"This is not a drill. This is the apocalypse. Please exit the hospital in an orderly fashion. Thank you." | Dogma (1999)
Once I was trying to make an appointment with a doctor who didn’t answer the phone, so I left a message. My partner, who was listening, chuckled when I hung up and pointed out that I hadn’t left a call back number. I immediately burst into tears. He had to hold me for almost half an hour until I calmed down, and I never did call them back.
If you are like me experience tension, anxiety, or panic when you use the phone, try these things:
- Prepare any information you might need. If you are making an appointment, have your agenda and insurance card on hand. If you are calling your bank, checks have your account number on them, so fish those out of your drawer.
- Pick a good time. If getting an answering machine stresses you out, don’t call an office at 12:30 when most people are at lunch.
- Have someone who understands near you for physical comfort. If they are not able to make the phone call for you (like with doctors’ appointments), they can at least hold your hand.
- Create a script. While it might be harmful and unrealistic to try to anticipate EVERYTHING that may happen in a phone conversation, you can rehearse how it will probably go. For example, maybe you are calling your cousin to RSVP to her party. First she will answer the phone, and then you tell her who you are and why you are calling, and then she will probably say a little bit of something about the party and/or ask you how you are doing.
- If the phone call necessitates it, take notes. For example, in your anxiety you may totally forget what time your appointment is, or second-guess your memory. This way, you have much less to worry about.
- Before and after the phone call, engage in self-care and self-comfort. Do whatever healthy coping strategies you would do to assuage panic attacks, both before and after.
- Reward yourself. If using the phone is associated with negative feelings, turn it around. Do something especially nice for yourself to re-train yourself.
- Remember that even people who don’t have social anxiety or other anxieties have trouble using the phone! It can be hard to interact with people when you can’t see their body language, but it is certainly do-able.
- Decide when you really need to use the phone. If you freak out about calling your horrible Great Aunt Margaret on her birthday, send her a nice letter a few days in advance instead. This is not avoidance, this is saving your energy for when you really need it.
- The other side of the coin: don’t leave phone calls to the last minute or you will be reinforcing your anxiety. Be proactive and it will be a lot less scary!
- Work up from very easy phone calls. Get an understanding friend to stand in the same room with you and call them and just be silly. Then call them on the weekend to see if they can hang out. Then call a business you have visited before and ask them when they open. Then call your grandmother to chat. And remember to reward yourself each time!
- If you are concerned about bothering someone else, remember that the other person has a choice whether to pick up or not, so if they do, you are probably not being intrusive. My mother often ignores phone calls when she is cooking dinner, does not get upset or annoyed at the ringing, and then everyone understands when she calls back half an hour later. Likewise, if calling a business, remember that they pay someone to answer the phone, so you are definitely not bothering them.
- If bothering people continues to concern you, it is totally normal phone behavior to ask someone if it is a good time to talk. They may say yes or they may say no, but then you don’t have to worry about it!
Most people who experience phone anxiety find it mostly manageable, even if extremely unpleasant. It can, however, reach the severity of a legitimate phobia. If your phone anxiety is uncontrollable even after a concerted effort, you may need additional help from a therapist.
"Can’t-eat, can’t-sleep, reach-for-the-stars, over- the-fence, World Series kind of stuff." (It Takes Two, 1995)
Today, play a game with yourself. Just do the one thing you are doing at that moment carefully and correctly. Don’t spend time thinking about what you did wrong yesterday, or how much you have to do today, or any of it.
If you focus on that one small thing you are doing — “Right now, I am putting this toast rind in the garbage. Now, I am washing this one dish and drying it,” — you’ll do it right, then move on.
today you wake up sobbing, from a dream about your mother (she’s still gone). you call out of work. you make yourself granola but give up after a few bites. you make yourself black tea with honey and lemons, like she used to when you were small and sick. when you hold it in your cold hands the steam opens your pores and the warmth makes you cry (again, still). it’s the middle of a not particularly momentous week, you’re twenty-six, you’re a mess. you’re okay.
you will breathe. you will keep breathing.
Tommy, Merton, Lori & Corey // Truth or Dare
"I didn’t want it to come to this, but…I know a foolproof way to find out exactly what Feldman is up to."
So, I warned you guys I wasn’t going to be smart every day and I feel an IRRESISTIBLE COMPULSION to prove it.
I wanted to talk about an old Canadian television show for children that I love.
(That’s right. Nobody in this bar thought I was cool, yes?)
This show is called Big Wolf On Campus.
A notable thing about this show is that all my friend groups have, independently, decided that the show is a figment of my deranged imagination.
SARAH: watches the first Twilight movie.
SARAH: sees the actress playing the villainess vampire Victoria.
SARAH: That’s Stacey! Guys, that’s Stacey!
SARAH: She was a feminist cheerleader and the first season love interest of our doofy but moral hero Tommy, the protagonist of Big Wolf on Campus!
FRIENDS: Sarah! I cannot believe you are casting your fake show!
SARAH: That’s Stace…
FRIENDS: Shhh! You’re spoiling Twilight for everybody! And we all know that Big Wolf on Campus DOES NOT EXIST.
Several years later I was watching the pilot of Reign with an entirely different group of friends.
SARAH: I know her! I know that lady!
FRIENDS: Of course you do. She played Anne of Green Gables. Now she plays the evil(ish) queen Catherine de Medici. She’s Evil Queen Anne of Green Gables.
SARAH: That’s not how I know her…
SARAH: Oh, she played Violet Thorne, one of the minor villains in Big Wolf on Campus.
FRIENDS (very softly) : Oh no.
SARAH: She dated and attempted to suck the life and youth out of Merton, Tommy’s Goth sidekick.
FRIENDS: Here we go again.
SARAH: Oh Merton. He was always so unlucky in love!
FRIENDS: There never was a Big Wolf on Campus. There never was a Goth sidekick. Let it go, Sarah. Let it all go.
I WILL NEVER LET IT GO. I was lucky to find several Canadian friends who had, in fact, seen the show. (If you’re asking whether I ever dated a Canadian guy who would believe me that Big Wolf on Campus existed the answer is… yes. Yes I have.)
This is a light shone, I know, into my viewing preferences. ‘More light than anyone needed’ one might say weakly. ‘Since your viewing preferences are TERRIBLE.’
But I am not done!
(‘We hoped you were—’
'—I AM NOT.')
I would like to talk about why I liked it.
(No that isn’t necessa—)
It has several similarities to Teen Wolf (which I also enjoy!). A doofy but appealing (and as the story goes on, it emerges, INNATELY HEROIC) young man, blundering about the woods, is bitten by a werewolf and his life becomes a round of supernatural shenanigans!
(Nothing I like more than supernatural shenanigans.)
There are differences, though. One is that Tommy does not come with a built-in best friend, and has to befriend the only Goth in town.
SARAH: His name was Merton!!!
SARAH: HIS BACKPACK WAS SHAPED LIKE A COFFIN!!!
SARAH: He drove a hearse!!!!
SARAH: I LOVED HIM!!!!!!)
There was a brief misunderstanding in which Tommy thought Merton had figured out he was a werewolf, showed up all werewolfy at his house, and Merton screamed and screamed, dropped a net on him and explained that he had an overactive imagination and did not expect to be right. Tommy does the befriending out of necessity, Merton agrees out of loneliness and curiosity about the supernatural, but they like each other almost at once. However there is also backsliding, cruel betrayals because of ladies and the allure of the popular crowd, and also one time Tommy had an evil doppelganger who made fun of Merton’s hair. Mutual best friendship was not confirmed until season two. BUILD-UP!
And then there was Lori, who arrived in season two, was kicked out of Catholic school, knew many of the arts of self-defence and was very keen to battle evil. I spent a great deal of time being worried about this bombshell blonde’s longevity.
SARAH: I love her, do I get to keep her?
SARAH: Oh no the boys are fighting over her, does that mean she will go AWAY?
SARAH: Oh no she’s dumped Tommy, does that mean she will go AWAY?
SARAH: Oh yay she and Merton are making out… but does that mean she will be sent AWAY?
She dumped Tommy because he was too protective of his lady and she wished to fight evil unfettered. She dated lots of people and their trio friendship stayed strong. She had a zombie boyfriend for one episode which I enjoyed! She never went away. Everybody stayed and they were a little found family!
And what does family do, once found, but SOLVE CRIMES in a spree of hijinx? As you can see from the above gifset, the gang has decided there is no way to defeat Corey Feldman, Secret Vampire, but to play a devious game of Truth or Dare! (We never hear the questions to these answers. Only the answers.) And it WORKS. The secret vampire is UNMASKED.
Basically, what I like is: ridiculous people in unexpected relationships, in ridiculous situations. And it works.
… I might have a few more gifsets in the pipeline.
Big Wolf on Campus Friend Lesson:
Be supportive of your friend’s dating choices, even if you are worried about them! Encourage them to be safe.
(Lori’s romance with a zombie did not work out but it was her decision.)
Also… do not judge but be supportive if the protection talk does not work out.
(Merton made contact with outer space and was then impregnated by an alien! Tommy took him to Lamaze class! Lori did not let it interfere with her application to an awesome women’s university!)
I’m not joking about any of this!!!
This was an AMAZING SHOW.
I do see why people believe I made it up, but I DIDN’T.