Book Review: Reasons to Stay Alive

9 February 2019




Like nearly one in five people, Matt Haig suffers from depression.

Reasons to Stay Alive is Haig's inspiring account of how, minute by minute and day by day, he overcame the disease with the help of reading, writing, and the love of his parents and his girlfriend (now wife), Andrea. Eventually, he learned to appreciate life all the more for it.

Everyone's lives are touched by mental illness; if we do not suffer from it ourselves, we have a friend or loved one who does. Haig's frankness about his experiences is both inspiring to those who feel daunted by depression and illuminating to those who are mystified by it. Above all, his humor and encouragement never let us lose sight of hope.

Speaking as his present self to his former self in the depths of depression, Haig is adamant that the oldest cliché is the truest—there is light at the end of the tunnel. He teaches us to celebrate the small joys and moments of peace that life brings and reminds us that there are always reasons to stay alive.

To other people, it sometimes seems like nothing at all. You are walking around with your head on fire and no one can see the flames.
While I can not make any fierce claims such as 'this book saved my life!', I cannot deny the importance of Matt Haig's novel. The past few months have been an intensely difficult time for me and as I attempt to battle and come to terms with my own mental health journey, Reasons to Stay Alive was a comforting hug in the form of a book.

Recommended to me by a therapist, I was touched by how Haig wrote about his struggle with anxiety and depression so open and honestly. Often, I found myself nodding along, in sheer of awe of how perfectly he'd managed to encapsulate almost everything I was feeling into such a short, quick read. It was almost as if he'd been hiding in my brain and I couldn't help but shed a tear as I saw my own doubts, fears and anxieties reflected before me on paper.

Everyone's battle with mental health is different and I will be opening up about mine a bit more very soon, but I was filled with overwhelming reassurance while reading Reasons to Stay Alive that what I was going through wasn't anything to be ashamed of or embarrassed about. Haig's perspective of his own experiences was eerily similar to my own and his optimism was incredibly inspiring for the future.

While I do wish it had gone a little bit deeper into the exploration of depression, I feel like it serves its poignant purpose. Whether you are currently suffering from depression or not, I think everyone should read this book. It's so beautifully written and it really does sum up exactly what it feels like to deal. I have no doubt it will be a useful insight for those who don't have depression, but may have a loved one who does. For those, like me, who do suffer from anxiety and depression, it is so refreshing to read something that echoes your own innermost thoughts and feelings, confirming that what you're going through is valid. Reasons to Stay Alive should be a compulsory must-read for everyone!

Below is an excerpt of one of my favourite passages in Haig's little book that really did tug at my heartstrings:



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