Found Out What’s Wrong with Me!

Well, I found out one thing that’s wrong with me. More accurately I have finally identified the name of the syndrome that reflects the set of symptoms I’ve been trying to cope with my whole life. And great news, it’s not curable! To be honest, though, just knowing how I feel is an actual “thing” that other people share helps a lot. Here’s how I came to realize that I have Rejection Sensitivity Dysphoria (RSD). I have words for my mental issues!

As sometimes happens, the same message kept coming to me yesterday. First, one of my Master Naturalist friends posted about a book she was getting ready to read, The Courage to Be Disliked, by Ichiro Kishimi and Funitake Koga (2018). It’s not a brand-new book, but I hadn’t heard of it before.

If I hadn’t heard of it before, how is it on my desk?

I said in response to the Facebook post that it sounded like a book I needed to read, given my weird drive to act in ways that I think would make people I care about like me. She posted a link to the book, and I resolved to get a copy. Then, this showed up on my Facebook feed.

From Tiny Buddha, one of my favorite sources of inspiration.

I went to tell Lee about that coincidence, and he said I didn’t need to buy the book, because he’d already bought it and gotten through some of it, but he wasn’t enamored of the style. Sure enough, there it was (and that’s how I got a photo of it). Obviously (at least to me) the Universe was trying to tell me something!

And the Universe was right. I’ve shared before how I’ve been hurt by people judging me and how I seem to attract people who feel the need to let me know just exactly how awful they think I am. If it’s someone I don’t care that much about, I handle it pretty well (like our former contractor’s wife who took it upon herself to write me a letter telling me why she didn’t want to be my friend, because of…whatever, who cares?). I had another one of those happen just last month.

Do I want to hide in a cool dark place like this toad? Sometimes. Don’t we all?

Some do hurt. A former coworker I was always there for when bad things happened to her, who I listened to cry and bemoan the loss of pets and partners, etc., told me that no, she didn’t want to have lunch with me before she moved away to be happy with her new partner, because she only had time to see a few people, and you know, we’d see each other on social media. Ouch. I got to enjoy seeing photos of all the people she did care about enough to see.

Here, Suna, enjoy some hardy flowers. That will help.

Those are just examples. Therapy and long discussions have made it clear to me that I’m not always the one with the problem, and that my sensitivity to rejection came from childhood when my mother’s mental issues made her unavailable to me and my father’s conditions on love made me go well out of my way to be perfect to make him like me. This continued with future relationships and led to all sorts of mental mayhem for me. But, I’ve got tools to help me deal with it now, for the most part. Just sometimes, one backslides.

It does sorta make me feel prickly as a buffalo bur, but hey, flies like them.

I backslid last night. I spend nearly all night lying awake watching a parade of my (perceived) mistakes, hurtful things people have said and done with me, especially family members on my mom’s side (my great aunt wrote and demanded a beloved ring be returned because I was not a good enough niece, and my half-sister just up and left one day (taking nothing with her) and hasn’t spoken to me since last fall. I don’t even know how to get in touch with her other than through a third party. Members of my mom’s family have just never liked me, for exciting reasons like I’m a bastard (Mom didn’t annul her first abusive marriage), I was “fat” (leading me to do the Atkins diet when it first came out and I was only 11 years old to try to make them stop picking on me), and I didn’t do very well with “children should be seen and not heard.”

Yeah, TMI, Suna. Too bad, it’s my blog. I ended up posting the link to the Tiny Buddha, then in the middle of the night, I wrote:

I’ve been awake most of the night dwelling on how many times I’ve tried to change who I am to get people to like me. Starting from childhood, so it’s a long list. I get hurt so deeply by rejection and some people have relished doing it. I get better then I backslide. I know it’s normal to do that. I’m working not to be so hard on myself when I let it get to me. I keep repeating that no one is universally beloved!

agitated Suna

I immediately regretted it, because when I re-read it, I felt like it was just begging people to say they liked me, but that actually wasn’t my intention. I am completely aware that there are many fine people who like me!

On the other hand, I’m so glad I did post it, because a wise friend of mine (whose dear friend is one of those people I truly love and care about who got mad at me and disappeared without telling me why) said (paraphrasing), hey, that looks a lot like Rejection Sensitivity Dysphoria, something that comes up a lot in the ADHD world. Another wise woman posted this link, which opened my eyes WIDE in the middle of the night.

Here’s what the article, “Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria and ADHD: What to Know,” said:

The symptoms of RSD can vary among individuals, but they may include:

  • Obsessively thinking about negative experiences, especially experiences of perceived or actual rejection (only last night)
  • Perceiving rejection when it is not actually occurring (me)
  • Viewing minor rejections as catastrophic (me)
  • Misreading constructive criticism, or requests for more information as rejection (me, but I’m lots better)
  • A sense that you’re not liked by others (me, but often I’m right)
  • Low self-esteem based on how you feel others relate to you
  • Social withdrawal (me)
  • Negative self-talk (formerly me)
  • Emotional outbursts (rare now but unpleasant)
  • Perfectionism or people-pleasing tendencies (sadly, formerly me)

Although symptoms of RSD can mimic other conditions, one distinguishing factor is that symptoms of RSD tend to come on suddenly and can feel very intense.

 This article: What Is Rejection Sensitivity? provided me with more “aha” moments when it defined rejection sensitivity, which isn’t quite the same as RSD.

  • Misinterpret harmless or mildly negative social cues or behaviors as blatant rejection (improving)
  • Ignore other explanations or reasons for the perceived rejection, including reassurances from the perceived rejector (I try not to do this)
  • Expect rejection and overreact to any type of negative social cues (me)
  • Be avoidant and anxious in romantic relationships (me)
  • Pay more attention to all of the times they were rejected than the times they were accepted (working on this)
  • Evaluate every interaction for perceived rejections (I don’t think I do this)

I don’t do all those things, but wow, this hits so close to home. I can’t tell you how many times I have been told I’m too sensitive, that I over-react, etc. It gets to where I have a hard time identifying when I am actually being treated poorly, so I let it go on a lot longer than I probably should, thinking it’s all in my head. I end up avoiding certain people or situations, so I won’t do that embarrassing overreaction to criticism. Lordy.

And of course, there aren’t any great drugs other than the kind I already take to deal with my anxiety. The article also suggests “cognitive behavior therapy, and stress-relief strategies.” I have those up the wazoo! And they do help, so much of the time.

I guess I’m writing all this down to remind myself that I have challenges to deal with and that I need to be gentler with myself when I can’t cope as well as I’d like to. Certainly, rehashing every mean thing anyone ever did to me is not helpful AT ALL. So, I now know what it is that I’m dealing with, and I’ll get on with dealing with it. We all have our struggles and challenges, and mine at least lead me to try to be kind to people! (I do not think I have ADHD, though, so lucky me, I got the RSD without that issue.)

These animals like me, which is helpful.

So, thanks to everyone who rallies around me and supports me. While the line above about putting more emphasis on negative feedback than positive may have been true in the past, I am much better now about really appreciating the people around me who are kind, who listen, and who patiently remind me that they do care, even when I repeatedly ask.

And to those of you who need to give me negative feedback, know that much of it IS appreciated and taken in the constructive spirit it’s given…it just takes me a while to get there, thanks to the RSD.

What’s My Problem?

My brain is not working, that’s my problem. Somehow, I’ve allowed myself to fall into a pretty deep hole of depression, low self esteem, or hyper-protectiveness to where anything I try to do that even remotely resembles work is a huge hurdle. Anything that has drama, misunderstandings, unkind behavior and the like makes me want to flee, and it’s spilled over into my volunteer work the most. It’s hurting my head to write this, but I’m going to, anyway. Someone has to say something, and perhaps if it’s me, I’ll feel better and more like keeping on.

“What is happening in her head? Ooh, I wish I knew!” (paraphrasing Pete Townshend in Tommy)

What’s happened is that one of my “triggers” has been triggered. It bugs me, because I’ve worked really hard to get past it, but I’m getting the idea that I didn’t get past it; rather I buried it. I’ve talked about my issues with La Leche League before, but I’m going to briefly re-hash a bit to explain why I’ve been so messed up for the past month or two.

First, I love the friends I made in LLL. Love them to pieces. They are some amazing people. But, the organization itself keeps repeating its mistakes, as if no one learns from history (which is probably true). In a majority-women organization with a strong, focused mission, many people get “power” for the first time. And it really screws up some people’s senses of right and wrong, and for some reason empowers them to bring new things into the mission (like natural childbirth, co-sleeping, baby wearing, etc.)

Continue reading “What’s My Problem?”

Accepting Change Is Not My Best Skill

Let’s see. What I’m trying to say here is that I have a hard time maintaining a poker face when my world takes a sudden shift, and I have an equally hard time rapidly processing sudden changes when I’m told about them. This isn’t a problem if I’m reading about something, all alone in my home or office. I have time to think about what’s going on, mull over the implications, push aside my knee-jerk reactions, and figure out what good spin I can put on it.

Message to self. Photo by @kristi_shlimovich via Twenty20.

In person, though, it’s hard. I’m guessing it’s hard for most people, to be honest. When your adrenaline starts running like crazy and you go into survival mode, your higher brain functions get sacrificed (it’s one of the things I learned in the Behave book I read a while back). The best I can do at these times is nod and plaster a smile on my face.

My brain trying to process a lot of new information at once. Image by @mylove4art via Twenty20.

For instance, yesterday in a work meeting, some changes were announced to our leadership team. Now, we knew something was coming, and probably most of us had an inkling of the kind of thing it was. But, with little prelude, we were shown a chart with all sorts of people, positions, and roles on it, many of whom we weren’t familiar with. The boss asked, “Do you understand this?” The other two colleagues, who are way better at office politics than me, nodded. I shook my head. Well, I didn’t understand it!

I’m the only one who asked for clarification, to help me process the shit ton of information I was supposed to internalize and grasp in 30 seconds. I did ask a few questions, to help me understand what was going on, since I will have to explain it to the people currently on my team. I’m guessing I was supposed to just say, “Okay,” and figure things out as I go along. But, I probably looked confused/annoyed and came across as a grumpy person who hates change.

I don’t hate change. Things change all the time. I simply find it easier to process with some context, reassurance that the sky is not falling, and some explanations of the rationale behind them. So, I didn’t get that, this time. That got me thinking.

If I have this kind of trouble, I should probably think about this experience next time I have to change something significant, change a process, etc. I think I do. I feel like I owe it to my team to provide context and rationale, rather than just say, “Here’s how it is now.” It’s not going to change the fact that a change is made, but it might help make it more palatable, gain buy-in on the new ideas or processes, and earn the trust of those I work with.

So many gears. No wonder I’m confused. Image by @rohane via Twenty20.

There’s a whole field of change management. I know it involves getting buy-in, setting expectations, and building up to the change. Maybe I’ll go study that some more and try not to do to others what was done to me. I had nightmares about having to implement something I didn’t know anything about!

Poor rigid Suna, ha ha. It’s just another effing growth opportunity, right?

An Angry Mob of One

Expressing anger is difficult for some of us. Like Suna.

No, no, I’m not angry about anything right now! Everything’s just fine. If you’re looking for drama, I’m not serving that up today. I’m just thinking about anger.

The book club meeting I attended on Zoom (of course, no in-person meetings for me!) today got on the topic of things we struggle with, and I brought up the fact that I totally suck at getting angry. The very nice women in the meeting were quite supportive of me, and the consensus was not to expect to be great at something you don’t have a lot of experience with. They were right!

Even as a child, I was discouraged from getting angry. If my little brother pestered me, I was told to, “Just ignore him.” And if I did get angry and yell or hit back after he slapped me, I’d get spanked. So, I fairly quickly learned to bottle up any anger I had and to arrange things to be as peaceful as possible in my little world.

Hence, I ended up an Enneagram Number Nine. As the website says:

Key Motivations: Want to create harmony in their environment, to avoid conflicts and tension, to preserve things as they are, to resist whatever would upset or disturb them.

Enneagram Type 9

That probably also explains my initial resistance to change, even the good kind!

Another thing it explains is why I’m always trying to attain some sort of spiritual transcendence; it’s another way to escape the real world. At least I have the sense to know that “the only way out is through,” and am coming to terms with the whole “life is suffering” concept.

I just want peace, calm, and goodness.

Anyhow, I am just not good at getting angry. Not one bit. I can’t be like Anita, who often declares she’s angry at this that or the other, but she just expresses herself strongly. I keep thinking, “Why is she angry at that? I’m sad, or…some other emotion.” That’s because if I try to express anger, it scares the pee out of people. You know, I also learned from my family or origin how to have a very sharp passive-aggressive tongue. Oopsie.

I can actually remember the two or three times I let my anger spill out. After one time, I was never able to bring myself into a particular community again. I just left and never came back. I’ve only let myself express anger at my spouse a couple of times in all these years. I just get snippy on occasion then over-apologize for it.

Dang, I need to learn how to legitimately express anger when it’s appropriate without alienating people forever, or turning into a sniveling ball of self-abuse. Those seem to be my main anger outlets. I’m just not equipped to be an angry mob of one, I guess.

As my colleagues in the book club pointed out, it helps to remember you’re angry at a situation. (And I point out that it helps to remember people are doing the best they can; though when I’m angry at an institution, that’s hard to apply.) If kindness is my main value, I should apply it to both the object of my anger AND me, right?

This is pitiful, I know, but I Googled “effectively express anger” (because, how else do you figure things out these days?) and I got this:

  1. Address An Issue Immediately Before It Escalates. …
  2. Take A Walk. …
  3. Try A Simple Breathing Technique. …
  4. Try Getting In Some Rigorous Exercise. …
  5. Journaling Can Be Another Great Way To Process Anger. …
  6. Meditate On It.
    Here’s the source of this list, so you’ll know I didn’t do this lack of parallel construction

Well, I do all that! That’s not expressing anger, it’s dealing with anger. Those are all the tools I use to maintain the peace and not rock the boat.

I turned to that oracle of knowledge, WikiHow, who went through all the above anger mitigation techniques that I already do, then FINALLY gave some advice on how to express it! That’s what I wanted!


Choose to express your anger assertively.
 Assertive expression of anger is the most constructive way to express your anger. Assertiveness cultivates mutual respect for each other. You can still express your anger, but you do so in a way that doesn’t accuse the other person. You have mutual respect for each other.

  • Assertive communication emphasizes that both people’s needs are important. To communicate assertively, give the facts without making accusations. Simply state how the action made you feel. Stick to what you know and not what you think you know. Then ask the other person if he is willing to talk. [9]
  • For example, you might say: “I was hurt and angry because I felt like you were belittling my project when you laughed during my presentation. Can we talk and work this out?”

    That one’s from How to Express Anger without Hurting People (with pictures).

Enough with the background colors. I didn’t mean to make you all sick.

Yeah! That’s it! Work on my tone!

After reading the information, I conclude that it makes sense, and sounds a lot like things I’d read in all my “how to get along with people” courses and such. I know I try to do that, and sometimes do. I just need to work on my tone, maybe.

In any case, if you have an anger problem, whether inability to express it or expressing it too much, how have you dealt with it? There’s so much anger in the world right now, it might be helpful to band together and make an effort to say what upsets us without turning the audience away completely.

I shall now go look at nice, happy animals and stop with all this self-analysis.

Screwing Up

It happens. Happened to me. I was trying to be a good friend, but didn’t use good judgment. Did it go unnoticed?

Nothing goes unnoticed today, and by the end of the day, numerous people had reported to my spouse that I had made a mistake. Small town living at its finest.

graffiti that says paranoia
Can I climb out? Photo by @gafutch via Twenty20

That kind of thing can make you feel paranoid! Or, in my case, a lot of the work I’ve been doing on my “stuff” can fall away, and I end up acting like teen Suna with all the negative self-talk bubbling up.

I’ll take that as an educational moment, and one that can provide helpful insight into how my inner workings work, and maybe how many of us work. We may work to change ingrained patterns and know what our triggers are, but every so often, we’ll fall back into that hole.

What’s important is to learn to quickly pick ourselves up, reflect on what we can do differently next time, and (most important) shake off that self criticism and crawl out of the hole more quickly each time it happens.

a girl looking down, beside a ladder.
She did it; so can I. Photo by @paigeinrealife via Twenty20.

I even DREAMED I was climbing a rickety ladder, trying to get out of a hole. Like I’ve said before, my dreams contain very un-subtle metaphors.

Hug yourselves, friends. Our imperfect selves are here to learn to love and forgive not only others, but ourselves.

Wondering

quote from Brene Brown

How do you forgive yourself? Through prayer, meditation, invoking a higher power, or reading? Searching the internet for quotes by your favorite healing author?

What are some useful things to tell yourself (asking for a friend, ha ha)?

BottomsUpOrange

All Things Crochet!

Crissi McDonald

Heartline Horse Training

sara annon

seeking the middle path

Tonya's Tall Tales

My life with horses, bunnies, chickens, ducks, and cows.

rfljenksy - Practicing Simplicity

Legendary Whining and Dining World Tour.

The Backyard Horse Blog

All about keeping horses at home

Hazel's Animal Adventures

My life on the ranch.

Katie Zapfel

Children's book author. Mom blogger.

365 Knit Socks

I knit a lot of socks and I make a few other things

recoveringpornaddictcom.wordpress.com/

Coach, author and educator

The daily addict

The daily life of an addict in recovery

Just Vee

A regular gal who likes to stop and smell the flowers.

Happy Heidi's Happenings

My life in the country.

BrownesPups

A family of dog lovers, owners & breeders since 2015

The Adventures of a Mountain Coward

panic-stricken mountain adventuring!

Something Over Tea

Scribbles from my notebook

The Renegade Press

Tales from the mouth of a wolf

Heccateisis's Blog

Just another WordPress.com weblog

The Upstate Gardener

The Upstate Gardening blog with Gardening Information, Recipies, Home Improvement Ideas, and Crafts Projects to make your life more beautiful and healthy.

Read, Learn, Live

Look closely around and about you, and you will see all forms of beauty.

Nature And Photography

Bring Nature Into Life

AT PATHO

no streetlights, just star light

Words and Stitches

woolgathering at its best

The Grief Reality

Normalising the conversation about Grief.

iRoseStudios.com

Art Studio Dumfriesshire

The Creative Pixie

eat up some crafty goodness with this creative mama

Writings of a Furious Woman

My thoughts, sentiments, and scribbles on womanhood

Paws Bark

Dogs Leave Paw Print in your Heart

Yeshua's Child Art

Art that Expresses the Heart

Chicken Coop Plans

Build Your Chicken a Home

Leaf And Twig

Where observation and imagination meet nature in poetry.

Hidemi’s Rambling by Hidemi Woods

Singer, Songwriter and Author from Kyoto, Japan.

Cathartic Tendencies

motivational posts, rants, and stories!

TotallyTexasGifts.com

Featuring Fine Arts & Crafts created and sold by Texans

Seasons As My Teacher

Truth Written In The Wind

claudiajustsaying

Aging & Attitude

The Tragedy Kween

A boisterous introvert illustrating her way through life.