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RP and Anxiety

I suffer from anxiety,

I like to think of myself as pretty darn chill and happy for the majority of the time and like in the 'bleed' article sindome can get pretty intense. Which is great, fantastic even, wouldn't have it any other way.

The difficulty I am having at present is that something happened that trigger my anxiety very badly, the situation is still on going and it is causing me more and more anxiety. Taking a step back is a good option, the problem with that is that there is not really a way of doing that in an ongoing situation.

I feel a little trapped, in that if I take a step out to try and settle myself, I am depriving other players of effort they have put into the situation. Additionally, with limited options to inform players involved as to my IRL situation, it only comes across as IC actions and as such is hugely detrimental to the character. This again feeds into the anxiety I am feeling in the first place.

To give perspective, I spent the last day in a state of extreme anxiety and all the lovely bells and whistles that come with it.

So really, other than just trying to throw how my state of being is currently. I am hoping that people with experience of this might be able to offer advice to the situation. I don't want to step away from sindome, for the most part I massively enjoy it, find it fulfilling and fun. But I am struggling to cope with the current situation emotionally in a very real way.

Played for around 3-4 months every day for a fair chunk of hours and enjoyed every one of them minus the last 24 hours.

At the risk of sounding flippant to people's plotting, Sindome being the way it is, I think everybody is jaded to their efforts into RP disappearing as somebody gets fed up with being dunked on in the game and quits, or somebody perms in a completely IC fashion. If you feel like you really need to take a break, it might feeks like you leaving will piss off a lot of players, but I've noticed that people tend to actually be forgiving about that and involve returning characters in plots again without too much prejudice.

Also, I don't know what staff's opinion on this is, but I don't think it's against the rules to just use Local OOC to lay things out for people why you're withdrawing from a plot. Even if your contact with someone is predominantly on phone or SIC, it's not impossible to make up an IC reason for them to show up in person, surely.

The bottom line is, Sindome won't suddenly implode if you take some time for yourself for, say, a week or two. And people won't swear blood oaths against you.

I feel that writing an @note that conveys your current emotional dilemma will help immensely, not just for yourself, but to make staff aware of the personal toll it's taking on you.

There's an aspect of Sindome that's to encourage confronting your anxieties through RP. Of course, if it gets to the point that you can't function, then doing an @add-note to explain the situation to folks who can understand is likely to help.

I've been put into situations that have terrified me, to the point of shaking uncontrollably. Writing out what happened and what about it scared me to the bone helped me a lot. While I'd still never ever like to experience it again, it at least helped me move past it and be ready for it in the future.

I hope that helps you!

Coincidentally I just finished writing a note to that exact effect based on the larger 'bleed' forum post, both Cinder and yourself replied upon.

I have to confess I think facing the situation in RP may be genuinly helpful to me OOC simply because it hit upon a couple of things that are very real world issues for me. So I do want to push through. On the flip side of course, sindome is escapism to a degree from those very things I am anxious about. So it was a massive dose of REAL which I wasn't even remotely prepared for.

As such the ooc response was and still is... tough.. to say the least. But already, being able to voice these concerns openly in the comunity is helping and I hope it helps others.

Hi there. I'm so glad this topic was brought up. I am a person who in RL has generalized and socialized anxiety myself, and it presents itself as PTSD. It has been very hard over the years to play sindome. So much to the point sometimes, that I have had to quit playing entirely, for months on end because at times the game is very much punishing to my mental health as well. I've found myself in your position multiple times, and I can tell you, that staff in general are very understanding if you are communicative for certain. Also. I have been going into playing sindome , especially this cycle telling myself, this game, is legit not my life, I owe it nothing, I come here to play for my enjoyment, and it owes me that enjoyment. It puts the perspective in a way that allows me to more comfortably put boundaries for myself, and feel comfortable to say I need to step back, or I need a break, etcetera. Ultimately, if someone is giving you grief for needing to step back? that is a lack of their self awareness, and not a failing of yours. You should be able to participate, and find a balance that allows you to have the enjoyment you want while not torturing yourself. The caveat to that is You also don't want to bolt every time that it gets hard too so that others don't find it to be difficult to rp, but when it comes down to it? It's your time you're investing, and you determine how that time should be spent and the quality of it in my opinion.
"I have to confess I think facing the situation in RP may be genuinly helpful to me OOC simply because it hit upon a couple of things that are very real world issues for me. So I do want to push through."

I'm not going to claim to understand anxiety. I've never had it. However, I do know what it's like to be in a position ICly that brings your character to a stopping point. I've let that stuff get to me in the past, and spent more time planning/theorizing what could happen rather than actually find out. By the time I actually decided to make a move, the interest was gone and it was back to status quo, and very boring.

This is just my personal opinion, but I do believe if this is a strictly IC thing that's happening, that you should let it play out, acclimate, and remember that this is just a game, and if you're not playing it, you can't enjoy it.

I'm not saying walk right up to a dozen or so people trying to kill you, but don't let it cripple your character to the point that you're sitting in an apartment or a cube for five months hoping people will forget, because that's one of the worst outcomes.

I too suffer from moderate to severe anxiety, and have found that SD is extremely problematic for for me to play. IC events can trigger attacks sometimes, and the only remedy can be to try and distance yourself emotionally and physically from the source of your anxiety.

Bleed can and will happen throughout the course of playing, even despite efforts to control it. SD is a game that takes tens, hundreds or thousands of hours to establish yourself and hit your goals, depending on what they are, and I've found that emotional attachment is simply inevitable when you're talking about such huge time and emotional investments.

Best you can do is to try your best to manage your bleed and anxiety and look after yourself first and foremost. When it starts to get to an unmanageable state, leave @ooc notes for staff, make a few phonecalls to IC friends, and log off and take time to center yourself. Those IC goals and standings your character has worked for may or may not still be available for you when you come back, but if you get enjoyment out of playing the game, then that enjoyment will still be present for you when you return. Withmore's a world in constant flux, so try not to sweat missing out on things and instead embrace the fun and challenge of learning all the new things that are there for you when you return.

I want to echo what others have said and express some sympathy. Anxiety is real. I have it, it sucks and it can interfere with life at times.

All of the conflict in Sindome creates anxiety. That is just a normal byproduct of conflict.

It's challenging when the two dynamics of wanting to play a game to escape life and 'relax' collide with the conflict that is inherent in the game.

Over the last couple of years I have had to take a couple of breaks from the game, either due to 'bleed' within the game or simply because RL became too demanding of my time and I didn't have any hours left in the day to spend on Sindome.

Staff definitely understands these situations. An @note or two is immensely helpful for everyone involved. One, it gives you as a player some closure or at least an assessment of the current state of your reality. There is so much therapeutic value in simply writing things out. Two, it lets staff know that you aren't just flaking out and ghosting the game.

Everyone gets knocked down from time to time. The difference between success and failure is whether or not you choose to pick yourself back up again.

In my experience many MOO/MUD players suffer from anxiety, depression, PTSD and other kinds psychological/emotional ailments. The game can serve as a way of therapy but its no replacement for real treatment. And sometimes the game can feel like a bit too much and exacerbates these problems instead of alleviate them.

What you are describing sounds like a case of overburn+bleed. I would counsel taking a break until the feelings of distress have settled and then pace your game time when you return, say playing every other day instead of everyday for example.

Your health should always be a priority and its important to take the responsibility and make time to get better.

I echo the sentiment of trying give an OOC/IC heads up to other players/gms that you are going to take a break (the reason why is not important) if you are entangled in any plots or relevant RP at the time.

Get well soon fopsy. <3

I'm a strong advocate for not playing if Sindome is effecting you negatively OOC.

By design Sindome can make players feel trapped, if you want to talk to your IC friends you need to play, if you want storylines you're involved in to continue to involve you then you need to play. I've been in the position in the past of knowing that a player needed a break, but wanting them to continue playing -- either because I enjoyed playing with them or because I wanted to see their plots develop.

I realized after a while that I wasn't helping any of them by trying to make things work better or modifiying their IC situation, or supporting them IC. If someone needs a break they need a break.

In my experience, very few people are going to have an issue with someone taking a mental health break. The only times it can become an issue is when a player just vanishes out of nowhere with no notice and throws plots into disarray because no one knows if or when they'll be available to continue.

That can be avoided by just talking to people and letting them know you're not going to be around. For staff that means @notes and for players local OOC is entirely fine for this but if you can't get in a room with someone then just telling them IC that you need to get out of Central for a mental health break does the trick. That terminology is going to be understood by any veteran Sindome player.

In my experience, players who just disappear will have a hard time getting back into plots in the future, but when it's understood that a player will be away sometimes then there's far fewer issues getting back into things when they return. It's easier to keep a light on for someone when you know why they're away.

You don't even have to know why. Just knowing there is a reason is enough.
What @0x1mm and @beandip implied about not needing to provide any details or reasons is completely valid.

It is totally okay to be overwhelmed. You do not owe anybody an excuse or an explanation or anything like that. In fact, believing that you have to explain yourself can create even more anxiety.

Like @0x1mm said, veteran players will understand. The staff will understand.

If anyone out there does not understand, or does not want to be understanding, they are doing themselves a favor by self selecting themselves out of your life.

Life is too short to spend it trying to please other people, or trying to fit yourself into a mold that you think will make other people happy, or accepting of you, or whatever. Don't do it. Do what you need to do to be well.

That goes double for Sindome. There are plenty of people who play here who seem to get off on pushing other people's buttons. That is 100% about them and their own mental issues and has nothing to do with you and taking a break.

This is a game -about- conflict. Saying that antags need to have 'mental issues' or 'get off pushing buttons' undermines the entire theme of the game.
@HC

It's also an adult game. And as adults, we can point out mental health issues like grown ups.

People who get enjoyment out of pushing people's buttons are sadistic. It's a mental health issue.

It's also totally mentally normal to want to obscure that fact and hide behind it being "a game" in order to make it "okay" to screw with other people.

We all know what we're signing up for here.

Feel free to justify it however you need / want to. Call it IC / OOC. Convince yourself that when "your character" does something it isn't really "you" doing it. Whatever you need to do.

The point I'm trying to make here is to address the OP's comment about anxiety, and to explicitly avoid gaslighting them over it.

They are not any less of a person, or player or member of the community because they have anxiety from playing this game.

As @HC said, this game is ABOUT conflict. There are people who play this game who get enjoyment out of being in conflict with and antagonizing other people.

It takes two to tango and all that. There need to be protagonists and antagonists. And what category any individual falls into is as much a matter of perspective and personal position as anything else.

Not really. You're entirely reading into players' intentions a lot here and making assumptions about why people do the things they do.

I'd say it's unhealthy to assume otherwise, thinking that the players themselves are out to get YOU personally, when it's likely entirely in character. Some of the biggest antags in the game I've known have been some of the most chill people OOC.

Are you essentially saying that the core part of the game and mentally ill and deranged in their antagging, while also justifying continuing to play?

To put it simpler, "Every player who is mean to me must be fucked in the head" isn't Cooperative Competition.
Hey this is going to become a back and forth.

It's healthy to want to step away from the game, especially if situations in the game are affecting your mental well being outside of it. There have been times in this game where something was going on, despite not feeling any actual recognizable fear or panic, I none the less couldn't get my hands to stop shaking to the point where just having them on the keyboard were creating Sic encrypted patterns.

What's important is to look at it as it is still just a game, the investment you feel can be good for roleplay, but can also take over in unhealthy ways. The characters themselves may be actually out to get your character, but the players themselves are generally just playing how their character would react.

All and all you should play the game as you feel appropriate for your character and if your own well being is ever called into question you should not be afraid of the need to step away to center yourself again. Make whatever plans you feel necessary to make this easier; contacting gm's, players you interact with on an ooc basis, and some in play discourse for a somewhat cleaner hiatus. There may be some rp required in your return, but overall, the playerbase would understand a need to step back and recharge.

Can we chill on the vague, offhand insults to people? I know I do that sometimes but it's not like that does anything. People will be the way they are and snide remarks just make the environment feel more toxic.
If you think you need to step back from the game, you should. I do it literally endlessly. The world doesn't end. People realize you have RL going on. Your IC friends may evolve without you. It's all the circle of Sindome. What's wayyy more important is your own happiness and sense of balance. If you keep playing while you're in a mounting state of anxiety, you'll only do things IC that will reinforce your anxiety and perpetuate the cycle. Perspective is the solution.

I dont know how to quote but I'm gonna try.

People who get enjoyment out of pushing people's buttons are sadistic. It's a mental health issue.

It's also totally mentally normal to want to obscure that fact and hide behind it being "a game" in order to make it "okay" to screw with other people.

This right here feels drenched in bleed. This is a roleplaying game. There are people who play with themes, ideas, emotions, everything to build a story.

This is just straight up wrong. I play a character who acts how he or she does because of the worldview the character necessarily has due to relationships, history, goals and ideas. Some things this character pursues are entirely evil. It's interesting to see how someone might get to that point, and I absolutely would never go down the roads my character will. That in itself can be an ethical exercise.

You are really super off the mark here. If this is how you play, making a character you, that's fine, but it's not faithful to the theme if you try to force that character's world to bend to match your own life.

>People who get enjoyment out of pushing people's buttons are sadistic. It's a mental health issue.

>It's also totally mentally normal to want to obscure that fact and hide behind it being "a game" in order to make it "okay" to screw with other people.

This couldn't be more off the mark.

Just because someone can play a villain and enjoy it, doesn't mean they actually would enjoy enacting that shit, or fucking with people IRL.

Most people I know who play villains in roleplaying games tend to be the nicest people possible.

Shoutouts to everyone here who has expressed their own anxieties and has been providing others with ways of coping. 💕
To lump everyone into a group and say that people are being sadistic for being antagonists is generally unfair. That being said, to say that no one is malicious simply to be malicious, is just as disingenuous, or we wouldn't have had some of the most toxic situations in the community here that we have. I think we can say that a great deal of people here are simply playing their character and not to assume that all are bad. There however are some who are ridiculous in how they approach antagonism, and learning to spot the difference is a good thing so you can do the best thing for yourself and what makes you happy. I've ran into both here, and I can also say that both exist. To dog pile and say that there aren't terrible people online is just a little silly, just as it's silly to say that all antagonists are evil, horrible people.
I dealt with this a lot a few years ago. Learn to detach yourself from your character, separate the both, don't cross the IC/OOC line. After all whatever happens in the game, life goes on. Don't make your life around Sindome, after all it's just a game, just like Call of Duty is just a game.

And for the record, I've been an antagonist many times, I've done awful things in the game... I couldn't hurt a fly in real life and I cry watching sad movies about dogs.

It's fairly easy for me (plenty of practice) to come out and say I have anxiety, and that it affects me in real life, and that is sucks, and that Sindome has piqued my anxiety many times in the past. However, I want to acknowledge that this isn't an easy thing for everyone to come out and say. I'm truly pleased at the outpouring of support I've read in this thread, with folx putting themselves out there as they have.

My own experience: I have rarely had anxiety in relation to an IC situation where something bad was happening to my character or my character was put in a difficult situation. I think this is because I have put others in conflict so many times, with no ill will toward them OOCly, that my default mode is to assume best intentions and assume that everyone else is putting my in difficult situations because that is what their characters would do and because that is what is best for roleplay.

That's not to say I have never experienced anxiety while playing Sindome, because that has happened plenty. When I was playing, my anxiety would mainly be focused around the terrible things I was inflicting upon other characters and wondering if they would hate me or if I was being to rough or if I was ruining peoples fun. I've always managed it with conversations, mostly on the BGBB (See: Group Discussion: Feeling Bad OOCly which touches on a lot of this.)

As a GM it was very similar, at least to start, because GMs have to lay down a lot of punishment, and sometimes that would get to me and I would feel bad or anxious.

As a Senior Staff member-- the anxiety has been much worse. I can very much empathize with the posters that have said things to the effect of 'I feel bad stepping away because people have put so much effort into the RP'. This is something that is very common on the GM side as well. I know I've felt it. I've pushed myself to be up past bedtime, or on during work, or skipped working out to GM, or responded to messages in the middle of the night.

On my end as a Senior Staffer, it's usually emails, staff issues, player blow ups, internet trolls, difficult players, staff drama, player drama, etc. All of these things very much pique my anxiety, as I'm a person who, in case you haven't realized, prefers harmony (Cooperative Competition).

Let me tell you all, what I tell myself and what I tell the staff when this comes up:

Sindome isn't going anywhere. It's been around for 23 years and I've only been around for 80% of that. I've only been GMing for 70% of it. I've only been coding for 65% of it. And I've only been a senior staffer for 50% of it. The game was fine before me and although my contributions have been many and important, taking time away to make sure that I am OK, is going to be better for the game, better for the community and better for me, in the long run.

It's like putting your mask on first when the airplane is having a problem before putting on someone elses, or making sure you stay hydrated before making sure others do. You can't help others if your own tank is empty, if you aren't getting oxygen, if you are dehydrated.

Sindome is a game. It's supposed to be fun. And when it isn't quite fun it's supposed to be a learning experience. A way to grow. A place to face down your fears, try out new skills, hone your ability to stand up for yourself, or step into shoes you've never filled before to see what it is like to live as someone else.

No one. And I mean NO ONE. Be it player, GM, builder, coder, Johnny, Glitch, Me, or anyone else-- should feel required to contribute, play, or show up, when they think it would be better for them not to.

Look after yourself first. The community is resilient and strong, both ICly and OOCly. While your contributions might be missed while you are gone, we'll still be here when you get back.

-- S

(Edited by Slither at 10:14 am on 9/19/2020)

I drafted my original post about ten times, spending near enough a day writing it deleting it rewriting it and so on. It fed my anxienty that was already at a peek, but I am so glad I hit that enter button and plowed on.

Reading others experiences, advice and support has been genuinely wonderful. I have been involved in RP communities online for around 16 years and been doing table top RP for around twenty as a GM and player. I've had some really rough times of it when bringing up things like this in some communities and it filled me with fear to share here.

But I am happy I did, every community has its element of badblood, but it is refreshing to see such a supportive and understanding community. Not just for myself and my issues in this post, but it is clear to see it is an issue widely understood, supported and respected.

I have said this on a number of occasions, that the staff/admins here are the best I have ever had the pleasure of interactive with. But I rarely say it about the community as a whole. I have seen some of the best and most invested RP ever here, the information in this post made me see, that the people here aren't just good IC but are pretty fucking awesome OOC too.

I honestly hope that this helps others as much as it allowed me to take a step back, think and clear my head. Because sometimes it takes someone who's been there to say "HEY step the fuck back and put you first" to actually do so.

Much love, you wonderful people.

Totally right there with the people who are expressing anxiety or overwhelming bleed fro the game, and feeling obligated to keep playing for various reasons. Just want to reiterate what many others are saying, and advice that I wish I had listened to before things got too overwhelming. Take a break if you need it. Getting a breather, clearing your head, and forgetting about the game for a while REALLY helps, and it prevents you from making a permanent decision that you end up regretting once you've had time to decompress. If I could go back and tell myself to take a break rather than let the bleed overwhelm me, I would.

Best of luck with everything, and I hope that the anxiety becomes less challenging. :)

So, here is an experience. Not only do I have anxiety, I also have PTSD (Marine Corps).

I am on my second character. Things got so intense with the first one that I willfully tossed it all away and left the game for a month. To the GM's credibility I was icly and oocly offered many outs but never took it. I felt everything was collapsing and I was overwhelmed. I have plenty of bleed moments, I have snapped at staff, I have snapped at players and I can tell you from those experiences that they ALL understand. Having come back into Sindome with a second character I can't say the anxiety isn't there. But it's lessoned because I now know what to expect and have better ways to deal with it. Reach out to GM's they are quite helpful as is the player base, especially if they know what's going on with you. In the end remember this. It's a game. It's meant to be fun and challenging. It's meant to stress you out sometimes. You just have to figure out what works best for you to get around it all.