Right now, there is this huge debate among people to either take the COVID-19 vaccine or not. Some people refuse to protect themselves and their loved ones because of their egos. They think that it’s limiting their freedom in some way. Then there are those people who genuinely believe that it’s too risky to take the vaccine at this moment. Whether you take it or not, it is best to reserve any judgment on others. It might be a personal decision or something else. Everyone has their own anxieties, so it’s best to respect one another. Join Jason Wrobel and Whitney Lauritsen in this discussion about whether your agenda prevents you from feeling better. Learn about ghost pipes, micro-dosing, therapy, and the COVID vaccine debate.
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Does Our Agenda And Impatience Prevent Us From Feeling Better?
The Relentless Willingness To Experiment To Figure Out What Works
Before we begin the main topic for this episode, I’m curious, Jason, if you’ve ever heard of something called Ghost Pipe.
Those words together mean nothing to me.
A friend of mine spends a lot of time looking for holistic alternatives to traditional or pharmaceutical medicine. She and I have been talking about neurodivergent people and factors like anxiety, which I’ve been speaking about. I know a number of our readers struggle with something in those categories. She sent me information on Ghost Pipe, which is a little-known nervine.
She was telling me about its ability to support people with anxiety and even PTSD. It has a scientific name which is Monotropa uniflora. It originates from Asia but also certain parts of North America and South America. It is a herbaceous perennial plant and has all these different names. It is a way to support yourself through a lot of different mental and physical challenges. It also can help with physical pain. My friend recommended that I look into it for emotional pain.
There’s this whole article on it. I feel like you would geek out over it, Jason. A practitioner wrote one of these documents and they said that they were using it for physical pain, migraine-like headaches associated with traumatic brain injury, anxiety and panic associated with emotional or sensory overload, which is what I tend to struggle with. Also, triggering emotional memories that may make someone feel beside herself, and unpleasant, intense, mind-altering experience, especially with tryptamine-bearing plants, fungi and drugs. Back in the late 1800s, it was used for periodic fevers, childhood seizures, epileptic seizures and inflammation.
It’s super fascinating but then my friend said that it’s a little challenging to find. I got excited about it and then she was like, “The downside is that it’s not readily available.” Although I feel like now that I know about it, I can keep my eyes and ears open for it, learn more about it, and see if it’s something that I can take. People will turn them into teas, tinctures, that sort of thing. One benefit of living on the West Coast of the United States is that there are a lot of people that are into herbal remedies. I wouldn’t be surprised if one of our friends knows about this, Jason. I’m curious, is this sparking your curiosity? Where would you go to learn more about this and potentially track them down to try?
Tracking some down to try looks pretty easy because it looks like there are herbalists on Etsy who are making this into a liquid tincture. There is someone who looks like a herbalist who has a Monotropa uniflora tincture. It looks like this person is bottling and creating their own concentrated tinctures out of this Ghost Pipe, Monotropa uniflora. You can find it on Etsy. It looks like there’s a lot, Whitney. When they bring up the suggested similar items, there are 8 to 10 people creating Ghost Pipe tinctures. Who knew? Etsy is a great place to go.
There are a couple of friends that I will go to ask about this immediately that I can think of. One is our dear friend, Jay Denman who was a herbalist and worked at the Erewhon Tonic Bar for years in LA. He and his partner, Joy, have incredibly deep encyclopedic knowledge almost of these types of herbs. I’m going to text Jay after this episode to get his opinion on it. The other person is our friend Pamela who is Adam Yasmin‘s partner. He was a previous guest. She has an incredible knowledge of herbalism as well. I’m going to run it by those two friends and see what they think.Do things with an abundance of caution. Click To Tweet
It’s pretty easy to obtain on Etsy. This one in particular looks reputable. This person has over 1,200 five-star reviews, 2,700 sales, and they’re selling a $40 Ghost Pipe Monotropa uniflora tincture. I want to try it. Whitney, you piqued my interest when you talked about anxiety. On a side note, now that I have been micro-dosing psilocybin mushrooms, I have noticed that my daily anxiety has decreased at least 50%. It doesn’t mean that I don’t have my moments. I’ve noticed a profound difference with micro-dosing five days on and two days off with psilocybin mushrooms over the course of one month.
It’s something that you were prescribed by your doctor and therapist, which is an important thing to mention. As much as we advocate for alternatives to pharmaceuticals, we also think it’s incredibly important to consult a doctor or some type of medical practitioner before engaging. This is an important disclosure to give that neither of us is licensed or able. When we talk about something like Ghost Pipe, we’re just exploring it. If you’re going to try something like this, as a reminder, it’s important to make sure that you’re checking your sources and also speaking to someone who can give you medical advice based on your specific needs.
This is incredibly important because even when we’re talking about natural/holistic/herbal remedies, regulating one’s dosage and having it be monitored with a professional is important, especially if any of these substances have any psychotropic or mind-altering effects. I’ve never had Ghost Pipe. I have no idea what it would do to my body but I would want to let my practitioners know. I have two amazing people. I have a functional medicine doctor here in Los Angeles, Dr. Allen Green. I have my therapist, Gary Glickman. They both called and talked to each other, which was a beautiful thing. I’ve been having severe depression. I’ve been having a lot of suicidal thoughts and in a lot of despair. To have the two of them talk about what the proper game plan was, to me that was a huge blessing.
To back up what you said, Whitney, it is important. Some people have an attitude like, “Screw it. I know best. I’m going to experiment with my own body.” That’s okay if that’s your choice. I have a family member who has also had some struggles with mental health over the years as I have, but different ways of struggling with mental health. They were on lithium. Lithium orotate is a natural mineral. It’s synthesized. She was having some issues with her lithium dosage. I didn’t know this but in some cases, if you’re on too high of a dosage of lithium for mental health, it can not only negatively affect your kidney function but can also cause hearing loss. My family is open about our health struggles, not just my mental health struggles. We’re an open family.
My point is I started taking lithium years ago off the shelf. I just grabbed it and started taking it. When I learned about the potential for hearing loss and kidney malfunction by overdoing it, I was not doing my lithium under the guidance of my doctor or my therapist. I was like, “I’m going to grab it off the shelf and try it.” Whitney and I are not clinically licensed therapists, physicians or herbalists. The danger in trying things without supervision or guidance is you can try something like lithium and do some damage to yourself if you’re doing a higher dosage than what your body needs. To back up what Whitney said, do this with an abundance of caution. Find a good holistic doctor if you can in your area and do these things gradually and slowly.
Try not to self-diagnose either. I can’t remember how much I have shared publicly on the show about my curiosity about ADHD. I had an appointment with a psychiatrist because that was what my doctor recommended as a starting point. When I got to the appointment, the psychiatrist disclosed that she was not able to officially evaluate me. She did listen to me explain my symptoms and then she said that she suspected I didn’t have ADHD, but she wasn’t able to fully conclude that. My point in bringing this up is that it can be a long process. Jason is a great example of this. He’s been trying to get to the root of his mental health challenges for a long time. I’ve witnessed it myself for as long as we’ve known each other. It can be frustrating.
Sometimes it’s easy to take a shortcut and try to fix it yourself or self-diagnose. Have the patience to do a lot of trial and error. This psychiatrist was recommending that instead of getting evaluated for ADHD, I seek out regular therapy. It didn’t sound like she was the best fit for me on my needs. She said openly to me that it’s going to take a lot of trial and error to find the right therapist for me. I appreciated her saying that to me. First of all, it didn’t seem like I needed a psychiatrist specifically. They are able to prescribe medication. Going to a different type of therapist who might not be able to prescribe medication could help you work through the emotional elements, which she thinks is the main thing that I need.
I appreciated her reminding me that it’s going to take some trial and error because I’ve been hesitant for the past few years to go back to therapy after feeling like I was striking out with therapists. I’ve seen at least three therapists over the years. The first one I saw was wonderful. She was a psychiatrist and she helped me out. I lucked out by finding her. I remember the second one, we didn’t connect and I didn’t feel like she understood me. It felt frustrating. I didn’t want to continue seeing her. I don’t remember if there was another one that I tried out. I do remember that I tried another therapist and there was zero connection. I did two sessions with her. I didn’t feel like it helped me at all. It was frustrating that I didn’t seek out therapy in the past few years.
Seeing this psychiatrist, she thinks that would be helpful for me in more ways than I even recognized. I was in a combination of denial about how impactful therapy would be for me because I had this idea which was a little in my ego of like, “I don’t need therapy. I read self-help books, personal development books, and wellness books all the time. I have this podcast.” I was like, “What’s a therapist going to do for me?” I feel like I’m teaching myself these things all the time. That mentality was also stemming from the fact that in those few experiences that I had because they weren’t the right fit, I felt like I could help myself more than someone else could help me.
The same can be true with medication whether it’s natural, holistic, herbal versus pharmaceutical. Sometimes we can try something and if it doesn’t work for us right away, we’re like, “That doesn’t work for us.” To your point, Jason, the dosage of medication, regardless of its source, is incredibly important. That’s exactly why working with a professional who can guide you through is so key. It took me a long time to realize this. Now, I want to embark upon using my desire to self-diagnose as a clue that I can bring to a professional and say, “What do you think about this?”
In general, that can be helpful because sometimes, a doctor has not heard of something but they may be willing to explore it with you to decide if it’s a good fit. There have been many times that I’ve brought something to a doctor’s attention and they said, “I didn’t consider that.” You can do it together. That’s where I’m at on my journey of figuring out my mental health. It’s trial and error. There’s nothing wrong with doing the explorations that we’re doing and something like Ghost Pipe. Now I know, “Let me bring this to my doctor next and see what they think.” Also, finding a doctor who’s willing to explore these different elements of Eastern and Western treatments.
I want to reflect back to you on what you said about coming from your ego, reading the books, taking the courses, doing self-study, being on your path and thinking, “What the hell is therapy going to do for me?” I had a similar mentality prior to seeing my therapist, Gary. It was one of the reasons that I didn’t seek out therapy sooner. If I look back on my history with mental health, depression and suicidal ideation, I could have benefited from going years earlier. The reason I didn’t is because of my ego. It was like, “I’m a wellness practitioner. I lecture all over the world talking about food and functional nutrition. I don’t need a therapist.” It was so much like, “I’m Jason Wrobel. Look who I am. I’m some big deal.”
That ego you’re talking about prevented me from getting help years prior. Who knows what the outcome would have been had I gone when I first started to feel that deep depression and those incessant suicidal thoughts. I could have benefited 3 to 4 years prior. I first started going to therapy in 2014. If I’m honest about it, I could have easily started going in 2009, 2010. It was that ego part of me of not being able to admit that I also needed help. There’s this archetype of healer heal thyself that a lot of people who are drawn to wellness, the healing arts, nutrition, holistic practices because they need healing as well. I certainly fit into that archetype. Now I’m over seven years into doing therapy. I’m over seven years into having an intense and regimented approach to figuring this out for myself. Had I let go of my ego, I would have done it sooner.
The other thing I want to say is when we’re talking about experimenting with new herbs, new vitamins, new minerals, if one wants to go the pharmaceutical route, we’re certainly not judging your choices here. What works for one person may not work for you. I’ve done this where people were like, “You need to try this.” I went on it for about a month and a half and I didn’t notice anything. The relentless willingness to experiment with this and see what works for your biochemistry is a critical point to make here. It’s one of the issues that I have and I’ve done this a million times. When I say this, I am also certainly looking at myself.
When we go into Whole Foods or a natural foods market, we go to the supplement section, we talk to the person working at Whole Foods and say, “I’ve been struggling with depression. I’ve been struggling with brain fog. I don’t feel well. Can you recommend something?” They give you a formula off the shelf. I know that everyone’s intentions are probably for the best here. The analogy I like to use is putting a blindfold on and trying to hit the bull’s eye on a dartboard. It could be tryptophan. It could be your B complex vitamins. It could be your D3. Here take all this crap.”
When you go in and do that approach and you have four different formulas with all this stuff, you don’t know which vitamin or nutrient in the said supplement is giving you the boost or not. Having guidance on this journey is important because we could just do a shotgun approach and not know what the hell is working or isn’t working. I say that out of my experience. For me, I don’t go to the natural food store unless I know exactly what I’m going in for, and I am well-informed on what that may do to assist me. I’m not going in blind and I never asked the employees. No disrespect to the employees but they’re not doctors and they’re not herbalists.
That reminds me of how incredibly helpful it is to track your symptoms, energy and mood. I’ve mentioned this on This Hits The Spot, which is our private podcast. For those of you that don’t know about it yet, This Hits The Spot is all of our product recommendations, services, anything that we’re loving. It’s a positive, uplifting and shorter version of this show, which you can get by signing up for our newsletter or supporting us on Patreon. In one of those episodes, I talked about this app called Bearable that I started trying out. It has been a game-changer for me. I love this app so much. If you want to learn about all the details on it, go check out the This Hits The Spot episode.
I’ve been tracking my mood, my energy, and what I’m taking every single day. I feel a little unsure about sharing this but I’m here to be transparent. I’m experimenting with pharmaceutical medication. It’s important for me to say that because any fear I have is somebody judging me like, “How dare you.” People have judged me for getting the COVID vaccine. It was helpful to receive judgment on that because I know that I feel good about getting the vaccine. I know that I spent time researching it and I made the decision that it was best for me.Receiving judgment is helpful because it makes you feel more confident about your decisions. Click To Tweet
I do not regret it whatsoever at this point. It’s possible that I may have long-term health impacts from it. I am open to that. For me, the pros of the vaccine outweighed getting the cons. I’ve had a few expressions of, “I can’t believe you got the vaccine. I thought you were wellness-minded.” First of all, I don’t think that’s mutually exclusive. I’m not here to get on my pedestal about the vaccine. I’m saying that the pushback I received was helpful in me feeling more confident about my decisions. I’ve struggled my whole life trusting my decisions. I’ve struggled with regret and shame.
Now I’m working on owning up to my decisions, especially when they’re permanent decisions. You can’t take back getting the vaccine. What I can take back, in some ways, is choosing how long I experiment with the pharmaceutical drug. At this moment, I’m not comfortable sharing which one I’m taking but it was prescribed to me by my doctor. We talked through it. I did a lot of research. I looked at my symptoms, which I’ve been tracking. I said, “I want to know if this will help me.” If it does help me, I’ve got an option for myself. If it doesn’t help me, I can experiment with something else. Also, if it does help me, that doesn’t mean I have to stick with it. I can know where I need support and I can look for other alternatives.
That’s another important element of this conversation. Experimenting, having flexibility and a willingness also is part of the ego conversation. I’ve gone through all sorts of phases with my ego in terms of judgments. It’s tough to work through all the variables. I’ve learned to have a lot of compassion. Decision fatigue is a huge issue. Not many people have the stamina to weigh out all the options for themselves, especially when mental health is a concern. Sometimes you do not know until you try something.
Going back to the vaccine and this is timely, COVID-19, if I’ve learned anything from it is that we do not know that much about it. Every single day, I see some news about it that surprises me. It’s one of those things that I’m recognizing my ego involved with that but other people’s ego. To have your ego involved at all with something as serious as COVID-19 is dangerous. The same thing is true with mental health. When your ego gets in the way, it can be a matter of life or death in these cases, truly. It’s important to have mental flexibility for yourself in your decisions, to have patience knowing that this is a long-term process, and also recognize that there‘s a lot of experimenting and unknown.
I don’t think it has served me to get overwhelmed to the point that I don’t try anything. That has been harder on my mental health. When I’ve leaned into things and had the willingness to change my mind, the willingness to experiment, that’s where I get more answers. A lot of these perspectives on what you should or shouldn’t do, even a doctor struggles to give you the right information. If these people that have dedicated their whole lives to studying health still do not have a definite answer, we’re all figuring this out. That’s an important part of this conversation. I want to urge you, the reader, to do your best not to judge others for the decisions they’re making.
As I’ve monitored my mood going back to all of that tracking, the more I’ve studied things like ADHD, neuro divergence and the brain, I’ve also learned that many people approach life differently based on the way that their brains work. You can’t assume that the way you process information and make decisions is the same as somebody else. It’s unfortunate when friends, family members, anyone in your life comes to you or even to your point, Jason, somebody at a natural food store tries to project onto you their own beliefs and their own decision making. Especially if you’re someone in a vulnerable position who’s trying to figure out what’s best.
The psychiatrists that I saw did such a beautiful job at listening to me, asking some questions and giving me some options while also acknowledging that each option was not definite. She even used the term, “There’s no magic pill.” I was grateful when she said that to me because there’s such a tendency for us to try to find some magic to make ourselves feel better. I could tell this woman had a lot of experience and she still was like, “I don’t know what’s going to work for you. You’re going to have to try some things. Here are some places I recommend that you start.” That works well for me in terms of an approach to what’s going to make me feel better.
Isn’t that the goal, feeling better? Why do we go work with a therapist, shaman, doctor or healer in the first place? We want to feel better. What you’re describing is one of the most innate primal human drives. It’s not escapism from pain. When we are suffering for a long enough period of time with a mental or physical malady, it’s our natural inclination to not just want to feel better but want relief. On whatever level, every human being on the planet who is alive and who has ever lived has suffered. Engendering that compassion, that’s my belief, knowing that people who are strangers to us are silently suffering from something we don’t know.
You and I, Whitney, have received emails. I’ve received a litany of DMs from people who are in the case of mental health, “You should not do pharmaceuticals because SSRIs will get you addicted. They’ll co-opt your serotonin production. You’ll be addicted. The comedown is horrible.” Other people are saying, “Pharmaceuticals have saved me.” I have friends, artists who said, “This was the last thing. I went on pharmaceuticals and it saved me from killing myself.” When you break down the vaccine as a mirror of that, we’ve received messages from people specifically criticizing the fact that we talk openly about vaccines. We’re not anti-vax. You’ve received it. We’ve had critical messages like that. I’ve had critical messages from pro-vaxxers, anti-vaxxers and the whole lot. It continues.
I’ve had people message me. I’ve had probably close to ten people who are like, “What’s your opinion on the vaccine?” I’m like, “First of all, I’m not a doctor, virologist or biologist. I’m a chef with a nutrition background.” There’s a part of me that’s like, “What are you asking me for? I haven’t worked in a lab with viruses.” I’m careful with my interactions with people because people have so much agenda wrapped up in all this. Their agenda is that they want to be right. Why do they want to be right? If they’re right, they will feel safe and in control. By feeling safe and in control, they feel better.
We’re going back around this primal urge of humanity not wanting to be afraid, not wanting to suffer, and not wanting to be in pain. When people anchor themselves to such certainty about what is happening in the world and they believe their narrative, they feel safer and more secure. Going back to Alan Watts who I’ve referenced many times on this show, one of my favorite authors and lecturers, he has this incredible book called The Wisdom of Insecurity. His point is you want to know because ultimately, you’re afraid of death.
The most primal fear of humanity is dying. Even if it’s ego death and your being wrong about what you think is real is a form of psychological or spiritual death to you, your perception of it. We tried to inoculate ourselves against ego death by being right and self-righteous. The pro-vaxxers, the anti-vaxxers, everyone who’s like, “You’re wrong, I’m right. Fuck you.” They’re doing it because they’re afraid. They probably wouldn’t be like, “I’m not afraid. I’m a warrior. I’m standing for truth.” “Sure, Frank. Sure, you are.” People are terrified and they’re unwilling to admit it. It’s my opinion.
I can see where you’re coming from. To my knowledge, I have not had COVID. Being in this time of the pandemic has been mentally expanding for me because I have gone through many different perspectives on it. I’ve been experiencing gaslighting a ton and that was such a great lesson for me because it revealed where my insecurities were. It revealed to me where my boundaries are. Every single friend of mine has approached COVID differently in terms of strong beliefs, neutral beliefs, or deciding to get the vaccine versus not, people that treated masking and staying at home differently than others.
It was an in my face lesson of how every single person is different. Not one person that I know in my life has reacted to COVID the same. What a beautiful thing to take note of. We’re not all on the same page and that’s okay. It’s tricky because there’s a lot of pressure for us to come together to resolve this. At the same time, we don’t know if any of those measures are going to have a long-term impact. Time is a huge element of this too. There’s been a lot of encouragement to get the vaccine. Now we’re finding out that the vaccine may not be as protective as some people have believed and that’s interesting. Does that make me regret getting it? Absolutely not. My perspective is I feel grateful that I got it because from the data that I’ve seen thus far, it reduced my chance of getting hospitalized.
As COVID has gone on, I’ve recognized I don’t want to get COVID. I know people that have had COVID. It sounds miserable. I would prefer not to suffer in that way. I also recognize that even though I have the vaccine, I may still get it and I may still suffer. Also, to your point, Jason, there is this mentality, “I’m going to get the vaccine and I’m not going to get COVID. The symptoms are going to be minimal, I won’t even notice them.” It turns out, that might not be true. We don’t have all the answers yet. They may be temporary answers and then things may change.When your ego gets in the way of something serious, it can be a matter of life and death. Click To Tweet
The other thing is that it helped me recognize and gives me the ability to bite my tongue at times. I’ve started to feel concerned about COVID, which is unfortunate. I was fully vaccinated in mid-June 2021. It was a sigh of relief. From a mental health standpoint, that felt good. To your point earlier, the word relief, I experienced a lot of that. I remember going out and the CDC was saying, “If you’re vaccinated, you don’t have to wear your mask at all.” It was like, “This is relieving. I’m grateful.” It felt good to go to a grocery store, hang out with friends and travel a bit.
A few weeks after I felt all that relief, things started to change again. I’m like, “Back to wearing my mask all the time. Back to not socializing as much. Back to physical distancing.” It’s a bummer. To be honest, I’ve had to bite my tongue several times with you because I’ve wanted to send you things and be like, “Are you sure you don’t want to get the vaccine? Everybody’s saying to get the vaccine now. I’m worried about you.” I get scared sometimes for you and other friends that have still not chosen to get the vaccine. I’m afraid that if you got it, you would be hospitalized and maybe die from it. I have that fear. Whether that fear is fully valid, I don’t know.
I do know that I’m picking it up from information. Whether that information is fully valid, I also don’t know but I have that fear and that fear is valid for me. When we have fear, that’s our interpretation of information that we’re getting. Even though I have that fear, I’ve still found the strength to know that that’s my fear and not yours. I have learned through other people’s reactions to me, and pressures and judgment. I don’t want to pass that on to others. It’s been rough and I’m scared for friends of mine who’ve chosen not to get the vaccine but it’s not my place to make that decision for them or judge them for their decisions. That’s been an important lesson for me.
I’m glad you said that, Whitney. Have I felt pressure? I haven’t felt pressure around it to be vaccinated. I’ve mentioned this in previous episodes. I received my essential vaccines as a child. Prior to my surgery, after my motorcycle accident, the hospital required me to get a flu vaccine because one of the shards of bone was dangerously close to puncturing my lung. They were like, “We don’t want your lung to collapse.” I’m like, “Fine. I’m not going to sit here with a broken body. You need to do the surgery. Give me the shot.” That being said, politically speaking, I’m not pro or anti. My stance on this is each person having informed consent and doing what they feel in terms of logic and intuition, either or both, leads them to do.
I’ve had some people say, “How are we going to get to herd immunity if everyone’s a rugged individualist?” The capitalist Western mindset is everyone’s out for themselves, which I do agree with. An intrinsic part of one of the problems of a toxic capitalist Western mentality is, “This is my thing and this is my way. Screw everyone else.” We do have a rugged American frame on life in that way, which in some ways has led to some incredible innovations and wonderful breakthroughs in humanity. In other ways, it has caused a lot of issues. We won’t get into all those issues. There are too many to discuss at this moment.
Speaking of mindset, one of the things that I take umbrage with that is scientifically inaccurate with this whole conversation is I’ve heard phrases like, “We need to conquer COVID. We need to beat COVID. We need to destroy COVID.” These are all American concepts. When we perceive a threat, what do we do? Historically, what have we done? We’ve killed a lot of people, haven’t we? We’ve gone in, we’ve bombed people, and we’ve dropped nuclear warheads on countries. We’ve occupied different countries that we had no business being there. People are going, “Jason is anti-American.” I’m not anti-American. I’m anti-colonialism. I’m anti-war unnecessarily so. The American way, historically speaking, has been to go in and destroy things when we perceive them as a threat.
Here’s the rub. I didn’t know this until I did some research. I had no idea this was the case. The influenza virus, the regular seasonal flu that we have all know since childhood is a weakened version of the original influenza virus that started 100 years ago with the Spanish flu. I never knew that. This idea that we are going to “eradicate” COVID, beat COVID, kill COVID, I’m not a virologist but looking scientifically at other violent strains, we’re not going to kill it or destroy it. It’s going to continue to be around. Perhaps if you look at the predictability models, much like the 100-plus years we’ve been living with the Spanish Flu that is now the seasonal flu we all get right. It could be that 50, 70, 100 years from now, COVID is this seasonal flu. We’ll get it, we’ll feel like shit and it probably won’t kill us.
I understand the idea of wanting to achieve “herd immunity.” This erroneous mentality that we’re going to beat it, kill it or conquer it is simply not true scientifically. We may dilute it. Over the years, it may mutate and we get these variants. Everyone’s going crazy over Delta but the science shows that it’s not going away. It’s going to be with us for God knows how long. We’ve been over 100 years with the regular seasonal flu. I want to make that point. The umbrage I take with this fight against COVID is we’re not going to destroy it. We might build immunity toward it. We might weaken the severity of the response in our bodies but we’re not beating this thing into oblivion to where it never comes back again. That’s simply a misnomer.
First of all, I want to ask your permission because you don’t have to answer this, especially because we’re talking about this publicly. If you’re willing to share your thought process, where are you now with this? You said that you don’t feel pressure. This is truly from my perspective in the sources that I’ve been exposed to. From my perspective, it feels a bit frightening. I’m curious, do you have fear about getting COVID? Do you have any thought in your head of like, “If I got COVID, what if I went into the hospital?” Given that many people around you have chosen to get the vaccine, Jason, why are you still hesitant about it? Is there any part of you that’s considering it? Do you feel like you’ve made up your mind? Is it temporary? I’m curious.
You’re not the only one I know. I don’t want to put people in categories but there are people I respect, trust, and know that they’re not just hesitant because of some unconscious fear but they’ve weighed out the pros and cons for themselves and decided that they don’t want to get it. I’m curious about that. I’m also curious, are you taking measures to prevent yourself from getting COVID? Are you a little bit more relaxed and like, “I’m either going to get it or not. I’m not concerned if I get it.” Where are you from all those different points of view?
To give you a framework, I went out to get breakfast and I felt uncomfortable being out. I felt uncomfortable walking down the street because there were several people not wearing masks. We’re in Los Angeles. Who knows? There’s that fear of all the unknown. It’s starting to make me feel scared about being around strangers and scared about being around people who are more relaxed about COVID than me. It sucks to be back in that place. To be honest, that’s where I’m at. I’m afraid of getting COVID. It’s stressful for me. I’d rather socially isolate myself for some more time than experience that stresses because I don’t want to get COVID. I’m scared of the long-term and the short-term elements of it. With all that said, I’m curious about where you’re at with it mentally and if you have any fear. Do you have fear of the vaccine? Do you have fear of getting COVID? I want to know it all if you’re open to sharing it.
I’m happy to share. I want to figure out where I want to begin with all of it. First and foremost, I’ve been sick. If you’ve seen me on our YouTube channel blowing my nose, turning away from the microphone and coughing, I have either had a cold or the flu. I went to go get a COVID test and it was negative. I was concerned because the first four days, I was coughing up all kinds of rainbow phlegm. My breath was short. I was having sweats. I was having a fever. I’m looking at the symptoms of COVID-19 going, “A lot of this checkout.”
After two weeks, I feel good. I have been quarantined at home not just in case I had COVID but if I have a cold or the flu, I don’t want to pass it to anyone. I’ve only left the house twice to go to the natural food store, to get vitamin C, elderberry, echinacea, zinc, the whole shot. The whole time that this has been going on, I feel like I have been adamant about wearing a mask in public, washing my hands using sanitizer, and doing those protocols.
People have asked me, “Don’t you feel like your civil liberties are being taken away by being asked to wear a mask everywhere?” I don’t mind wearing a mask. I have a comfortable mask. It’s comfortable on my face. It’s made from organic cotton and silver threads. There’s silver embedded. I have three layers in it. Wearing a mask is not a big deal to me. Some people are up in arms about it from a liberty and freedom perspective. I don’t give a crap. Do you want me to wear a mask? Fine. I don’t care.
The issue and the reason that I have not been vaccinated yet is I read articles and I see videos every single day about this. I feel that from a perspective of the efficacy of the vaccines themselves, scientifically speaking, this is from Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson, we are “in a clinical trial.” What is happening on the planet is a public clinical trial. That means that the FDA has approved these for emergency use only. They have not been fully authorized by the Food and Drug Administration. That’s a fact. I’m only going to say what I know to be a fact when we talk about it.Each person should have informed consent and do what they feel - in terms of logic and intuition - leads them to do. Click To Tweet
The other thing is the information changes frequently. The CDC issued an article saying that they are investigating more research that it could be that fully vaccinated people have similar or potentially even equal amounts of viral load as unvaccinated people. That’s interesting because to this point, I was under the impression that getting the vaccine meant that the viral load was decreased and therefore the transmissibility was reduced. However, the CDC says that may not be the case. If that is true scientifically, the viral load could be similar or equal, the transmissibility of the virus is not significantly reduced, then those are two strikes against getting the vaccine, in my opinion.
The big one has been a reduction in mortality risk or long-term hospitalization, which is still the case. Scientifically, if you get the vaccine, your symptoms and the risk of hospitalization as far as I understand it at this moment seem to be holding water. This goes back to fear though because if I’m looking at it and I go, “The viral load thing looks to maybe be awash. The transmissibility looks to be awash. Maybe it will reduce my risk of death or hospitalization.” It then comes down to, “Am I more afraid of getting full-blown COVID or more afraid of the potential side effects of an experimental vaccine that is not fully approved by the Food and Drug Administration? What am I more afraid of?”
The reality is I’m more afraid of the potential side effects of an experimental vaccine than I am getting COVID. That’s where I’m at and that is why I’m not vaccinated. Could I get COVID? Yes. Could I be hospitalized? Yes. Could I die? Yes. Could I also get the vaccine and get God knows permanent facial paralysis like a colleague of ours? Could I get tremors and neurological disorders? There are videos out there that are heartbreaking. People have been posting their children, their teenagers, twenty-somethings and older with tremors, uncontrollable body shakes, neurological disorders, body paralysis as side effects of these vaccines. I’m not saying that is a guaranteed outcome when I say this. When I say this, I’m not an anti-vaxxer. Where I’m at is my fear of having permanent neurological damage or bodily harm is greater than my fear of contracting COVID-19. That’s where I am at this moment.
Thank you for sharing that. It’s interesting too because I have not seen any of those videos. Part of why I asked is we can easily get into a bubble. We see the same information over and over again. The information in my bubble is leaning towards pro-vax, COVID fear, and a lot of stress and anxiety about it. I recognize that. I also feel hesitant about some of the videos that you’re seeing. I find myself questioning them a lot. Not to say that I don’t believe them but I’m questioning them. That is coming from a bias towards some of the anti-vax. I know several people personally that are anti-vax.
It seems very extreme. I tend to shy away from extreme things. I don’t want anyone to force me or others to do things. I don’t enjoy the all-or-nothing perspectives. You and I agree on that, Jason. It’s fascinating. I’m willing to see opposite perspectives as mine. I’ve already chosen to get the vaccine. As far as I’m aware, there’s no turning back. I hear what you’re saying. It comes down to the fact that you and I have different perspectives. I’m more afraid of the long-term effects of COVID for which they’re still figuring this out. Studies are showing that since it’s been around, there are long-lasting impacts of which I don’t want to experience.
I’ll protect their associations to me out of privacy’s sake, but someone near and dear to me got COVID after being vaccinated. They don’t know for sure that they spread it but someone else in their work environment also got it. Maybe they got it from one another. The day-to-day experience that this person is having sounds like nothing I would like to experience. It’s interesting. That’s what it comes down to for me, Jason. You articulated it well. I would rather not get COVID. I would rather take my chances with the vaccine.
Thus far, I have had zero symptoms from the vaccine that I’m aware of. I’ve been to the doctor. I’ve had my bloodwork done. I’ve been to a body-worker. I’ve seen a psychiatrist. I’ve seen three different professionals since I got the vaccine. As far as I know, I’m all checked out. That doesn’t mean that I won’t have some long-term effect like you’re explaining, Jason. It almost feels like damned if you do, damned if you don’t. Do you feel that way? If you get COVID, it could be bad. If you get the vaccine, it could be bad.
Ultimately, it comes down to where you feel the most comfortable taking your risks. Unless you want to completely isolate yourself, that’s the other option. Don’t see anybody and get everything delivered. Even then, is having things delivered to you still a risk? Who the hell knows? For anyone who saw the show Sweet Tooth, this isn’t a spoiler but there is a virus in that show. One of the characters completely goes off to isolate himself and grows his own food out in the wilderness. I’m not at a place in my life where I want to do that. In my opinion, I chose the lesser of two evils and it sounds like you also have, Jason.
I’m much closer than you to want to go out into the woods and take all of my animals and grow my own food and be like, “Deuces.” I’m way closer to that. How that will manifest in my life remains to be seen. I’m done with city life. We’ve talked about this in previous episodes of my visions and my plans for moving. What you’re describing, Whitney, is where do you want to put your bet on the blackjack table? Am I gambling by not being vaccinated? Sure. I’m well aware of it. Am I also gambling by being fully vaccinated? You’re right. It’s about where I’m putting my chips on the blackjack table is what’s happening and I’m fully aware that I am risking something by 1 of those 2 approaches. For me, it’s a daily exploration into where I am putting my proverbial chips.
The other thing I want to say is I mentioned the word informed consent when you were asking me about my perspective and why I’m choosing what I’m choosing with the vaccine. Friends of ours have sent me the ingredient lists in the vaccines because they knew that I’m mindful of what I put in my body, not just in terms of supplements, the water I drink, the food that I eat. For years, I’ve been a staunch label reader. I’m very much like our friend and former guest, Vani Hari, The Food Babe. I’m adamant about researching foods, ingredients, additives and preservatives. I want to know what is this thing I’m putting into my body.
That being said, with these ingredient lists for all three of the major vaccines, in particular, the ones that are using the mRNA technology, the Pfizer and Moderna, they have disclosed their ingredient list. I’ve researched some of the preservatives, some of the stabilizers and things like that. Those don’t concern me too much. What concerns me is they are not publicly disclosing the ingredients for which they have used to sequence the mRNA gene code that they are putting in the vaccine.
People have asked, they said, “You need to disclose these to the public. What are you using to synthesize and create the genetic code for the mRNA strain that you’re putting in the vaccine?” They said, “We won’t tell you.” Groups have said, “Why won’t you tell us?” They said, “It’s proprietary and it’s intellectual property. It’s our IP.” They said, “You have to release that to the public.” They said, “Legally, we don’t have to.” They don’t have to.
My concern is they’re waving the flag and hunkering down into the fact that they have intellectual property over the ingredients, the technology and the sequence that’s gone in to create the mRNA. I want to know what it is. Probably millions of people want to know. Is it aborted fetal tissue? Is it human-derived? Is it animal-derived? Is it from cadavers? We don’t know because the corporations won’t release it to the public. That’s a huge red flag to me.
I know they’re saying it under the guise of, “We need to protect our profits. We need to protect our IP.” I get that from a corporate perspective. They want to maximize their billions. In terms of informed consent with a public who is in a clinical trial testing phase, if you’re not going to tell me what you’ve used to create the genetic sequence that’s going in my body, that’s a big red flag to me. Will they ever release it? We don’t know. That’s my biggest concern. When I look at the ingredient list, that intentional omission concerns the crap out of me. That’s another reason I haven’t taken it. They refuse to release it to the public.
Everything that you’ve shared is valid to me even though I’ve made a different decision. I hope that our conversation about this has demonstrated to others that you can feel strongly or neutral about something. You can make a decision and still respect people that make a different decision. Unlike some other things like your diet, you can’t take back getting the vaccine. I’m still interested and I’m still open. I could have made a big health mistake. I could find that out later on in my life. I have no idea.You can feel strongly about something and still respect people that make different decisions. Click To Tweet
Another thing too is I’m not going to choose ignorance over my decisions. I’m open to finding out that I might have not made the best choice but that’s true with so much in life. It’s like a sliding door thing. It’s like, “What if I had done this? What if I’d done that?” That revealed within me that I’ve made a lot of progress because I’ve spent so much of my life trying to do the right thing based on what other people thought was the right thing. Now I’m getting to a place where I’m doing the right thing for me.
Many times, I found myself wanting to get permission, “Let me see if other people agree with my decision?” I would feel frustrated when someone would go, “It’s up to you.” I couldn’t stand that. The truth is it is up to us for the most part, at least up until now. Jobs are now requiring the vaccine. There’s a lot of proof of vaccination trends happening, which I don’t fully agree with. I can understand why but it’s a lot of fear and pressure. Fortunately, it seems like there are plenty of places that are saying, “Proof of vaccine or a negative COVID test.” I hope it stays that way.
For the sake of someone like you, Jason, I believe in your right to choose what you insert into your body. Even though there might be ramifications, you should be able to choose. I don’t feel comfortable living in a place where the government or other people pressure you or force you into doing something. I’m not okay with that. Having our free will is incredibly important to me. I hope that it stays that way. I also hope that we get enough data to show where the risks are and have more guidance.
It is unfortunate to me that we’re not in sync. There are plenty of people walking around without masks on. Even though in cities like Los Angeles, we have the mask mandate again. To me, that is frustrating because I would like us all to be on the same page when it comes to masks. Yes, I see what some people say about their freedom but wearing a mask is such a minimal thing. From my perspective, the desire to not wear a mask feels like an act of rebellion. I have not been convinced enough as to why not wear a mask. If anything, I’m a super pro–mask. What’s the harm in wearing one? I don’t find them super comfortable, to be honest. I don’t like the way it feels to breathe in a mask.
I don’t think I told you this, Jason. I went to Panda Express to try the new Beyond Meat Orange Chicken that they have there. I thought it’d be fun. Everybody in there was wearing masks. I asked a question about one of the other dishes. I don’t even know if I’d ever been to Panda Express, certainly not since I went vegan. Do they use animal products in their greens? I’m shouting over the counter to the woman on the other side, I’m like, “Is it vegan?” She could not understand me. Over and over again, “Is it vegan?” It was something about the word vegan that my mask was preventing her from understanding me and it was frustrating.
I remember I was in a grocery store and I had a similar experience. As a knee-jerk reaction, I completely pulled down my mask and ask the question. I was like, “I can’t believe I did that.” I did not do that at Panda Express. I’ve learned not to. I get it, wearing a mask is not a walk in the park. It’s uncomfortable at times. It seems like a relatively easy thing to do to protect your health and that of others in my opinion. That’s a whole other topic. Thank you for having this discussion, Jason. My last question for you is what were you planning to talk about before we got into this? I thought we were going to talk about Ghost Pipe and then completely switch directions. Do you want to share what the topic was? Should we leave it for next time? We could do it as a teaser.
I’ll tease it because I feel like it is apropos of this conversation.
I figured it would be. I have a feeling there’s going to be some segue transition into your topic. We’re not going to get into it now but maybe we can discuss it in the next episode.
The thing I want to discuss is the mechanics and the psychology of overcoming and dealing with regret. I feel like that’s interesting because we are talking about health and health choices. I’ve been ruminating on a lot of regrets in my life. I want to dissect regret, the feelings of regret, and also share some tips that I’ve been reading on how to overcome serious regrets. That’s our next episode of This Might Get Uncomfortable.
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