I don’t like to toot my own horn, but I’m a little bit of a DIY maven—not as much in the way of crafting as in salon services, home decor, and bicycle maintenance. This means I’ve tried enough crap myself to know when it’s not worth it or even just plain dangerous. Here are the top five things you should never, ever try to do yourself:
5. Fixing the toilet
I’m all about messing around with your household plumbing. Trial and error have taught me the best way to unclog a drain (toilet plunger), dissolve pipe scum (baking soda, vinegar, and a plug), and get the toothpaste cap out of the drain (chopsticks). But fuck up the toilet, and you’ve got a big, smelly, toxic mess going on up in this piece. One time, when a bunch of cat litter clogged up my toilet (that’s a whole ‘nother story), I plunged so many times and dug around in the tank until I was knee deep in cat litter and used toilet water… AND the toilet stopped working completely. Try explaining that to your landlord.
This one sounds like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised what is considered “surgery.” If you’ve cut yourself open for any reason, even if you’re just trimming a hangnail, you’ve had surgery. (N.B. You don’t have to list things like this on your insurance forms, though.) Obviously pulling out a splinter or a bee sting is something you can risk yourself, but when you try to remove your ingrown toenails yourself, it hurts, it’s ineffective, and it makes everything worse. Trust me, I’ve been there. Plus you can’t wear open-toed shoes for, like, a year afterward.
3. Diagnosing a disease
Continuing in the medical vein, let’s get serious for a moment. In an age of WebMD and Diagnose-Me, we’re loath to go to a real doctor when we perceive a symptom. Instead, we go online, and in mere moments, we’ve decided that we have a pregnancy, diverticulitis, or fibromyalgia. If we then “save money” by treating ourselves—holistically and all that shit—we run a risk of fucking up our bodies even more in an effort to save ourselves from what turned out to be merely a really bad case of heartburn and, therefore, having to spend more money to get it fixed by a professional. In 2008, my grandma died, and I slowly spiraled downward into depression. However, I opted to believe my low energy and bad mood were due to improper nutrition rather than depression, and thus began my worst-ever dietary experimentation: an eight-month foray into raw foods. I believe it can work for some, but it left me in worse condition than before. Insomnia, night terrors, breakouts, and diarrhea? Detox my ass.
2. Your wedding
Okay, so I’ve never been married. But I’ve been to enough weddings with large DIY components to know that it’s a huge pain in the ass with little payoff. You want to make your table centerpieces, your headpiece, your cake, and your dress yourself? Good luck, bridezilla. My philosophy on weddings is simple: Hire other people to make your day special. That way, you have much less stress, you’re not to blame if something goes wrong, and your guests can breathe a little easier knowing they don’t have to assemble a special playlist for your wedding, embroider your initials on a set of towels, or spill the potluck dish all over their outfits on the way to the chapel.
Whether it’s your eyebrows, your back, or—Lord help us—your crotch, waxing is something you should leave to the pros. I’ve been burned by hot wax kits, disappointed by wax strips, and left with skin so raw I practically have to wear a diaper. Also, I’ve made a mistake here and there; I thought no one would notice I only had one eyebrow, but I was wrong. In one particularly painful incident, I was giving myself a Brazilian bikini wax, and I got some hot wax stuck in my pubes and couldn’t grip it enough to rip it out. I laid there, sweating and swearing, yanking and tearing, until I gave up and just left it there. Good thing hair grows, or it would still be down there, a blight in my wild oats and a total boner killer.