As we are getting ready to celebrate another Valentine’s day here in America and in other parts of the world, I began to think about this subject of love more intently.
When I was young, I loved watching and reading romance movies and novels. since I am an avid reader and consider myself a movie buff I have a special place for all Nicholas Sparks books especially ‘The Notebook’ and the ‘Best of Me’ as some of you might also. Ironically, I was reading ‘The Choice’ when I was first diagnosed with Parkinson’s and was having to do a lot of soul searching myself to find out what was best for my life.
However, nothing compares to the old classics like Pride and Prejudice and Wuthering Heights. I dreamt of finding my own Darcy or Heath Cliff. But, interestingly at the same time as my symptoms of Parkinson’s began to surface I began to drift away from romance and switch my attention to mysteries and crime solving stories which had a much more satisfying ending than riding into the sunset-living happily ever after. I assume this was just a matter of growing older, becoming more centered on reality than fantasy and maturing as a woman.
So, I stopped reading romance novels and began a love affair with a crime solving duo-written by famous author Tess Gerritsen, a medical colleague whom I had the pleasure of meeting in person several years ago at Cape Cod when I first decided to begin my own writing career. But, my once avid interest in literature and ability to devour books in one sitting began to slowly wane without me knowing until my daughter pointed it out. This was the time I realized I needed higher doses of dopamine in my system. Lo and behold, once I began taking Rytary, my passion for reading returned with a vengeance. I began again reading 2-3 books a week. But, still not much interest in movies or books with romantic themes.
Yet, as the years with PD grow in number so have my needs and doses of dopamine gradually increased in order to feel like myself mentally once more. Suddenly, with the latest increases in medications has come about a new sense of passion for life including my love of romance books and movies, making me think that perhaps it was not all about getting older causing changes in my likes and dislikes of things; but rather waning levels of a little chemical known as dopamine.
We all know that feeling of being completely head over heels with someone and feeling on top of the world, unable to eat or sleep, yet having complete clarity of mind. This my friends is the natural effect of dopamine. It feels GREAT!
I once again, feel like that love stricken young woman of days of old unable to sleep, eat, but with a profound clarity of mind I thought gone forever from me. I even helped my daughter with algebraic equations the other night and it felt absolutely awesome. although, dopamine is the final ingredient to our well being, it is love the greatest catalyst responsible for the release of this powerful endogenous substance. Although, it is absolutely clear that my dopamine levels have increased medically over the last decade, the biggest change in my well being has been in the increase endogenous dopamine. Learning to love myself (yourself) has been the greatest love second only to letting God’s love define me.
We have all heard the old saying : “Love makes the world go round.” But, perhaps it’s the copious release of dopamine and its effects on our love stricken- brains that is the real culprit and mastermind no matter where it comes from- be it a pill, a piece of scrumptious dark chocolate, the voice of a loved, or being in the presence of God.
This Valentine’s Day let your endogenous dopamine have free run by spending some quality time with someone you love.
HAPPY VALENTINE’s DAY everyone…
all rights reserved – Maria De Leon MD