One of my most frustrating anxieties is the phone. I get so consumed by anxiety with the thought of having to call places, or new people. I do this with family and friends as well. It seems so ridiculous, it’s a phone! Millions of people are walking around with a phone calling people all day long, making appointments, ordering food whatever people do with a phone. Yet, I have to work myself up to make a simple phone call. I have worked on this for a long time. I have had jobs where I had to answer the phone, or call people. Yesterday was the first time I connected that my physical and mental exhaustion was enhanced at those workplaces because I had to talk on the phone.
I had to make a couple of phone calls yesterday.
My ballet lessons are going to start next week, I had to call to finalize everything and get the schedule, attire, etc… I had been contacting them through a woman via email, but then she told me that I needed to call the teacher. It took me two days to work up the nerve. I wrote my questions and thoughts down in case I needed them. It turned out to be very positive (yea!) and I got along well with the teacher on the phone, and I am excited that it is a guy. Yea! Again, I think that will be a better fit for me. All went well, but after I hung up I immediately started dissecting everything I said. I started pouring over the conversation wondering if I sounded like a spaz. I wondered if I was coherent in my conversation or random and chaotic.
As I went over it I realized how nice he was.
I also understood that he was happy to have another person coming to his class. I normally never think of that, I always feel like a bother. (I try not to.) Still I was all sweaty, my heart was racing, I didn’t stop thinking about if for a while until I was able to convince myself that it was a positive experience just like I initially thought. It was about a 10 minute conversation that took me about two hours to get over. Geez! Once I got over that phone call I had to prepare myself for the next one. I was calling an adult & adolescent psychiatric office. “Adult & adolescent” psychiatric office who stated that they specialize in autism spectrum disorders. I wrote my list of questions, called, and got sent to voice mail. I despise leaving messages because I never know what to say unless I have it written down, and I get all freaked out and start talking rapidly and saying whatever flies into my head.
I did alright leaving a message.
Then I had the anticipation of waiting for them to call back. It is so debilitating to wait for a phone call. I try not to focus on it, but I am in constant anxiety waiting for it. It takes a lot of work to keep the script at the forefront of my mind. I do this with everyone and the phone. If they say they are going to call I-need-them-to-call when they say they will, when they give no clarity and it is open-ended I am unable to let it go. I try, I really do. In the past if they did not call I assumed they didn’t want to talk to me or make plans like they had suggested. I would then lead into a negative loop wondering why they would say that they would call when they never intended to. Why wouldn’t they just say they didn’t want to do something if they didn’t want to? Among a million other questions. I have learned that this is faulty thinking, but it still arises.
I was waiting for the phone call unable to do anything else, but spin the questions and how I was going to answer the phone in my head. I was also feeling anxious because I did not know what they sounded like. There are some voices that I cannot handle and if they have that particular type of voice it will throw me. The phone finally rang. She had a nice voice. I grabbed my questions went into one of the rooms and shut the door. I told her my reasons for calling, to get an adult diagnosis for autism spectrum disorder. Keep in mind I have been searching for a place for months that deals with adults on the spectrum. Everywhere I called or emailed did not do anything for adults around here and they could not lead me to anyone. What is that?
When I found this place I was so hopeful.
Add to this my anxiety from calling and emailing other places with no help or directions and feeling really upset that no one is focusing on adults on the autism spectrum in my town or near my town. What was her reply to me when I said that? “That is unheard of for an adult to get a diagnosis for autism — children usually get diagnosed with it at ages between two and three. Adults would be diagnosed with Aspergers are you talking about that?” I was shaken and went off script. First her tone was hard for me to discern and I felt like she was talking to me like I was an idiot. I had already spilled out that I had a son on the spectrum so I would think that she understood I knew what I was asking for. What is she going to do if/when Asperger’s is eliminated from the DSM-V? What do adults on the spectrum miraculously disappear or now we are all Rain Man?
Forgive me it did throw me.
I lost my focus, I started rambling and saying whatever and I realized that I took over in an authoritative voice because I had lost trust in her ability to help me or understand autism. I have since recanted my initial thoughts upon contemplation. She knows nothing about me, what I have read, what I have done with Daniel, what I have written here on my blog, she has no clue that I am completely emerged in many aspects of autism, and that on a daily basis I am consuming large amounts of information about it from various means. How would she know that? I didn’t realize that until much later. All in all it turned out good. I am fairly certain that I convinced her I was at least Asperger’s in the short time we were on the phone because she changed her tune as well after I changed mine.
She took on a more therapist type of persona.
She became calm as she spoke to me, and finally said that she didn’t think that we would be a good fit since she works with children. Halt! I was sent to her because she was the one who was the “autism” doctor in the office, the name of the office clearly states “adults” in its title. I was confused. She explained to me that they do not handle adults with “Asperger’s” because remember only adults have Asperger’s. Fine. I shutdown. She did catch on that something was wrong, and she gave me names of two neuropsychologists in the area that may be able to help. She was pleasant at the end, I liked how she was able to manage me a bit to bring me back from my fuzzy mind, and she did direct me to people who may be able to help. At the end she wished me luck and I thanked her.
I put the phone down and started crying.
Only for a moment, but the whole thing was too much. Once again I was overwhelmed with calling a place that could not help me. I was overwhelmed with having to talk to a stranger on the phone. I was overwhelmed with the FACT that I cannot pick up a phone and be ok! It is a source of frustration for me. The good news I did not loop about either of the two conversations I had yesterday. I was able to collect my thoughts, reason through and see that everything was fine. However, my day was shot I was stimming all night on music and reading blogs. I was exhausted and mentally drained. I don’t know how I made it through some of my workplaces. Especially the insurance office and the temporary agency where my job required me to answer the phone. Now that I think of it for several reasons those places were not good for me to work at, but also at both places I got physically ill.
While at the insurance place I was diagnosed with depression.
Then, put on anti-depressants. While at the agency I was sick for months. I was depressed then too, but could not admit it because people in my life told me that my faith should be healing me from those dark thoughts. Long story. Back to the phone. After I got off the phone with her, I looked up the doctors names she gave me. I scoped out their websites, and decided to send an email to one who said she did “autism spectrum disorder” evaluations. She did not make it clear that she did adults, though she mentions adults, but after my last phone call I had to know. I sent an email and indeed she does. Yes! She was helpful too in offering to answer any questions I have. I will call her tomorrow. I need a phone break. I was happy with her quick response to my email and directness to my questions. I am hopeful…again.
Now if I could only be ok with the phone! I need phone therapy me thinks.