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Reasons to Stay Alive (2015)

by Matt Haig

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6532224,625 (4)17
THE NUMBER ONE SUNDAY TIMES BESTSELLERWHAT DOES IT MEAN TO FEEL TRULY ALIVE?Aged 24, Matt Haig's world caved in. He could see no way to go on living. This is the true story of how he came through crisis, triumphed over an illness that almost destroyed him and learned to live again.A moving, funny and joyous exploration of how to live better, love better and feel more alive, Reasons to Stay Alive is more than a memoir. It is a book about making the most of your time on earth.'I wrote this book because the oldest clichés remain the truest. Time heals. The bottom of the valley never provides the clearest view. The tunnel does have light at the end of it, even if we haven't been able to see it . . . Words, just sometimes, really can set you free.'… (more)

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The pivotal moment in Matt Haig’s life came when he was just 24. He stood at the top of a cliff in Ibiza and stared at the edge. Every element in his body was willing him to throw himself off and end the pain of being alive. Something made him stop; he had four people that loved him. Four people that even in his darkest moment meant something to him. Something did die that day, it was the thing that was consuming him from inside. For men, in particular, suicide is one of the biggest killers for those under 35 in the western world. Thankfully, Haig didn’t join the statistics that day. He turned away from the cliff and walked back into a new life.

It wasn’t an easy recovery though, he tried drugs, they didn’t work. He cried, suffer panic attacks, wouldn’t leave the house, suffered from anxiety, didn’t sleep, didn’t eat and suffered from the terrible thing that is depression. The black dog for some can be a bottomless pit and this horrible affliction affects huge numbers of people around the world now in a variety of different ways as well as affecting families and those trying to cope with them. But a lot of the problems of this is most people don’t have any idea at all how to support their friends and family that are suffering from it.

How to stop time: kiss.
How to travel in time: read.
How to escape time: music.
How to feel time: write.
How to release time: breathe.

There are things not to say to someone with depression. But what to say though? Not much, just being with them is more important a lot of the time. Encourage but don’t force the issue. It is not an exhaustive book on the medical ins and outs of the root causes of depression, rather it is a literary response to the very real pain that Haig felt and an expression of the love he has for those that were there for him at his lowest moment. Haig puts his pain into words and if you suffer from any form of depression and anxiety then there are probably words in here that will bring you comfort and relief. More importantly, this is a book that you can give to others so they can gain some insight into the suffering that people are going through. The raw and honest writing is a mix of short chapters and longer, more thoughtful ones and are all full of helpful advice. We probably all know someone affected and in the modern world, this should be essential reading. ( )
  PDCRead | Apr 6, 2020 |
This book is about depression and anxiety. It's pretty similar to Notes On A Nervous Planet by the same author but I enjoyed that one more. This one is highly centered on Matt's own experience battling these anxieties so it might not apply to anybody seeking help in dealing with any of this. I've never went through anything similar to what Matt did but it was interesting to see it through his eyes regardless. ( )
  parzivalTheVirtual | Mar 22, 2020 |
The best book about depression I have read so far. ( )
  Titut | Feb 10, 2020 |

I really like Matt Haig, the human being I see engaging with folks on Twitter. I think he's a genuinely good guy, who is a meaningful, bullshit-free advocate of mental health. I'm not so sure, though, that I enjoy Haig as a writer-of-longer-things. This is the second of his books I've read, and I find myself surprisingly underwhelmed.

I do hope this book is helpful to folks suffering from depression and/or anxiety; I work through these issues with some regularity, and while the book fell flat for me, it doesn't mean it doesn't resonate with others -- and I'm grateful if it does. I think the book is probably a good primer for the families/friends of those who suffer from these illnesses who aren't exactly well-versed in how to be good mental health supporters.

( )
  Sonya_W | Feb 5, 2020 |
Depression is a beast. It robs people of so much. But there's a stigma associated with it that keeps people from seeking treatment and getting the help they need to even have a chance to come through to the other side of it. Having people who have suffered publicly admit to their struggles without shame and offer hope is huge. Matt Haig's memoir Reasons to Stay Alive is without a doubt a raw, personal account of his battle with severe depression that helps to add to the conversation about this debilitating disease.

When Haig was in his early twenties, he descended into the fugue of severe depression. He describes the crippling effects on his life as he endured both depression and anxiety for years. He lets the reader see into the deepest, darkest hole he found himself living in, telling of his own experiences, giving facts about the black dog of depression, and offering glimpses of how he found reasons to stay alive even in the bleakest of his moments. Medication didn't work for Haig so there's not much information about how helpful they can be to those suffering and in fact Haig is rather skeptical of the efficacy of drugs given his own experience but he does appreciate the ongoing and unwavering support of his girlfriend (now wife) and his family during this horrible time in his life.

The memoir itself is short but powerful. It is a bit of a pastiche, having chapters of straight narrative, chapters where Haig addresses his suffering past self, lists, and more. It is honest, emotional, and ultimately hopeful. The memoir doesn't give any easy answers to his fellow sufferers but perhaps those with severe depression will see something of themselves in it and in seeing themselves, will find a way, like Haig did, to fight against this terrible, living nightmare. ( )
  whitreidtan | Sep 4, 2019 |
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Aged 24, Matt Haig's world caved in. He could see no way to go on living. This is the true story of how he came through crisis, triumphed over an illness that almost destroyed him and learned to live again.
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