Skip to main content

Reasons to Stay Alive - Matt Haig




"You are in a hurricane. Hurricanes run out of energy eventually. Hold on!" This is one of the many valuable pieces of information Matt Haig offers to his readers in his first piece of non-fiction, 'Reasons to Stay Alive'. Haig's conversational tone about his struggles with depression and anxiety make for a very important, and at times utterly heartbreaking read. As someone who has dealt with anxiety over the last year or so, this is an incredibly poignant book with the power to help those who see no way out.


Haig is openly candid about his depression, the opening chapters recall his days of living in Ibiza, where he stood atop a cliff and contemplated about ending his life. What follows is half memoir, half self help as Haig's charming, funny and straightforward prose sets to straighten out the stigma that surrounds mental illness, but without coming across as self indulgent or pretentious. This is a brutally honest account, with short bursts on each page surrounding a specific sub-topic, such as the humour filled 'Conversations with myself' or the heart wrenching account of being unable to walk out of the house and go to the shop without succumbing to crippling fear. It is at times, so brutally honest, that it makes it more so approachable, without ever being bogged down with overwhelming science or academia. He writes a honest book for regular people, and I cannot commend him enough.
 I finished the book within a day, due to the small construction of each chapter but Haig's words refuse to leave me, they have resonated deep within myself and in some way, have altered the perspective in which I see the world.



By no means is this a traditional self-help or spirituality book, the academic facts are there but briefly, as a reference point rather than to weigh you down with numbers and statistics. Haig is not attempting to define or reshape what anxiety or depression is, rather he is sharing his story in a way that can resonate with others. Truly, Haig has voiced exactly how I felt at a time where my anxiety was crippling my every move. I was isolated from those I loved and perhaps even worse, I was isolated from myself. The figurative thought of failing University, and failing my supporting family clouded every move I made. I would forget how to speak, my breathing would increase dramatically and I sometimes felt that I would be stuck in this insufferable prison forever, like it was a punishment for something. I would never  discuss this with anyone, or try and articulate how I felt. There were times I felt worthless, alone, intolerable to others; this was all in my own head and I would never fathom the words to string a sentence together to try and begin to describe how I felt. Thankfully Haig clearly and eloquently finds the words for me and those who struggle to articulate how they feel.

This book will make you chuckle, and will no doubt cause a lump to form in your throat. But it is one of the most important, life affirming books I have read in years, so I urge you to give it and try. We all experience forms of worry, or anxiety. We struggle to pay our bills, worry about climbing up the social/buisness ladder, whether or not we'll find our soul mate, but sometimes we are quick to use terms like 'depression' or 'anxiety' as presupposed adjectives, rather than conceive them as troubling mental illnesses that need our attention. Chances are you have depression, experienced depression or you know someone with depression, and this book will be the shining star to guide you through the darkness. Even if you just want to experience a fresh perspective on the world, please just take the time to read this truly astonishing piece of work; to end on Haig's fifth reason to stay alive, "You will one day experience joy that matches this pain."

Comments

  1. Brilliant review, Kieran. Glad you are feeling better too. Anxiety troubles us perfectionists, doesn't it? We want to make our family so proud and I know you definitely do! Keep reading and reviewing, loved reading this.
    Rozzie

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

The Goldfish Boy - Lisa Thompson

It's a new year which means it's time to shake off your dusty wigs and get your reading glasses back on as I'm back on the old blogger! It's been a rather busy few months (what EVEN was December?!) but I'm back, with a promise to you all of at LEAST one post per week. So, let's kick things off in style with a good old fashioned book review; what better place to start than January's Book of the Month for Waterstones, Lisa Thompson's debut 'The Goldfish Boy'.

  Matthew Corbin suffers from OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) and rarely does he leave his room. He washes his hands until they crack and bleed, he douses everything with antiseptic spray and he has a secret box of latex gloves under his bed. To pass the time, he observes his neighbours as they go about their daily routines and jots it down in his notepad. Everything is as regular as clockwork, until Mr Charles' grandchildren come to stay, and the youngest, Teddy, goes missing. As the …

How to Stop Time - Matt Haig

"I suddenly realise it doesn't matter. It doesn't matter that we age differently. It doesn't matter that there is no way of resisting the laws of time. The time ahead of you is the like the land beyond the ice. You can guess what it could be like but you can never know. All you know is the moment you are in."

Imagine, for a second, that you were different to everyone else. To others, you may seem like a rather ordinary forty year old, but the reality is you're closer to four hundred and ninety. This is the problem of Tom Hazard, the protagonist of Matt Haig's incredible new novel How to Stop Time. Tom suffers from a rare condition that has caused him to be alive for centuries, ageing one physical year every fifteen years. Always on the move to avoid suspicion, Tom now works in a secondary school as a history teacher, but the one rule he is told never to break keeps making itself known; never fall in love. 

  The joyous quality with Matt Haig is that he trul…

The Bookshop Girl - Sylvia Bishop

If you're reading this, chances are, you probably like books. You probably would go as far to say you LOVE books, that if you chance upon a bookshop on your travels that you just HAVE to pop in for a browse and end up losing the rest of your day in there. This love for bookshops and love for reading is encapsulated perfectly in Sylvia Bishop's The Bookshop Girl, her follow up to Erica's Elephant

  Perkily illustrated by my bookselling chum Ashley King, The Bookshop Girl follows the adventures of Property Jones, who lives in a second hand bookshop after she was left there in a cupboard when she was a baby, who wins the opportunity of a lifetime to look after the renowned Montgomery Book Emporium. But can Property save the day when a sinister Mr Pink shows up demanding a rare and valuable manuscript? And will she ever reveal her biggest secret? 

  One of the biggest perks of Bishop's writing is how charming and breezy it is. The story reminded me of Dahl's 'Charl…