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The more I talk to people the more I see that “phone phobia” is a real issue with mental illness sufferers.

It’s probably more on the anxiety end of the scale.

I am definately phone phobic.  I never answer my house phone unless I have pre-arranged a time for someone to ring.

The mobile phone I will answer most times except if the number is a private number. Simply if I don’t know who you are I don’t pick up.

Phone phobia not only happens on a personal basis, it happens at work too.

It’s funny that when the topic of phone phobia was bought up in a support group meeting, how many people could relate to it and realised they were not alone. The majority of people in the room preferred email communication or they would monitor their answering machine before picking up calls. Phone phobia continued over into the office environment too with people preferring to email than telephone.

If I have to call a client I prefer to email instead. I am a heavy emailer at work and always ask clients for their email address. I often feel like I am bothering them if I have to call them about their business issues. I can be more precise in my emails and not flounder or stutter or admit I don’t know the answer to questions. Emailing feels like a safer way of communication for me.

Where does my phone phobia stem from? Mine started when I had various issues with some of my family of origin. My parents have a private phone  number and would call me on my home phone. A family secret was divulged to me by one of my parents but not to the other parent or my siblings. I carried that secret for 12 months before exposing it. During those 12 months I could not face the person whose secret I was carrying. I isolated myself from my family of origin and carrying someone else’s baggage made my mental state worse during that time. To me, my family was not what I thought it was afterall. We had cracks beneath the surface, cracks that were slowly opening up that the facade most common in an alcoholic home had covered for many years.

Things are still a little touchy at times with my family of origin which is why I am still reluctant to pick up the home phone. (Infact my mobile is ringing right this second but I don’t recognise the number so whoever it is can leave a message if they want something as far as I’m concerned. Now they’re ringing the home phone….don’t they ever give up?!).

I had a discussion recently with a partner of a recovering addict who also had “phone phobia”. Behind his phobia was the fear of people thinking he was a failure in his recovery for he had “slipped”. He preferred to isolate himself rather than reach out to his fellow 12 Steppers for help.

It seems fear rules many aspects of our lives.

How do you conquer your fear?

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