My name is Flamesparrow, and I live with chronic depression. I meant to write this yesterday for World Mental Health Day, but life got in the way. I read this by Wil Wheaton, and began to look at my own life story and my relationship with depression. As a child, I cried easily. Looking back with the knowledge that I now have, ADHD and emotional dysregulation was probably a large factor in that. For as long as I can remember I have suffered from nightmares. I don't know if that is a brain chemistry depression thing, or an ADHD thing, but it is a part of me. I can remember vivid ones from when I would have been about 6 years old, and given that I have poor memory of events from childhood, it shows how intense they were. It was when I was 15 that I recall being concerned. I still cried easily (I still do to be fair), and was aware that I didn't want to be seen. I would stay quiet and blend in as much as I could. I couldn't see why anyone would ever like me, and I would replay every thing that I had done that had hurt someone, over and over again. I put it down to being a teenager. Maybe it was - do all teenagers feel like that? I broke off my friendships at the end of school. I don't really know why, except that I wasn't happy, so maybe a total change would fix it? Again, I still had no confidence. I would tell myself that no-one would be interested in me. I was always "Kelly's friend", "Suzie's sister" etc, and felt that I didn't have enough personality to deserve being "Me". As I got older, I disappeared more and more. I was eventually given antidepressants, but felt, as so many do, that they were bad. I didn't realise truly that so much about myself was the depression talking. I would stop taking them when I could feel happiness, as depression is about not being happy, right? I was in my late 20s when I finally started to understand a bit more about it, but again, I still saw it as a blip, a bit of health that would be fixed, and still mainly about being happy. It is only in my 30s that the penny has dropped. I have read so much and learned so much more. I can see how the little voice of depression has insinuated itself into so much of my life and personality. That it is not about happy, it is about room to breathe. I wish I had understood when I was a child, or a teen. To understand that it didn't have to be that way, that the little ball of darkness on my shoulder could be told to shut up. I take medication for it now and have no intention of stopping - after 37 years, I think we can safely say that my brain doesn't make the right chemicals. Every day is a challenge, even with medication. I know that the ball of darkness could open up and swallow me without warning. But I also know that if it happens, it is not forever. I can get past it. I will get past it. I am not worthless. I am lovable. I am intelligent. I live with chronic depression, but it does not control me. It's kind of like having a pet dog (I assume... as I'm still not allowed to have one *sob*), you can train it and keep it calm and under control, but one day it could still decide to eat the sofa and poop on the floor. On those days you just clean up the poop, maybe take it for a walk, and curl up in a blanket and wait for it to calm down again. Since learning to live with it I have stopped seeing myself as someone's friend, mum, sister, partner. I see myself as me. Flamesparrow. And she's alright... Talking about it is the most important thing to me though. I write about it openly on here. My children know about it. I am honest with my friends if I cancel plans because the sofa needs re-stuffing. Mental Health needs to be visible, and valid. If me being open about it encourages others to consider their own mental health, or look to support their loved ones, then there is a positive to the ball of darkness. The puppy may be stood in his own poop, but he is wagging his tail and looking cute. None of this came out quite as eloquently as it was in my head yesterday, but it came out. I am Flamesparrow, and I live with Chronic Depression.