Thanks all guys and gals for all your wonderful support but I need no support at all any more, I am quite capable of taking my own care.
To answer this question I'm addressing the issues within chat first.
Personally, I have a great deal of sympathy with your situation. I can also see how your issues raise some friction in the chat room. It's difficult finding that balance between wanting you, as an individual, to feel included and welcome and wanting the rest of the chat room members to feel comfortable with the discussion in the room. Finding that balance is challenging and I do find myself questioning whether we will achieve that, but I am optimistic and think it is something we can work through with time.
To give a history of our chat room. It was very active when it first launched. It then slowed down, which is not uncommon. It has only started to thrive again over the past year or two and it took a lot of effort and recruiting by mods and avid users to grow the chat community.
There's written rules and unwritten rules for how people are expected to behave in chat on Stack Exchange. The culture of chat rooms varies between the sites and even within the one site (for instance Stack Overflow). The purpose of chat can be summed up as follows:
When should I visit chat?
- for real time collaboration
- to meet the fellow members of your community in a more social environment
- for less structured, casual (but still roughly on-topic) conversation
All of this involves a degree of social awareness and mindfulness of the site's scope. In this case it's Pets. It also means we share our time there. Share the discussion. It's important to learn to give and take. Take and interest in other people and what they're discussing. If one person talks about themselves to a point of ignoring other people's chatter, it can become irritating and cause friction. Ultimately the other people will grow impatient with that person. It can possibly end up with the chat room losing activity and ultimately becoming quiet again.
Moderators are people too and have their limitations. That's why it's good to have teams, so we can take breaks as needed and pass problems from one to another and discuss how to address things.
We can try and support you within the limitations of the site's activity. Be kind and patient, but also correct people where behaviour isn't appropriate for the site.
In terms of the friction in chat. One action we will have to take is to issue chat suspensions to help relieve the pressure within the room. Please do not take this as a rejection, it's to help slow things down, so there's time for you to take stock and for us to have a discussion about what needs to be improved.
We cannot counsel you or help with your medical condition. We can only offer limited support. As each person here has their own issues to contend with, and are limited by time and energy.
So what should I do in this situation?
I recommend going slowly in chat. Observe more and perhaps say less. A hello and watch how people talk. You clearly adore your cat. Perhaps mention her once a day. Tell us a story or post a pic of her. Then focus on what others are saying. I recommend Interpersonal Skills to get a more detailed answer on how to go about improving your chat skills and feeling more comfortable. Check the help centre to ensure the way you ask is on topic. Again, this site is not a substitute for therapy, but may give you some good tips on how to improve social skills for specific situations.
In terms of feeling unwelcome or frightened to participate in chat, this saddens me, and I hope that you will eventually grow in confidence and feel at least support from me, as a mod to feel a part of the community. Social isolation is a tragic thing and for people with mental health issues, it can be a circular and self-perpetuating thing. For this I hate to see someone suffer. So if you can do your best, I will also do my best and we can make this work.
You want some help and we want to help you! It may not always seem like it but right from the start of your time on Pets we've been trying to help you to understand the site and get chat working well for you. I love that people are passionate about their pets and I love that we have a place to share that passion.
We've had a few bumps along the road but the key aspect that I think will help progress the most is that the feedback we give is listened to. I'm not saying that you haven't listened to us so far but there have been instances where I've advised you to move your off-topic conversations to the Off the Leash room and this hasn't happened. When we have to repeat the same thing over and over we start having issues with users beginning to get impatient.
Again, back in December we hit another bump in the road when a user replied quite abruptly that the chat was off-topic. Back then I said this:
To be fair, we've been through this many times and I guess others are losing patience. It's an clear rule - this chat is about pets. Continually trying to work out where the line is takes up a lot of people's time so if you're ever in doubt, put it in the 'off the leash' chat. It can always be moved back here if it needs to be.
Until yesterday when tempers boiled over, no one has been bombarding you with harsh words as far as I can see. If they have, they should be flagged and then they can be dealt with appropriately.
I agree with what Yvette has said in her answer and here are a few of my thoughts as well:
Yvette has a great point about watching how others use the room. When I first joined Stack Exchange I sat in a few different rooms and learnt how they worked before I participated. When I made mistakes I apologised and learnt from it.
Assume good intentions. Everyone in the chat wants to welcome more people to it and if something happens in chat that is over the line, flag it and walk away.
Try to continue the conversation. As I said in chat:
In my experience, chat works best when we listen to each other and respond. We've got to remember that we might not always agree with each other but we need to make an effort to be welcoming and accommodating. Try not to just bombard the room with your own thoughts or agenda but listen to others and discuss things together rather than a one-sided dialogue.
I value your contributions to this site and I'd like to see this work for everyone involved.