Maggie Sarachek and Abbe Greenfield are besties and have been for decades. They met as undergraduates at U Penn in the 1980s. Neither thought of themselves as particularly anxious. Sure they had bad stomachs, but didn’t most students on the Penn meal plan?
They also worried a lot, but we figure they owed that to our Jewish parents. What they didn't know then was that they were both experiencing the beginnings of a lifelong struggle with anxiety, and they did not know how important they would become in helping the other learn to manage her disorder.
As the Anxiety Sisters, Mags and Abbs, as they call themselves, provide a safe space for people with anxiety disorders, diagnosed or otherwise. People have said their lives were changed for the better because of their 200,000 people strong community and the support they provide.
We talked about the importance of a proper diagnosis and being your own advocate when it comes to treatment. They are big proponents of standing up for yourself with your practitioners to ensure you get the meds and or support that frees you from your symptoms.
We have a list of questions that you need to ask your prescribers so that you are informed about what you're putting in your body, what you can expect, et cetera."
Getting the right dose of medication — if you need that — is as much art as it is science.
They shared their ways of dealing with anxiety that creeps up on a person and suggested a "spin kit."
"Why we call it spin. We have renamed panic and severe anxiety, to spinning, which we think is a really apt metaphor because if you've ever had an anxiety attack, it does feel like you have been in your washing machine for the spin cycle.
A spin kit will have different things for everyone. It's like a first aid kit, something to pull out when that feeling arises. It could be a fidgeter, knitting or crochet, pictures, music. In short, something to ground you and occupy your mind until the anxiety lets go.
We also talked about the importance — scientifically proven — of connection with people we get, get us, we feel safe with.
Other things that contribute to anxiety like nutrition, hormones, trauma. You may never know what caused you to become anxious or experience OCD, agoraphobia, or panic attacks, but you can get relief from symptoms and keep them from smallen-ing (yes I invented a word) your world.
I loved this convo with Mags and Abbs, they are absolutely authentic, generous with their stories and the support they provide so many people. You can find them on IG, Facebook, and Twitter.
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