reasons to stay alive

Reasons to Stay Alive – Matt Haig

Why I bought it

I bought Reasons to Stay Alive as having read Matt Haig’s previous book I felt that it would be interesting to read the precursor to Notes on a Nervous Planet. Having dealt with mental health myself, and had individuals within my close circle experience difficulties, I felt that  it would be  a good  read from this perspective.  Also reviews from friends and others indicated the book would give me an understanding of particular issues that people experience.

Haig has an interesting style of writing in which serious subjects can become almost entertaining with the addition of humour and logic as well as deeply personal experiences being explained through this medium.

My thoughts

Reasons to Stay Alive breaks down many stigmas regarding mental health, suicide and other particular areas which we don’t like to talk about. Haig explains his journey from utter despair through to where he sits right now. You understand what he’s been through, where he’s been and how he dealt with these matters. From his deepest darkest moments you understand why he felt the way he did and the reasons for doing what he did. For anybody who has dealt with these issues, it almost makes you feel semi-normal to understand that other people go through similar as you. This makes it an incredibly important book.

In the initial chapters, he explains how he was living a life that many of us would have dreamt of but at this moment he found himself in his darkest moment. The following chapters explain the issues that this caused and where he found himself moving forward. It explains the time it took for him to feel a sense of normality. How his family, his wife and those close to him helped him through these times who stop their understanding was unquestionable and that allowed him space and time to heal himself. The book details how many of us feel, that we don’t wish to be medicated in a manner which takes away from our everyday feelings, it’s not anti-medication however explains how some of us feel that medication isn’t the answer.

You get an exceptionally honest opinion and outline throughout the book and Haig gives us an understanding from a personal perspective of his feelings and this is important. For me, it’s one of the most important books I’ve read as it gives me the knowledge that others face the same issues but also at times made me feel pretty normal.

There are chapters in which Haig communicates through other mediums such as Twitter and ask those who follow him for their experiences and understanding and this again exemplifies the wider understanding of the difficulties that some people have.

Who this is for?

For me this book is for anyone who’s interested in mental health and anyone who really wants to understand where the mind can take you. It’s completely unexplained however something like this can give us certain explanation and understanding for those who really don’t know what it can do. Where it can take us. If those you know have had moments where they are considerably down and find themselves seeking the light at the end of a tunnel which seems incredibly dark and cold.

For me, anyone interested in mental health or anyone with a team, or responsibility for others, should read books such as this because increasingly the world creates issues for individuals from a mental health perspective. Panic, depression, anxiety and negativity are commonplace and this book seeks to give an understanding of how to deal with these particular feelings Whilst understanding that they are pretty normal – and you can recover with the correct support.

Short Extracts

Doubts are like swallows. They follow each other and swarm together.

Feeling quite normal again. The normal person who is allergic to parties. I wanted to die in the party, but not literally. Really, I had just wanted to escape the room. But I at least had walked into the room in the 1st place. Itself is progress. A year later I would be better enough to not only go to the party, but to travel there on my own from salt sometimes on the rocky, windy path of recovery, what feels like failure can be a step forward.

A side effect of depression is sometimes to become obsessed with the function in of your brain.

It is not you. It is simply something that happens to you. And something that can often be is by talking. Words. Comfort. Support. It took me more than a decade to be able to Talk openly, properly, everyone, about my experience. I soon discovered the act of talking is in itself a therapy. I talk exist, so does hope.

Where to buy

Any good bookshop, or online store, will stock Reasons to Stay Alive. It’s published by Canongate with ISBN – 978-1-78211-682-0.


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