Why We Broke Up

I mentioned in a couple of recent posts that I “couldn’t go back” to see Tabitha, the psychiatric nurse practitioner who has been prescribing medications and supplements for me for the past five years. I thought I’d take a minute here to explain why that is.

But first–I do want to say that in many ways, Tabitha has been awesome. She’s a very caring person who is very invested in how her clients are doing. When I was struggling a lot, she would text to check up on me, sometimes even on the weekend. For a person like me, who longs to be seen and cared for, that feels great. When I had even more trouble getting off Effexor than her most sensitive client in the past, she undertook extra research and consultation to try to figure out what would be most helpful. I’m grateful for that commitment on her part.

I saw Tabitha for our most recent–and final–session at the end of May. I hadn’t met with her, in person or online, for six months, because I’d been feeling okay and stable on my current combination of medications and supplements. But I’m required to check in at least every six months just so she can keep renewing my prescriptions. This time we met in person, for the first time since before the pandemic.

There was a big sign on the front door that said, “Masks are still required in medical settings; please wear a mask at all times in this office.” I dutifully pulled on my surgical mask and sat down in the waiting room.

Five minutes later, Tabitha came out of her office, maskless. We greeted each other happily, and she said, “Oh, do you want me to wear a mask?”

“Um, I thought masks were required? It says so on your front door…” I was confused.

“Oh, that’s just Jerry,” she explained, referring to the therapist who uses the other room of her office. “I wear one when he is around, because it’s important to him, and I’ll wear one if you want me to.”

“No, that’s okay,” I said, taking mine off. I figured it was only the two of us in the building, and anyway, I’ve been vaccinated plus boosted twice, and rates aren’t terribly high right now. And to be honest, I guess I am just really sick of masks and prefer to skip them if it seems reasonable.

So we sat down in her office, I gave her a few updates, she asked about my sleep, my mood, all the usual things. Then we talked about lowering my dose of Cymbalta. Tabitha thought it wouldn’t be that bad. She is the one who had me start taking it a few years ago, when I was trying to come off Effexor. Her reasoning then was that it worked on the same neurotransmitters as Effexor, so it would somewhat replace the Effexor, but it would be easier on my system and easier to get off of later.

I was less certain. I’ve come to expect that I often experience a lot of side effects and am very sensitive to relatively small changes in dosage. But I really did (and do) want to reduce and eventually come off the Cymbalta, and Tabitha agreed this was a reasonable goal.

After some discussion, we decided that I would first lower my dose from 40mg to 30mg. For two weeks, I would alternate, 40mg one day, 30mg the next. And after that, I would just move to 30mg every day. And that is what I’ve been doing, though it’s been a lot more difficult than I anticipated.

Okay, so far, so good. Then Tabitha said, “Are you vaccinated?”

“Sure,” I said, “and boosted–“

“Don’t do that anymore!” she said sharply.

What?!?

After that, I can’t recall the exact order of everything she said, but it was something like: These vaccines, they aren’t a good idea, they aren’t safe and might be very harmful. Some people have had some terrible reactions…

“Wait, are you against vaccines? But they have spared so many people! What about smallpox? Polio?”

Those are different, she insisted. The MRNA technology is different, even Robert Malone, the man who invented MRNA vaccines, says they aren’t safe and we shouldn’t take them. They want to use the vaccines to control us. They want to make us all vaccine-dependent.

I looked at her with surprise. “Who is ‘they’? Who wants to control us?”

“The government! The government and the CDC and the FDA and Big Pharma. They want to control what goes into us and just make us do what they want.” (This part I am sure she said, exactly like that.)

“That can’t be right. There are tens of thousands of people who work for the government, the CDC, the FDA and pharmaceutical companies. You can’t have a conspiracy with that many people trying to deceive everyone else. It won’t work. And anyway, the vaccine is helpful. Look who is hospitalized, look who dies from COVID now. It’s primarily people who haven’t been vaccinated.”

“Vaccinated people get sick too. They die too.”

“Yes, sometimes,” I acknowledged. “But the rates are very different. Unvaccinated people are much more likely to die from COVID.”

She switched gears then, dropping the topic of vaccine efficacy and instead told me, “No one needs to be dying of COVID…” Then she went on about how actually large doses of Vitamin D could save people. And even though they weren’t perfect, ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine were very helpful. But “they” don’t want us to know that, and they took these options away from doctors.

“Why would ‘they’ do that?” I asked. “Why would ‘they’ want people to die?”

She went on, something about how Bill Gates thought the world was over-populated, and it would be good if a lot of people died. It would be better for the planet, and that was his agenda, and he made those treatments be reported badly on and made them unavailable and that’s the only reason people were dying.

When it got to the point of Bill Gates as evil mastermind who was ensuring the millions of people died from COVID, I stopped asking questions. I stopped challenging her. I just felt surprised–and sad.

She went on to tell me that she had tried to keep quiet about this, but she felt compelled to share the truth with her clients because she wanted to protect us. She knew not everyone would want to hear it, but she had to speak out, even though she had already lost two clients for doing so.

Since I stopped engaging with her, we ended soon after that. She wrote me a prescription for the 30mg capsules of Cymbalta, and I thanked her. She said goodbye cheerfully, as usual, and told me to take care of myself.

I walked out to the car, shocked, confused. It took a few minutes before I said aloud, to myself, “Well, I can’t go back after that!”

I’ve thought of Tabitha a lot over this past month. I’ve asked myself how she came accept these unscientific conspiracy theories. I try to tell myself, well, she has seen the same problems I have seen with psych meds. She has increasingly turned to nutrition and supplements to help people help their mental health. Maybe that skepticism of the utility of pharmaceuticals gradually morphed into a giant distrust of mainstream medicine?

Then I wonder if some of her earlier recommendations to me were also based on unscientific ideas. Was I mistaken to try all the things I have tried? I have spent a huge amount of money on supplements that are supposed to boost my body’s ability to create or process amino acids that are the building blocks of neurotransmitters. Was that foolish?

When I have told others about this session with Tabitha, they are often quick to pass judgment on her: How stupid! What’s wrong with her! That’s unethical! In fact, E suggested I report her to some nursing oversight board. That makes me sad, too. I keep thinking about Tabitha believed she was doing the ethically correct, if risky, thing by “warning” me off COVID vaccines.

I really can’t imagine myself reporting her to anyone, though I am concerned about the advice she is giving out. But I also know that I can’t go back to her, not even once. I no longer trust her judgment. I don’t know what sources of information she relies on.

We live in an age of misinformation, and sometimes, I fear we are destined to end up not believing in anything.

15 comments

  1. I’ve been thoroughly surprised by educated people, holding doctorates even, believing what Thabita thinks. It’s up to you to report her or not. Hope you find a sensible psychiatrist to see you through the withdrawal of the meds. I want to wish you “good luck” but why it should take luck is sad.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Troubled times, you are so right! It is challenging to stay both rational and compassionate in the midst of all the craziness. I don’t want to descend into the fury and name-calling, but sometimes it is so frustrating!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Right!?! It IS distressing! This was the person I was relying on to sort through the scientific literature to figure out how to help me, and she buys into all this conspiracy stuff.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Wow. Hugs if wanted. I can’t imagine how absolutely shocking abd distressing this is for you.

    I have _some_ respect for how she sincerely believes the ethical thing is to warn clients even though she could be reported… and…a huge wow at medical professionals buying into all this conspiracy stuff.

    Like

    • Thanks, yes, hugs gladly accepted!

      It does make me soften to her that she thinks she is doing the kind, ethical, even brave thing of speaking up in what she thinks is my best interest. And it makes me sad. She is a genuinely kind person who wants to help people, unlike a lot of the purveyors of the many political and scientific lies floating around everywhere.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. BONKERS!!! I was going to make a Q Anon joke, since your name is Q, but it just isn’t funny. What a disappointment! It is so so so hard to find competent and affordable psychiatric care. I hope you can find someone else soon. I am a librarian who teaches college students how to locate, use, and evaluate information. I am working really, really hard to combat the infodemic culture, but oh it is worrisome and scary and hard.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You are doing crucial, heroic work, teaching people to become thoughtful seekers and interpreters of information. Thank you for that, and I hope many students are really soaking up your lessons!

      I have thought about Q Anon a number of times recently too and hope no one for a moment thinks that MY Q and THEIR Q have anything to do with one another! I’m not giving up my initial/nickname however. I had it first! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh blimey heck! I’d have left too. It must’ve come as quite a shock to hear her spouting that especially when you have needed her to be ‘logical’ and ‘rational’ in your treatment plan. Makes you wonder what random cocktails of heebie jeebie she would endorse. I’m sorry this has happened though. X

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks, RB. I’m sorry it happened too! How do highly educated, compassionate people fall for all the crazy conspiracy stuff?!? I have been thinking about this a lot lately–how we have arrived at this point in history where we (some of us) can’t even talk to each other (some other people) because our basic realities are so far apart.

      Anyway, crossing my fingers that someone “logical” and “rational” lies in my future. (Crossing my fingers is of course a very logical and rational way to get what I need, ha!)

      Liked by 2 people

      • I have no idea Q….it’s surely not that hard to do some research and reading… I wonder if she’s been taking that horse wormer?! I really hope the right person comes along to help you on the rest of this journey with managing meds and getting off others. I do think you did the right thing, though. x

        Liked by 1 person

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