Saturday, April 25, 2009

Novelty drives up the dopamine in our brains!

I didn't know that, did you? But I sure like novelty. You can read about it here in a Times' editorial about British songstress Susan Boyle who recently achieved instant fame. The article talks about one of the most important traits in the human brain: our insatiable striving after status, and our need to know the status of everyone we meet.

Here's a list of things I did in the past two days that kept my fountains of dopamine flowing. Please note that I don't know the difference between dopamine, serotonin, norepinephrine, glutamate, the male and female hormones, and so on.

My dopamine near to burst when I met my friend "Katy" at Whole Foods. We haven't seen each other for nearly a year. I forgot how much I dislike the Whole Foods salad bar so I ordered lots of yummy-looking foods that tasted just awful. B/c the food was so awful I intuitively wanted to treat myself later on with some delicious foods, possibly to raise my happy brain chemicals. So that was in the back of my mind.

Katy has one really bad habit that I can't stand. I told her about this years ago, saying it embarassed me when we were out together. She calls everyone "honey." She stopped it temporarily but did it again when she was with me. I cringed but didn't bring it up. She is not a waitress. A waitress has carte blanche to use terms of endearment to everyone, but Katy doesn't.

We'd decided to go for a walk since it was one of the first beautiful spring days this year. Patting myself on the back, I said to her, Kate, I know all the beautiful areas in this area. Follow me and you'll see lots of greenery and flowering trees while we're going on our walk.

Katy loves to shop. I hate it. But. Being with Katy is so much fun that shopping becomes fun cuz we're together. We began walking from Whole Foods and I started talking about every shop that came into view. "Dyou mind if I give a continuous narration?" I asked. "Not at all," said my good friend who turned the big Six-Oh last summer.

-Here's my old pharmacy, I said. They sell Asher's Candy. I moved to a pharmacy in Hatboro cuz it's closer to me so I can get my shitload of high blood pressure medicine.
-Here's Murray Deli which went out of business cuz the landlord blah blah blah.
-Here's Baederwood Prime Meats - ditto re the landlord - they had the BEST sandwiches
-Here's a shop where I bought $200 worth of close b/c I needed something nice to wear for my Comcast interview, I only go clothes shopping once every five years anyway.

Then we started up the hill. Very steep hills around here. You don't realize it until you're over 60 and you begin to pant. That's me. We headed toward a women's clothing store where a friend of mine works. I keep missing her. Haven't seen her in maybe six years. Time goes fast when you're a human being not to mention a dragonfly. I wonder if time goes fast for God. I think about him every day, trying to figure out his M.O. I'm a sporadic pray-er. I used to feel close to God when I had manic depression and was on meds. That feeling has slipped away. It's not important to me since I mostly believe there ain't no God.

Found "Kathy" at the shop. Most of the folks I know have come thru our support group New Directions, the finest in the land. Arguably. But possibly. Her husband, she said, has never gotten better. He's in his 70s and does nothing all day long. Still w/the same psychiatrist. Refuses to see anyone else. We have no idea what goes on in his mind.... if anything. His psychiatrist probly knows him better than his wife does.

I introduced Kathy to Katy. Katy had been in a depression lasting 18 months but unlike the husband did everything to try and get better. The depression finally broke. Katy lost her high-paying job cuz she couldn't concentrate but maintained her same schedule, getting out of the house every day and wandering the streets, doing things, visiting people, visiting me and my kids.

When I saw Kathy at first sight in the clothing store, it was just a brief glimpse. I analyze everything so I noted to myself that tho I hadn't seen her in 6 yrs, my mind had remembered the way she moved, the tilt of her head, even from the side. KATHY! I called. She recognized me too. AGATHA! she called. How ARE you.

An incessant need to crack jokes. Like my boyfriend who's outside mowing our twin lawns.

Katy and I marched onward to Trader Joe's. This is where I decided to redo the wrongs I'd suffered at the hands of the terrible Whole Foods Salad Bar. Katy and I munched on our snacks as we walked back to our cars. We hugged goodbye and then I decided to visit my friend Betty at Rydal Park, one of the ubiquitous assisted living facilities in Pennsylvania that are so depressing to me. Betty's husband insisted they leave their brown ranch-style home 13 yrs ago and move in with people who push walkers, are bent-over double, who sit waiting to be let into dinner an hour early cuz they have nothing to do.

Betty was depressed a couple years after they moved in. Her husband had a ball. You might say he was a t-y-r-a-n-t. But she loved him. Of course he's dead now, but Betty lives on, close to 90 with all these brilliant children of hers, none of them typrants, and one of them - of course - mentally ill - which is how I know Betty.

We sat on the patio looking at her magnificent garden. I drank delicious ice water. I was trying to find out the name of one particular flower - it was chartreuse - but she couldn't remember the name. If she had, I'd've run right out to Primex and bought it.

While we were sitting there on the patio with the birds chirping and the pool house straight ahead, she murmured something about my being mentally ill.

Ah, categories! Funny, cuz I never think of myself as mentally ill. Even when I WAS mentally ill, I didn't. So I just sat there thinking, Gosh, Betty still thinks of me that way even tho she knows my bipolar is gone. I guess I was kinda embarassed cuz I mentioned again that I don't take meds, only for my blood pressure, as if she could change the categorization in her brain.

I had to get home to make dinner for Scott. Primarily I had to put the baked potatoes in the oven which take an hour to cook. I served them with real butter with a garlic clove mashed in. I'd bought tilapia at Whole Foods (the only fish that wasn't exorbitantly priced) and cooked it a NOVEL WAY: the usual peppers, mushrooms, but with lemon sprinkled all over it and the cut-up lemon rind sitting pretty on top of the fish.

The dinner was sooo good I had a dopamine overdose. Or serotonin.