I'm scared and don't know if it's okay to ask for help

  • I'm starting a new job next week. I'm thrilled because it is a big upwards move from my previous position. Here's the problem:

    My main office is in a lovely building on the first floor with a window (again, I'm thrilled). While I am in the orientation period I will be shadowing someone in another facility. It is much further away, but I can stand the longer drive for a month. The thing is . . . it is a very old, tall building and there is a creaky, dark elevator I have to use. I am SCARED TO DEATH of elevators and I can't ride in one alone. I can't even ride in one unless there is someone I trust with me (that is because with panic attacks there is the fear one may "go crazy" or pass out). I asked about the stairwell and was told it is for emergency egress (what, no ingress?).

    I want to tell the person I'll be working with that I have pretty bad claustrophobia and I'd just like her to help me out by coming with me in the morning and evening from the office to the lobby. I did this for years when I worked in a very tall building in my 20s (the security guard was a sweet guy and after a week I didn't have to ask - he'd see me coming and ask if I wanted company!)

    I have a lot of shame in this phobia. I say to myself "what is wrong with you! You're abnormal and fat and why would anyone want to help you!" I don't know - if someone asked me for that kind of help I wouldn't think twice. I would do it.

    Is it possible to be a professional, competent woman and still need to ask someone for help like this? I am so torn. I have been living with panic attacks (living in spite of them, actually) and I have overcome a lot in my life. I went from being pretty much home bound to graduating college and getting (and keeping) pretty good jobs.

    Any advice or opinions welcomed and appreciated.
  • Hugs to you! I don';t have any great advice, probably, but you know no matter how much anxiety it causes, a panic attack can't make you die. Lots of people have a terrible fear of riding in elevators. And skinny people are afraid of stuff too, so being a fat chick is irrelevant. Have you tried to work on the issue by immersing yourself in the middle of the thing that casues the fear? Supposedly you can only stay in panic mode for a certain amunt of time and then your body just kind of poops out and you start to feel better. How far can you get before you get that super anixous? IN the building? Next to the elevator? IN the elevator but not with it moving? Can you work on each step of the way until it's comfortable? Maybe have the lady (or a friend on your day off) meet you on the first floor and then the second etc. until you can get to the top? I wish you luck...and I wish I could be more help. If there's a way for you to not get so worked up over it now, then you jight be in better shape to deal with it on the first day you actually have to go there. Right nowl you are spending time worrying about somehting you don't even have to do yet.

  • I'm so sorry you have a phobia to deal with. It's absolutely amazing how many times elevators (or in my case, roaches or vomit) come into daily life. Please don't feel ashamed; you are far, far from the only person with that phobia or with a phobia in general.

    It seems like a perfectly reasonable request to ask your co-worker to help you out with this. You would be amazed at how understanding most people are, especially when personally called upon to lend some assistance. You're smart to realize that if someone asked you, you wouldn't hesitate; sometimes turning a situation around in your mind like that provides clarity. In this case, I think you've seen correctly how your co-worker will react.

    As for whether it's possible to be a competent professional who occasionally wants help dealing with a phobia, you might want to Google "famous people afraid to fly." Isaac Asimov, John Madden, David Bowie, and Whoopi Goldberg are just a few famous phobics whose careers were not derailed in the slightest by their phobias.

    I admire you for wanting to take the absolute best course of action here and ask your co-worker for a little assistance directly instead of trying to cover it up.
  • The previous ladies have given you great advice. Let me congratulate you on that new, great job, and all the obstacles that you have overcome in life ! I never really had a fear of elevators until I went to a convention and 12 people in a group decided to jump up and down at the same time; since then I get palpatations when it stops short or gets stuck for aminute. So let me say that If I was the co-worker and you told Me, I wouldn't think it was strange at all. Perhaps other folks will be getting on when you do. Best of luck!
  • All the very best in your new job and hope you get some help with your anxieties as well....
  • Does it help at all to talk to someone on the cel phone while going up in there? Or does it have to be an actual person in there with you?

    Either way -- reach out for the help! There is no shame in that!

  • Congrats on the new job first of all !!! Secondly, is this phobia an insignificant nuisance to your life, or do you feel it really gets in the way? THere are some pretty simple treatments for phobias, a little CBT program might be all you need??? I wouldn't hesitate to ask for help -- people are just as nice as you are you know If you'd help someone, chances are other people will too!!

    p.s. now i feel queasy because it takes me back 3 or 4 years when i was stuck in a GLASS elevator on the OUTSIDE of a building in Vegas LOL for 4 hours!!! Needless to say my entire vacation was comped! score! I treated it like a ride at a crappy amusement park to help me get thru it!
  • No shame at all, in the office I work in we have plan members come in for appointments that have phobias about elevators and I've never thought it odd or abnormal when they have asked for some one to accompany them in the elevator. Same when I worked in a hotel, we had a regular every week that LOVED the 14th floor rooms, hated the elevator - so we always had a bellman or other staff go up with him. No one ever thought it unusual.

    On the flipside, if a co-worker came to me and let me know they had a legit phobia of elevators and wanted help I'd be impressed. Takes a courage to ask for help and shows you are serious about being on the ball in your new position.
    Just throwing that out there.

    Good luck to you
  • You guys are awesome. Every one of the responses made me feel better! I'm going to ask for help. And I'm going to enjoy my new job!!!