Dangerous Compassions

tylenol as an emotional prn

mind blown

Oh hey, I learned something that blew my mind and that I can’t stop thinking about: tylenol as an emotional prn.  Yes, it’s a thing!  There are two parts of it that are blowing my mind.

how I learned about this

Ming was driving on a long trip, and his muscles hurt.  I asked, “Do you want tylenol?” because I happened to have some in my emotional first aid kit that was with me.

“I’m afraid it’s soporific,” he said.

“Why would it be soporific?” I asked.  Ming has narcolepsy, so staying awake is a big life quest for him.

“Well, I gave it to a lot of people in the hospital when they couldn’t sleep,” Ming said.  He used to be a nurse.

“Yeah, ok,” I said.  “But I thought it helped them fall asleep because they were no longer in pain.”

“Maybe,” Ming said.

“Let me look it up,” I said.  I was curious, so I got on my phone and tried to find out.

tylenol and moods

I was amazed by what I found.  This Vice article talks about some unexpected ways tylenol can affect people.  The thing that most amazes me is where it says it can help with emotional pain as well as physical pain.

Yes, I know emotional pain is as real as physical pain, but I had no idea tylenol would help with both.  Strange that I kept my little stash of tylenol in my emotional first aid kit.  I thought it landed there for no real reason–amazing that I actually could use tylenol as an emotional prn.

And wild that maybe Ming had been doing it for patients in the hospital all those years, not knowing it.


“Do you know this website Vice?” I asked Ming.  “Do you know if it’s a reliable website?”

“I don’t know,” Ming said.  “I don’t think it’s reliable.”

“Yeah, looks maybe sensational,” I said.

I looked at a website that evaluates websites, to see if Vice is reliable.  The website says Vice is left leaning but reliable.  But then I didn’t look to see if that evaluative website is reliable, so who knows.  Who evaluates the evaluators?

second huge idea

The second huge idea that blew my mind was also in the Vice article.  It was saying how social exclusion is painful to people.

Piling this idea of emotional pain from exclusion, on top of the idea of emotional pain being similar to physical pain, I was overwhelmed with truth again.  As a weirdo, outlier introvert, person who hears voices, person with an ACE score of 9, disabled person, fat person, stimmer, sensory sensitive person, and person with autism, I’ve spent most of my life feeling very excluded socially.

Picked last for the baseball team every time, very few friends, super awkward, lonely, used, dumped, abused, bullied…  Then withdrawn and quiet, not letting anyone photograph me, some years not really talking to people…

Absolutely, it’s been uncomfortable and difficult.  Social exclusions has felt unfair, confusing, frustrating to angering, depressing, gaslighty, and hopeless.  But I didn’t understand that it could also be painful, a type of pain that could be harming me.

Pain is a huge stressor and affects the endocrine system!  Holy crap!  The endocrine system is so important, including the thyroid and many hormones that do key things.

bandwagon normalcy

I thought the pain I felt from social exclusion was a weakness of mine, that I needed to suck it up and tell myself, “Everyone feels like an outsider at times,” and get over it.  That seemed like my only choice, besides jumping on the bandwagon and trying to do gender right, enjoy fashion, work full time, have kids, be a driver, watch tv and movies, and attempt normalcy in all the ways that would probably kill me.

There’s another choice, of course–to fly my freak flag high, and revel in my difference.  Flying a freak flag high sounds nice.  But when my freakishness affects my healthcare, employability, income, place in community, relationships, and survival, it’s downright dangerous to be different in so many ways.

As I continue to grow up, I learn more ways to be myself, believe in myself and my gifts, and shine in my own power.  I’ve learned to laugh at the people who don’t understand my worth, and I no longer take shame for an answer.  It’s a lot of work and energy, opposing the broad beliefs about my worthlessness, but it’s what I need to do.


Will I take tylenol as an emotional prn, next time my sadness, grief, and hopelessness overwhelm me with emotional pain?  Maybe!  I take tylenol sometimes to try to get rid of a headache, muscle pain, menstrual cramps.  Is there some glory, in dealing with emotional pain on my own?

The biggest conclusion I come away with is: a life of social exclusion has deeply affected me, harming my health.  I can’t ignore it or push it down.  It’s important to my well-being, to find ways to be included.

Living in community and doing radical mental health are two big ways I try to be with people.  Speaking the truth about racism and ableism in community is important; creating justice means many kinds of people can find togetherness.  Not just abled, straight white cis people with money.

loneliness is not a weakness

All people need social connection.  It breaks my heart that there are many lonely people.  We need to help them.  Loneliness is not a weakness.  Contact with other humans is a human need.  Acceptance is not optional.

I knew those things before, but I’ve taken it to another layer of truth.  Thank you for hearing me and caring.

By Laura-Marie

Good at listening to the noise until it makes sense.

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