Time to believe

First published by Mind.

After three years in the mire of depression, optimism is a new idea to me. It is both exciting and a new thing to worry about.

Can I remain optimistic and positive? Can I really leave depression behind? When I wobble can I keep my balance? Can I really come off my antidepressants this year or will it be another anticlimactic mission?

The answer to these questions can be found in an unlikely trio of places – a children’s Christmas film, a Dr Seuss book and in Alice in Wonderland. This answer is just one word long and is my motto for 2013:


One simple, memorable word to focus on. Believe good things are possible. Believe in the seemingly impossible. And, hardest but potentially most rewarding of all, believe in myself – believe in what I am capable of, what I can do, and believe that I can be well and happy.

So what’s all this about Dr Seuss, Alice in Wonderland and Christmas films, then?

Let’s start with Dr Seuss, and one of his many great books, Oh the Places You’ll Go. Reading this for the first time to my children a couple of weeks ago, I was convinced some of it was about recovering from depression. I particularly like these three passages:


And when you’re in a Slump,
you’re not in for much fun.
Un-slumping yourself
is not easily done.


But on you will go
though the weather be foul
On you will go
though your enemies prowl
On you will go
though the Hakken-Kraks howl
Onward up many
a frightening creek,
though your arms may get sore
and your sneakers may leak.

And will you succeed?

Yes! You will, indeed! (98 and 3/4 percent guaranteed.)

In Tim Burton’s film of Alice in Wonderland, which I watched recently (not with my children, who would have been well and truly freaked out by it), Alice also faces danger and has to fight a giant monster called the Jabberwocky – another thing that sounds like depression to me. She explains something that she learned from her inspirational father:

I try to believe in as many as six impossible things before breakfast. Count them, Alice. One, there are drinks that make you shrink. Two, there are foods that make you grow. Three, animals can talk. Four, cats can disappear. Five, there is a place called Underland. Six, I can slay the Jabberwocky. 

I love this idea of believing in things that don’t seem possible but are. In the darkest moments of my depression I felt useless to everyone and thought I would never get better or look forward to anything. It seemed impossible to overcome it, yet that’s what I am doing now.

The children’s Christmas film I mentioned is the lovely, magical Polar Express, in which a boy who doesn’t believe in Santa Claus boards a train to the North Pole and meets the big man himself. When he returns home convinced forever, the conductor stamps his ticket with the word ‘BELIEVE’ and tells him:

The thing about trains… it doesn’t matter where they’re going. What matters is deciding to get on.

So I am ready to get on the train and to believe. It is a leap of faith. I haven’t been ready to take that leap until now, but here we go. Depression, you have had your fun. Now pack your bags, go away and never come back. I am changing the locks.

If you are going through what I have been through with this soul-destroying illness, never give up hoping. Keep dreaming. Keep looking for light in the darkness. Believe that you can and will get better.


15 Comments on “Time to believe”

  1. Arabella says:

    Great post, Paul. All best for your anti-antidepressant mission. Keep talking, keep the goal in mind, keep believing.

  2. Wonderful and so true and thought provoking. Thank you.

  3. marianne says:

    Hi Paul, I found your blog a couple days ago via FB. I’ve been reading back through some of your blogs and found some stuff that I can relate to easily.
    The recovery letter blog I’ve found particually useful as my memory and concentration have been rubbish recently and it’s good to know I’m not alone in feeling like this.
    I’ve had PTSD and depression since a car crash in Aug 08, the mental health issues have been far worse than the physical injuries to deal with and to talk about. I broke a bone in my lower back and a couple ribs.
    I have a lot of problems with self confidence, meeting new people, hate ringing up people I don’t know. As much as I know I’ve come a long way in the last couple years my negativety means I have trouble seeing this. All I look at is my faliures, at home, with my kids, that I’m still self harming, still taking medication, still seeing a councellor, still burying my head in the sand.
    Thank you for your words and being willing to be brave enough to share them.

    • paulbrook76 says:

      Hi Marianne
      You’ve had such a tough time, no wonder you are finding it so hard. Have you tried writing down small positive things in a notebook every day? It is only a little thing but can be a good reminder when you can’t recall anything good happening.
      Thanks for reading my blog. I do hope you are much better before too long.

      • marianne says:

        Thanks Paul,
        I just reread your blog and saw you mentioned Oh the places you’ll go by Dr Suess, intrestly my GP recommended reading it a couple years ago, I went and got it, but never read it 😮 maybe now would be a good time?
        Thank you also for acknowledgeing that I’m finding it hard, so many say “Oh it could have been worse” etc and all I want is for them to acknowledge that I may have come some distance but all is not yet right in my world.

      • paulbrook76 says:

        Oh yes, do give it a read. It’s a nice book – great recommendation by your GP!
        I also find it unhelpful when people think they can make you feel better by saying ‘it could have been worse’ and such things. I’m sure they mean well but just listening is so much more valuable.

  4. Jules says:

    I love the Polar Express and watch it every year at Christmas. BELIEVE! I was always the one that could hear that bell ringing and then stuff came along! I need to hear it ringing again.

  5. Rachelle says:

    Yep, we can all make it through the darkness! Found your blog while searching the #antidepressants hashtag on Twitter. I’ve written a lot about antidepressants on my own depression blog. It’s great to see such like-minded people.

  6. […] 10. Don’t stop believing. When you’re in a dark place, believe the light will return. Keep hoping. Keep the faith. Believe things can improve and you can get better. You just don’t know what’s coming next, so don’t write off yourself or your future. […]

  7. […] as we get older, we often stop daring to believe anything is possible, because we’re scared of failing – understandably a lot of the time. I […]

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