All I want for Christmas is a normal level of dopamine in my brain

So Christmas completely snuck up on me this year.

(Is it just me or do years tend to fly by when you’re over 25?)

Another thing that is trying to sneak up on me?  Depression.

Yeah, no one likes to talk about depression on Christmas.  No one wants to be the girl that raises her hand like, “Yeah I am fighting back against a dopamine depleted brain right now.”

But I am.  I can feel it.  I’m not fully there, but I can feel depression knocking on my door like that old crazy boyfriend that just won’t leave you alone and stalks you and waits until you’re literally at your most vulnerable and then pounces his creepy claws all over you, begging you to just “let it happen.”  Ew.

The day started beautifully, to be honest.  My husband and I woke up and he said the sweetest things about being so happy to spend his first Christmas as Team Ahkuoi, the married couple, and that we are a package deal and he is so honored to be mine.  (Yes, I cried because he is effing adorable and who wouldn’t.)

We opened presents with the Simpson family, God bless them, every one.

I posted our (genuine) smiling faces all over social media and scrolled through everyone else’s life looking extra Christmasy and perfect.

We went to a little Christmas gathering.

But on our way home, Dustin asks me how I’m doing internally.  And I fought back saying, “I’m fine baby, lets turn on Coldplay’s new album.”  I sat there for a minute and I searched my heart and brain and realized that depression and negative thoughts and bad memories are all up IN my cranium.  It was a really good question:  “How are you doing internally?”

Internally I really am “fine.” My husband loves me unconditionally, my job is basically the best ever, I get to travel the country and sing for my living, I have a close knit family, we have over a million hits on our latest YouTube endeavor, etc etc etc… There is so much to be thankful for.

But sometimes I use gratitude as a tool to “shoo” away the reality of what is really going on inside of my brain:  a slow depletion of “happy” chemicals.

I am not one to force happiness into existence.  It has to be real.  It has to be genuine.  And right now, in this moment, even though it’s Christmas, I am just going to be real and say that I am struggling to keep up with all of the joy the season brings.  I am struggling to hold on to my own joy.


If you’re feeling this way, you are not alone.

Feel free to comment or to email me at and we can discuss. ❤  Maybe a friendly discussion will bring up those dopamine levels.



  1. Completely understand. Here with my husband and children, and I’m supposed to be happy. Nothing has exponentially gone wrong today, but I still couldn’t find that joy. I pretended because, well, my family doesn’t understand. They think the pill I get prescribed makes it all better. I really wanted to be happy for Christmas but I settled for okay, and I think I’m fine with that.

  2. I’ve been going thru a rough patch since my mom passed away this Spring . Although it’s been several months , I realize there will be times when my chemical imbalance is just going to be harder to fight due to added stress and circumstances . Even if I ” turn on happiness ” for the sake of others, I need to just let it ease into my day and thoughts . I’m not going to be perfect and I know that ignoring my sadness is unhealthy mentally and physically – that’s how I became unbalanced in the first place . I try to make a distinction between being happy and being grateful . I can be grateful about many things just as you mentioned in your post . But sometimes happiness escapes me .

      1. Thank You ! I have been very emotional lately, especially since I was my mother caregiver . I miss just sitting with her and talking or sharing a funny story . Thanks for providing the link back to this blog as I know you both have been very busy .

  3. I totally get where u are coming from…i had a complete melt down on a walk with my bf &puppy yday…its so hard to put into words how I was feeling and u did it so eloquently above. 😃 Reading ur thoughts &others I can SEE we are not alone…but it doesn’t necessarily mean we dont feel that way…on the outside I am super bubbly – life &soul…but no one knows that I struggle with D everyday….including Christmas! Still haven’t found the courage to tell people! 😞

  4. I love you, I love you, I love you! You speak DIRECTLY to my soul here. How can the person that ALWAYS loves christmas be the grinch? When the HELL did christmas come so quick that we are whisked away with parties and all the other crazy things that come with it!? Throw planning a wedding in there and its full on “F*ckery” (sorry all- it’s the only way I know to describe it) I’ve been searching, grabbing, digging, yelling for the spirit of christmas all month and I’ve realized it’s not coming. I realized this year that not all christmas’ are beautiful and perfect and have the wonderful family together. It sucks, but you speak to my soul and for that- I’m thankful. I have SO MUCH to be thankful for but yet- I cant seem to focus on that right now, its only the negative… its the sick family members, its the family members that simply don’t care, its everything.

    You are not the only one… The social media crap is exactly that, CRAP! People only post the positive, including me… Life is not EVER as it seems. Thank you for being vunerable, thank you for being open, and most of all- thank you for being you.

  5. Depression makes me mad at myself, because I can not just snap out of it like people want you to. I wish to be able to identify the problem and say to myself okay now stop that. Be happy. You have so much to be thankful and grateful for. Depression eats away at the person you want be or are inside. Depression makes you into a zombie eating away of your hopes and dreams.

  6. Wow. I don’t think I have a chemical imbalance, but I think I know what you mean. After my first child, I felt depressed for a while, but only when the sun set. Weird huh? I’d be fine all day, and then as the day turned to night I could literally “feel” something heavy sit on my shoulders and then I’d start thinking about horrible things like what would happen if my baby got sick? What if my baby doesn’t wake up tomorrow? Then I’d start to cry and cry. We had friends over once, it got late and I prayed I wouldn’t lose it while they were there. My sweet husband was so wonderful, he took it all in stride and loved me through it. Over time my hormones leveled off, but I totally get it. You CAN’T snap out of it; you ride that big wave and pray to the Lord Jesus that you make it to shore without wiping out. Thanks for your honesty. I think this society puts far too much stock in their brand of happiness. If you’re genuinely thankful, then you’re happy. Period. You don’t have to have a smile on your face every moment of the day for crying out loud to “prove” you’re happy – sheesh! As for Christmas, what a sham of a holy day if there ever was one! I can live without it and its phony baloney hype and nowadays I do live, very well I might add, without celebrating it. Sure, my family doesn’t understand, but they don’t live in my skin, and I love them anyway. Thanks again for your honesty, it’s priceless!

  7. I get seasonal depression I swear. Around the holidays I feel so depressed and alone when I am literally surrounded by so many people who love me unconditionally. I got you and I think you are dead on and super brave for writing this.

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