I’m not afraid of brain surgery and have no fear of flying or dying. However, I'm terrified of the phone. I dread making phone calls, returning phone calls, leaving voice mail messages, putting a voice mail greeting on my phone, and the ringing of the phone results in fearful anticipation. I can spend hours or days of avoidance and rumination before making a call. I have a phone phobia.
Before I call someone, I get an ache in my chest, my breathing becomes shallow, I experience a tightness in my stomach, my mouth becomes dry, and I often pace. I stare at the phone frozen with fear while trying to summon the courage to call, and delay dialing for as long as possible. I mentally rehearse what I would like to say.
I usually will only answer the phone if the caller ID says it’s my husband, family or close friends.
In contrast to using the phone, I feel totally comfortable when meeting people in person.
The origin of this problem seemed to be when I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease more than 17 years ago. One of my first Parkinson’s symptoms was my soft, raspy and hoarse voice. When I talk to people on the phone, they often say that they can’t hear or understand me. Some even hang up on me thinking I am a crank caller. Despite more than 75 speech and voice sessions and three vocal cord surgeries, my voice problem persists.
I’ve coped by avoiding the phone altogether or asking my husband to respond to the phone calls. I communicate primarily by email.
Jim McClure, a kindred phone phobic, developed some strategies to deal with his fear of the phone due to his stuttering. Check out his article, Making Peace with the Phone or, Curse You, Alexander Graham Bell at http://www.stammering.org/makingpeace.html
If my voice improves, I’m hoping that my phone phobia will also lessen. But in the meantime, I’ need to feel the fear and do it anyway.