One of my MOST annoying anxieties has to be my phone anxiety. It drives me up the wall and it’s something that I feel like I have absolutely no control over! I hate it, it’s so silly and the fact that it exists infuriates me.
I cannot for the life of me make a phone call. Well, I mean I can, but my head doesn’t like it and my body seems to have a meltdown. I have never been a confident person and therefore I put my unwillingness to make phone calls down to that for many many years. I’d find any excuse not to make a call and my mum would always do it for me. As a 13 year old, I thought it was just normal to not make phone calls yourself. I mean, who actually enjoys making phone calls, right? I only started to recognise that it was a problem when I was 16 and crying my eyes out and nearly puking in the toilet all because my mum refused to call the doctors for me. That’s when I became aware that it wasn’t just nerves, it wasn’t just a dislike for phone calls, it was a full on panic attack at the fear of the unknown. That’s what it’s been put down to, the fear of the unknown. My counsellor said that the fear of not knowing who i’m talking to, what questions are going to be asked, whether I will be able to communicate with the individual clearly or not were all signs suggesting that it’s the unknown that I was terrified of. It made sense when it was explained to me like that, but it didn’t fix it. I still remained terrified and I still really do struggle to make a phone call. It proved incredibly difficult to seek professional help when I wouldn’t make the necessary phone calls and would only communicate via email. I’m much better when it’s with people I know, but when I am unaware of who is going to be on the other end I still shut down. People don’t tend to understand it and it would make the whole situation a lot worse. When you have people making comments such as “you’re never going to cope when you move out if you can’t even make a simple phone call”, it tends to make you feel incredibly pathetic. ((It’s important to know that the last thing you are is pathetic)). I don’t blame anyone for not understanding as I get that anxiety can be difficult to comprehend if you haven’t experienced it. I understand that it looks like I just can’t be bothered or that I’m being lazy but it’s really not that. Trying to explain to someone that something so easy to them is so difficult for me can be difficult at the best of times. People are understanding it more now, but I think that’s because anxiety is understood a lot more as a mental health issue rather than just ‘being nervous’ about something.
I took such a big step today and called an insurance company to insure my car. It’s such a small thing, a phone call that so many people wouldn’t batter an eyelid over. Not me, it’s taken me 3 days to finally make the call. 3 days of stressing about a phone call that only I could make. 3 days of going over and over what I’m going to say, making notes and writing out a script to ensure that I don’t mess up. 3 very mentally exhausting days for a phone call that would only last 15 minutes. I finally made the call about an hour ago and it went fine. That’s the thing, it was absolutely fine. There were no problems with miscommunication, I fully understood what was being said and the lady was absolutely lovely. This is almost always the case with every phone call that I get worked up about yet my brain still won’t put two and two together and I still completely clam up when it comes to making another call. It’s something I’m really trying to work on, because at the age of 21 I really do not want to be avoiding making phone calls. I know that it will be ok, I know that nothing terrible will ever happen yet it’s like someone flicks a switch in my head that triggers a sudden uncontrollable panic. I’ve been given ways to help control this panic and I’m slowly getting there but I think phone calls will always be something that I am never completely ok with. Making notes prior to a phone call is definitely something I recommend to anyone that may struggle in similar ways to me. It makes you feel more prepared and eases that anxiety. It doesn’t make it vanish as you’ll never feel completely prepared but it definitely helps.
I’ve come to terms with my anxiety and it’s unpredictability, however I can not and will not allow it to take over my day to day life. I have to remind myself that things will be ok, and if they aren’t, what’s the worst that can happen? Someone who I will never speak to again will think I’m a bit of a muppet over the phone? Who cares, they’ll forget about the call by tomorrow. That’s what I have to keep telling myself.
I guess this blog post is just trying to highlight anxiety in all it’s glory. The little things that it makes you feel and the way it can get in your head and make simple things so difficult. People experience their anxieties in different ways and so shouldn’t be judged when it rears it’s ugly head over the ‘smallest things’. Something that is simple to you could feel like the end of the world to someone else. I’m proud of myself for making that phone call today, really proud. I managed to fight off all those thoughts and make the call and that’s such an accomplishment for me. I’m hoping to hold onto this feeling so that when the next phone call comes around I’m prepared and ready to make it.