It’s still only January and already I have read two books that will definitely be in my top 10 of this year, and this is one of them.
Published: March 5th 2015
Publisher: Canongate Books
Bought: Book Depository
GoodReads Average Rating: 4.26
My Rating: 97% (5 Stars)
“I want life. I want to read it and write it and feel it and live it. I want, for as much of the time as possible in this blink-of-an-eye existence we have, to feel all that can be felt. I hate depression.
I am scared of it. Terrified, in fact. But at the same time, it has made me who I am. And if – for me – it is the price of feeling life, it’s a price always worth paying.”
Reasons to Stay Alive is about making the most of your time on earth. In the western world the suicide rate is highest amongst men under the age of 35. Matt Haig could have added to that statistic when, aged 24, he found himself staring at a cliff-edge about to jump off. This is the story of why he didn’t, how he recovered and learned to live with anxiety and depression. It’s also an upbeat, joyous and very funny exploration of how live better, love better, read better and feel more.
I feel like I should start this review by saying a thank you to Matt Haig. Not just for writing such a relatable and helpful book, but for overcoming depression. I discovered Matt Haig 8 years ago when I was 10 in my last year of primary school. Every year we would take part in the Nestle Smarties Book Prize (funnily enough it was the last year the award took place.) I remember the teacher choosing people to go one by one to the box of books, and everyone choosing Shadow Forest to read first. Unfortunately they were all gone by the time I got up there so I had to read Here Lies Arthur until someone had finished their copy.
When I finally got my copy I was so excited and I loved it so much I read it over the weekend just so someone else could have the chance to read it. I have such great memories of reading that book and to think that if Matt hadn’t been strong, or if he didn’t have such a supportive wife, I wouldn’t have those memories. So, Matt, thank you for getting better.
This book is extraordinary, and one reason for that is because it isn’t detail overload. It doesn’t go into the science of mental illness which I find a lot of non-fiction books do. When you have depression you don’t want a science lesson, you just want to know that you are not alone in feeling like this. That is exactly the feeling this book gives you. While reading it, I felt like Matt Haig really understood what I’m going through right now and he made me understand it, he made me understand that I’m not going crazy and that there is so many reasons why I should work to get better rather than just give up. I agree with Joanna Lumley, this book could save lives. I feel like it’s saved mine.
In a word I would describe this book as comforting. Because at no point in this book did it make me feel embarrassed or abnormal for being depressed. It didn’t make me feel pathetic or crazy, just understood. Reading his words felt like reading my own mind, that’s how scary accurate it is. If you look at the picture above you can see lots of sticky tabs on the pages, all of those represent sentences or pages or sometimes entire chapters that really hit home because of how familiar they were.
This book not only gives you an understanding to how depression feels, but it gave me hope. In a particular chapter he lists famous people who have suffered depression. Some of them really shocked me because they are so successful and they seem so happy, and when you have depression you are convinced that will never be you. But seeing these people I’ve seen in my favourite childhood movies or have listened to their music or have read their books, it gave me hope that if I get through this I could actually be happy.
I can’t describe how much this book means to me. All I want is for parents, teenagers, teachers, doctors, nurses, everyone to read this book. Whether you suffer from depression or not. You need to read this book. It could help you help someone one day.
So, my reasons to stay alive? My Mum and Dad, my dogs, the never ending list of books I look forward to reading, Disney movies (no shame,) the upcoming Fantastic Beasts movies, tea, cheesy omelettes and finally, because ‘death is so final, yet life is full of possibilities.’
Thanks for reading,