This series of posts from Tumblr brings into focus the whole idea of “maintenance”. It’s a concept we sometimes confuse with healing…
I started using Head and Shoulders ten years ago for itchy scalp and dandruff, and then for ten years I have not had itchy scalp and dandruff, so I thought “why do I still buy shampoo to combat itchy scalp and dandruff when I do not have itchy scalp and dandruff,” so I stopped buying the shampoo for itchy scalp and dandruff and can you guess I have now? Can you predict what currently afflicts me? It’s alright if you can’t because apparently I fuckin couldn’t either
Cutting something out of your life because you think you don’t need it any more only to realize that it was in fact working as intended and preventing a problem that will return should you stop doing this is a good experiment to run periodically with something small like dandruff shampoo, lest you start to think it would be a good idea to do this with like let’s say public health and the social safety net and vaccines
I had a liver transplant when I was 14 and like six months later I was chatting with my surgeon and he said “there’s gonna come a time, probably when you’re a teenager, where you’re gonna think, ‘I feel great, why am I still taking all this medication? I haven’t needed it in years.’ and you’re gonna want to stop taking all this medication. Guess what’s gonna happen then? You’re gonna go into rejection and your liver is gonna start failing, and you’re gonna be dying again, and we’re gonna have to find you another liver. So don’t do that.” And I said “why the fuck would anyone do that?” and he said “people are stupid.”
every once in a while when I get annoyed by a pharmacy or don’t wanna get out of bed to do my drugs I think “ugh, this is dumb, why do I do this?” and that conversation slams into me like a truck and I remember that I am, in fact, stupid
This happens a TON with mental health medications. It’s why so many bipolar and schizophrenic people go off their meds a lot and it’s very hard to get them back on because a lot of people still hold that “but it didn’t help/do anything” mindset after, especially with a potentially skewed headspace.
It’s very easy to start to think maintenance isn’t doing anything. Then people wonder why it “suddenly” starts falling apart when it stops.
I know a good number of people who take false pride in “not taking drugs” — by which they really mean they don’t take (or minimize how many) drugs they do take. The thing is sometimes we actually need to augment the chemical balance of our chemical factory (otherwise known as our “body”). And of course how much medicine we need has nothing to do with whether we are meritorious, virtuous, or macho — our health is more a matter of genetics, environment, and accident than being due to any specific behavior.
And the idea that we have been feeling great for a time whilst taking meds but now suddenly we get the idea that we no longer need them, that we have healed, ignores the whole concept of maintenance.
We don’t stop changing oil in our car because there’s not a lot of dirt in our oil. In machinery we seem to grasp the idea of continuous maintenance, but want to forget it with our health.
Admittedly the cost of meds might be a concern for many, but don’t chintzy yourself into serious health complications just because you want to be cheap!