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Living with Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria

“You are so sensitive.” My mother gruntled. I could pick her frustration and the slight disgust in her undertone. I was 20-something crying because my mother could not find the jewelry I had left under her care. I was so distraught that I began wailing. I had scrapped money to buy that jewelry and she simply told me she could not find it.

According to everyone’s adult standards, I handled the situation very poorly. I was always very sensitive to criticism, it brought upon strong emotions. The anxiety that followed me around, haunted me, causing my bowels to be loose every morning before school.

I suffered like so many others, in silence.

Our protests had been silenced by the continuous judgment of not strangers, but our families.

Told to: “Suck it up”, “Get over it” and “You are so sensitive”, these remarks were thrown at us to silence us. I was told that people had to walk on “eggshells” around me. I was always “butt hurt”.

I wish I had control over my “butt hurt” feelings. But people did little to introspect and tone down the cruel venomous words spilling from their mouths. Body shaming and then losing hair to an anxiety disorder, led to more cruel comments. Hence the cycle of me crying or getting enraged at people who just never understood.

Being a physician does not shield you from being affected by diseases. I was diagnosed with ADHD and then I stumbled upon the term of “Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria”.

It seemed like someone had pulled the curtains from my eyes and all my suffering and crying came to perspective. I was biologically different than all the other people who simply could not comprehend why did I become so “dramatic” and “upset” at the things they “casually” said or did.

I found working with hands like knitting, clay modeling, watercolor painting help me regulate my emotions.

I have previously written about the importance of handiwork in emotional regulation.

Handwork allowed me to regulate myself and helped me pass through these emotions and not come out a wreck. It calmed me enough to observe the situation and understand that most of the time, people are struggling, and their words or actions are simply a translation of their own struggles and not much about me.

Still for younger children, emotional regulation is difficult. It is important for them to identify their emotions. They do not have the words to describe how they are feeling. I found two toys that can immensely help children and even young adolescents convey their emotional state with fewer words.

PlanToys Build-A-Robot PlanToys Build-A-Robot

This toy helps children identify what they are feeling by simply replacing the head of the robot. For my son who had a speech delay, this toy was a blessing and a huge relief for me as a parent.

Buy Here

Wiwiurka Emotions Board - Mocha

Wiwiurka Emotion Board helps foster stronger interpersonal skills, tolerance to frustration, and emotional regulation through play. This board comes in a variety of skin colors -wood colors so everyone can see themselves represented.

Buy Here

Do you use any of these toys with your children? Do you think your child could have Rejection sensitive dysphoria? Let their pediatrician know but more importantly seek to understand.

To connect with the author please email :


Dr. Miral Khalil

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