mental health who am I

I’m afraid of Americans telephones

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

I grew up without a phone but when we finally got one when I was 13 I wrote in my diary that it was the BEST DAY IN MY LIFE EVER.

I never got used to the thing though, and when I moved to the US at the age of 17, I hardly ever called home. It was too expensive, the connection was really bad and it was just all too stressful somehow.

Fast forward to the age of mobiles and I don’t use mine for calling.

I don’t know how normal this is or if it actually is a symptom of my anxiety or not (OR I’m just weird) but I only make a phone call if I absolutely have to and I never ever pick up the phone if it’s a ‘nameless’ number. It therefore takes me a reeeeeeeeeeeeally long time to organise things and that makes my anxiety worse because being organised is good but if organisation requires phones, I’m in a no win situation.

For example, my annual dental check-up is 4 months overdue, my annual eye exam is 1 month overdue, my cat’s immunisations are 2 months overdue, a haircut (mine) is a few months overdue and an appointment with a new CBT practitioner is 2 months overdue.

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I just cannot make myself to dial a number.

I cannot dial a number that is not associated with the name of my husband, my son or my mother. I put it off for so long that it gets ridiculous and then I’m even more stressed about it.

Often I email to make appointments and sometimes it works but often they CALL me back. WHY the heck do they think I emailed in the first place!

The funny thing is that once I do make a phone call, I’m totally fine. I can talk, I don’t sound stupid, it goes well.

Funny, that.

Last week on my day off from work I sucked it up and called up a hospital for an appointment for my oldest son. It’s something that I couldn’t put off and since I HAD to do it, I did it. After that I was on a roll and I quickly called up the dentist and the optometrist but then I was done. The haircut and the CBT will have to wait. I can’t bare to make another phonecall to an unknown person anytime soon. My head hurt and my heart raced.

And the CBT thing is so hilariously ironic – I need to talk to somebody about my anxiety but I cannot call to make an appointment because I have anxiety.

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I KNOW I’m not the only person with a phone-phobia. If you’re one of ‘us’, let me know if you have any creative ways of tricking your brain into dealing a number you have to dial!

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  • Lauren (@PoweredbyPB) Monday, 30 January 2017 at 15:38

    I’m also terrified of the phone, I hate answering it unless it’s a select few people, and I also hate making calls (not ideal when I have to do it regularly for work), and make my OH call to book appointments/restaurants etc. I thought I was totally weird and alone in this, but it seems not!

  • Natasha Bluu Friday, 27 January 2017 at 09:40

    Suprisingly it has NOT gotten better in time. I have people telling me that I will get used to it, but no. If possible, I use email. Or just make a short call saying “hiIamcallingfromcanIemailyouthequestions”. And if I really, REALLY have to do it, I take a deep breath in, partly switch off my brain and just concentrate real hard. It is easier to do many phone calls in a row, you are right about that. But after I have made 3-4 calls, I want to take the rest of the day off.

  • Lesley Boniface Thursday, 26 January 2017 at 08:54

    Yep me too – looks like we’re not alone. I think if you have to do it – like your son’s hospital appointment – it’s easier but I’d much rather communicate by text, messenger or email. I love the live chat facility on some websites, I’ll sit and chat for ages on those!

    • MrsB Friday, 27 January 2017 at 09:04

      I do use the chats as well. With my bank and thankfully we have it at work as well to talk to colleagues :)

  • suslik Thursday, 26 January 2017 at 07:02

    oh. i can totally relate. some days i don’t even pick up when it’s a familiar number. and i have my phone constantly on this vibrating mode so i would not get a heart attack because it’s ringing.
    and yes, it is kind of hard to work as an assistant of a cooperation programme. those people, they looooooove talking. i just quickly ask for their email address for further communication :) and hope that this will be the only phonecall for the day…
    i have no good ideas for improvement though :(

    • MrsB Friday, 27 January 2017 at 09:06

      My phone is almost always on silent :| My desk phone at work too ;)

  • Franci Wednesday, 25 January 2017 at 20:44

    This made me laugh– I feel less alone in my telephone fear now! I see people talking on the phone at 8am and think, “Who on earth are they talking to at this hour and with such animation?”

    • MrsB Friday, 27 January 2017 at 09:07

      London public transport is FULL of people who have long phone conversations with all the gestures and laughing and what not. I roll my eyes at that. I’m that person. ;)

  • Cindy Wednesday, 25 January 2017 at 16:56

    I hate the phone. I avoid making calls unless it is absolutely necessary and never answer my phone. Ironically, I used to work on a help desk where I talked on the phone for a living. That was surprisingly different. If I need to make a call, I just pretend I have to do this for my job and if I don’t I will get fired. It usually works. Luckily, most things I need to do right now can be accomplished via email or text or an online web page or whatever.

    If you’re worried about doing so, I always remember the following. 1. They can’t see I’m anxious; they have no idea. They can’t see me. 2. It will be over faster if I get it over with and just do it. 3. Practice what you are going to say first, or write down what you need to say when you call.

    • MrsB Friday, 27 January 2017 at 09:08

      Good tips. Writing down stuff definitely helps. I often even write down my own address and phone number if I have to give it to people so I can just read it and don’t have to think.

  • Daisy W Wednesday, 25 January 2017 at 16:44

    Coming from a fellow Estonian it’s totally an Estonian or just an introvertial northerner thing..
    I know many other sufferers (including my mom) from back home!

    • MrsB Friday, 27 January 2017 at 09:09

      My Estonian mother lives with us and she’s on Skype EVERY NIGHT, ALL NIGHT. If not Skype, then phone with her friends here. I am definitely not her child.

  • Natasha Bluu Wednesday, 25 January 2017 at 14:47

    Hi, I am Liis and I suffer from phoneophobia.
    It is even worse, because of my work as a freelance journalist.
    If anyone has any suggestions (besides JUST DO IT) I would like to hear them out.

    • MrsB Friday, 27 January 2017 at 09:10

      You must have some strategies for tackling the phone calls having this kind of a job! I guess you just write down stuff you need to say and do it?