Monday, March 19, 2007

E-mail Anxiety & The Best Ways of Contacting Me

BrownFemiPower expresses sentiments that I can totally relate to in her post "There's A Reason I Don't Like Answering E-mails".

When I created my blog, I made the decision not to post my e-mail address. I usually ask people to just drop a note in my comments section if they want to tell me something. If it's something that you'd like me to respond to, you can also leave your e-mail address and let me know that you don't want the message published on the blog and I'll get back to you.

Because the comments on My Private Casbah go through moderation, I can get private messages that way without having to make myself too easily identifiable for the passersby who might otherwise contact me. However, if we've never spoken before, I'd really appreciate it if you'd tell me a little about who you are before you ask me to e-mail you.

The big exception to that is those who are contacting me about cancer or lupus or depression. In fact, if you are looking for information about any disability that you think I might be able to talk to you about, then let me know how to contact you and I'll get back to you as quickly as possible even if we have never spoken before. I know this opens up the possibility that some jerk will use this to get my address and then flame my box with hate mail but I am a strong believer that the universe has a special curse just for those who would seek to take advantage of people with disabilities.

I should also take this time to remind those friends who do have my e-mail address that I suffer from extreme anxiety disorder. I have spoken in front of hundreds of people, rooms full of other scientists just itching to poke holes in someone's research, and impromptu television interviews. These are no problem for me. However, things that are simple for most people are sometimes more than I can bear.

If someone knocks on the door or the telephone rings or I see a lot of e-mail messages in my in-box, it's not unusual for me to feel completely unable to respond. In the past, I've gone months without answering my phone and I have, at times, allowed e-mail to pile up for weeks and weeks and when I do read them, it can be really hard for me to answer them. Those who deal with me in "the real world" (the quotations are because I consider these on-line interactions just as significant as all others) have, at times, gotten the impression that I'm avoiding them when that wasn't really what was going on.

The German is a big help to me with the telephone and answering the door but I handle the e-mail by myself, so if I don't get back to you for a few days, please don't think that I'm ignoring you. I will write back but it may take me a few days of looking at the message in my box before I can deal with opening it.

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