When the phone rings, my heart jumps

On Monday my mobile rang, I didn’t recognise the number. This panicked me. I didn’t answer it. Then I texted the number to my husband at work to ask him if he knew it. Then the home phone rang. I felt hounded. But I managed (just) to listen to the message. It was someone arranging details for something I’m helping them with. So I rang them back (I’m ok once I know who it is) and all was fine.

On Tuesday, I was out all day. When I came back from school with the kids the answerphone was beeping. It’s really loud, which on a mildly bad day is helpful as it’s irritating enough for me to listen to the message rather than ignore it. On Tuesday it freaked me out. I turned the power to the phone and answerphone off. I managed to tell my husband just before we took the kids out and asked him to listen to it and catch us up. When he caught up he didn’t mention it. We dropped the kids off at their group, he didn’t mention it. We went to the pub, he didn’t mention it. I thought it must be really bad and he didn’t want to upset me or was waiting for the right time. Eventually I asked him. He’d forgotten about it, because it was an automated voice saying “goodbye”. I’d been stressed about a cold call.

Today I was in when the phone rang. An 0845 number. I let it ring. Then the answerphone started beeping. I covered it with a cushion, closed the door to the room it was in and put music on. After my husband got back he said “there’s no message” (i.e. they hung up, just not quite in time). Still mildly stressed about this one as it was an “official” number and I don’t know who they were.

This is my life. Well, it’s not, it’s a sliver of my life. A ridiculous sliver. A stressful sliver. But not all of my life. But it casts a big shadow over the rest of my life at times.

Tomorrow I have to answer a phone call at 11am. This will be hard. The number will be unavailable. This will make it harder.

Why do I have to do this? CBT. It’s not a planned action to get me used to answering the phone. It’s my second appointment. The first, the assessment was in person. I told her about my trouble answering the phone, amongst other things. At the end she made the second appointment. Then she told me it would be by phone. Apparently the second appointment always is.

I was too stunned to ask why. To ask if, for me, it could be in person. I just was checking, would the number show? (no, it’s from a dr’s surgery, it will show as withheld). Could she text me first? (no, boy did I feel stupid for asking that, I realised straight away from her face it would be a big no no (and yet my dentist text me from their system to remind me of appointments)). Could she leave a message and I ring her back? (can’t remember why no for that one).

Now as the date nears, I just feel cross. It feels insensitive, inflexible, nonsensical (we’ll help you with your anxiety about, amongst other things, answering phone calls, by phoning you up).

And then Bitchface pipe’s up with “how dare you get cross about this? Fiona gets to be cross about how badly she was discharged from hospital, she’s properly ill and was in a real state and they were negligent. You on the other hand, just need to pull yourself together”. (It doesn’t help that blogspot wouldn’t let me get past identifying I’m not a robot to leave a supporting comment and I’m too ashamed to post on her facebook post in case our mutual friend works out I have anxiety).

So, these things are not a competition. I know that. Well, part of me does. I am genuinely worried about Fiona and powerless to do anything. I’m also grateful I’m not in that situation. But at the same time, I’m a bit pissed off about the added stress I’m feeling this week caused by the people that are supposed to be helping. I’m 80% sure that I’m not whining.

All in all, I’m not feeling particularly positive about this process. Which isn’t great as it “starts” tomorrow. I’m trying to push these feelings to one side, trying to give it a proper go, to give it chance to work rather than giving up on it before it starts.

In the meantime, I’m still struggling with phone calls. And don’t even get me started on emails…

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