meet scout sobel
The founder of Scout’s Agency, author, and podcast host who believes the only person that can save you is yourself.
How does your home and space impact your mental health?
My husband and I have been living together now for 7 years and we’ve been collecting furniture along the way. Over many years, we have created a beautiful home. We just moved into a new place, we don’t own it, but it’s our first house versus an apartment.
For me specifically, with mental health, there’s a lot of internal work. There’s a lot of journaling. There’s a lot of praying for me. There’s a lot of meditation, all the things. And sometimes we forget that our eyesight, our senses, can impact how we feel. So I took this picture because it’s one of my favorite setups in the house. It’s a reminder that my husband and I have created this life and created this ambiance and the vibe of our house is the exact vibe that I want to be in. I never take for granted that my mental health is impacted by everything, from the food I eat to the smells in my house, what my house looks like, and my physical health. So literally tying in every aspect of my life possible is really important for me.
What keeps you grounded?
Every morning I wake up, I grab my coffee, and then I sit down and write in my journal for 20 to 30 minutes straight. I don’t have an agenda. I don’t have a journal prompt. I subconsciously dump whatever I need to. Sometimes I’m exhausted and it’s me saying how tired I am. Other times I have amazing breakthroughs for my business. Sometimes I have emotional breakthroughs. I wrote the 6-month marketing plan for my book one morning, randomly. It’s definitely an ingrained non-negotiable practice.
“Writing has always been a very creative outlet for me and it’s always been the way I express myself.”
When I was in 8th grade I started formally creating this writing practice. I had a black Moleskin notebook for every year of 8th grade, 9th grade, 10th grade, 11th grade, and beyond. If you go into my bedroom, I have all my past black Moleskin notebooks, which is really fun to look back on.
Between the ages of 21 and 24, I did not write daily because I was healing from my bipolar disorder. Being that introspective and sitting too much in my mind was not pushing the healing forward. I don’t remember the impetus or the exact moment where I decided to put it back into my life in a very routine way. I just remember feeling emotionally strong enough that I could reconstruct my relationship to words and writing. I had things to write about that weren’t just about my depression or anxiety or psychosis or hypomania or catatonia. And so, around age 25, 26, I started dabbling more.
Tell us about your debut book, The Emotional Entrepreneur.
When I have an idea and if energy moves through me, I have to create. I have to get it out of my head, move forward, and execute. With a book, it has to be the right time. Last year I felt like it was time and the pandemic gave me space to think about where I was. I was showing up online with the Okay Sis podcast and I was talking a lot about my mental health. So I came up with this concept called the Emotional Entrepreneur, which is 25 lessons with mindset and emotional tools for Gen Z and Millennial women entrepreneurs.
“As I was building Scout’s Agency, I recognized that the reason I was able to be so successful was because I had years of emotional growth and healing due to my bipolar disorder. I looked around and I recognized that entrepreneurship is the biggest personal development game you will ever walk down.”
When you start your own business, whether it’s a podcast, a digital media site, an agency, a product-based business, or an app, there are going to be moments of such concentrated, emotional uncomfortability and challenges. And so I realized that the reason I hit six figures in my first year of Scout’s Agency was not because I had the reach or the education. The reason why I was successful was because I could manage and use my emotions to my advantage. I wanted to merge my two worlds, my mental health world and entrepreneurial world. Doctors and therapists thought that I wasn’t going to be successful, so being able to provide these emotional lessons that I’ve learned through extreme suffering can help others move through discomfort and create the business of their dreams.
What or who keeps you calm?
This is my dog Luna and I can’t talk about how she has created an impact on my mental health without talking about my first dog Lola, who passed, unfortunately, earlier this year.
I got Lola at 18 and she was there through the thick of my bipolar diagnosis. When I would socially isolate, she was in bed with me all day. When I had her and held her, I felt calm and I felt loved and I felt grounded. She also gave me a lot of purpose like getting up, feeding her and taking care of her. As Lola got older, my family was very worried about what would happen when Lola left us. So I got Luna and thank god I did because Lola passed about a year after getting Luna. I don’t think Luna cares as much about my crying days as Lola did, but having physical touch is so important.
For those of us who struggle with anxiety or depression, just knowing that a dog is waiting for you that loves you and is excited to see you, no matter what emotional state you’re in, has been really instrumental in grounding myself throughout my mental health.
How would you describe your mental health currently?
I’m going through a transition of how I identify with my mental health. I used to say I suffer from bipolar disorder. But I don’t suffer from bipolar disorder any longer. That identity is slowly slipping away from me. Very soon, I’ll be able to say; I used to have bipolar disorder. Currently, my mental health is beautiful. It’s beautiful because I accept it in all expressions, varieties, moments, feelings, and experiences. I welcome anxiety, depression, and sadness, and I understand that they’re going to tell me something. Today my mental health is my biggest gift because I feel safe in it. It is my biggest gift because after years of suffering, playing the victim, and resisting, today I can understand that if I listen to them, they teach me things that allow my life externally to blossom.
My first depressive episode was at the age of 14. Then I was formally diagnosed with bipolar disorder at the age of 20. However, if you go back in time, I was experiencing a lot of panic attacks, anxiety, and the need to socially isolate at the age of 4 to 6.
There are different types of bipolar disorder. There’s bipolar disorder type 1 and bipolar disorder type 2 and type 2 lends itself to more depressive episodes and type 1 lends itself to more manic episodes. Everybody’s experience can be drastically different. I suffer from psychosis and paranoia as well as catatonia, which is a symptom very rarely people with bipolar have. I would go into depressive episodes every 3 months and they would last 2 or 3 months.
I don’t know whether one can not have a mental illness anymore. Take that as you will. Frankly, I don’t really care if someone thinks that’s impossible because I know my internal landscape. There is proof that we can change the way our brains operate and believe. Do I think I’m more prone in the future? Potentially if I don’t do my upkeep and my rituals and routine. But I also believe that I don’t have to be bipolar for the rest of my life if I put in the work and be proactive.
How does intimacy and relationships impact your mental health?
I am lucky enough to have an extremely close support system. My parents were very supportive when I was diagnosed. My husband has stuck with me since we started dating at 21. My mental illness has hurt a lot of the people close to me. I have caused them a lot of worry and sadness. It has caused them to pause their lives. So I’m very cognizant of what my mental onus has done to those that I love and those around me.
I used to outsource my emotions. When I couldn’t handle discomfort, depression, or anxiety, I would text them and say, I can’t manage this anymore. I need you to pick me up, I need you to come get me. I’m coming over. I need you to make me dinner. That was me not taking radical responsibility over my emotions. Just, because I can’t handle them doesn’t mean that taking over is going to get me towards healing any quicker. That keeps me stagnant and actually in a state of aggression. So today, I’m very mindful of my emotional state in relation to the ones I love. They have lives that they have to lead and they do not need to stop everything in order to help me. I can help myself.
I made the mistake of thinking that my support system can save me, but that’s not true. The only person that can save me is myself and I’ve come to a point in my life where I respect their emotional reality as much as I respect mine. There are no longer hysterical texts and calls telling everybody that I’m in an emergency. Now, if I need help, I ask if they’re available.
What’s your take on antidepressants and supplements?
I have spent many years on medication, going through trial and error. My baseline opinion around medication is that it’s a beautiful thing and can help so many people. If you’re in a position where that’s available to you and it’s helpful, definitely take it. There isn’t anything to be ashamed of around that.
Medication is something that takes a lot of time to take effect. The mistake some people make around medication is that they wait around for the medication to work. When the medication works, there has to be tools, rituals, and routines that you still have to put in place so that whatever the medication brings you, you are still driving and dancing above that.
“When I talk about medication, I say, no shame, no stigma, take what you take to help you get out there.”
If you are going to enter into the medication game, please be your biggest advocate in psychiatry. I was put on medication that made me worse. That made me gain a lot of weight, that made me suicidal. I couldn’t wake up until 1:00 PM. The withdrawals were terrible because the psychiatrist wasn’t honest and thorough with what I was putting into my body. So if you are going to go into medication, always ask, how long does this take to take effect? What are the symptoms that I should be aware of? What is the withdrawal system? What happens? And what do I need to do to get off it? There are little things that you need to know to make sure that you are the most proactive and on top of your health.
What makes you stressed or anxious and therefore impacts your mood and mental health?
Today the thing that probably stresses me out the most is the financial and business leadership position that I put myself in as the founder of Scout’s Agency. I have 4 full-time employees underneath me that I need to financially support. While I am in flow, purpose, and in alignment, it can sometimes feel quite daunting and scary when one zooms out and thinks about the responsibility. That’s probably the thing that makes me the most overwhelmed today. I am pretty trusting with the trajectory of my life and future uncertainty. It’s mostly if something goes wrong at work or if I lose a client and we’ll have to rebuild the revenue. It’s moments like that.
When do you feel most at peace?
I feel most at peace outside in my garden without my shoes on, with my feet in the grass, without my phone.
When do you feel your body tense up?
When someone starts a conversation and I think they’re mad at me or I did something wrong and I’m waiting for them to tell me what’s wrong.
What gives you serotonin?
My husband and work.
What does your body language say about you?
I don’t like being around a lot of people.
When do you speak your mind?
Pretty much always. I use my voice a lot.
next story — erin allweiss