Have anxiety? My hand is up! Over the years many new clients have sat down on my comfy couch and said, “I gotta do something about this _______ (body, weight, energy, health)” in a state of practical pure exhaustion. No matter how anxiety has shown up in your life, you don’t have to go it alone.
Enter Abs and Mags – a.k.a. “The Anxiety Sisters”. These friends are bringing together folks in community (website, Facebook, podcast, and book).
- There is no one-size-fits-all approach to managing anxiety because we all experience it differently.
- There are ways to live with your anxiety – without letting it control your life and even become more hopeful and happy in the process.
- Medicine doesn’t do the best job telling you the truth about medication and doesn’t always give it to you stigma-free.
With over 300 community member stories told in brief snippets, THE ANXIETY SISTERS’ SURVIVAL GUIDE is a warm and practical guide to coping with anxiety-and finding ways to laugh.
About The Anxiety Sisters®
Abbe Greenberg, MCIS and Maggie Sarachek, MSW are trained counselors, mental health advocates, researchers, educators, writers, and long-time anxiety sufferers. In 2017, they launched their online community which now includes more than 200 thousand people in 200+ countries and territories. Together the Anxiety Sisters write an award-winning blog and host a monthly podcast (The Spin Cycle). Having learned to live happily with anxiety, they spend their time coaching anxiety sufferers and conducting workshops and retreats.
Maggie Sarachek’s expertise is counseling and teaching people to find strength through community. As a social worker in a New York City high school, she specialized in the development of youth leadership as well as counseling individuals and families. Maggie has also worked as a special education advocate, helping families to access services for their children and teens. She became a full-fledged anxiety sister in her mid-twenties while dealing with debilitating anxiety attacks. Since becoming an Anxiety Sister, she has become the wife of an anxious husband and the mother of two anxious kids proving that anxiety is, indeed, contagious.
Abbe Greenberg started talking at nine months old and hasn’t stopped since. She has gotten two degrees in the communication field as well as a certificate in Adult Education and a Masters in Fine Arts in Creative Writing. In addition to her more than 25-year career as a professor, Abbe has served as a divorce mediator, a Myers-Briggs trainer, a motivational speaker and a communication consultant as well as a teacher development coordinator for several educational institutions. When she is not teaching, writing, researching, or panicking, she spends time with her Anxiety Sister (Maggie), her anxious husband, and her three anxious kids.
This episode is sponsored by Self Care for Diabetes.
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Rebecca Scritchfield, RDN: 0:00
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Glenys Oyston, RDN: 0:08
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Rebecca Scritchfield, RDN: 0:20
Welcome to the Body Kindness podcast. I'm your host, Rebecca Scritchfield. And I'm here to help you find your inner caregiver. You'll have more compassion, less shame, and the tools you need to deal with a culture that just does not want you to be free to give yourself fierce love. You are welcome and you belong in our community, where we value your well being, we share our experiences and support each other on the body kindness journey. And we know that your health and your worth is not dependent on your weight. If you would like to enjoy self care, be less self critical and make your life about more than your health routines. Join us at body kindness book.com/start.
Rebecca Scritchfield, RDN: 1:19
Hey, Anxiety Sisters, welcome to Body Kindness.
"Abs" Anxiety Sisters: 1:24
Hi, Rebecca. Thank you for having us.
"Mags" Anxiety Sisters: 1:27
We're so delighted to be here with you.
Rebecca Scritchfield, RDN: 1:29
I'm so excited. I'm so excited for this conversation. I'm so excited to talk about the book and all the wonderful I love the book. Let me just put that out there right now. This is the book everyone needs to have. And that's going to be most of what we talk about. But I'm sure listeners would love to know who you are. So can you please introduce yourself to the listeners of body kindness?
"Abs" Anxiety Sisters: 1:51
Sure, I'm Abby Greenberg. In the community they call me "Abs". But I respond to really anything and you can start and my background my graduate work was in communication very specifically in self talk. And my job and up until 2017 When Mags and I decided to do Anxiety Sisters full time, I was a professor of communication. So that's my professional background and my personal background is I am first and foremost an anxiety sufferer. So Mags and I would say we've not only walked the walk but we've huddled heaved hurled sweated palpitating hyperventilated our way. We get it and so we wrote this book and we run this community from the perspective of suffers even though we've been doing research for the last 10 years and you know, we do the neuroscience part of it all that kind of stuff too. But we definitely identify as sufferers first and foremost so that's a little about me.
Rebecca Scritchfield, RDN: 2:49
"Mags" Anxiety Sisters: 2:51
I'm Maggie Sarachek and "Mags" is how I identify in the Anxiety Sisters. But again, I to answer to just about everything and I am a lifelong anxiety sister and a trained social worker. So Abby and I have really combined our two specialties which is the communications piece which is so much of handling anxiety and the the sort of traditional mental health piece and and the community piece and kind of put it all together for anxiety sisters, so but we always say that we come at this from a very informed but a sufferers perspective.
Rebecca Scritchfield, RDN: 3:38
Well, there are so many things I'm thinking about one is like you read your own book it because I consumed it in an audiobook, and I just loved it that way. And I love I love listening to your voices and how you put it all together. It's so so so awesome. And I also love how you shared these you do a lot of it's just there's so many great things to learn and I find it I found it really easy to learn. And I found it so great to learn through the stories in the eyes of others. I think you said there's like over 300 stories, examples and stories in the book. But the way you delivered it in these like little bites was so great. And and the other thing I want to say is that what I loved is gonna sound so weird. I was like, Is this gonna come out right? But it's like, as I was listening there was this like delightfulness aspect of it where it's like they're making anxiety fun and cool. And as someone with anxiety too and I don't know I don't know if you know this and and I guess listeners would appreciate this but but Abs and I actually met at like my body kindness retreat. And that was so fun to get to know each other then and I remember the anxiety system was around and thriving. And I know there was that hint of like, wanting to write a book, which is so great. But I don't know where I was at, then with kids and their ages, but my older daughter has an anxiety disorder that we had diagnosed at four. And so um, and my me coming to terms with my anxiety was, I remember this night and I was walking past my husband and I was kind of shook. And I was like, what happens when the helper needs help? Is I looked at him and I asked that question, and I was like, This doesn't feel like depression. And there was always and I ended up getting these rashes, that anxiety rash, and my body that was how I really had the sign was when I went to the doctor, I got a dose, one round of prednisone referral to dermatologists. And they're like, We just think this is anxiety, rash. It just looks like psoriasis, and poison ivy, and like Candida under your boobs, because it was all over. So I was like, Okay, I think this is anxiety. So I totally identify as an anxiety sister now too, and an anxiety family. And so yeah, it's, it was great too, for me to have this, to listen to these lovely voices and to not feel alone with all these other stories. And to be like, yeah, anxiety is cool, real cool.
"Abs" Anxiety Sisters: 6:26
I don't know if I've ever been identified as the cool group. But that's exciting.
Rebecca Scritchfield, RDN: 6:30
We got a cool group, I think,
"Abs" Anxiety Sisters: 6:33
Well, that was part of what Maggie and I wanted to do. That's the reason that we branded this as the anxiety sisters, as opposed to something more clinical. Because we want people to feel really comfortable with their anxiety human right. It's a human emotion. We all every human being on the planet has experienced anxiety at some point, right, some of those quarters and some of us don't, but all experienced it. So what what magazine I wanted to do was really demystify that experience for people so that they didn't feel so ashamed or stigmatized by anxiety particularly when it becomes a disorder which we know happens, right? There's there's a lot of a stigma and shame around that. And so we thought the first thing we should do is just you know, let's just be ourselves and you know, we're goofballs. Let's let people know what it's like to live well with anxiety and be happy people even though we are still anxiety sufferers, and we always will be.
Rebecca Scritchfield, RDN: 7:31
And you got to share your tagline because I just love the
"Mags" Anxiety Sisters: 7:36
Oh, anxiety sisters. Don't go it alone.
Rebecca Scritchfield, RDN: 7:39
"Mags" Anxiety Sisters: 7:41
Don't go it alone. Which we can which Abby and I can't say together.
"Abs" Anxiety Sisters: 7:45
Yeah. And of our podcast we always end it with and remember and we're supposed to say together anxiety sisters, don't go it alone. But we have never been able to say it together at the same time. And that ends up being Yep, we're yelling at each other and we're redoing it. It's a nightmare.
Rebecca Scritchfield, RDN: 7:58
Yes. So okay, so this is fun. Okay, so is it? Do we want to be like anxiety sisters? Pause? Don't go it alone. Is that the kind of? Okay, okay, we're going to try this in three. Okay, so what we're going to do is I'm going to give a countdown, three, two, and then point and when I point we're going to say anxiety sisters. Pause. Don't go it alone. Okay, okay, here we go. We're gonna try it. So three, two, anxiety sisters. Don't go alone.
"Abs" Anxiety Sisters: 8:41
Rebecca Scritchfield, RDN: 8:43
It's a good effort. Right?
"Mags" Anxiety Sisters: 8:44
That's what I was really trying to watch you.
Rebecca Scritchfield, RDN: 8:48
Well, you know, and all of our proof that we could feel that energy of like, I hope I get up. Right. Right, you know, and try something fun out. So, so yeah, so we'll keep on trying, but I love that tagline. It just, I think not, I think we can feel so alone. And, and in, you know, lots of shame, whether it be around the diagnosis or meds or, you know, the things we need to do to care for ourselves when are in an anxiety wave. And so I in you know, in terms of when I think of relating to body kindness, and the three pillars, that idea of Connect, being able to connect to your body and how important that is for noticing how anxiety is showing up for you in your body and you have so many great tips for that. And then also in connecting to others and that there is a value in not being alone and so to have other people who know what it's like and who can be there and just listen is really important for the whole process of healing and this and that. So I just think it's so I just resonate so much with that idea about connection and being together. It's really powerful
"Abs" Anxiety Sisters: 9:55
Rebecca Scritchfield, RDN: 9:56
And I know your your online presence is hugely popular and really engaged. And do you want to talk a little bit more about, like, who's invited to the community and how they can belong and things like that and, and then we'll get into some nitty gritty about the book.
"Mags" Anxiety Sisters: 10:14
Sure. Um, well, we are called the anxiety sisters. But that's because we we look at each other as soul sisters and we definitely fight like sisters we always say, but um, we are really anxiety we're really an anxiety community. And so anyone of any gender is welcome in our community, any any gender identification, anyone who has anxiety or loves someone that has anxiety, so is invited into our community. And, you know, we have a Facebook page, that's a very active place. Anxiety, you know, just go to anxiety sisters, and we have an Instagram the we're at the anxiety sisters, and we have the spin cycle with the anxiety sisters, which is our podcast, and we have our website, www.AnxietySisters.com So those are really simple ways in to our community.
Rebecca Scritchfield, RDN: 11:10
Yes, that's great. Thanks for sharing that I will have all those links in the show notes for everyone. Right? You mentioned the spin cycle, which to me is a good segue into the book. Because speaking of that, besides Oh, this feels cool or fun or interesting, or that I think the way you use terminology, like it is legit science, right? And, and facts in science and truth. And it's like, it tastes like ice cream. Right? Haagen DAAS. And Ben and Jerry's was mentioned several times, I think, but like, but but that sort of pleasure you feel feel you might get when like you're enjoying a desert, that pleasure feeling. That's what the book can feel like. And I think a lot of it is in your words and how you present things. And, and I love the idea of starting with the spin cycle, which you mentioned as the name of your podcast, but you talk about spinning in terms of what anxiety can feel like so can we start to break that down and what you did for people in the book with your words, like spinning and floating, I think those were the two that I was interested in?
"Abs" Anxiety Sisters: 12:15
Well, very deliberate on our parts. You know, I'm I have been studying how talk works and how language shapes our experiences for 25 years or more. So that that was really important to both of us that we use language that was as welcoming and as accessible as we ourselves are trying to be. And one of the difficulties we found in other mental health books, you know, written by fantastic people, really smart people, but some of the language was very distancing, or prescriptive. And both of the things made it challenging for us as anxiety sufferers. So what we had said is, well, when we write this book, we're going to write it like two girlfriends having coffee, and talking about anxiety because it's already scary. We don't want to be intimidating. We don't want to use jargon that might frighten people and also, you know, like I said, language shapes our experience. So for me and mags, when we use the word panic, our brains think it's a command and go so for us learning is our metaphor, which we feel for most people's pretty apt I mean, or spin cycle, you're, you've been in the washing machine, that's pretty much an anxiety attack right there. If you want to know what it feels like, your washing machine, you'll come out drenched and like thinking you're gonna die. But we came up with spinning because it's a way to talk about the experience of anxiety that number one is metaphoric, so people can really identify with it. And number two, it's not so scary. So our community saying all the time now yeah, when I'm spinning, or when I go out for a spin, because when we say the word anxiety attack, I know that sounds it can make the heart quick. And so we've done that with like, you brought up floating, floating as our term for dissociation or depersonalization, which is, that's the clinical term for when you sort of leave your own body during an anxiety experience or another experience where the first time I ever did it, I felt like I was floating above myself. And it was so terrifying. I was sure I was dying, because I was good. I had gotten out of my body, I mean. So Mags, and I decided that we wanted to call that something a little friendlier that so we could talk about it and not be scary. And we said, well, it feels like you're kind of floating up there.
Rebecca Scritchfield, RDN: 14:33
It's brilliant. And it really is effective, because it allows you to kind of regulate your feelings a little bit and maybe be, you know, kind of in an inner caregiver mode a little bit more open, a little bit more curious and compassionate, a little bit more interested so that the biggest worried part of you can maybe kind of slow down a little bit and start approaching, you know, start approaching this With a bit more hope and confidence and stead of that, you know what, again, that sort of pathology and the distancing, you know, it feeling is like, Oh, I better run away from this because that is too scary can't handle it. So it's, it's just really, really brilliant and necessary. And it's one of my favorite things about what you do in the book is just when we can allow something scary to be there and allow our feelings to exist. While we think about, you know, a sense of curiosity and openness, we're grounded in can take in the information, and then we're more likely to be helped. So I just love it so much.
"Mags" Anxiety Sisters: 15:42
Well, it was partly also that we wrote the book that we so wanted and needed, and we still, I still always call Abby up and say, I was just reading it, I'm having a tough day. So I was just reading our book, believe it or not. We, when we were really at the height of our anxiety disorders, I would say and really struggling, you know, we went out to a bookstore one day, because that's what we always did, we were book people. So we go out to bookstores, and went to the anxiety section. And a few minutes there, Abby turned to me, she said, I have to leave, and I gotta go take a I got to go take something to calm down, like I am not in a in a good place right now. And I and I understood that because we would pick up these books, and they were so detached and clinical. And so prescriptive of all the things we should be doing. And we were both in this point, at different points in our lives, we've both been, you know, at a point where we could barely leave the couch, so telling us to do certain things or eat a certain way or, you know, take medication, or don't take medication, or do this type of therapy, or that type of therapy, it was all too overwhelming, and threw us even more into into ourselves and into the anxiety. So we said like, what did we need? What did we need so much in a book? And that's kind of formed the basis for us of the book.
Rebecca Scritchfield, RDN: 17:16
Um, how do you hope people interact with your book?
"Abs" Anxiety Sisters: 17:22
Often. Well, wewrote it, Mags was very, it was important to Mags, that it be the kind of book where you could pick it up and read a few pages and put it down and have an experience with that. I think that we managed to accomplish that, that that you can start anywhere in the book, and you can read a few pages. And if it speaks to you, you could put the book down. And that would have been a nice nugget like it, there's a lot of information in the book. And so you don't have to take it all in in one sitting. It's the kind of thing where you can pick it up and put it it's like Body Kindness in that way. I love Body Kindness back when Mags and I were first doing workshops in 2017. We, I don't know if you remember this, I took your book with us.
Rebecca Scritchfield, RDN: 18:06
"Abs" Anxiety Sisters: 18:09
You might autograph them for us. And we were giving away your book in our like raffling them off in our workshops, people just love your book. What I love about your book is that I just even though I'll pick it up, and I'll just read a few pages or look at one of those gorgeous graphics. And that's all I need. That's it. That's a chunk. It's enough to digest and think about and the inner critic versus the inner advocate. And I go to that part. And look at that and get something from it. So we wanted to mimic that in our book as well.
Rebecca Scritchfield, RDN: 18:38
When I was listening to your book, and there were all these different scenarios. Sometimes I was out in the forest and just looking at the sights and sounds and there was one time where I was just, you know, getting through the day. And we one of our COVID purchases was this rower you know, so I was like, I'm gonna listen to them. And look at this scene. It was like somewhere in the tropics where I haven't been in forever and just go in like this. And I think I was listening to some of the stuff on medications, which I love, like A plus, plus, plus plus. But as I got further and further, I was like, you know, this is like Body Kindness for people with anxiety. Like, it couldn't have been it was like Cinderella's glass slipper or something it it really, which for me felt so great to know, like, you're the perfect people to write this. And it felt it was such this kind of pleasure. Yeah, and just as joyful. I don't know why I feel like saying the word relief. But I guess in some way, it's like the helper part of me worries about unmet needs and this and that, you know, and it's like, Great, this is a great resource that I can recommend to people and community and this and that and just like with this, it's it's more of what the world needs. And so I feel that connection too.
"Abs" Anxiety Sisters: 19:52
You comparing it to Body Kindness is such a compliment. I think you and I hit it off. Yeah with 2018 When we met, and I was, I was a participant in your body kindness workshop in Vermont. And I think the reason you and I hit it off was because we have similar approaches we're very, we're, you know, we feel like there's enough difficulty and shame out there, around our bodies around our anxiety, there's so many things that we do. And I think you and I both and Mags, too, obviously, we, the three of us feels so important. To get rid of that blame and shame, you can live happily with any size body, but not with shame.
Rebecca Scritchfield, RDN: 20:32
I definitely want to hit on that. Before we hit on that I want to get talk about the meds. Because my sense in terms of the meds was like, it was so great, it really was non pathologizing. And I was like, Ooh, there being like Switzerland with the meds, right, like, you know, it, you know, and this sort of like, and I can imagine this delicate, like, we want to share what we see as the problems and the stigma around meds. And I felt it's like, they're really working hard at empowering people to be the expert in their choices, and that it might be a lot of experimenting. And that's okay. And it's it like for me, I mean, first of all, it helped me from an education standpoint, it really, and this is, this is great, you know, like we said, Anyone has an anxiety so anyone can can be helped by this book, whether or not like you said, you had a clinical diagnosis anxiety disorder, or you want to relate to your anxiety better. But any helping pro that's listening, like the med section alone will help you speak with a better sense of confidence about what's out there, and how to help people process and empower decision. So talk to me for a little bit about your intention around writing about meds, what do you see in terms of shame, diagnosis, shame, meds, shame? And what is it you want listeners to know about regarding meds?
"Mags" Anxiety Sisters: 22:05
Well, that was that was a big question. But um, I think that, you know, our basic stance on medication is that there should be no more shame in taking medication for anxiety or depression or any other kind of brain health or mental health, then illness, then there is for taking, you know, people aren't ashamed to take aspirin or people aren't ashamed to take their diabetes medicine, hopefully, or their heart medicine or whatever other medicines they need to take. And that, so we want the shame part to sort of, we really want to focus on not shaming anyone for any decision they make in terms of anxiety treatment. And then the thing with the meds that we have found is that a lot of people go to the doctor and they're kind of thrown some meds literally, you know "try that." It's a sample. And sometimes it's a prescription. And often they don't sort of, they aren't given very much information about, like, what kind of med this is what, what, you know, what are possible effects of the med or, or what do we want to look out for? What do we want to know about? Or why they're even getting that meditation from that medication, not meditation, but medication.
Rebecca Scritchfield, RDN: 23:25
Although meditation is good, and you cover it in the book.
"Mags" Anxiety Sisters: 23:29
But, um, so part of what we really wanted to do is say, we want to explain as much to you as we can, so you have some real information. And then we really want to help you become informed about how to talk to your doctor. Like, what questions should you be asking? Because because I know when abs and I first got medication, we didn't know what questions to ask. We're just and so what questions should you be asking your doctor, your pharmacist, your nurse, nurse practitioner? What things have we learned about medication from the anxiety sisterhood that the medical establishment often doesn't talk to us much about?
Rebecca Scritchfield, RDN: 24:14
And that's the hot stuff, right?
"Abs" Anxiety Sisters: 24:16
Rebecca Scritchfield, RDN: 24:17
We don't want to, you know, we know we need medicine, but there's flaws in medicine and they can't have all the power and control. We have to trust ourselves and have this community where people can share real lived experiences and you know, and then do our best to work within the system, but we all know that there are changes that need to make and I think absolutely that's a key juicy element that you bring to the book as well.
"Mags" Anxiety Sisters: 24:41
Yes, we. We like to say these cherries come with some serious pits.
"Abs" Anxiety Sisters: 24:47
Um, and we don't call them side effects. We call them front and center.
"Mags" Anxiety Sisters: 24:51
Because they really are front and center effects and some of them you know, doctors will really not only not tell you about but they'll really deny like weight gain, which is one of the effects at, you know, we just have hundreds of anxiety sister saying, Oh, I never had a weight problem. And then I gained, you know, this amount of weight or I had a weight problem and then again even more weight. And so, yeah, I mean, it might not be the reason not to take the medication. But it's it's not helpful when the doctor says, oh, maybe you'll gain one or two pounds.
"Abs" Anxiety Sisters: 25:26
Or they tell you that, oh, no, you're only gaining weight because you're feeling better. Yeah, that's a big one in the medical establishment. And so we went through a lot of research. We went through a bunch of studies, and we really in the book presented the real truth about like weight gain, and SSRIs, which was the common antidepressants that people take, like Prozac or Zoloft, and also sexual side effects. You and I have talked a lot about sexual stuff. Mags and I believe that, you know, sexual health is part of health.
Rebecca Scritchfield, RDN: 25:59
"Abs" Anxiety Sisters: 25:59
It's a worthy pursuit. Yeah, have a good sex life. That's important. And, and there, that's can be a problem with some of these medicines. So we've talked about it very honestly, and about possible solutions.
Rebecca Scritchfield, RDN: 26:11
Yeah, yeah. No, I and I think that's a segue over into some conversation around shame and body shame. And I see a strong, you know, immeshment, and, you know, how we relate to our bodies, and the inner critic, and this and that, and how it can trigger anxiety. And, you know, it's really interesting to me, because, you know, we deserve a world that doesn't judge people based on their body size anyway, and that there is no hierarchy. So, you know, I like to use the word weight concerns, right? It's like, there's when somebody is approaching, say, just a medication question. And, you know, they might already have a weight concern, just related to living in this world, or, you know, they might be busy and stressed and not doing, you know, enjoyable physical activity. And, you know, by, say, approaching physical activity, and how strength training could help, you know, process, you know, emotions, and could be one of the ways that we were, you know, help keep ourselves regulated and help with anxiety. And, you know, there's pot lots of positive benefits of movement, right? But what a person will come and bring to is like, I got to do something about this weight, right. And then it says, already, you can't exist in in your body as it is right now. Right? Even if you're wondering about possible changes to your eating patterns, or possible changes to exercise, you already don't have permission to exist in that body. And so now it's even more threatening about here's a med that could really, really help you have a better life, a happier life, you know, a holistically happier life. And and again, it's like that sort of this denial or lack of information, like, what if weight gain wasn't a bad thing, it's culturally a bad thing. And now, this potentially helpful medication you might want to run away from because you already can't exist in your bite. So it's like madness. To me, the root of the problem is that we're comparing good bodies and bad bodies, and that we can't try to find our best life with the best, you know, medication plan and self care plan together. Like that's the real harm to me.
"Mags" Anxiety Sisters: 28:28
Well, I think Abby and I both and we talked about this a little bit in the book, too, but we were both say that weight concerns and the conversation many of us heard around our own weights from the time we hit puberty, I would say some some people before they hit puberty, but certainly like, by the time you hit puberty, often as a woman in this culture, it feels like your body becomes there for public consumption and comment. And that is a massive cause of anxiety. For many of us. It's like that first real shaming piece of like, Oh, my body wasn't supposed to develop, or I'm not supposed to, you know, there's all these things I'm not supposed to do, or that I'll be criticized for around my body size, and that there is no doubt in our minds that for the two of us, and for many women we talked to that's really connected to their anxiety disorder is this, this, this idea that other people are allowed to comment on your body size.
"Abs" Anxiety Sisters: 29:32
And we both believe that practicing Body Kindness, which we learned from you, is a pathway. It's a path to because the same acceptance that you teach about, you know, rejoicing in the body you're in right today, right this minute, celebrating what your body can do right now. However, however it looks it doesn't matter. It's how in this body is how it is to be in your own body. And that acceptance of that, as one of your stepping stones, it's also a stepping stone to managing your anxiety, you have to accept it as part of your life. Because truthfully, for most of us, it's not going to go away. You know, we're going to learn to manage it, we're going to learn to accept it and live well with it. There's lots of tools for that. And like you said, there's lots of choices people can make. But there's, there's a need to be kind to yourself to your body and to your mind.
Rebecca Scritchfield, RDN: 30:27
Right, right. Yeah. And I can just, I think in terms of making room for both things, and I remember this coming out in your book, too, because it reminds me of something I mentioned with clients, but it's, it's like that, yes, and effect. So it's, yes, I can fully accept that I'm bringing with me all my past experiences, all the messages I've been told about my worth, and my health and all these things. And there's a lot of pain, that's part of that, right. And I could bring that there while I stop and think about what really matters to me. And it's possible that you might see some gaps in your sleep routines and want to make positive changes there that you do want to build a healthier relationship with movement. And, you know, I say over and again, and I remember mentioning, it's like some of the people who get the best benefits for body image and best benefits for exercise, it's when they move their bodies without trying to change them. And when you learn about how movement can be good for anxiety, as well, it's like connecting to those wins, and so find your own reasons why you might engage in movement. And so how that might thread into Yes, absolutely. You might try some meds that work for you. And if you are noticing a weight change with the meds, and also improvement in your mental health, right, keep allowing that, yes - and let me look at the ways I am caring for myself. I'm being compassionate, and being kind, I am able to get rest, you know, I'm relating differently and better to my anxiety. You know, I'm connecting positive compassion to movement, and I'm not moralizing food, but I am eating in a connected way, where I'm enjoying food for pleasure. And it's like, there might be that moment where you do notice that there is, you know, you know, an increase in your weight. And and yes, it could be in part part of medication, right? And what would it look like to accept that? And when you feel that emotional pain? Is that also not part of what you've brought from the past experience? And can we allow some of that pain to look outward, less inward, and like that shame, blame and more outward, "I live in an unjust world, where what part of what makes this painful is not all these ways, this whole checklist and wait, my life is better. But the world that says I can't access all these good things, unless I'm thinner and less and take up less space" and put that anger elsewhere so that you can allow this better life to take hold.
"Mags" Anxiety Sisters: 33:16
I mean, I think that's been such a discussion at times on our on anxiety sisters, even on our Facebook page, because you know, so many women, I include myself in this, but there, there wasn't a place to put all that sort of anger and anxiety around. What we now realize is like, wow, why did all these people have a right to comment even on my body shape and size and so but we've internalized it too, you know, what I mean, we have also internalized it and, and so it is, it does have a lot to do with anxiety, like Abby was really careful and, and I totally was 100% behind this, that we talked a lot about movement, not exercise, we said we hate exercise but love movement. We talked a lot about movement, because we happen to know that it is one of the things that really helps and if different kinds of movement help different people at different times, like, um, but we know that, you know, we know that being out in nature really helps with anxiety. We know that movement can really help people stabilize their anxiety, but we we don't want to judge it as like, you must do this right now. Right? You know, because there are different times in your anxiety journey where some things are possible, and some things aren't. But you know, Abby always says like, even a little counts, you know, little counts because that that is like the building block of helping yourself. So...
Rebecca Scritchfield, RDN: 34:54
Yeah, and I think it comes back to empowerment to that. It's You know, like, I think ultimately, you know, we're constantly kind of practicing this. Because we're always thinking we're always thinking tons of thoughts, right, you know, and it's not that we can tell our thoughts to go away or whatnot, but we can choose how we relate to them. And I, you know, and I think if it's that, if it's that grounded connection to, what is it that I want to create for myself? And, you know, yeah, I just think if we can just allow this frame, you know, that we get to claim this is what I want to think about movement. This is what I want to think about eating patterns. And, you know, and, and so. And I guess we're talking about it in terms of like, we can't just dance around that, like, bodies are, you know, still in this culture, it's, they are compared and there is this value, and we cannot do anything about, you know, the ways in which anxiety about our bodies might show up, and might make us second guess, a med choice or something else? And it's like, no, you always have your body autonomy, but possibly start to question, right? My fear about experimenting with this med, right, it's dominant about, you know, like, notice what feels dominant about a weight, gain fear, and then making sense of that, the way that culture might put that message in there? And also, but also, you know, how is it that I know that I have the power to care for myself in different ways? And I guess, so it's less about trying to control your body at all? And what would it feel like to like, just let go of that feeling and allow what could be good about experimenting with this method, and to trust that you already have these other tools and skills and ways to care for yourself. And I guess just to be more open, because you really don't know what would happen. And that maybe just maybe you might notice that if there is a body change that's part of your journey, that by anchoring yourself in Body Kindness too that overall you're on the path to this better life that might just allow that all to be okay. Because it really was society saying it wasn't, after all, so that's what I would hope for people too.
"Abs" Anxiety Sisters: 37:32
Yeah, yeah. And, and the truth is, is that suffering from anxiety is a terribly lonely and insidious thing. And so Mags and I, our personal take for ourselves has been, we'd rather be, you know, a little bigger but not anxious because that allows us to live our best lives. It did require though Body Kindness to do that. I think it does required required a sense of, you know, of our own ownership of our own bodies, as opposed to public ownership of our bodies.
"Mags" Anxiety Sisters: 38:04
Well, Abby says, Abby always reminds me of a story that I told her when I was really having terrible, terrible anxiety, I can't eat or keep food down when I'm anxious. It's not, it is not a eating disorder. It's literally physically
Rebecca Scritchfield, RDN: 38:20
That vagus nerve is like, uh,
"Mags" Anxiety Sisters: 38:23
And I tend to lose a lot, you know, I would lose a lot of weight. And, you know, my very loving, wonderful mother, um, you know, said to me one time, she knew I couldn't get to work, I could barely leave my house. But I had lost a lot of weight. And she said to me, I don't know how you feel, but you look incredible.
Rebecca Scritchfield, RDN: 38:46
"Mags" Anxiety Sisters: 38:47
You know, to her, because to her for so many different reasons that, you know, for her, it's like, my health and safety was around my weight. And, um, and I think that, you know, many, many of us have had that experience. So it's really very much about deciding, not just deciding, but being okay, what's okay for us, you know, what is what's important for us in our lives. Now, I couldn't get out of the house. I could not get out the house. And so all the things that we always say all the things we talked about in our book, and we don't think medications for everyone at all, at all. But all the things we talked about in our book, like, it's great, if we tell you to go do this or go do that even movement is great. But if you were like us at times and could not get off your couch. You know, it was hard to incorporate any of the other pieces because our book is not primarily about medication, right? We will there are times where you know, when your life is really at a place of being impacted so greatly.
Rebecca Scritchfield, RDN: 39:56
Yeah, yeah, no, that's a really good point. It really is. One chapter of the book but you know, I think it really hit the nail on the head for that all this stigma and shame that exists. And, and it's like I said, it's got all these great stories highly accessible a lot of practical skills like, I love the idea. I can't remember what you called it like, like the worry bag or something. It was like, Oh, I've got lemon drops in it, go ahead.
"Abs" Anxiety Sisters: 40:24
The "spin kit"
Rebecca Scritchfield, RDN: 40:25
Yeah, the "spin kit." Yeah, I just love that. And it's an it's an, it's even just taking it with you. It's the little security blanket, hey, it's here if I need it, and it's an it, you know, I just love you know, you did all kinds of experiments and try out different things. And, you know, things were surprisingly beneficial that you didn't think would work. And so it's, I think, you know, when you're in that mode of like, you know, I don't think I can handle this feeling for very long, and you feel stuck, like, I don't think I could do anything about it. This book is going to change your life, because you're going to get lots of insight, lots of ideas, lots of aha moments, lots of light bulbs going off for me. And you're absolutely right, you get to parts like Oh, that's really practical. Let me try this or that. And I found myself, like I said, just recommending it to clients. And I'll say I listened to it, I really felt comforted by their voices, and I loved it. But obviously, you can also buy it and then read for joy and circle things and make little notes, but it's more about like, let me try this out and see. And you know, I have to say I thought about both of you yesterday, and there was I had this, I was having a really bad day, rough headache and all these things. And I randomly found this rogue 45 minutes, and I couldn't make it to a floating tank. But I turned my bath water on and poured the lavender Epsom salts in there, and just kind of laid down. And it was so nice. And it just Yeah, I just felt I felt connected to you and the book and all these really just helpful powerful tools that I would say that anyone can really listen to because you're going to help them understand what anxiety is the things that go on in your brain.
Rebecca Scritchfield, RDN: 42:18
And and you know, if you care about someone who knows struggles with anxiety, and I think reading through it yourself to better understand them is really powerful. And because back to the "no one goes it alone," I think that you can find ways to help yourself to help others or better understand others, you help people better communicate, find the words to communicate when they're dealing with their anxiety so others can understand. And it's just kind of A+, I love it. And I really hope people get it and listen to it.
Rebecca Scritchfield, RDN: 42:50
And before we wrap up, what I wanted to hear you say is like just what you know, either share like a favorite part of writing it or favorite part of the book or you know, maybe something that you hope that people get out of it.
"Abs" Anxiety Sisters: 43:08
Okay, so my favorite part of the book was, was writing it with my best friend.
"Mags" Anxiety Sisters: 43:13
"Abs" Anxiety Sisters: 43:15
I mean, we started out as a little sorority of just two of us. We were our own anxiety sister club way back in 1987. I think it was when we met 86/87. And she was my lifeline. I have all the things that we ever tried. The thing that helped both of us the most has been our connection to each other
Rebecca Scritchfield, RDN: 43:37
"Abs" Anxiety Sisters: 43:39
We fight like sisters, which we do, yes. And we did that plenty writing the book too.
"Mags" Anxiety Sisters: 43:45
Hang ups. Yes, yes.
"Abs" Anxiety Sisters: 43:47
Yeah, cuz we had to write the entire book on the phone since it was during the pandemic. Wow. And x is in Ohio, and I'm in New Jersey. So we couldn't travel to see each other. So we literally wrote the entire book on the phone. But so my favorite part was doing it with Mags.
"Abs" Anxiety Sisters: 44:00
And I think the big takeaway that I would say to people, is that anxiety is a disorder. It's not a decision. It's not your fault. You haven't done anything wrong, you're not flaky, you're not unreliable, you don't have a moral failing. If you are experiencing anxiety, and it's interrupting your life, but But it's treatable. There are ways to feel better and to live well with anxiety. So don't go it alone. Reach out, come to our Facebook page, go to our website, hit our panic button. It's all free. And and you can be part of a community that really understands you and understands what you're going through. You know, don't don't suffer more than more than you already have. Because it's really struggling with anxiety is is isolating enough, come join us.
"Mags" Anxiety Sisters: 44:50
Oh, um, I guess my turn. I'm sorry. I was listening to Abby. Um, I think that um.
"Mags" Anxiety Sisters: 44:59
So the the takeaway from the book is, there's a couple of takeaways. And like Abby said, it's a disorder not a decision. Also, that there's no one size fits all for managing anxiety, right? So we're really careful in the book, we never tell anyone what they should be doing. Because there's no, there's no one thing that that's going to help everyone. So we have techniques in the book that will help you, if you're, you know, sitting on your couch, and you're thinking about going out and you're anxious, we have techniques that are sort of more, that are sort of a little bit more of lifestyle changes, like to keep yourself more steady. But we also have techniques to use at the moment, you know, so you need something now we have for you. And then the stories are so important, because just like you said, you got a rash. You know, I think a lot of people don't realize that when they get a rash, it could be anxiety, right? I mean, that's not an easy thing.
Rebecca Scritchfield, RDN: 46:00
I had five different looking rashes, it was determined to tell me "go see somebody."
"Mags" Anxiety Sisters: 46:07
And that and, you know, we hear about that now, all the time, rash is a very common symptoms that we hear about. But I think part of what is great about the stories is that you will find people with all different kinds of situations and symptoms, and people who've tried all different kinds of treatments. And so there's like something, I can't imagine reading this book, and not being able to relate to someone you know, and not being able to find a few techniques that you just find are helpful, so.
Rebecca Scritchfield, RDN: 46:45
Mmm hmmm. And that... The value and the worth of that is absolutely priceless. And so the book is called "The Anxiety Sister Survival Guide: how you can become more hopeful, connected and happy." And it is a book that definitely delivers on its promise. And I'm going to give it the Rebecca Scritchfield stamp of approval. So there it is.
Rebecca Scritchfield, RDN: 47:08
And Abs and Mags, thank you so much for coming on the show. And thank you so much for talking with me. It's been a pleasure and enjoy and I can't wait to see you soon in real life. That would be lovely.
"Abs" Anxiety Sisters: 47:19
Yes. Now that we're getting past some of the stickiest parts of the pandemic, we can make a field trip.
Rebecca Scritchfield, RDN: 47:25
Yes, we'll have fun.
"Mags" Anxiety Sisters: 47:26
Yeah, that's awesome. Thank you so much.
"Abs" Anxiety Sisters: 47:29
Thank you, Rebecca.
Rebecca Scritchfield, RDN: 47:32
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