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Old 05-26-2005, 05:50 PM   #1
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Hope25 HB User
Phobia Slowly Taking Over

I guess some of you "know" me by now that I'm kind of prone to "caring" about other's reactions to certain things....I know, I know.....I had a sistuation today...well to make the long story short, I'm starting, well starting is not the right word - but I really think I have a problem dealing with talking on the phone. As I've said before, my CP hardly shows at all. But when I'm nervous, the "monster" comes out well, today I needed to call my credit card to tell them I was overcharged on something....and I coudln't bring myself to do it....on the phone I just get scared! I feel that I'm being judged...whereas face-to-face I've learned to deal with.

I just get so scared dealing with things over the phone. I sort of become "breathy" and nervous like I'm out of breath. I feel like I can't help myself and I actually cry from frustration! Could you believe that I think my blood pressure sky rocketed b/c I was faced with this...having to make a phone call. I am so embarrassed.

So I tell my sister and she did it for me. The truth is, I've always had people to help me. Even my parents don't "push" these things, partly b/c I think they too, have some sort of problem "facing" certain situations. BUT I'M TIRED OF IT!!!! I started my own ecommerce website, I'm a business person of some sort, yet I have difficulty making a phone call.

I want to get over this. I guess I'm scared the person on the other end will take advantage, hang up, not take me seriously...I don't know. All my friends say I'm such a strong person, that I'm always joyous and happy (which I am) and they even come to ME for advice. AND I'm too embarassed to even talk to them about THIS.

I really think this phobia is what has ruined my life to a degree and made me miss out on many things...the idea of "what the other person will think/say..." I know I could never control that. But why can't I overcome it? And I want too. I'm still young, I can't let this take over. I even went to a psychologist, and he flat out said "you don't have a problem" and "who cares" what they say....Well you know what... I CARE! B/c I'm the one who has to face this....then I think about all the people who die senselessly every day for whatever reason, those with sever problems, and I don't have that. I thank God every night for what I have. But I feel I haven't really" enjoyed" any of it.

I need to overcome this now. I've managed to be "ok" with calling for pizza, that sort of thing. But when I have to argue or prove a point, I can't do it over the phone...it scares me. I sort of run out of breath, get nervous

Speaking on the phone...how can I overcome this??
Thank you for those who've always responded and helped me out. I really read your posts and they make sense to me. You help me a lot when I post about dealing with this "thing" - my "wrong" thinking...

 
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Old 05-27-2005, 10:37 AM   #2
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bsjones HB User
Re: Phobia Slowly Taking Over

I have had this problem also.

What struck me as I read your post was that the person on the other end of the phone may respond positively or negatively to you, but that has to do with THEM, and little to do with YOU.

Personally, I have also found that when I call to complain about something, sometimes it turns out that I am wrong !! Un-believeable !!!

Anyway, good luck to you, Hope25 !!

 
Old 05-27-2005, 11:04 AM   #3
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Re: Phobia Slowly Taking Over

I don't really like talking on the phone either, but I don't think it is because of my CP, I just feel strange calling people I don't know.

I have mentioned this to my mom before, and she said "You'll never actually meet the person (more than likely), so you can say something totally stupid and it won't matter." She also said that thinking about what you are going to say beforehand, even writing it down, can make you less nervous. This advice has helped me....hope it helps you too!

PS--I really don't think pepole would hang up on you, even if you start stuttering or whatever....and if they do, call back and complain about them

 
Old 05-27-2005, 11:46 AM   #4
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Re: Phobia Slowly Taking Over

Hope25--

I can't really help you with the phone, but I do want to say this:

It makes me sad to hear you describe you CP as a "monster". CP is a part of you. It's not all of you, but it does contribute to your being, whether you are comfortable with it or not. It may be helpful to you in all areas of your life to find ways to define your disability as positive.

Some ways I see CP as a positive in my life are as follows:

It forced me to become empathetic to older people and others with disabilities at a young age. In turn, those who know me generally become more empathetic to PWDs as well.

It forces me to take care of myself, slow down, and not take myself too seriously.

It keeps me from being caught up in a materialistic lifestyle because I know that there are much more important things in this world like maintaining independence and physical health.

Milesones in my life-- getting my master's degree, getting a job, learning to drive, traveling-- all mean so much more because CP has the potential to hinder all of these things.

Good luck to you.

 
Old 05-27-2005, 12:57 PM   #5
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Freestyles HB User
Re: Phobia Slowly Taking Over

Hope,

I trust you remember my other posts so I'll try not to be too repetetive.

I can relate to what you're saying... I used to get nervous around people I didn't know as well - whether it be on the phone or in person.

The key to overcomming your fear is three-fold...

1. Understand what's making anxious... You mentioned that it's talking on the phone but try to be as specfic as possible.. what makes you most anxious about the conversation? Maybe it's that you'll stutter and the other person won't understand what your saying. Whatever it is don't make yourself sick thinking about it just be aware.

2. Now that you have the stressor in your head, your mind is probably full of negative "self talk" Listen to what you're telling yourself... Chances are it's not in the least bit encouraging.

3. Challenge your self talk. (this is the hardest part since self talk can be very convincing) So what if you stutter? what's the worst that can happen??
Mind - She'll think I'm stupid - You - So what??? I don't even know him/her.

Mind - She won't understand what I'm saying You - So what?? If it's her job to be nice to customers and ask if something isn't clear.

4. It may be helpful to write this stuff down beforehand.. So you remember how to challenge the "voice within" if and when need be... Review this list - Or better yet try to come up with worst case sinerios.. What's the worst that can happen? Would that really be so bad? Will it drastically affect my life? Is it worth stressing over?

5. What's equally important is practice - Once you have some level of comfort, it's important that you actually use what you've learned - Don't get down on yourself if you run into some bumps along the way... Chances are it took years for you to "learn" to think like this.. The bright side is it can be un-learned, but it won't happen immediately... It's important that you don't hide from your fears... (I know it's tough). Start with making a call you are somewhat comfortable with.. When this goes well and you feel more confident move on to a call that makes you anxious. (Repeat steps 3 and 4 if need be). The idea here is to replace the negative self talk with not nessesarily positive but realistic thoughts.... Practice, practice, practice.

This is essentially the basis of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. There are lots of good books out there on this concept.. (Obviously the Physc you visited was totally unfamiliar with this concept). There are lots of good books on this topic. One that I'd recommend is "The Feeling Good Handbook" (by David D Burns I believe). I'm reading another one now about how our "thoughts" shape are personalities... It looks to be based on the same premiss but I'm not too far along so I don't know for certain Very interesting stuff though.. Ah, I wonder if it's too late for med school. I think I'm in the wrong field.

Good luck..! I should get back to work

F.S

Last edited by Freestyles; 05-27-2005 at 12:59 PM.

 
Old 05-27-2005, 01:11 PM   #6
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Re: Phobia Slowly Taking Over

Quote:
Originally Posted by Freestyles
Ah, I wonder if it's too late for med school. I think I'm in the wrong field.
It's never too late! I'm a huge advocate of persons with disabilities going to med school. I still wish that I would have gone myself, sometimes. Then, my rational, thinking side kicks back in. FS, have you thought about rehab psych? Might be a nice fit. I'm looking at programs right now, as they dove-tail nicely with my master's in health behavior (we work within the CBT paradigm a lot). I think there is a lot of help out there that focuses on persons with acquired disability, and not enough for those of us with life-long conditions. The tacit assumption is that we'll find a way to manage if we live like this long enough. As someone with a disability and as someone with a background in psych, I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on this, perhaps in another thread? I don't want to hijack Hope's thread.

 
Old 05-27-2005, 01:28 PM   #7
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Re: Phobia Slowly Taking Over

I also sometimes have problems with phones. You're not alone. And also many ABs have similar problems.

Hope25, how are your chest/jaw/neck/shoulder muscles? Are they tight? Is your posture OK? I've noticed that it is useful to do some stretching before making a phone call. As well as taking some deep breaths. If you're alone, you can prepare with humming or yawning - it helps with breathing. Sometimes it helps if you smile when you speak.

People who do telephone work are used to hearing all kinds of not-so-perfect voices. Maybe your voice is not that unusual after all.

When you speak, pay attention to your position: experiment with speaking sitting vs. standing. Sometimes it helps if you raise your chin a bit or lean backwards. Do *not* press you chin towards your chest. Hold the receiver in a relaxed way.

I agree with Freestyles: some kind of cognitive therapy might benefit you. Or assertivity training.

Last edited by Strawberry1; 05-27-2005 at 01:39 PM.

 
Old 05-27-2005, 07:45 PM   #8
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Hope25 HB User
Re: Phobia Slowly Taking Over

Thank you so much to all who've replied.

First off, I'd like to take back what I meant about what I said, that when I get nervous the "monster" comes out....I didn't mean this as any negative reference to anyone with cp.... what I meant is that, in reality my CP is really a 2 on a scale of 1 to 10...that means that it hardly shows. And I've worked very hard in getting to that point. However, it's only when I get nervous that it shows, and that's what I mean by "monster." Truth is, I never really accepted cp as a part of me b/c it only "shows" when I get nervous.

My speech is quite clear actually. The only negative thing about my speech is that it can get "high-pitched." This is what I was told by a speech therapist. The high-pitch happens when I get nervous. When this happens, I also tend to feel like I'm running out of air as I'm talking, and as a result my sentences sound like a person who's run 5 miles non-stop! Literally, I cannot finsh, "Hello, my name is Hope how are you" in one breath. I also find that I have difficulty maintaining a conversation while walking too. This is my problem...not enough air when I talk and sound "breathy" and not able to finish my sentences. Then I get more nervous and start with the "um" and "ah" and that nonsense.

However, I was told by a S/T to speak in a "low" tone. However, when I try to do this, I'm not loud enough! Is that b/c I don't have enough air?
I just find this breathing stuff so difficult. Does anyone relate to this? And how would I go about practicing - breathing & phone talking?

 
Old 05-27-2005, 09:08 PM   #9
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Freestyles HB User
Re: Phobia Slowly Taking Over

Hope,

It sounds to me like your very focused on your symptoms.. This is more than likely what's fueling the cycle. - The more you think about your symptoms the more anxious you become... Breathing excercises are important to keep your anxiety in check, and Strawberry1 has some good pointers. I also find that having a drink (preferably water ) handy helps with the dry mouth that you may get when you're anxious. And it can also distract you from all that negative self talk..

As I said, what's more important is to conentrate on the "thougts" that make you feel the way you do. Ulimately it's our thoughts that shape our behaviours. Challenge your negative thoughts! With constant practice it's the way to long term results.


NJenn,


I agree entirely that there is very little awareness out there on the topic of rehabilitation phsych. Even more so when it comes to dealing with a lifelong rather than an aquired disability.... When it comes to CP, most of the focus is on the physical, very little is on the emotional side of having a disability. As a result, few of us are ever made aware of any means of coping with our disability. There is a HUGE void here. Of the few folks I know with CP, a lot of them have had emotional issues steming from their disability and this seems to be the common theme for posters here as well... I've come to believe that this partly due to limited exposure (for most of us anyway) to folks who are in the same boat... We do our best to conform to the AB world, and never become totally comfortable with our disability.

It took me a long time to accept myself as who I am... This is essentially how my interest in psych came to be... I wanted to learn the tools to make myself a more optomistic thinker.. I don't think genetics is on my side there but I'm not one to blame anybody... Ultimately it doesn't matter why we are a certain way.. Whether it be due to CP genetics or a combination of both... It only matters that we focus our efforts on positive change since it's difficult to change the past!

... Just a very brief summary of my thoughts - This can easily fill another thread, but it's pretty late so I thought I'd keep it brief for now

F.S

Last edited by Freestyles; 05-27-2005 at 09:15 PM.

 
Old 05-28-2005, 02:17 AM   #10
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Re: Phobia Slowly Taking Over

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hope25
My speech is quite clear actually. The only negative thing about my speech is that it can get "high-pitched." This is what I was told by a speech therapist. The high-pitch happens when I get nervous.
I'm not an expert but it sounds like you have a voice problem rather than a speech problem. Maybe you would benefit from voice therapy / voice coaching / whatever it is called.

When you speak, keep your shoulders relaxed; don't let them rise up. It may help, if you first raise your shoulders and let them fall down; do this before a phone call.

Speak slowly.

I did a web search and found a page that gives voice improvement tips for singers. But maybe some of those tips are useful for speakers too. For example: "Don't force your chest out and up when you breath in. This will actually constrict your air flow." That web page also said, that if your singing voice gets too high, you should open your mouth slightly wider by dropping your lower jaw. I don't know if that applies for speaking voice, too.

I've heard that if you manage to relax your tongue muscle, your whole neck/jaw area will relax (tongue muscle is big and it actually influences the neck, too). If you are about to make a phone call and are in a place where nobody can see your face, try the following: Move your tongue along your upper front teeth from left to right, then along the lower front teeth from right to left. Repeat a few times, then change the direction. If you start yawning, that's only a good sign: it means that you're relaxed.

BTW: You can also do those relaxation exercises during the phone call, at those moments when you're not required to speak.

I agree with Freestyles that the psychological aspect is more important, but if you get rid of the physical tensions, that will help your self-esteem etc. too.

Last edited by Strawberry1; 05-28-2005 at 02:37 AM.

 
Old 05-28-2005, 03:05 AM   #11
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Midget HB User
Re: Phobia Slowly Taking Over

I meant to reply earlier, but then I got distracted...so here goes: I'm happy you posted and clarified that you do not think of your CP as a monster. I don't think anyone should think of it that way! I choose to think of my CP as a gift, an ability to be set apart from my peers! But anyway, I used to be nervous on the phone, too...at least a little bit. But as the other's have said, practice makes perfect...:-) But still...I prefer email...especially for long conversations - because you can always go back and re-read things, etc. :-) Good luck!

 
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