The name “Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder” misses one of the symptoms that is hardest to live with — emotional hypersensitivity.
When you think about ADHD hypersensitivity, you might think being sensitive to loud noises and scratchy labels in clothes. In many cases, the sensitivity also applies to our emotions. We cannot bear the pain of criticism; we are unable to brush off personal slights the way other people do.
The emotional side of ADHD hypersensitivity is often not present in children, especially in boys, which means it is rarely discussed in detail on the symptoms pages of ADHD websites. It doesn’t show up in online searches.
So it’s not surprising that some adults with undiagnosed ADHD (like me) searching the Internet for answers about feeling emotionally overwhelmed think we have Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD).
The emotional symptoms of BPD are the cornerstone of the disorder. In fact, the new name for the condition is Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder! So if you have undiagnosed ADHD and find that you suffer from depression and anxiety linked to your emotional hypersensitivity, a BPD diagnosis makes sense.
Those with BPD have bouts of extreme sadness, mood disorders, and anxiety as well as unstable family and social relationships. They find it difficult to cope with changes in plans. They quit jobs. They over eat. So I found myself nodding along to many of the symptoms on the list. But one that stuck out that I absolutely knew wasn’t me: the “push/pull” symptom — a chronic pattern of sabotaging and re-establishing closeness in a relationship without appropriate cause or reason.
Many of those with BPD have suffered neglect or a significant rejection, or they have struggled with separation issues in childhood. This results in wildly fluctuating feelings in which a sufferer goes from idolizing to hating someone at the drop of a hat.
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