When You Have 'Phone Anxiety' and You Need to Call Your Doctors


I have what I call “phone anxiety.” This is a really bad thing to have when you are chronically ill, with multiple health issues. There are a lot of phone calls to be made. Doctor’s offices, dental offices, specialists, clinics, pharmacies, social workers, etc.

My anxiety becomes so severe that I delay making any of the calls I need to make, just to stop the panic, “I’ll do it tomorrow. I won’t worry about it today. It can wait another day. I can’t handle this right now.” These are the things I say to myself, regularly.

So, now, I have an enormous list of calls I need to make. Important ones. Some of which I should have made weeks ago. Which only makes the anxiety worse.

Sometimes, my partner calls for me, when I just can’t seem to force myself to do it. Sometimes I send faxes to my doctors, instead of calling, when I have a bunch of specific info I need the receptionist to relay to the doctor. I do this because it often gets mixed up, or a key piece of information is missed, if it’s not in writing. I’m sure they think it’s odd, but they don’t seem to mind, thankfully.

I’ve never liked talking on the phone, I’m a writer not a talker. I daydream a lot, so I miss a lot of what people say, even when I’m trying to pay attention. But, my issue with calling about medical issues is different. It’s not a preference thing. It’s a full blown, terrifying, anxiety ridden experience for me.

I’m intimidated by authority figures and receptionists have the ability to affect my life, with one phone call. They can say no. They can say that I can’t see the doctor for another five months, when I need to see them immediately.

My mind starts to envision every possible worst case scenario. Then, my mind tries to sort out what I will do if any of them occurs. Then, my heart starts racing, I start to shake. Sweat. Panic. It becomes too much. All of these potential “what if’s” and I don’t feel capable of handling them. I’m not assertive. I accept “no” far too often. Then, I get upset at myself for being so timid.

I’ve been taken advantage of in my health dealings for being so nice, quiet, patient, polite and timid. It has been used against me. I remember those moments where my health suffered due to my “niceness.” Those moments run through my mind before every phone call. Moments that affected my life in severe ways.

I feel embarrassed, sometimes, for being afraid of a phone call. I’m capable. Educated. Yet I feel like one who can’t stand up for herself when it’s needed most.

I’m sharing this, about myself, because I’ve discovered I’m not the only person who has phone anxiety. I felt alone in this, for so long. I want others to know that there are others out there who have the same issue. You aren’t alone in this.

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