Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig

23363874How did I get the book? I bought it

Genre: Non-Fiction / Memoir / Mental Health

Previously reviewed:
Echo Boy
The Radleys

Synopsis: 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.

Review: Normally when I don’t connect with a book I don’t feel bad about it. It’s a ‘this wasn’t for me’ and move on thing but Reasons to Stay Alive? Well this was supposed the book. The one that I could cling to in the stormy clouds and also give to people the next time I heard another stupid comment like; “just be positive”.

I do think I would recommend Reasons to Stay Alive to people who don’t know a lot about depression, for further insight, especially on the topic of crap not to say to someone with depression.

For those of us with depression? Well I honestly don’t know.

Based on the reviews and on feedback I’ve seen from people I know – many people connect with Reasons to Stay Alive. I just wasn’t one of them.

I bought the book the week it came out but then delayed reading it. Maybe it was a mistake. Had I read it when it was first published, I would have been in a better place. As it was, I read Reasons to Stay Alive in the middle the awful months where everything was sinking fast. I thought: Now is the time. This is when I need this book… but maybe I shouldn’t have pinned so much hope on it because depression for one person isn’t the same as depression for another.

Reasons to Stay Alive is Matt Haig’s story of depression. It contains information about depression and Matt Haig also discusses how anxiety and depression sometimes combine, so there are some sections on panic attacks.

One thing that concerns me and please note this is my perception of the tone of the text, is the way treating depression with medication is handled in this book.

Don’t misunderstand, medication isn’t for everyone. Matt Haig talks about how it wasn’t for him and he does say that it works for some people (two sentences if memory serves, p.35 & p.81) however the overall tone left me feeling like the author wasn’t in favour.

I understand that Reasons to Stay Alive is partly autobiographical but I feel that there should have been more balance in regards to the subject of medication and depression. In the book comes across one-sided and in my opinion the tone isn’t helping this. For example on p.81: “If pills work for you… – keep taking them. Hell, if licking the wallpaper does it for you, do that.”

Books are subjective. The emotions I have about Reasons to Stay Alive are still all over the place. I do like what Matt Haig set out to do and if I was giving this to somebody for a little more insight into depression than maybe this would work but I came to this because the title is Reasons to Stay Alive so my expectations were somewhat different.

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