• Rachel Paige

Just a Phone Call

One of my least favorite anxiety-related fears is my fear of phone calls. It doesn’t make any logical sense and I can't tell you why I’m so scared of them. I just am.

Maybe it’s because I can't see the other person. Maybe it’s because it might be hard to hear them. Maybe it’s because they may not be able to hear me. Maybe it’s all three. That’s still not a reason to panic every time I make a phone call.

This doesn’t apply to everyone. If my parents or my sisters call me, I’ll answer with only slight hesitation and maybe a deep breath. If either of my best friends call, I’ll answer it after a couple deep breaths. Anyone else, I’m likely not going to answer at all.

Even if it’s work. I wait for it to go to voicemail, listen to the message, then call back. I can't bring myself to answer the call when I don’t know what it’s about. I just can't.

While answering phone calls is hard, making them is even harder. I check the number at least ten times before I press call. I practice what I have to say and if it’s important, write it on an index card, like a script. I write down any information the other person might ask for, especially numbers. I write my name down, because I might panic and forget, and nothing makes you look dumber than forgetting your own name.

Then it looks a little like this:

I sit in a room by myself, holding the phone, dialed with the number I checked ten times, in one hand and the index card with everything I could possibly need to say in the other.

Then I sit. And I sit. And I sit.

I reread the index card. I stare at the phone until the screen times out and goes black. I check the number again. I add something else to the index card. Screen goes black again. Check the number again. Read the index card again. Try not to cry.

Deep breath, deep breath, deep breath.

“You can do this,” I whisper. “You can do this, you can do this, you can do this.”

Deep breath, deep breath, deep breath.

“Rachel, press the button,” I whisper.

Screen goes black. Reread the index card. Check the number. Knee bounces. Hands shake. Can't read the index card because of the shaking. Screen goes black. Deep breath. Check the number. Deep breath. Set the index card down so I can read it. Deep breath.

“Rachel, press the button,” I whisper, slightly angrier than before. “You can do this, you can do this, you can do this.”

Deep breath. Eyes close. Press the button. Breath stops. Hear ringing.


Deep breath. Smile so you sound confident. Answer. Read the script. Stick to the script. You can do this, you can do this, you can do this. Don’t let your voice shake. Don’t let your hand shake. Don’t shake, don’t shake, don’t shake. Keep smiling. Keep talking. Read the script. Stick to the script.

You can do this, you can do this, you can do this.

Say goodbye. Hear the other person hang up. Make sure the call disconnected. Set the phone down. Eyes close. Deep breath, deep breath, deep breath.

“You’re okay,” I whisper. “You’re okay. You did it, you’re okay.”

Deep breath. Throw away the card. Deep breath. Stand up. Deep breath. It was just a phone call.

It was just a phone call. All that panic over a phone call.

Sometimes it’s better and sometimes it’s worse. Sometimes I cry before I manage to call. Sometimes I cry after I hang up. Sometimes I have to give up and try again later.

But it’s just a phone call. I know I shouldn’t be scared. I tell myself I shouldn’t be scared. But it doesn’t matter. I’ll still panic, even though it's just a phone call.

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