Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Phone Phobia and ANXIETY!!

Today I was forced to write an email that I did not want to write... which I knew would elicit a phone call that I would not want to answer. I hit send on the email. Literally 30 seconds later the phone rang! I looked at the phone, it was from the right area code. It rang again... each proceeding ring sounding louder and LOUDER! The phone looking bigger and BIGGER! And the room feeling smaller and smaller! I couldn't, I had too, but I couldn't! So I didn't! And the phone call rolled over into voice mail. The longest 20 seconds of my life passed as I watched the new message alert go from 0 to 1. Anxiety pounding my chest, throat, the room! For five minutes I tried to do something else, anything to change the subject and try to forget! Then my co-worker strolled over, and I blurted "I'm so scared!!" And then I had a brilliant idea, have her listen to the message instead of me. Yes, this would make it all better. But no, it didn't. The look on her face while listening to the message was enough to send me into Cardiac Arrest! Which prompted me to unload the whole thing on my other co-worker, George. Phew! He took it and handled it all no problem.

This whole experience made me sit back and take a look at what had just happened. Fear of phones and/or phone calls. Phone Phobia. OR maybe "Dealing with Angry Guy" Phobia. Either way, this type of response can be very debilitating.

My friend who is also a therapist, Dr. Cory Harmon, has a solution for all of us who may suffer from situational anxiety:

Exposure and Response Prevention:
a treatment method for anxiety disorders (sounds serious, but can apply to anyone with mild to serious anxiety!). It is based on the idea that therapy is achieved as you confront your fears and totally avoid an "escape" response.

When looking back on what happened, I totally avoided and escaped talking to the guy because I was afraid of what he might say to me. This in turn caused me buckets and heaps of anxiety that probably could have been avoided had I just answered the stupid phone and referred him to George in the first place!

So, for all of you out there who might have anxiety issues, try Exposure and Response Prevention. If you feel anxious in a social setting, stick it out. You'll see after a moment that it's really not as bad as you think. The feelings of anxiety will subside. This will train you to be more well adjusted, and I'm guessing happier all around- especially if anxiety stops you from doing the things you would really like to do.

I gave it some time, and my phone finally returned to the right size, as did the room, along with my pounding heart. And my anxiety finally subsided too. I think it's also good to remember, life is more than just a silly phone call, more than a stupid party. In the grand scheme of things, these little moments don't matter. "Don't sweat the small stuff", a wise Papa Pinney once said to me. Even more wise, he followed it with "It's all small stuff."


Britt said...

Oh my gosh, I have totally done that before. I think one time I even made Molly meet me somewhere to listen to a message for me. Like you said, it was no big deal :) Great advice, though!!

Courtney & Matt said...

welcome to my LIFE!! maybe phone anxiety runs in our sister blood? I think I just HATE being yelled at, and every once in a while that is what happens when you pick up the phone at work! Doesn't even matter if it's your fault or not. (i.e. life insurance commissions).

There are some #'s that I see pop up on the phone and make sure to not answer it cause they are mean people. I prefer to get the voice mail, handle their problem and then email them instead! That's definitely avaoidance but it works!