what to do when every social interaction feels draining

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    • #210690

      I’m in my early thirties and was diagnosed with adhd a few months ago after suspecting I’ve had it for several years. I was diagnosed with anxiety long before that.

      So, here are two points that I think are connected, but in spite of therapy I’m still not sure how or what to do, lol.

      1. For about two years now I’ve been struggling with an issue, maybe adhd related, maybe anxiety, maybe both: it is very, very difficult for me to communicate with people unless it’s in person, and even then it’s only relaxing if I don’t feel like I’m doing what I call chameleoning. I feel like I take on the aspects of my personality that other people need me to be, and I think in some ways this is a lot easier in person? But in emails, texts, and online groups, it becomes really hard to do. I don’t feel like I’m not being myself, because it’s not a lie, but I think maybe I also feel very uncertain about myself without being able to see the person I’m talking to. This frequently leaves me paralyzed and avoidant about any communications that aren’t in person. I put them off until I grit my teeth and do them because before that point I simply don’t know what to say or how to say it. (As you can imagine, the pandemic has been fun times.)

      2. I have very dear friends but I’ve never figured out how to be really close to people. I don’t quite understand how to engage in the question part of active listening. Nobody in my life practices active listening with me. I’m a very good listener and people like being around me, but I don’t like talking about myself unless other people ask me questions and I know they’re interested. As a result, making new friends is hard unless they’re naturally outgoing and easy to be around. I don’t know how to be around people if I don’t know what they think of me. I don’t know how people just go hang out with friends on a regular basis. In short, I’ve spent quite a while feeling rather lonely, and I think the first issue is embedded in this feeling of like… anxiety of being the wrong person and being rejected for it? I don’t know.

      For years people have said, “oh, you’re just an introvert,” and I’ve grown to despise the term. Would I be, if I wasn’t neurodivergent? who knows!! But I feel like there’s a wall between me and my ability to spend time with other people, and like I don’t have the social skills to fix it.

      Anyway. If any of you have similar experiences and have found concrete ways of dealing with it, I’d love to know. Book recs or articles are welcomed!

    • #210782


      Read all you can here about rejection sensitive dysphoria (RSD), which is basically a tendency toward extreme overreactions – to the point of temporary insanity – to anything perceived as people turning you down or you letting them down. Your problem # 1 sounds like the people-pleasing described as a common means of coping with RSD, debilitated by covid-friendly online interaction and thus turning into social anxiety. My RSD tends to show up more in “failure” contexts, like losing a competition or getting scolded in a work setting, but can occasionally show up (without being anticipated, and thus not associated with people pleasing) with criticism in other social contexts such as a faux pas or a comment about my non-native Spanish. Reading about RSD was a huge part of my realizing last year that I had not outgrown or been misdiagnosed with ADHD, and thus getting help. So whether my suspicion that RSD is key to your problems is right or not, read about it anyway and, if it hits home, talk to your mental health professional(s) about it. Good luck!

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