Saturday, 16 January 2016

Book Review: Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig

Reasons to Stay Alive – Matt Haig

As previously mentioned, any reviews that aren’t of a fictional story book won’t follow my usual layout.

Author: Matt Haig
Publisher: Canongate Books
First published: 2015
Cover: Hardback with dust cover
Pages: 264
Blurb:    Aged 24, Matt Haig’s world caved in. He could see no way to go on living. This is the true story of how he came through crisis, triumphed over an illness that almost destroyed him and learned to live again.
A moving, funny and joyous exploration of how to live better, love better and feel more alive, Reasons to Stay Alive is more than a memoir. It is a book about making the most of your time on earth.

History of my copy: For Christmas, I received a £10 Waterstones gift card from my friend. Last week, I finally decided to use it towards an order of three books, Reasons to Stay Alive being one of them.

I had heard of this book through Goodreads, and saw that it was Waterstones non-fiction book of the month. This, along with the fact that I suffer from depression and anxiety, pushed me to buy it. And I don’t regret it at all. This is one of the best books I have ever read and, if you were to read only one book in your entire life, I would recommend this one.
It’s written by Matt Haig as he looks back on the darkest time of his life. He doesn’t dance around the issue of mental health, but delves straight in. It’s relatable and humorous, and it truly amazes me how he can put words to how it feels. Explaining your depression-riddled mind to anyone who has no idea what it’s like is impossible, and I even find it difficult to explain things to those unfortunate people who have suffered too, so, to me, it’s an outstanding achievement to be able to publish a book about it!
Matt Haig is an inspiration. He has shown that depression isn’t the end of it all, and that there is a life after it. He has also helped me feel much less alone, as many of the things he wrote about are exactly how I feel right now. He addresses the ‘difficult’ topic well, and discusses how, despite how common it is, and how deadly depression can be, there is still so much negative stigma surrounding it. I know I’m certainly not the first to feel like a disappointment for how my brain works.
Furthermore, the chapter regarding the things people say to depressives but not in other life-threatening situations really does say it all. As a student currently in my final year of a-levels, I am under a lot of pressure to get better and get my attendance back up to scratch. However, having had depression for years, I can’t cure myself and the medication doesn’t work, so I’m stuck on the waiting list for therapy. Yet, I am still expected to get better right now, despite the fact I haven’t had successful treatment. Family and friends are finally starting to realise, along with my favourite saying ‘you wouldn’t expect a patient needing a lung transplant to get better whilst still being on the waiting list and never receiving the transplant’, that this isn’t something I will immediately snap out of.

To read or not to read: Read. This book is a compulsory read for everyone. If you suffer from depression and/or anxiety, it really helps you feel so much less alone. If you don’t suffer, it can help you understand those who are just a little bit more.

If anyone would like to talk to me about depression or any mental illnesses at any point, whether you're at your lowest, or just want to know more, please feel free to leave a comment and I'll get in contact with you.

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