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This neurotransmitter dopamine sends signals to other nerve cells. I think a lot about the dopamine in my head and that my suspicion of suffering from ‘Restless Legs Syndrome,’ is not all that meaningless. RLS is a disorder. For a few years now, I have felt it both literally and metaphorically. The urge I feel to move my limbs with or without sensation, and how it drives me crazy when I don’t move them has often bothered me. The fact that this is a secret bothers me a little more. The lack of sensation on my legs some nights prompts me to get out of bed at odd hours and do some walking until I feel them alive. I have beaten them on crazy nights, put them through torture sometimes. And on some helpless nights, I lay on my bed dreaming of walking.
It is perhaps my ignorance or my hallucinating mind that links this disorder of sorts with my wanderlust. Perhaps it is true that this is purely psychological and linked directly to my urge to travel. As I type this, I am embarrassed at how ill-informed I could be even as an educated 27 year old. All suspected disorders must be diagnosed and proper medication and help sought. However, I seem to live okay with it.
Dopamine is fascinating. It is possibly the one most sensible reason behind my recklessness.
Here’s my case: a gutless solo woman traveler in a continent as Europe. How excited should I have been that I could silence all signals of fear. There certainly was fear. There were times when I lay on my bed, awakened early in the mornings from anxiety, wondering ‘God, how will I do it? How will I ever know which bus to take, which road to go on, which station to get off, how will I order breakfast, how will I face my couchsurfers, absolute strangers, what if I can’t take the cold, what if I freeze to death, how will I do this – crawl across an unfamiliar continent, all alone and in unimaginable coldness.’ I wondered many nights and dawns but you see the dopamine never allowed this signal to reach other nerve cells that I was in truth, nervous as hell. I was afraid. Gripped with fear. I knew this at the back of my head but much of the other parts were drunk on excitement that I was going back to England and will explore some European cities.
The excitement cast a cloud over my fears and anxiety, I dealt with the latter by ignoring it and with a very comforting question ‘How horrible should the worst case be? Death?’ I reasoned that I am just as prone to a sudden death at home than anywhere. It helps to be a believer in destiny and to think ‘all’s written, one dies when one is destined to,’ is a philosophy that kept me going.
This is the same dopamine that makes me curious about people and places, that gives some people a reason to call me ‘overactive,’ and the same thing that has given me countless magical moments and some bad experiences, though regrets there’ve been none. Around the days I was planning and preparing for my travels in winter, I experienced varied emotions but the most important of them all was conquering fear.
What’s life without a little bit of recklessness, without adventure. How will I ever know how to order breakfast and what -2 degrees feels like if I do not dare to feed my curiosity. The picture below is of me before leaving my family and getting on the flight to London. Outside, I was excited like a child, inside, my heart was shrinking. For a split second I considered asking my parents at the airport if I can abandon all travel plans and go home with them. Below is a picture of that split-second. Sure, I didn’t do any such thing. The dopamine soon took over, my recklessness restored, comforted with many a plan A and plan B.
Dope’s good and some disorders, a blessing in disguise.