"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.
Oh my, where do I even begin with this absolute treasure of a book. If anything words can't justify why this book is important in society right now with the amount of people suffering with conditions like depression and anxiety. It's not just these two conditions but a whole vast amount of various mental illnesses that we need to become more aware of, and Matt Haig has given us a giant stepping stone. This memoir of his own personal experience of dealing with anxiety and depression is not just him listing his feelings in a morbid way to fish for sympathy, not at all. There's certainly a light-hearted tone amongst the chapters where he has conversations with himself as to what he wish he could have to comfort his former self that was petrified of what was happening to him. I haven't felt this amount of comfort from a book since I read The Catcher In The Rye. Like I did with the character Holden, I have felt a great deal of comfort and understanding reading Matt's words. It was like he's inside my brain explaining what he can see and he knows exactly what it feels like. A book that can do this is no doubt a read that anyone suffering with these mental conditions needs to pick up. It doesn't turn things upside down and plunge you into a spiral of unhappiness and depression, but makes you realise that despite what you're feeling now things get better. Matt provides a copious amount of reasons to stay alive. It's like he switched on a light and I can see why life is hard but precious too. As my Gran would say "we're only here for a visit," and she's right. I'm not sure I'll ever be able to comprehend the power this book has. Matt's endearing tone is a comfort and the style he's written this memoir is like he's sitting in front of me having a conversation, and I think that was what was the most comforting that he's directly talking to you and you're listening to each and every word because what he's saying is relatable. As someone who suffers with anxiety, I can't recommend this book enough as you can probably guess from this long ramble of a review. You may be unsure of what this book will do for you, but even if you don't suffer with a mental condition it can better your understanding of those around you who do. Such praise and admiration for Matt Haig, you're a literary treasure and I'll hold this book dear to my heart- Thank you.