Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig
Review by Lauren
source: copy for review; all opinions are my own
Official Summary: 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.
Review: Matt Haig is a bestselling author and his latest release is a nonfiction book about depression and anxiety. These are two things that I suffer from as well, but not in the same way that Mr. Haig did. Regardless, I could understand a lot of what he was saying. When Haig was 24, he had essentially a breakdown where he wanted to kill himself. Fortunately, he did not and he went on to fight his depression. His girlfriend at the time – and now wife – Andrea, was obviously a huge help for him. She was there when he needed it, but she also willing to be a ‘pusher’ (my word) because she knew that he could get better and she cheered for him every step of the way.
What I loved about Reasons to Stay Alive is that it’s a mix of things. Yes, it’s an account of Mr. Haig’s deep depression and how he got through that, and how he handles his depression and anxiety now. However, it’s also a love letter to life. It’s a list of things that Mr. Haig loves or loses himself in when he can’t face the hardships of life. It’s information about depression and how it affects so many people. It’s a push to get help and talk about your problems, especially for men, who commit suicide in larger numbers than women.
Reasons to Stay Alive is great for a lot of people – those who suffer from mental illness, to know they aren’t alone, to find new coping mechanisms, to understand things a bit better. It’s also for those that don’t suffer but want to empathize more, especially if they know people in their lives that do have depression, anxiety, or some other mental illness. Being there is enough. Being there is sometimes just what they need. I really appreciated how Mr. Haig notes that many people have a stigma toward mental illness and he gives examples of things that people feel fine telling someone with depression but they would never do it if the person had cancer or some other physically notable disease.
Depression can’t be seen, but it’s there. Educate yourself.