yo GABA: my life as a physiological freak

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Sunday, December 28th, 2008

yo GABA: my life as a physiological freak

well, maybe not a freak, but close to it…

first, let me just warn you that i’m gonna be dropping some science on you here. now, don’t worry, it won’t be much. it will bore me as much to write it as it will you to read. BUT, i think this is some very interesting stuff…obviously interesting enough to make me blog about it.
ok, back to the physiological freak thing…
so, of all the places to get a science lesson, last week at church, in a sermon about experiencing peace in the hectic lead-up to christmas, we got a little lesson in the physiology of stress. there were some insights that suddenly explained so, so much to me.
some of you that know me well (or not so well) know that i am not a stressful person. in fact, that would be a gross understatement. i have never been able to explain it, but i simply don’t experience stress in the “normal” sense of the word. i’m sure if you hooked me up to some kind of monitor or something, you could probably detect some kind of physiological indicators that my body is experiencing some kind of stress, but i simply don’t have any physical response. i don’t feel anxiety. i don’t feel angry. i don’t feel overwhelmed. i don’t feel frustrated or bothered or whatever emotional/physiological response one might feel in a time of stress.
certainly, my life offers many opportunities to get stressed like others. in fact, in similar/shared situations, others feel and show a great level of stress while i do not. now, let me pause and say that i’m not stating these things to say, ‘here’s how i’m better than these people’ or ‘let me point out others’ weakness and tell you my strength.’ i’m simply illustrating the point that, in situations where i should feel stress and others do, i simply do not.
i’ve honestly thought many times in my life that something must be wrong with me.
well…something isn’t wrong with me…but something certainly isn’t “normal” about me…
thanks to said sermon, i now understand (in a very elementary way) the chemical processes involved with an amino acid called gamma-aminobutyric acid or GABA. basically, here’s how it works (and i emphasize the word basically): the more GABA you produce, the less stress you experience and, conversely, the less GABA you produce, the more stress you experience. in essence, GABA is a stress reducer (that is actually sold as a supplement you can take).
if you take a look at society, GABA production looks like a classic bell-shaped curve. the peak of the curve represents the majority of people who produce a “normal” amount of GABA. these are people who experience stress, but do it at healthy and appropriate levels. on the other hand, the far left and right sides of the graph represent abnormalities (a.k.a. the freaks). on the far right, the people who produce very small amounts of GABA experience abnormal amounts of stress (which represents approximately 10% of society). these are the people who—to be very honest—drive me nuts. they blow up. they take out their stress on others. they make scenes and, worst of all, they tend to react most strongly to people who don’t share their level of stress, falsely assuming that they don’t understand the weight of the issue at hand. (can you see my bias here…) 🙂
now, on the far left, you find freaks like me (and less than 10% of society). these people produce very high amounts of GABA, thus causing this group to experience very little stress. in fact, this group is often characterized by thrill seekers and people who attempt to add stress to their lives by engaging in high risk activities (such as sky diving or bungee jumping, for example). now, while i would certainly give these activities a whirl, i don’t fall into the category of people who seek these things out. i am simply the person who really doesn’t experience stress. to broadly paint a picture of myself and other high GABA producers, we appear to be completely disaffected by everything. we often seem like we don’t care about situations that most people would experience stress in. we tend to look apathetic and unconcerned at what seems like a serious and pressing moment for most people. we just don’t get stressed out.
so, i’m not necessarily offering some sort of resolution or grand conclusion here, but i just found this information very informative and somewhat freeing. while i am a freak in the physiological sense, i am a freak in the company of about 10% of the population. 🙂 i also now better equipped to attempt to have a little more patience with people with high stress. admittedly, i don’t handle these people very well, because we tend to project our sense of what’s “normal” onto others (in other words, “i’m not stressed, so you shouldn’t be”). with this knowledge, i can at least know that while lashing out and negative stress response mechanisms are not excusable, there are some real chemical things that at play.
so, for all you low GABA producers, i just want to remind you that the economy is tanking, your retirement is being sucked dry and…let’s see…oh yeah, the sky is falling! 🙂 happy GABA production!

6 Comments

  1. DJ Walker says:

    I am confident I can join you in that 10%. However, the Lord decided it would be funny for me to fall in love with someone on the complete opposite side of the spectrum.

    That should be your next blog post. I’d like to get your take on God’s sense of humor.

  2. christen says:

    now, imagine being your wife, who has been telling you how annoying this is for years…oh wait, i am your wife. at lest you finally acknowledge that something isn’t right with you…i mean, i’ve known for awhile.

  3. Anonymous says:

    why you gotta put us GABAless peoples on the “right” and yous other peoples on the “left”? why you gotta be labeling me. i am so wilin’ out with anger right now at and towards where you are around.

  4. Bethany says:

    I thought this blog was gonna be about the show “You Gaba Gaba”. I’m kinda dissappointed.

    btw…each family has an alloted amount of GABA and apparently, you took up the whole freakin supply, and clearly there was none left by the time I came along. thanks, brother…

  5. Amanda says:

    I gotta get me some of this GABA. Let’s see if Amazon has it…

  6. Jesse says:

    I like how there are so many comments on this subject. I like Bethany thought this was going to be a post about Yo Gabba Gabba as well… I’m mesmerized by kids shows.

    I will also say that I think I’m a low stress person but I don’t know if that’s because of my GABA or whatever. Nor do I believe that there is a single contributing factor to a person’s response to stressful situations. I think we can condition our responses based upon social norms and individual responses.

    Also notice that most of that was filled with opinion statements and not statements of science.

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