Thirteen years ago I knew this couldn’t happen.
Reasons to Stay Alive was an interesting read for me as it’s not my typical type of book. I picked it up because I completely adored Matt Haig’s The Humans and to read a book about what made him a writer – an exhausting and extraordinary road to self-expression and self-acceptance – was something I knew I had to do.
Haig’s approach to tackling such a diverse and wide-ranging topic is with grace and humour. He suffered depression to the point of suicide contemplation. He survived and lives with surviving each and every day. Reasons to Stay Alive is a documentation of his journey towards mental health, divided into short chapters with astute observations intertwined throughout.
It is a quick read but an affecting one.
I have experienced mild bouts of depression, times where I felt a bit lost or out of control. And it’s important to realise that everyone is different. This book isn’t a fix-all ‘Ronseal’ of a depression book but it is warm, inviting and explorative of a disease that doesn’t discriminate. It made me look at my actions and reactions with much more care.
Someone very close to me suffers from anxiety and, though I’m understanding, I sometimes find it difficult to understand. The words within Reasons to Stay Alive have helped me to closely examine how I behave, how I can help those around me but also identify triggers in myself that signal when I may be being too tough on myself and others.
I know there are people for whom this book will change their life – and it should. It’s incredibly emotionally sensitive and delivered with the right amount of delicacy to affect anyone who picks it up. There wasn’t a flash of lightning or seismic shift for me but there was an increase in awareness and a recognition of myself on some of the pages. Reasons to Stay Alive is an excellent book to not only raise awareness of the invisible and devastating disease of depression but also to assure people that they are not alone.
Bless you Matt Haig for being brave enough to both survive and share your story.
[Side note: there is an unexpected but added amusement to reading a book with a title such as this one… the sideways looks and double-takes you get from other commuters as you’re on the edge of the platform, waiting for a train! It became endlessly entertaining!]