"Reasons to Stay Alive" by Matt Haig

At the age of 24, writer Matt Haig found himself standing at the edge of a cliff, wanting to jump off. In Reasons to Stay Alive he shares why he didn’t jump and how he learned to live with the anxiety and depression that had brought him to that point.

The statistics show that 1 in 5 people will deal with mental health issues at some point in their life. But how it presents itself is different for each person and that can often make it difficult to talk about.. Those who are going through it feel as if they are the only person who has ever felt like that.  Those who have a loved one experiencing it feel at a loss of how to help them. This is a book that will help everyone.

A few years back, I struggled with anxiety. I did not understand it, nor did I talk to anyone about it and for quite a few months I suffered in silence until it turned into a depressive episode. That is where I sought medical help that changed everything for me. But even as I worked my way through it, I felt that mine was different from the experiences of close friends who suffered with depression and I also felt that my loved ones could not understand it. This book is the first time I found someone else who had such a similar story - especially the part about being prescribed pills for anxiety when much of your anxiety centres around taking pills.

What I loved about this book is that it is not a straight-forward book about his own experience. It is part memoir, part self-help. Amongst Matt’s story, he shares great lists with titles like “things people say to depressives that they don’t say in other life-threatening situations” and “things that have happened to me that have generated more sympathy than depression.” He also shares the experiences of other people that he collected through social media using #reasonstostayalive. Trust me when I say I got more out this book than I did from any therapy session or any other self-help book.

If I had to recommend a book about depression or anxiety to anyone, it would be this one. This isn’t a medical book or a psychology book, it’s about how you make the most of your life when the fog of depression is hanging over you. And it shows those who aren’t sufferers how to love and support the ones they know who have it. It’s not a one size fits all prescription but it doesn’t claim to be. It puts a face to depression and it shows other sufferers that they are not alone. It brings hope and light.  There is no asking “is this book for me?” because this book is for everyone.


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