Even more staggeringly, depression is a disease so bad that people are killing themselves because of it in a way they do not kill themselves with any other illness. Yet people still don’t really think depression really is that bad. If they did, they wouldn’t say the things they say.
Reasons to Stay Alive couldn’t have come into my life at a better time. Recent events have been catalysts for what I believe has been a long time coming. If I’m being completely honest, and I always aim to be here, I am in the midst of possibly the worst depressive episode I’ve ever experienced.
This book opens with author Matt Haig at his lowest. He is 24, living in Ibiza, and about to walk off a cliff. Reasons to Stay Alive discusses this, how he got there and how he got out of it. He talks about lying in bed unable to do anything but feel scared – a familiar image right now – and how he got out of this.
Haig struggles with Depression and Anxiety, as do I, however I believe this book could help anyone with mental health problems. If you have a mental illness, read this book. If you want to understand mental illness, read this book. If you care about someone with a mental illness, read this book. This is one of the most honest and real discussions of mental health I’ve ever read. It’s painful, raw, brutal and yet somehow uplifting.
Before reading this book it felt like I had no hope whatsoever – no job, no money, no driving licence, nothing and no reason to work towards anything. Reasons to Stay Alive, however, does something that is so important for recovery when you’re in such a low period – works in baby steps. Smaller than baby steps, in fact, tiny, miniscule ant steps.
Your mind is a galaxy. More dark than light. But the light makes it worthwhile. Which is to say, don’t kill yourself. Even when the darkness is total. Always know that life is not still. Time is space. You are moving through that galaxy. Wait for the stars.
Haig writes about how he began to see every moment spent thinking of something normal, without anything about his illness surrounding it, as a moment of hope. You are proving to yourself, without even realising necessarily, that you aren’t completely trapped in this feeling. Even if the ‘normal’ moment only lasts for a second, it’s something. It’s a sign that these moments will come, more and more often, until eventually they will take over the moments spent stuck in the depression.
This book has made things seem just a little bit less hopeless. I wouldn’t say I’m optimistic necessarily (let’s not get crazy now), but every time I catch myself thinking of something other than how terrible I feel, every time my stomach unravels enough to eat something, the book has taught me to take it as a sign. This is a slow process, but I will be okay eventually and for now it’s about the smallest victories.
Not all of this will apply to every situation, not every experience is the same, and I will admit that I cried a lot through the section about love and pretty much whenever he discussed how much he needed & appreciated his now wife (if you’re going through a heartbreak I would recommend skipping it unless you want to get bitter, Matt and Andrea are a wonderful couple). I do think, however, that everyone can learn something from this book. This isn’t a dull, useless self help book, this is real, accurate and helpful. Millions of people are dealing with experiences like Matt Haig’s – this story is one that is literally killing people, and Reasons to stay Alive is tackling this head on. Read it.
See you soon,
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