I have social anxiety, but I also get anxiety over answering or making phone calls. My fear was once so great that I wouldn’t even answer the home phone or my own mobile phone if it rang, even if the caller i.d. showed the call was from someone I knew. Nowadays I can answer calls from people I know, although I still feel reasonably uncomfortable doing it. However, if I get calls from people I don’t know, my instinct is to ignore it.
Right now, I am unemployed and searching for a job. And the only way to get a job is to send out my resume to job ads or fill out job applications in the hopes of hearing back and getting an interview. The problem is I am very, very evasive when I receive a phone call from a number I don’t know. Instantly my heart rate spikes from the moment my mobile screen changes to show the number calling me and I get the “answer” or “ignore” icons. I can’t begin to describe the terror that grips me when I am in panic mode over whether to answer the call or not. I feel as if my phone is a ticking time bomb when a call comes in, and I don’t know how to push past the anxiety to make myself answer the call.
My reason for writing this blog entry is to express hopes of getting past this phobia because I know if I continue to let my fear dominate me, I’ll be living in constant worry and never moving forward with finding a job.
I think to myself, “What is the worst that could happen if I answer this call?” And you know what, usually my thoughts stray towards the worst and most impossible outcomes, and logically, I know the possibility of those things happening is less than 1%. Yet my fear is so great that my thought distortions, however unlikely they are to happen, seem so very real.
I started reading the book “Feeling Good” by David Burns a few days ago. I consulted it after I was once again having intense anxiety the night before my coloring book meetup event. I didn’t think the book would help me, but there’s an writing exercise in it that is teaching me how to identify my thought distortions for a situation, write it down, and then use logic to dispel the distortion. I was very surprised to feel much more relaxed after doing the writing exercise. It seemed I finally found a way to stop the circle of negative thoughts I get that usually renders me unable to sleep for several more hours. I haven’t used this exercise yet for my phone phobia, but I will give it a shot.
Yesterday I applied to three job ads online, and I know I will probably be getting calls soon. Let’s hope I don’t run away this time.