts neurotypical people.
If emotional pain is internalized, a person may experience depression and loss of self-esteem in the short term. If emotions are externalized, pain can be expressed as rage at the person or situation that wounded them.
In the long term, there are two personality outcomes. The person with ADHD becomes a people pleaser, always making sure that friends, acquaintances, and family approve of him. After years of constant vigilance, the ADHD person becomes a chameleon who has lost track of what she wants for her own life. Others find that the pain of failure is so bad that they refuse to try anything unless they are assured of a quick, easy, and complete success. Taking a chance is too big an emotional risk. Their lives remain stunted and limited.
For many years, rejection-sensitive dysphoria has been the hallmark of what has been called atypical depression. The reason that it was not called “typical” depression is that it is not depression at all but the ADHD nervous system’s instantaneous response to the trigger of rejection."
So, I’ve been waiting for someone to explain this extremely simple concept to me my entire life.
Hooooly shit I needed to read this article.
"When I interview leaders, artists, coaches, or athletes who are very successful, they never talk about perfectionism as being a vehicle for success. What they talk about is that perfectionism is a huge trigger, one they have to be aware of all the time, because it gets in the way of getting work done."
Super incredibly maddening thing about mental illness:
Fighting your ass off to live a normal life and function as well as you can, and instead of getting credit and having people be proud of you for all the efforts you’re making, having people use your apparently normal behavior as a reason to invalidate you and think you weren’t that sick to begin with.
It takes a lot of badassery to act this normal, but the effort is all invisible
It’s not an incapacity to cope with day to day living in the modern world. It’s an incapacity to function. At all. If you and your loved ones have been spared, every blessing to you. If depression has taken root in you or your loved ones, every blessing to you, too. No one chooses it. No one deserves it. It runs in families, it ruins families. You cannot imagine what it takes to feign normalcy, to show up to work, to make a dentist appointment, to pay bills, to walk your dog, to return library books on time, to keep enough toilet paper on hand, when you are exerting most of your capacity on trying not to kill yourself. Depression is real. Just because you’ve never had it doesn’t make it imaginary. Compassion is also real. And a depressed person may cling desperately to it until they are out of the woods and they may remember your compassion for the rest of their lives as a force greater than their depression. Have a heart. Judge not lest ye be judged."
This is another one that’s just stacking up on information we’ve suspected for a while. When a child is praised for being smart or talented, it makes the stakes that much higher because they need to stay smart or talented in order to maintain their identity. Here’s the crux of this study:“Adults may feel that praising children for their inherent qualities helps combat low self-esteem, but it might convey to children that they are valued as a person only when they succeed,” Brummelman said. “When children subsequently fail, they may infer they are unworthy.”
The west especially values this sorta-myth of inherent ability over hard work. The one upside is that it gives lazy jerks like me an out when math is revealed to be “not my thing” after the first couple tries.
This has been a huge problem for me with my own self esteem.
I always did tremendously well in school from the second I got there and had always been praised for being intelligent, creative, talented, etc., and as a result, I now suffer from extremely destructive perfectionism in just about everything that I attempt to do, ever.
Because, you know. If the things I do aren’t perfect, then I’m clearly not intelligent, creative, talented, etc., am I.
This explains so much.
Do you ever crave to be touched? Even in the most innocent way. I want someone to just hug me for a very long time or someone to lean against/ someone to lean on me. Maybe while sitting or laying next to someone just to have our legs, arms, or feet touching would be nice. I think that when you’re lonely for so long you constantly want to feel someone against you just as a constant reminder that you’re not alone.