In reading Reasons to Stay Alive, I have made my first foray into non-fiction this year. It is the memoir of author Matt Haig, and tells the reader of his journey through severe depression and anxiety. When his mental health was at its worst, Haig was suicidal. As he begins to recover, he shares with us his reasons to stay alive.
As someone who sometimes struggles to find their own "reasons to stay alive", I found a lot in this book that was relatable. Haig manages to put into words things that I wish I could tell people who have no experience of depression, and uses some wonderful analogies. His descriptions of depression, such as your head being on fire but no-one can see it, are very similar to my own experiences. It is worth mentioning that no two people have the same experience of anxiety and depression (and this very disclaimer is made at the outset of the book) so although there were some aspects of Haig's illness that I do not share, these were explained so well that it was impossible not to understand and feel sympathy for him.
Reasons to Stay Alive does not fit neatly into any particular genre, and Haig touches upon this himself during the course of the book. It is in part a memoir and in part a self-help book. I found this approach made it easier to read, and helped me to take knowledge from it that I can try to apply to my own life.
As Reasons to Stay Alive progresses, we learn about Haig's recovery and the things that helped him to improve his mental health. A large part of this is his ability to practice mindfulness: to accept things as they are and live in the present moment. I have just finished a mindfulness course, and therefore several of the concepts Haig discusses resonate with me, including several quotations, which are beautiful, and can be read in their own right to provide a sense of positivity.
Reasons to Stay Alive is a must-read for anyone who has experience (directly or indirectly) of mental health issues. It may even provide you with the encouraging words you need to continue your recovery.
Reasons To Stay Alive is available from Amazon.