179 - Anxiety and Relationships

Anxiety can rear its head in the form of some weird gut feelings or nervousness, or it can be a full blown panic attack. This week we talk about the full spectrum of how anxiety and anxiety disorders show up in our relationships, how to cope with them, and how to comfort a partner who is experiencing anxiety.

If you want to support our show, the best way is to become one of our patrons at www.patreon.com/multiamory. In addition to helping us continue to create new content and new projects, you also get extra rewards and exclusive content and discussions.

You can order Dedeker's book, The Smart Girl's Guide to Polyamory: Everything You Need to Know about Open Relationships, Non-Monogamy, and Alternative Love by clicking here.

This week's sponsor is Quip. If you want to give one of their electric toothbrushes a try, plus get a free refill, check them out at tryquip.com/Multiamory.

Multiamory was created by Dedeker Winston, Jase Lindgren, and Emily Matlack.

Our theme music is Forms I Know I Did by Josh and Anand.

Please send us your feedback and questions to info@multiamory.com, find us on Instagram @Multiamory_Podcast, tweet at us @Multiamory, check out our Facebook Page, visit our website Multiamory.com, or you can leave us a voicemail at 678-MULTI-05. We love to hear from our listeners and we reply individually to every message.Let's look at the fundamentals of boundaries. Boundaries are one of the most powerful and important tools for having healthy relationships, but it’s one that is often misunderstood and misused. 

If you want to support our show, the best way is to become one of our patrons at www.patreon.com/multiamory. In addition to helping us continue to create new content and new projects, you also get extra rewards and exclusive content and discussions.

You can order Dedeker's book, The Smart Girl's Guide to Polyamory: Everything You Need to Know about Open Relationships, Non-Monogamy, and Alternative Love by clicking here.

This week's sponsor is Quip. If you want to give one of their electric toothbrushes a try, plus get a free refill, check them out at tryquip.com/Multiamory.

Multiamory was created by Dedeker Winston, Jase Lindgren, and Emily Matlack.

Our theme music is Forms I Know I Did by Josh and Anand.

Please send us your feedback and questions to info@multiamory.com, find us on Instagram @Multiamory_Podcast, tweet at us @Multiamory, check out our Facebook Page, visit our website Multiamory.com, or you can leave us a voicemail at 678-MULTI-05. We love to hear from our listeners and we reply individually to every message.






This document may contain small transcription errors. If you find one please let us know at info@multiamory.com and we will fix it ASAP.

Jase: On this episode of the multiamory podcast, we're talking about anxiety, how it can affect your relationships and some strategies for coping when you're feeling anxious, or when your partner is feeling anxious.

Dedeker: Just honestly the word anxiety itself, makes me feel anxious.

Emily: What's anxiety-inducing?

Jase: What about it? What is it?

Dedeker: I don't know, it's the sound of the word itself feels icky to me, like maybe that's appropriate. I feel like the sound of the word itself invokes exactly the feeling that it's trying to describe, maybe it's perfect in that regard. This obviously, I guess isn't like a super happy go lucky episode but I do think it's really important to talk about because it's so prevalent. Definitely one of the number one complaints that I get from clients has to do with their anxiety. Often anxiety that has to do with their relationships or their dating life or their sex life or even just life in general because let's face it, we live in this pretty anxiety-producing world.

Emily: Especially right now.

Dedeker: Especially right now, different kinds of anxiety right now than maybe the anxiety that we may have felt 500 years ago but regardless, we still live in an anxiety producing world and anxiety, it just gets in the way. It robs us of access to being able to fully take joy in life or to enjoy our work or the relationships around us or to really fully enjoy the love of the people who care about us. I think that's why it's important to talk about it today is figuring out acknowledging the fact that anxieties very normal but also figuring out how do we cope with it so that we can live our lives and still have some modicum of happiness and joy and love.

Jase: Yes, the thing you were saying about the 500 years ago thing is interesting because obviously we don't have longitudinal studies about anxiety that go back that far, but I remember- this was several years ago, there's a book, I think it was called Why zebras don't get ulcers. It's talking about how anxiety is a somewhat unique human thing in the way that we experience it because we're able to ruminate on stuff and go over things over and over or anticipate things in a way that animals without language don't.

I'm curious how much of that because people are so quick to blame it on, like oh, a modern day with our phones, and our social media is causing anxiety. Maybe that's true, we just don't have a lot of really good data about that because you would have had to have started those studies before those things existed. It is interesting looking at that where you take something like a zebra who's a prey animal and saying like, well, they should be anxious all the time but why don't zebras get ulcers the way humans do? The book is exploring those differences and the double-edged sword that our mind is anyway -- Sorry, that was just a tangent

Dedeker: Little know fact, Zebras are the chill af, they're the chilliest animals in the Serengeti.

Jase: Yes man. If you can hang with a zebra, no worries.

Emily: I just imagine them wearing sunglasses and looking really cute, sauntering up to the waterhole with the tigers and lions around them.

Jase: Whoa. That sounds dangerous but yes, maybe, yes-

Emily: No, no there are on the earth whatever the new earth HD on Netflix David Attenborough, it showed like all of the animals coming up to the watering hole like that's the safe zone for everyone, they all have to go there and drink.

Dedeker: That's the neutral territory.

Jase: I see that Switzerland.

Emily: Yes, exactly. Because everyone needs to drink some freaking water.

Dedeker: the watering hole of the world.

Emily: Indeed.

Jase: That's cool. In getting into this, we want to start off by talking about what is anxiety? To start, like, the basic dictionary definition of this is a feeling of unease, fear, worry or apprehension. I think that's something that pretty much everybody has felt at one point or another, like feeling nervous before giving a speech or being really anxious when you see a gigantic spider like Dedeker and I did yesterday.


Dedeker: It's like right outside the place we're are staying

Jase: She was right outside the door.

Dedeker: I've never seen a spider that's big in Japan and it's upsetting and it really changed my perspective on Japan.

Jase: Yes. Anyway or-

Emily: I appreciate that you didn't kill him.

Jase: No, no, no, we're like you stay in your area, we'll stay in ours.

Dedeker: You can eat the mosquitos and not the grape.

Jase: Definitely that activated some very physical feelings of anxiety for me at least I think probably for you as well. Feeling apprehensive if we noticed that a partner is upset about something and we don't know what. Right? To guess what it is they're upset about. I think the thing to emphasize here is that anxiety in that term of just daily normal anxiety that humans experience is a normal part of life and actually can be a healthy thing.

Having a little bit of anxiety is a good thing. We don't want to get rid of that entirely because it helps us to be aware of spiders, to help notify us of like hey, there's something I need to figure out about what's going on with my partner, instead of feeling like, whatevs? I don't care right like the thing I was talking about.

Dedeker: Yes, zebras are chill af, but they make the worst partners.

Emily: Yes. They probably do.

Jase: They never ask you what's wrong.

Emily: I know. There are people out there though, who do have diagnosed anxiety disorders. That just means that their worry, their nervousness, their fear that might be ongoing. It might be excessive, and it might have negative effects on their ability to function from day to day including things like physical symptoms or panic attacks. A very good friend of mine is diagnosed with anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorders. This is something that she deals with on a regular basis and something that I've been there for her throughout the basically entirety of our friendship and it's been really illuminating and eye-opening.

Anxiety disorders are the most common form of mental illness in the United States, which I think is interesting and something to bring up because I do think about places when we talked about the dating and different cultures that episode. When we did that in Tokyo and we talked about Greece, for example, and how sometimes the people of Greece or the people of different countries are far more laid back than we are and more focused on let's be chill and-

Dedeker: The being versus doing cultures.

Emily: Exactly, and obviously Americans are taught to be very doing, doing, doing and I wonder, I'm just potentially theorizing that we, as a culture are more anxiety prone because we're such a doing culture.

Dedeker: Oh, possibly.

Jase: That's interesting.

Dedeker: We could definitely do a deep dive on that of how is that American culture specifically is really set up to produce more anxiety or maybe produce people who are more likely to have anxiety disorders but that's not quite the focus of this episode.

Emily: No, no but anyways, something to think about. There are three general categories that Dedeker is about to talk about right now.

Dedeker: In the realm of actual diagnosable anxiety disorders, there's the catch all generalized anxiety disorder, I have a close family member of mine who recently was diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder, or GAD, G-A-D. There's obsessive compulsive and disorders related to that and then there's also trauma and stressor related disorders. Trauma being a traumatic event either from childhood or in a relationship and then stressor related disorders. Those are defined as maybe connected to something that's not trauma, but still a life event that's very stressful, such as moving or losing a job or losing a relationship. Something that's very intense and very important and very stressful, that can also produce anxiety or produce an anxiety disorder.

The populations that have a higher rate of diagnosis of anxiety disorders are individuals that are traditionally oppressed. We seem higher rates of anxiety disorders in marginalized communities among people who have lower socioeconomic status and also women. Women are twice as likely as men to develop PTSD related anxiety because of the fact that women are twice as likely to be assaulted in some way, which is really depressing. These actual diagnosable disorders are usually treated either with medication or with some therapy, usually, cognitive behavioral therapy or a combination of both.

Jase: Yes, and that's interesting of- I haven't read this specifically about anxiety but with other diagnosable mental illnesses, there have been studies interestingly, showing that the rates of success for medication and the rates of success for therapeutic are roughly equivalent to each other.

Dedeker: Yes, I did see that.

Jase: Which I think is very interesting because people do like to argue, "No one works better than." or, "One's better for you than the other." Actually, if you look at the evidence, both of them have an equal amount of success, which is not perfect in either case.

Dedeker: Right.

Emily: Sure, but a case by case basis.

Jase: Right, sort of figuring out what works for that person. I think often it's becoming more popular now to do a combination of both. I feel like when I was growing up, thinking 90s[ish] time it was more about- because that was in the heyday of Prozac.

Emily: Yes, works like Medicare.

Dedeker: Exactly. It was definitely like, just give you a prescription and send you on your way.

Jase: I think probably because of a lot of the criticism that that got and a lot of the problems that came out of doing that without also pairing it with therapy, there has been a move toward combining those which overall it's a positive thing.

Emily: Correcly, so. For sure.

Jase: I just wanted to take a moment. I'm sure most of our listeners have a sense of this now going through it, but I think it's worth mentioning the fact that anxiety, like depression, is another one where the word that we use to describe the feeling is the same as the word we use to describe a diagnosis.

It can often get confusing because someone who has diagnosed some anxiety disorder, like generalized anxiety disorder, might hear someone else talking about like, "I have anxiety." Meaning, I have the feeling of anxiety and then in the way they talk about it, the person with generalized anxiety disorder going either feeling like, "God, you seem to manage that so well, and I can't something must be wrong with me." Or hearing it and going, "Screw you. You don't actually have anxiety." It's because we have this problem where we have one term that we use for both, that anxiety is both of a feeling and is sort of the shorthand for anxiety disorder. Same with depression or OCD. Like we said, is another popular one to say like-

Dedeker: I feel like thats one's a little bit different.

Jase: That's true.

Dedeker: I feel like that gets into a different realm of like, that's been a term that's gets abused because it's actually a diagnosis.

Jase: That is a diagnosis.

Emily: A little bit like our episode on narcissism.

Jase: Right. That's a good one too.

Dedeker: Yes, but that was actually a diagnosis but then we also use that term just in everyday life to describe someone.

Jase: Yes, good point. Anyway, I just wanted to throw that out there to understand that the stuff we're talking about in this episode applies to both but may apply differently depending on how anxiety shows up in your life or in the lives of your friends or partners. Just to kind of keep that in mind. Now we want to get into how does anxiety affect our relationships? Whether that is just a normal feeling of anxiety or if it's an anxiety disorder, it can definitely be activated by our relationships and affect our relationships, which can create this feedback loop of having those feelings and then causing something to happen that makes you have those feelings again.

Dedeker: I tried to write down garden-variety anxiety and I noticed that you skipped fast. You don't like garden-variety anxiety?

Jase: I don't like the idea of growing anxiety in a garden. I don't know.

Emily: I appreciate that. You want beautiful things to flourish and maybe leave anxiety out a little bit, if and when you can.

Dedeker: I'm thinking like a garden-variety spider, for instance, maybe not a big terrible, deadly spider, but just a little tiny, creepy spider that shows up in your garden and it's not pleasant to look at, but you're happy that she's catching aphids or whatever.

Jase: I feel like the giant spiders live in gardens too. I don't feel like the metaphor works perfectly. Anyway, sorry. Let's move on.

Emily: Some of our anxieties we do bring into our relationships, and a lot of them can be instilled when we're young in our childhood. This is a throwback to our last week's episode where we talked a little bit about attachment theory. Attachment theory also talks about all the things that happened to you as a young person, and therefore, that will feed into your specific attachment style.

Jase: One of them's called, anxious attachment. It's right there in the name.

Emily: Exactly, if you are very anxiety prone in your relationship, meaning you may want a lot of things from your partner in terms of like assurance or anything in general like you are anxious about that relationship that can happen from your youth. Also, it can be a result of any baggage or trauma from your past relationships and not just from your childhood relationships, but from any relationships that you had in the past with other people.

Therapist Paul Levine says that the body keeps score, which means that past trauma and hurt can stay alive in our bodies even long after we've mentally and emotionally moved on from a relationship. The thing that came to mind with this was that when I was in college, I think I've talked about this person before but I had a stage combat and acting teacher that was a woman and very, very intense and I perceived to be very masculine in the way in which they interacted with me.

She ended up hitting me during class one time. It was kind of on my back, almost down towards my ass but not quite, and it for whatever reason caused an immediate reaction of bursting into tears. I now rate around that area. If I ever get into a situation with a partner where I'm touched or struck or anything in that way, it can cause a similar reaction. I know from that standpoint, some people like to be hit during sex or some people, that turns them on. For me, it very much puts me in a place of anxiety and to shutting down. I think that that is partially from that experience.

Dedeka: Interesting.

Jase: Yes, wow.

Dedeka: I definitely have that from trauma from past relationships. I found if anyone runs up to me and hugs me unexpectedly or grabs me on the waist and if it startles me, it's very much instantly total anxiety response. That very much lives in my body and it sounds like a very similar thing.

Jase: I think this can also show up in even more stuff that's even not as long lasting as that. It could just be from your previous relationship. If your previous relationship ended in a certain way, you might go into a new relationship expecting it to end in the same way. I feel like that's what I see a lot affecting the way people approach relationship. I know it comes up for me a lot. We could have these long-term ones like you guys were talking about, and then also these kinds of shorter-term where maybe that would only affect you for that next relationship or maybe the next couple. There is sort of a whole variety there. Our anxiety can also get activated by what happens in our relationships.

In a new relationship, all those chemicals of NRE or new relationship energy can actually create that feedback loop of obsessive thoughts about the new partner or excessive fear if you're afraid of losing these good feelings that you're having, or if you're unsure how the relationship is going to turn out. For non-monogamous people, this could be anytime your partner goes out on a date. You could have your anxiety go up or if someone takes a long time to respond to your text message. This one comes up all the time.

Dedeker: All the time.

Jase: I've definitely wrestled with this one in the past of not getting a response from something and then coming up with all the reasons why that might be.

Emily: Totally.

Jase: Real quick about the chemical thing with NRE. Your brain on love drugs episode from a couple years ago, we talked about how in addition to feeling this extra rush of dopamine when you're around a new partner who you're really falling for, that is a good feeling but your body also is suppressing your serotonin levels which are what kind of make you feel satisfied and comfortable. It is doing in your body the same thing that an addiction would do. Like a chemical addiction, I mean.

Dedeker: Like, if you're going through withdrawal.

Jase: I mean the same thing that makes you become addicted, where you get dopamine from that thing, your overall serotonin levels go down. When you're not getting the dopamine from the drug which in this case is being around your partner, that your base level gets lower. It actually makes you more likely to feel that kind of obsessive addictive quality towards your partner which like we're saying if you go in prone to it, that's setting you up for a situation that is going to make you feel more anxiety.

Dedeker: Interesting.

Emily: It's challenging with NRE.

Jase: Yes, NRE can be really tough.

Emily: Partners, yes.

Dedeker: Yes, definitely.

Jase: But I just feel like knowing that helps a lot for me-

Dedeker: Knowing that that's going on in your brain.

Jase: Understanding that it's not- I feel like we have this tendency to think about those sorts of feelings as like we either think of romantic feelings as more profound than they actually are, we try to attach all this meaning that's what we come up with like soulmates and especially younger people tend to be so into the idea of like, oh my gosh, because this feels this way, this must be the one. It's so much in our culture, that mythology too. Or on the other hand, we have this thing of like, oh well, it's just a feeling like it's not real. We can either tend to not give our feelings enough credit or we give them too much meaning.

I think knowing about this is useful for a kind of finding that balance in it being like if this feels really strong to me, understanding like its chemicals going on, I can try to enjoy those but not attach too much meaning to them. Or on the other hand, if it's like I'm feeling so much anxiety, that can be because I have feelings for this person because whatever those are just feelings saying like, "No, those are serious drug changes that are happening in your hormones in your body." It's from either side realizing like this is a significant physical chemical thing that's happening.

Dedeker: Interesting. We're going to move on and talk about some coping strategies for when you're having an anxious moment or for helping out your partner if your partner is experiencing anxiety. But first, we're going to take a quick break to talk about the best ways that you can help to support our show if you want to if you like us enough to help us keep this train rolling.

Jase: Now one of the amazing things that we've gotten to do as part of this show is to create a really wonderful supportive community, not just supportive of us but support of each other. People who have helped to build a community where they can come together to share stuff about their relationships they don't feel like they can share publicly with their friends or with their coworkers or publicly on social media.

That community has really grown into an amazing thing and that's all been made possible through our patreon. If you go to patreon.com/multiamory, you can join that yourself and we now have two different private discussion groups that you can join if you'd like. We have our private Facebook group which we've talked about before but now we also have our own privately hosted discourse discussion forum. That means that we have a discussion forum that has the advantage of just not being attached to Facebook which for some people is huge either because they just don't want the distraction that Facebook provides or because they don't trust Facebook or they don't feel safe on Facebook.

We do have this other place that is entirely privately hosted by us, it's not something that- you don't have to have some membership on some other site to join our community, this is just your membership only exists in our community. Like the Facebook group, it is private unless you are a patreon supporter at the five dollars level and up. Anyway, I just want to announce that out there that we now have another non-Facebook community as well.

If you have been wanting to join but have been concerned about being on Facebook, this is the place for you. Or if you just like to have both, maybe use them for different things or if you and a partner want to each have one community to do your discussion so that you can share more privately from each other whatever it is, more options is great. We also still have our ad free episodes that come out a day early at the seven dollar level and our amazing monthly video discussion groups that happen at the nine dollar month level. If you want to be involved in any of those things, just go to patreon.com/multiamory.

Dedeker: Another way that you can support us if maybe this is not the right time for you to join patreon or maybe financially it's a little bit tough right now, I totally get that. The best thing that you can do that is totally free all it costs is maybe about two minutes of your time is to go on iTunes or stitcher or wherever you get your podcast and leave us a review.

The reviews really do help us to show up higher in search results, it helps with the algorithm, it helps more people to find us, it helps more people to know what to expect in listening to this show. Also, if you don't even have two minutes to spare, then take 30 seconds and just leave us a five-star rating on iTunes. You don't even have to write any words if you don't want to. That also helps us as well. Again, go to iTunes, go to stitcher, go to Apple podcast, go to wherever you find your podcast and leave us a review.

Emily: Our sponsor for this week is Quip and they have these new gorgeous toothbrushes that came out that are pink and green metallic. You've got to check them out.

Dedeker: They are fancy Summer colors.

Emily: Amazing amazing toothbrush company. With our code, tryquip.com/multiamory. You get 10 dollars off your first refill, free refill for your toothbrush head and then every three months afterward, you get a 10 dollar refill essentially.

Jase: Yes, it is like a new battery, a new head and some toothpaste, yes.

Emily: Exactly, it's a bunch of cool stuff that comes and it's just 10 bucks. It's very very affordable, it's not like the freaking Sonicare which is obscenely expensive, instead, they're these really sleek sexy toothbrushes. We all have that and we love that.

Jase: Who ever thought a toothbrush will be sexy?

Dedeker: I want to scoff at that but it really is, it is true though. I never thought a toothbrush could be sexy but it can. Quip's figured it out.

Jase: Gosh, I wish people could have heard us before this episode when Dedeker told us about the new colors. Emily and I were both like, "What I absolutely go, "Oh my God, I want one." Emily, you ordered one right before we started recording, right?

Emily: Yes, I was like, "Sorry, I am ordering this pink one right now." I am going to give it maybe to my partner but I'm probably going to keep nit for myself, I don't know, we'll see. We'll see when it comes when I view it in all its glory, I'm very excited.

Dedeker: I don't think you're going to resist, I don't think you're going to able to hand that baby over.

Emily: I know, I'll take a picture for the Instagram but anyways, to get a free refill and a little kickback to us, go to tryequip.com/mulltiamory and get started on this amazing Quip train today.

Jase: The last thing is to stay tuned till the end of this episode because we have an exciting new podcast that we are launching, what, tomorrow?

Dedeker: Tomorrow.

Jase: It launches tomorrow and so at the end of this episode, we have, we'll talk a little bit more about that and tell you about that. But in the meantime, let's get back into this.

Dedeker: Let's talk about- back in talking about when you're the person in the relationship that has anxiety. Again could be, I'm going to say it, garden-variety anxiety could be an anxiety disorder could be somewhere on the spectrum. The strategies that we're going to talk about, of course, like we said maybe not effective for everyone in every situation, some of these tips may work if you have a low level of anxiety but they may not work if you're going through a panic attack or vice versa, these are going to take some trial and error.

I think however anxiety manifests for you, the most important thing is do what works. Find what works for you and then do that. It may take a little bit of a mishmash of different techniques but find what's going to be most effective for you in whatever your anxiety comes up and then use that to get through it.

Jase: Yes. The first one on the list here is exercise and I think I heard like everyone listening just rolled their eyes simultaneously because it's just like whatever exercise is always the- fixes everything. But it is something that there is a lot of science backing it up. There's numerous studies showing that exercising increases your serotonin production as well as the release of it in addition to the immediate effects after working out of having those hormones released, there's also a longer term effects of exercise also especially if there's some strength training involved in it also helps to increase other like helps to balance other hormone levels like our testosterone versus our cortisol levels.

Cortisol being the stress hormone and the testosterone helps to counteract cortisol which is stress which is also related to anxiety. Now we see how these things are all connected and everything with these neurotransmitters is about finding the balance that having too much of something and too little of something often have very similar symptoms in terms of serotonin and dopamine or whatever that actually having a chronic too much or too little can be a problem either way. Exercise actually is a great way of getting your body to try to bring these things in balance as much as you can obviously if it's not something that needs immediate medication to fix.

Dedeker: Yes. Something that I just want to remind our listeners also is as I understand from my personal experiences like when you're in the depths of anxiety or depression, exercise is often the last thing that you want to do or you think like I don't even have the energy to try to figure out where I should go for a run or what kind of exercise routine I should do. From what I've seen and also experienced, you don't have to suddenly go on a 20-minute jog or go to the gym or do super heavy exercise in order to lift your mood or to bump you out of anxiety.

There's like, maybe you know the name of this yoga move but it's like a yoga move where essentially it's like you go back into plough and then you roll forward into a forward like bend and then you roll back into plough and you can just kind of like roll back and forth and roll out your spine. That's a really good one.

Emily: Interesting. I don't know the specific name but I've also heard that putting your legs up on the wall. Sometimes, that's a precursor but you just throw your legs up on a wall so that you're like at a 90-degree angle and that helps anxiety a lot as well.

Jase: Like you are lying on your back with your legs up on the wall.

Dedeker: Yes, I think I just want to encourage people to know that like I totally understand that when you're really trapped in the throes of this, it can be really hard to even think about exercise and the entry into some kind of physical activity can be very low. You can't just be throwing your legs up against the wall or just rolling around on the ground a little bit just to get you moving and getting your body and muscles activated a little bit.

Jase: It's interesting though, I just want to point out like we said, like Dedeker said at the beginning here that some of these may resonate with some people and not others because I feel like for me, when I'm feeling really anxious, that's like, fuck it, I need to get out of here, I need to go run or like I crave that. That's interesting and I think that can really change and I don't think it was always that way.

I think I've conditioned myself to do that especially in going through a very difficult time a few years ago, that was something that really helped me. I think that maybe I now have an association with it but this actually just happen to me the other day where I was feeling really really anxious and upset and I was just like I just want to go like run up a hill. Something that I know it's going to be very taxing on me. I didn't and I wish that I had, I feel like I was much crankier with you because I didn't do that.

Emily: Yes, to get back on that, probably talking about a similar time in our lives but I was going to yoga, really intense hot yoga like five days a week. We're probably we're all in the best shape of our lives during that time but we are all going crazy with the working out but definitely just in order to get all of that anxiety out of us, I know that I was definitely going and working out a lot because it was the thing that made me feel better at that moment.

Dedeker: Yes, that makes sense. What's the next step here?

Emily: Yes, halting, we talk about it a lot on the show and it's if you're hungry, angry, lonely or tired to stop, to stop what you're doing to stop the- maybe fight that you're about to have with your partner, to just take a moment for yourself. It really works for those anxious situations, anxiety as well. Just take a step back before acting on any anxious impulses like an impulse to snoop your partner's phone, to ask your partner if they're doing okay 1000 times.

Just really take a break, really take care of your needs in that moment and then check in again afterwards and something that I think we talked about that I know the book, Wired for love talked about is when you're primitives are being activated in the moment to just take a breath- to take a couple deep deep breaths and that will allow your ambassadors to come back and to be there at the forefront of your mind instead of those fight impulses instead have your rational thinking come back into play in these moments just to take a moment and take a deep breath.

Jase: Yes, I feel like something that goes along with that too is the, we talked about it in the relationship anarchist manifesto, the idea of when you're feeling good talking about how you want to conduct yourself and what kind of relationships you want to have and we've given that advice before about other things and I've talked about them as buoys before and having these mental landmarks of like these are the things I think are okay.

It's almost like your set of values or something. In those situations, I think they can help you to realize when you need to halt when it's like I'm feeling a temptation to do this thing that I know somewhere in the back of my brain that's not very allowed right now because I'm upset and anxious. I know that this is crossing a boundary for myself, sorry, not a boundary like the ones we talked about last week but it's crossing a- what's another word for this?

Dedeker: A line, crossing the line to myself.

Jase: Yes, this is crossing a moral line that I, you have said it's not right to snoop on my partner's phone or to-

Dedeker: Or to raise my voice to them in this way or-

Jase: Right and realizing, oh, if I'm-

Emily: Or be accusatory or defensive or whatever.

Jase: Yes. Whatever it is that I have decided like is the thing I don't want to do, that can be a thing of like I'm wanting to do that. Something else must be going on, I should halt and figure out like do I need to eat some food? Do I need to just take a nap or do one of these other things. With that onto the next one. This next one is rescheduling. This one I know can sound a little bit silly but it's essentially scheduling time to worry about stuff. Right now, you're trying to do something else like sleep. You're trying to sleep or you're trying to work or you're trying to-

Dedeker: Have a nice date.

Jase: Yes, actually, that's a great example. You're trying to do something else but you're having trouble being present because your mind is thinking through all these anxious thoughts. It's going through these lists of things that then jumped other things that you're worrying about. What you can do is actually write it down. Write down a list of these are some of things I'm going to worry about and then maybe put it in your calendar of like tomorrow after lunch, I have a little bit of time, I'm going to worry about them then.

Or write, tomorrow morning, I have a little bit of time to worry before I go to work or something. Just get it on the calendar and I find it really helps to write it down because something about having it exist physically helps me to not feel like I need to keep thinking about it otherwise I might forget that I need to worry about this that actually writing it down usually like in pen helps me the most rather than just typing it. But either way, if you're out, type it on phone. Anyway, it can help you let go in the moments you can be present for that.

Dedeker: Sometimes if I'm in the moment and I find myself having difficulty letting go, if I have the time, sometimes I'll just be like, okay, right now you have 20 minutes. I am

going to give myself 20 minutes to sit here and be anxious about this. That's not usually my first technique that I go to but it is the one where it's like if I find my brain won't shut off or my brain, these thoughts keep coming in that that's what I use like okay, fine, take 20 minutes right now and then you can worry about everything. Then honestly, usually, I get bored like five minutes into that 20 minutes and I'm like, "I'm just bored, I can't sit I've got to go do something" and that usually helps to break me out of it.

Jase: Interesting. This one for me is like the writing stuff down and just, I think what I really like about this one is that it's not saying that you can't worry or that you shouldn't. It's just saying, "I'm going to do it at a different time because right now, I can't do anything about it or right now, I need to be doing something else and if I don't do this thing, I'm going to be worrying about that later of still allowing yourself that time.

Because for me, I think I've talked about this a long long time ago on the show but gosh, this would have been maybe 10 or 15 years ago now where I was prescribed Paxil as for anxiety specifically. I ended up not doing well on that drug and not- it had much worse side effects for me than the positives. However, it did make me not anxious, it also just made me not have any sex drive, it made me not care about anything really like I was just kind of going through the emotions. For me, I ended up deciding that that wasn't the route I wanted to go and but having that experience actually helped me to accept the anxiety as something that I was okay with having some of because of this for me maybe worked too well or whatever.

It got rid of all of it to the point like I said, I just didn't care. For me, that that helped and that's, of course, just with my situation of specifically like the amount of anxiety that I was experiencing at that time but for me, it helped me like we said at the beginning like there is a value to having some anxiety in your life. It's a thing we've evolved to have. It's not just like a disease you get like it is a thing you should have some of. For me, the scheduling one, I really like that it still places some value on that.

Dedeker: I'm still having some awareness of the anxiety-

Jase: Having those thoughts.

Dedeker: -instead of just trying to squash it or erase it or whatever. Got it. The next thing that we're going to talk about is one that I've used a ton and it's visualizing. Again, I feel like saying the word visualizing, a lot of people are going to roll their eyes. I know that first time my therapist suggested this to me I

 definitely rolled my eyes it's like, yes, visualizing, sure, whatever, but this is one that I use a lot if I'm trying to go to sleep or if I've woken up in the middle of the night and there's a lot of like obsessive repetitive thoughts floating around in my mind. It's visualizing writing down those thoughts in a book and then I visualize closing it and then putting it on the shelf and walking away.

It's always, it's combined a little bit with the rescheduling thing a little bit because I also visualize like this book is still there, I can come back to it whenever I need. Whenever I need to re-access these anxious thoughts, it's still there, it's not like I'm burning the book or throwing it out the window or whatever, but it lets me at least in that moment to be able to be like, "Okay, I don't need to think about this now and I can walk away." Or putting the anxious thoughts into a box that then you lock and then put away in the closet, or she also gave me imagining that you're putting them into a balloon or letting the balloon drift away, that one's a little bit less re-accessible-


-but maybe in that moment, that's good for you. You could also visualize a positive outcome. If there's a particular scenario that you're getting really anxious about like I know definitely in my early days of being non-monogamous, I'd get so much anxiety any time a partner went out on a first date specifically, because the first date has the most unknowns. You don't know, maybe this person is going to be so amazing, they don't come home or ever again. [laughs]

So amazing that they realize how boring and awful I am. I found what is really effective for me is visualizing a positive outcome. As in like my partner goes on this date, and they have a great time on the date and I meet this person who's my metamour and I love my metamour so much and we become best friends. It's not like I'm creating that expectation but just opening myself up to the possibility that, hey, this could, I could get through this and it can feel good on the other side. That's another good technique to use and again, for me, it really is just amazing for when I need to sleep is just to do that visualization.

Jase: Yes. I think you could even make this one into a little bit more of like a physical tactile sort of ritual too. I know that there are various rituals and different cultures, there is one that I used to do at a church in Seattle that was just like an annual thing but it was about essentially putting something into a stone or an object or something that then you would throw into a river or in the church, it was like into a thing of water that then would be taken away, but symbolically into a river. But this could even be something-

Dedeker: Wait, so sorry, they're like here's this bucket of water and it's a river.

Jase: Yes, then we'll go take it and put it in a river later by proxy.

Dedeker: Okay.

Jase: But anyway it could even be something like writing it down on a piece of paper and crumpling it up and throwing it away it or could also be more tactile, if that's something that resonates more with you than just trying to visualize, but it's essentially the same thing, like the rescheduling.

Emily: It is like letting it go or burning it or something.

Jase: Right, or writing it down, folding it up, putting it away or putting it in a certain journal that you keep in one place on the shelf, there's lots of different always.

Dedeker: You say it's like actually physically doing that activity?

Jase: Right, that you could actually do it that way. Maybe just because I'm more of like a tactile kind of person.

Dedeker: Yes, that makes sense. Then this next one is a broad tip really but it's a twofer as well. It's do the work and get help. What we mean by that is "doing the work", it can be whatever personal work is going to help you get to the bottom of your anxieties and insecurities. That's a whole topic in and of itself. It may involve finding a meditation practice that also allows you to do a lot of self inquiry or anything that allows you to figure out some kind of self healing, like maybe you do realize like, "oh, there is some trauma or there's some baggage from my childhood or past relationships that's coming up and I need to look at that and give that space and work through that."

It could involve doing some kind of self analysis or a guided analysis to uncover what your actual triggers are because sometimes anxiety can come up and we have no idea what actually triggered us. That adds this layer of confusion where you also don't even know what caused the anxiety. Then of course, if you're also finding your anxieties reaching this unmanageable level where it is starting to affect the quality of your day to day life, then definitely get a professional diagnosis or some professional help or medication.

There's definitely, I know that in our culture we face a lot of stigma around mental illness and taking care of one's mental health and I feel like with anxiety as well, anxiety is the most common mental illness in the US, but we still carry this attitude of like you got to get be able to get yourself through it, that this is your failing if you can't snap yourself out of it and often it's not. Often it's a chemical thing, it's a hormone thing or whatever, and so it is okay to do what is effective for you in order to get it to a manageable level.

Jase: Also humans were never meant to live on their own and do everything on their own. I just have to get on my soapbox for a second. We have talked about it before, humans were never made for this, we've never done it in history. I don't know why we have this absurd notion that somehow-

Dedeker: That we are independent and self-reliant.

Jase: -that being self-sufficient is something that's healthy or to strive toward anyway, sorry.

Dedeker: No, don't be sorry, it's true.

Emily: Yes. No, it is challenging for sure. In those moments, maybe when you don't have therapy session for a couple days or you can't get a hold of them, try to do breathing exercises, try to relax, relax your body, move to a different location. Just get out of the situation that you're currently in, do something like engage your senses like listen to music, play with something tactile, visually count something in your surroundings, chew gum.

God, I remember when I was crying my eyes out at my ex-boyfriend's- What was it? It was his graduation because we had had a fight the day before and it was really, really bad and I was just like crying, crying and my mom just like handed me some gum. She was like, "You need to just like just like do something else."


Like that, it was really funny, I was just sobbing and I couldn't stop and she's like, "Here, do something." She handed me some gum.

Dedeker: Did it work?

Emily: It did help, absolutely, yes. Just like putting engaging your body in a different way can be helpful and have a positive mantra that you come back to over and over again in these moments. Again, my friend who has anxiety and deals with that from a clinical standpoint and takes medication, et cetera, she definitely has a list, she has a big long written list of positive mantras that she goes back to constantly and she has it on a refrigerator, and she goes back to it in those moments of rumination and self destructive thoughts. I think that's really, really helpful to do.

Dedeker: Yes, definitely. One mantra that I came up, like I got that I found when I was researching this episode was reminding yourself- and this is specifically for people who are having panic attacks, it was like that level of anxiety that it's like reminding yourself that you've survived 100% of the panic attacks that you've been through and you're going to survive this one too. I think that applies also even if you're just feeling really intense anxiety that like you've survived these feelings before and gotten through them and they're going to pass again.

Jase: Interesting. Yes.

Dedeker: I find for me just to give another note about the like sense thing about Emily's mom shoving gum in her face, [chuckles] like, "do it, do it, take this in your mouth." I think that I found in my life personally, that's been really helpful if I have anxiety that comes up, but I don't know what triggered it. If I have a weird generalized anxiety and I can't figure out like, no, I'm not worried about something specific or like I don't feel like I should be worried or anxious in this moment, but my body is feeling that way, that instead of sitting there thinking and trying to figure out what is it? Why is it?

Why am I feeling this way? What is going on? Just be like, "okay, I'm just going to listen to music" or "I'm just going to grab this squishy thing and mess with it." Again, just something to get your senses engaged in some way I've found surprisingly helps a lot in those situations.

Jase: Yes. All right. Now we're going to move on to our next section which is what if you were trying to support a partner who has anxiety?

Dedeker: Right. Definitely challenging. I think definitely, if you personally have an experience like high levels of anxiety or like clinical levels of anxiety that it can be really hard to relate to a partner who's going through that.

Jase: Yes and it can really change I think depending on how their anxiety manifests or what that looks like. I think it can be especially challenging when you try to help them in the way that you would want to be helped. I think this comes from this deeper assumption that they experience things the same way that I do. The reality is that-

Emily: Yes, how huge that is-

Jase: -they probably don't. In fact, it's extremely likely that they don't and it's extremely likely, as we've talked about that before that the longer you've been om a relationship actually, the less likely you are to be able to accurately guess and understand how they are feeling at any given moment, but the more confident you think you are in doing it. It's this kind of you're damned if you do-

Emily: That's too bad.

Jase: -sort of this situation. The thing about it is what I've learned in having a partner with PTSD and learning about that is actually learning about it, is asking questions of the partner and then also doing other reading about it. In a lot of it, you might read something that's like, "I don't know. I'm not-- Is that how I'd feel? I don't know." Then, it's the important thing is just to realize, "Wait, that doesn't matter.

Someone is telling me that this is true for some people so that might true." I'm just trusting, and then the same in asking your partner about how they're feeling is actually believing them when they tell you how they're feeling in believing that that's real and not that, "Oh, well, no, it must actually be this other thing because what makes sense to me." I think getting out of that mindset is so important.

Emily: I think the halt thing is so important in these moments as well. I don't know, Jase, if you're like me, because we're both spewers but in moments of conflict, I want to just address it immediately and figure it out immediately. I feel like I have the tools in which to do that and often my partner will be, "No, I need to stop and I need to halt and I need to go away for a while in order to figure that out."

Even just talking about anxiety regarding- or in this episode has shown me like, shit, maybe they are unable to function in that moment, because of their anxiety and therefore, I need to be better about, I guess, honoring that need for halting in that moment, because they are different than I am. Even though I feel like I can deal with them in that moment, maybe, they can't. That's a really interesting point. Something that I know a lot of people talk about, God, on the tour a couple came up to me and spoke about that exact thing in wanting to halt, in wanting to speak about it in the moment and that conflict there. I knew that it's definitely prevalent in people's lives.

Dedeker: Yes. Definitely. Well, should I dive into this list?

Jase: Yes. Go for it.

Emily: Yes, do it.

Dedeker: The first one, which we touched a little bit already is just check in with your partner and that is super simple, just asking, "Are you okay? How are you feeling?" I'm a big fan of incorporating NVC, Nonviolent Communications, which is based on stating an observation first rather than in assumption, so as in instead of going to your partner and saying, "You seem anxious, are you okay?", saying, "Oh, I noticed that you're breathing heavy. Are you feeling okay or are you all right?" That gives them the opportunity to either be like, "Oh, yes. Actually, I know I am. I am starting to feel anxious or starting to feel triggered or whatever." Then we can take it from there or can be like, "Oh, no. I just came up some stairs and I'm okay."

Jase: I really like that.

Emily: That's good.

Jase: I really like that because I know it can be irritating to have someone always asking you, "Are you okay?" When you're just like, "What? I'm fine. Am I being weird?" Then, you start to getting into your head about, "Am I being strange? What am I doing that's making them think I'm upset when I'm not. Am I upset and I don't realize it?" You can get caught in this whole thing, whereas just that making an observation of like, "Oh, I feel like you're-- Hearing you sigh a lot while you are doing that."

Then, it gives them the opportunity to either say, "Yes, I'm feeling anxious or upset about this." Or to go, "No, I don't know, my chest is just feeling tight because I-- whatever, because of my allergies." Could be something else, "I'm trying to get enough air or I'm reading this article about Trump." [laughs] It gives them a chance to to observe that too and can be a reason for instead of feeling accused of being in a bad mood.

Dedeker: Right.

Emily: Yes.

Jase: Another one is to offer your support in whatever form and asking them what sort of form they want or even presenting them with options, because maybe they don't want the burden of having to choose what it is they-- Having to tell you what they want, but if you give them some options.

Dedeker: Or maybe they don't know.

Jase: Yes. For example, your anxious partner may want to be held or they may want to talk it all out, do the spewing style, or they might want advice about something or they may want to be left alone and they feel obligated to hang out and be social right now and they really just would like to be alone or they would like you to make a decision for them, so they don't have to because they're finding themselves to talk about it.

There's lot of different things and just through asking some of those questions of-- And like Dedeker's example, "I noticed you're breathing heavy. Are you all right?" They might give you an example and you say, "Take a little break to cuddle about that? Are you going to tell me about it?" And if they say, "No." Then it's like, "Do you want to be left alone totally or just stay here?" Presenting some options along the way rather than just like, "What can I do?" Like, "How do I fix this?" Which can make the problem worse just feeling like, "Ah, now your problem is inconveniencing me to give me a solution to it."

Dedeker: Got it.

Emily: Really, also remind them that they're not silly, they're not being silly in this moment.

Dedeker: It's huge.

Emily: Anxiety can get just triggered by really arbitrary things and that can often maybe add a layer of shame or embarrassment to the person experiencing that anxiety, but just really proactively remind your partner that feeling anxious or getting triggered it's not a bad thing, it's not a silly or absurd thing, it's okay and it can happen to anyone at any time for any reason and their feelings matter and they are loved in that moment and just bring that up to them and be there for them when these things happen.

Dedeker: This one's huge, I found for me because I have PTSD related anxiety that comes up and, again, is the kind of thing where it can get triggered by something really infinitesimally small or really arbitrary or something that any other person on the planet would not find triggering or activating or anxiety producing. There's that other layer on top of it of like, "This should not have upset me. This should not have made me anxious. This should not have set me off." Because I'm embarrassed about that, I don't even want to open up and talk about feeling it, I want to try to power through.

Even getting that out of the way of just being assured that it's okay, it's not bad, it's not wrong, it's not silly, it's not absurd, it's just is what it is without any value judgment on it, at least, I know in my personal experience is really hugely helpful to be able to get me to feel to more comfortable to actually move through it in that moment instead of just trying to contain it. Related to that is to avoid trying to logic it away for your partner.

This one's a little bit tricky because, obviously, anxiety is an emotion, is not always logical and, in a particular moment, your partner may ask you for some kind of Triforce number three style like, "I want advice. I want-- Can you please tell me that I'm-- Can you please tell me that this is not something to worry about." Maybe your partner does come to you and say, "I need to talk this out. I need to understand. I'm really anxious about this and I don't know why, can you help me talk it out and figure it out why I shouldn't be anxious about it?" If your partner comes to you and ask for that, that's great, help them get there.

If they haven't, coming to your partner and just trying to logic out why they shouldn't be upset may not be helpful in the moment because, well, you're thinking like, "Oh, well, use the power of logic of-" To see that, "Hey, there's nothing to worry about." To you that may seem to make a lot of sense, but to your partner, especially, if they're really deep in the throes of anxiety or panic attack or something, that may just come across to them as, "I'm even more ridiculous and silly and absurd for being anxious." Then, it just keeps piling on more of that shame and embarrassment about it. It may not-- Trying to logic it away may not have the effect that you think it's going to have on your partner.

Jase: Yes, totally.

Emily: God, this one is a good one for me. Give them time but don't set a timer. I don't like to say, "Well, I need you to freaking figure this out-

Dedeker: Right, tick-tock.

Emily: -in 10 minutes or a day or whatever. It can be really helpful to remind your partner that this feeling will pass, assure them that they can take as much time as they need in this moment, but it will pass eventually, but make sure that this feeling will pass is used as a tool that it's not used as a tool to dismiss your partner's feeling in the moment because that, I think, can be a destructive tactic to use in these moments definitely and so-

Dedeker: Right. That's a little related.

Emily: -being there for them.

Dedeker: Yes, it's a little bit related to the logic thing of if you just or whatever it's going to pass, that can be very dismissive. It's a fine line between. Is it dismissive or is it reassuring? Is it just helping to remind your partner like, "It's going to pass and you can take your time. It's going to be okay."

Emily: Exactly, just be there for them as opposed to being like, "Well, it's going to pass. Get over it." There's a difference there for sure.

Jase: With all of these things is just to remind them that they're loved. Remind them that you care about them. I think this can be especially true or especially important to say if you're also having to do something to take care of yourself or maybe, you are getting upset because of their anxiety, or the way they're acting toward you, or something and you might need some time to yourself or something.

That's an especially important time to add in that reminder of like, "This will pass. I know this is just going on right now. I still love you a lot. I really want to help you with this. Right now, I'm going to go for a run. I just need to focus on work for the next few hours. If it gets really bad, come find me," or write something of just leaving them with like, "I'm not abandoning you. I don't think you're a bad person because of this."

Any of those greater worries that they might have based on your reaction or if you try one of these things we've talked about like telling them this will pass and they react badly to that, of just being like, "Okay, what I meant. I'm sorry, I understand you're feeling this way," like "I love you." Just kind of that reassurance like, "I'm still here for you. This is okay regardless of how we're going to try to figure this out right now."

Dedeker: Well, I hope that this was helpful for some of you out there to at least give you a place to start in managing your own anxiety, or in being able to be there for your partner, if your partner is experiencing anxiety. Of course, all three of us, this manifests in our lives in different ways, but we would love to hear from you. If you experience anxiety or with a partner with anxiety, whether that's more day to day anxiousness, or if it's actually an anxiety disorder, we would definitely love to hear from you of what's been most effective for you personally managing that, what's been most effective for you being with a partner and managing that. We would love to hear your stories and hear your tips and tricks.

Jase: Do that if it's something that you want to share with other people. Do that in a place where people can see it like on our Facebook page, or on Twitter, or on our Instagram or something like that because there are other people who could probably benefit from those tips and tricks as well.

Dedeker: Yes. Before we sign off.

Jase: We want to tell you about our new Podcast.

Emily: Oh God, yes.

Jase: Oh God. Exactly. We have a new Podcast completely unrelated to this one that comes out tomorrow called, Drunk Bible Study. You want to give the summary of what this is?

Dedeker: Basically, the premise is the idea that we realize that with Emily being born and raised atheist, and Jase and I being born and raised and born again Christian evangelicals.

Emily: What?

Dedeker: Over the years--

Emily: That's news to me. Born again?

Dedeker: Yes. Well, you know born again Christians.

Jase: We'll get to it.

Dedeker: We'll get to it. Anyway, we realize that, first of all, over the years, we've had so many interesting conversations with Emily talking about stuff in the bible. Stuff that's common knowledge to me and Jase from the culture that we were raised in. It's totally new to Emily. Emily's reactions gave us a new perspective on a lot of the stuff. We decided like, "Let's just be super ambitious and let's read the entire Bible to Emily."


Emily: Which is a lot of content.

Dedeker: With Emily because even though I was raised Christian, I never read the Bible cover to cover. Jase never read the Bible cover to cover. Emily certainly never read the Bible cover to cover.

Jase: It's so prevalent in our culture, and in our stories, and our sayings, and all things come from it.

Emily: Does God say the end?

Dedeker: The end? I don't think he does.

Jase: I'd love that idea though.

Dedeker: That is a great idea.

Jase: God said, "The end".


Jase: No, that's not in the Bible.

Dedeker: Anyway, this show, it's not us bashing Christianity. It's also not us being super pro-Christianity. We're just taking the Bible as a story, seeing how it holds up as a story and having some beers at the same time and just have some laughs.

Jase: If you want to check that out, we would love it if you would listen on our release day which is tomorrow, which is this Wednesday. We're releasing our first few episodes at once. You can check out all of those. Honestly, it would help us so much in launching this new Podcast, if you could take a moment to write a review on iTunes and to subscribe that having an engagement early on in the launch of a Podcast does more for it than almost anything else, in terms of its growth in that initial phase.

Really, if you're a fan of us and you just enjoy listening to us or if you enjoyed our Drunk Bible Study episode we did for this show, if you- a lot of couples months ago now. If you enjoyed that, then this hopefully will be more of the same for you. Take a moment to write us that review to help us actually show up in the New and Noteworthy on iTunes, and get this one go on and get this out there. It's been super fun.

Dedeker: It's been really fun to record, and it has nothing to do with polyamory. If you're sick of hearing us talk about that, then this is the show for you.

Jase: We don't talk about communication unless it's with God in the context of the story.


Anyway, I hope you join us for that. We're really excited about it.

Dedeker: Emily take us home.