Dear Papa Bear (Great Name)
I really want to keep this short.
I do a lot of volunteering in my life when I'm not suited up and sadly over the last few years I've had devastation after devastation hit me.
My mom has a terminal illness, my dad left and is constantly smoking, I suffer from autism and I feel sad and depressed all the time.
I do a lot for people but don't feel nowadays that I can go on continuing to volunteer because I'm not having getting any "ME" time (time to myself) I also feel I've become more of a burden onto people, I have felt like not caring anymore because of how I've been treated.
One thing I would like to know is to try and make me happy, are there any role-play chatroom websites where anything can happen? (I just want to forget about the real world because of all the crap I put up with it).
Xoda Fox (age 25)
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Bear hugs to you, dear furry. You sound like a very giving soul, and that’s a wonderful thing. I can definitely see why you would feel burned out, and I’m sorry to hear about your parents, especially your mom. Sounds like dad is coping by not coping :(.
You are wise to recognize that some “me” time is a thing that everyone needs and it is not a selfish pursuit, either. When one is burned out, tired, unhealthy, one is of no use to anyone. You have to take care of yourself first, and then do what you can for others.
When taking care of yourself, please balance this pursuit by addressing your Four Aspects:
If any one of these aspects is suffering, it will affect the other three. You ask about role-play rooms. Indulging in a bit of escapism might help your mental and emotional health some by easing stress ... or not. Papabear doesn’t spend time in such chat rooms (I’m too busy, frankly), but I do know you have to be careful in them. I have heard complaints that people actually get in nasty, hurtful fights online, and that won’t help your stress at all. A lot of these rooms—especially when it comes to furry ones—involve sexual role-play, and I’m not sure you want to go there, either, or if you should. You might try, instead, an MMOG such as World of Warcraft, which I understand is very popular and you can spend many hours in such a virtual world. The danger there, too, is that you might become addicted to it and not spend time in the real world.
Instead, I would suggest you pursue a course of balancing your Four Aspects: 1) begin a regular exercise routine, which not only makes you healthier but also reduces stress, making sure to eat healthy, too; 2) exercise your mind by learning something new (e.g. take a class, learn a language, learn a new skill) or by playing games that make you think (e.g. online Jeopardy, crossword puzzles, math puzzles etc.); 3) emotional health—let’s get back to that one in a little bit; and 4) spiritual health: if you are a religious person, it’s time to readdress that part of your life (attend church or temple or mosque), or you might learn about other spiritual traditions, from Eastern faiths to shamanism to Wicca.
Back to emotional health. Normally, I would tell people that volunteer work would be a great way to uplift your spirits, but it seems you’re having some trouble there. Someone has been treating you poorly at one of the places you volunteer? What a shame :-( I can’t comment on that too deeply because I don’t know the circumstances, but perhaps your solution could be something as simple as finding a new cause for which to give your time? Some nonprofit organizations, sadly, are troubled by cliquish behavior or administrators with huge chips on their shoulders, and that can diminish the volunteer experience (boy, have I been there!). You can try something else, or even try something where you don’t interact as much with people (such as fostering a pet or service dog—you raise a dog for the first year to 16 months until they are ready to be trained as guide dogs).
Besides volunteer work, when it comes to emotional health, play and travel are helpful. And by play, you should really try something outdoors. Learn to fly a kite or go rollerblading or play basketball at a local gym. If you can travel, that is an excellent pursuit that can really help you emotionally, even if it is just going to an amusement park or miniature golf. You’re on the right track with your idea of adding some play time to your life, but, again, I’m not sure that immersing yourself in online role-play would be the wisest choice.
And, before I forget, how about reading a novel? People seem to forget these days that getting lost in a good book is a wonderful way to escape the troubles of mundane life. Pick up a book!
As a corollary to that, maybe try writing your own stories. That’s a way to escape, too. Or try art or music or textile arts. Another avocation that's very popular is gardening. There can be a lot of personal satisfaction in raising a beautiful flower garden or growing your own vegetables.
I’m sorry I can’t help you more with online RP chat rooms. Perhaps some of my readers could suggest safe and sane and fun places to explore in the virtual world. Hopefully, some will comment on your letter, but I hope some of my suggestions may help, as well. Too often these days it seems--to this old bear--that people turn to their electronic devices for comfort, but there's so much more to life than a glowing screen populated by digitized characters....
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