Book Review – Reasons To Stay Alive by Matt Haig

GoodReads Rating: 5 Stars

I feel a certain weariness to be so openly passionate about this book, mostly because I feel there’s something quite hypocritical about being so touched and inspired by a book about depression, when depression is something so other to me. I haven;t ever felt depressed, mild anxiety yes, but never depression. I went through a rough patch as a teenager, but that wasn’t anything close to what I have learnt depression is like.

I heard about this book last year, and the way people spoke about it, about how it helped them with their own depression, or how it taught so many about what depression is really like, truly caught my attention. I have never read anything like this before. I’ve read novels centered around mental health and mental illness, but never anything non-fiction. Never anything which describes depression and anxiety in such raw detail.

Words cannot express how thankful I am to Matt Haig for writing this book. I can only imagine the impact it has had on people with illnesses like his, and the ways in which this book have helped them. It helped me. It helped me enormously. Never in my life would I ever have imagined myself having a clue what depression was like, but reading how Matt describes his own experiences, it brings depression down from the ‘it’s all in your head’ stereotype and drags it back to earth in a way that others can understand and appreciate.

I got quite emotional towards the end of the book. I’m not sure if those emotions were empathy, or sudden realisation, or  an over whelming need to give Matt Haig a hug, but it really made me feel something. Throughout the entire book I felt like I was learning through his experience. Like he was guiding me towards a better understanding of what it means to be depressed.

It isn’t all doom and gloom either. Matt writes in a way that gets his point across, but also makes you laugh at times as well, blaming a bout of depression on Hull or bananas. Each spark of humor touched me, because whist he recounted his battle, those jokes were like cracks, and through the cracks I could see that Matt is better now. Admittedly not completely free of depression, but I felt calm in the knowledge that he had experienced the worst of it and had come out the other side.

Matt writes – ‘People place so much value on thought, but feeling is as essential. I want to read books that make me laugh and cry and fear and hope and punch the air in triumph. I want a book to hug me or grab me by the scruff of my neck.  I don’t mind if it punches me in the gut. Because we are here to feel’ Matt has given us all this and more in Reasons To Stay Alive.

This book should be required reading for everyone. If you encounter other human beings in your daily life in any way , shape or form, read this. Read it, digest it, pass it on to another. Every parent, teacher, social worker, McDonald’s staff member, everyone. This book needs to be passed around like a public service announcement. Bravo Matt Haig, and thank you.

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