Dopamine Makes the World go Round!: By Maria De Leon

 

 

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…Image result for images of heart shaped balloons

 

Valentine’s Day in the Parkinson’s Diva World:by Maria De Leon

 

All of us who are moms and have children know that the day we first heard those precious cries our entire worlds changed. Where Valentine’s Day used to be a day I looked forward to get prettied up and taken out to a fancy restaurant, since my daughter came to us it’s all about her.

When she was just a toddler , I loved the enthusiasm she would have for trying to get ‘something’ for her daddy and me to show us how much she loved us…usually some type of art design she would hand make. she would wake up at the crack of dawn to jump on our bed to please hurry up and get up so we could open our presents! (sort of like Christmas in reverse!) the joy in her eyes was all I needed. This was love personified. I have always been thankful to God for this lovely angel He put in my arms!

Over the years, it has evolved from giving us her sweet cards that said ” I love you mommy! with letters missing or upside down to me finding ways to make her happy and show her how much she is adored. We would make heart shaped candy necklaces and bracelets and get Barbie dolls wearing valentines colors or get matching teddy bears that would say ‘mommy and me’ and even matching necklaces with same inscription.

It’s no secret that I love fine chocolates – so of course I look forward with anticipation to this day to previewing all the wide selection of deliciously scrumptious chocolates available. I am a particular fan of salted dark caramel chocolates, but the thing I look forward to mostly is getting some delicious chocolate covered strawberries. It seems that as my lovely daughter has grown into a beautiful teenager, she too has developed her mom’s palate for fine chocolate. So where once, I could sit down and enjoy such treats paired with a sparkling champagne its more difficult to partake of such indulgent behavior  since I became a mom of a teenager. I scout out the Internet and stores for deals of the best fine chocolates and make sure that I get everyone a box yet upon arrival they all quickly disappear and I am left with wrapping paper and the scent of chocolates in the air.

Chocolate covered strawberries disappear even faster than the chocolate without a lingering scent left behind, followed by “I thought they were mine!” Me being not so much of a kitchen goddess no matter how many times I read the instructions to melt the chocolate for the strawberries at home, I always end up burning it- so I have to wait till someone that can actually FOLLOW INSTRUCTIONS WELL do them for me like my mother, or brother or wait till a special occasion and they are sold at the store.

But, invariably the bond between mother and child is strong because in the end, she will come to lay down next to me in bed and say like before when she was a child: ” I love you Mommy! you are the still the best mom in the world, even if I don’t say it much! Sorry, I ate your chocolates but I got the ones you love right here!” followed by a big hug (which I am thankful for since does not happen much nowadays since she is a teenager).

But, Valentine’s would not be complete without the awesome, always, clever gift from my daughter….my very own diva  lipstick by none other than Louboutin – in red of course! Now, I a truly feel like a Parkinsonsdiva!

Sure I have a fancy (RED) lipstick but above all I have the love of the one that matters most to me in the world- my daughter!

Happy Valentines Day to Everyone! 

Wishing you much love today and always!!! Enjoy something sweet to boost that dopamine-& hug your loved ones today- hugging is the best way to release happy chemicals in your brain & Don’t Forget something RED in honor of Women’s brain health!

xoxo- Parkinsonsdiva