What does it mean to feel truly alive?
'This is the true story of how Matt Haig came through crisis, triumphed over a mental illness that almost destroyed him and learned to live again. Moving, funny and joyous, Reasons to Stay Alive is more than a memoir. It is a book about making the most of your time on earth.'
Reasons to stay alive is a very personal and honest account of Matt Haig's experience of depression and anxiety. The book tells the story of a deep and debilitating illness and the effects it has on the sufferer and his loved ones.
The book takes the reader through the darkness of depression and anxiety as well as the light at the end of a sometimes very distant depressive tunnel.
The book is written in small chapters, which makes it easy to read and references wise quotes from philosophers, artists and authors.
The book breaks from the convention of your average memoir with the Matts lists of insightful and amusing thought patterns and then and now conversations which are very relatable.
I really enjoyed this book but I think it's important to recognise that this book is a story of someone's journey and is not a self-help book.
Anyone that reads my blog will know that I am painfully honest about the struggles that myself and my daughter face through her battle with mental health and I feel that Matt Haig's Reasons to stay alive delivers an honest and relatable account of the absolute misery that is depression and anxiety.
I especially appreciate Matts account of anxiety and how controlling and life-changing anxiety can be. The chapter named 'The Art of Walking On Your Own' mirrors very accurately my own experiences for anxiety when I was in my 20s and behaviours I now see in my own daughter.
On going to the shop alone-
'This is crazy
This is the craziest thing I have ever done
Its just a shop
It's just a shop you have been in, on your own, five hundred times before
Get a grip. Get a grip. But on what? There is nothing to grip onto. Everything is slippy.
Life is so infinitely hard. It involves a thousand tasks all at once. And I am a thousand different people, all fleeing away from the centre.'
Unless you have experienced Anxiety, it is very difficult to understand the irrationality and control it has over your life and I think this book depicts anxiety in a way that makes it easier for those supporting sufferers to understand the thought processes of those suffocated by it.
There are two things that I really want to point out to the potential reader of this book
Firstly before I read this book I checked out the Amazon reviews and there were a few negative reviews regarding Matts lifestyle and how lucky and privileged he is with his trips abroad, support network and loving girlfriend (now wife) but for me this is the exact thing that makes this book so good and so relatable.It challenges the stigma of depression.
Not everyone who suffers from depression does so as a result of PTSD or difficult or an abusive childhood or living in poverty and unemployment.
People who from the outside can seem privileged or 'normal' can suffer from mental health problems too because it is an illness of the brain, a chemical imbalance not always because of social causes.
My second point is that this book will not give you a happy ending.
Because depression is lifelong. It will rear its ugly head from time to time.
This book won't offer the reader reasons to stay alive and I think if Matt Haig had tried to do that it would have been patronising because reasons to live are personal to each human, but what he does do is highlight that there are reasons to stay alive and if you hang in there you will find the strength to look to the future.
My one minor criticism of this book is that although Matt talks about things getting better and living again he doesn't provide much detail on whether he used talking therapies or CBT, he does make it clear that medication wasn't an option for him although doesn't deter his readers from exploring this option. He does highlight the importance of lifestyle choices such as running, meditation and reading. Perhaps he didn't seek professional help form therapists? its not clear.
But what is clear from the conclusion of Reasons To Stay Alive is that although depression and anxiety are life-changing you can learn to understand and challenge those demons and take the control back.
You can have a future.
Because I loved this book so much I am giving away three copies, just follow the Rafflecopter link, Giveaway ends 15th January at 11.59.
These giveaway prizes have been purchased independently and this giveaway is not affiliated with the Author