The first thing that caught my attention about this book is the title - Reasons to Stay Alive. Then it was the author - Matt Haig, who has written a bestselling book called The Midnight Library.
Before reading this book, I had read The Midnight Library and I must say I loved the book. That is why I was looking forward to reading this one. My hopes and expectations were already high and I wasn’t disappointed.
The writing style of Matt Haig is poignant and easy to understand. He writes in a way that makes you pause and reflect. In this book, he talks about his journey of battling depression and anxiety, what it felt like, and his journey of recovery.
“Depression is also smaller than you. Always, it is smaller than you, even when it feels vast. It operates within you, you do not operate within it. It may be a dark cloud passing across the sky but - if that is the metaphor - you are the sky. You were there before it. And the cloud can't exist without the sky, but the sky can exist without the cloud.”
He helps the reader understand the complex mental health condition of depression and anxiety in a better way. It sensitizes the reader about this important issue and encourages people going through something similar to reach out for help.
“Things people say to depressives that they don’t say in other life-threatening situations:
‘Come on, I know you’ve got tuberculosis, but it could be worse. At least no one’s died.’
'Why do you think you got stomach cancer?’
‘Yes, I know, colon cancer is hard, but you want to try living with someone who has got it. Sheesh. Nightmare.’
‘Oh, Alzheimer’s you say? Oh, tell me about it, I get that all the time.’
‘Ah, meningitis. Come on, mind over matter.’
‘Yes, yes, your leg is on fire, but talking about it all the time isn’t going to help things, is it?’
‘Okay. Yes. Yes. Maybe your parachute has failed. But chin up.”
― Matt Haig, Reasons to Stay Alive
I like the honesty with which the author conveys his struggles and things that helped him and things that made him feel worse. He encourages readers to talk more about mental health disorders to reduce the stigma around them.
“Talk. Listen. Encourage talking. Encourage listening. Keep adding to the conversation. Stay on the lookout for those wanting to join in the conversation. Keep reiterating, again and again, that depression is not something you ‘admit to’, it is not something you have to blush about, it is a human experience.”
DID YOU KNOW?
“People with mental illnesses aren't wrapped up in themselves because they are intrinsically any more selfish than other people. Of course not. They are just feeling things that can't be ignored. Things that point the arrows inward.”
Increasing depression has also resulted in increasing rates of suicide, which he says -
“Suicide is not a choice in the usual way of thinking about a choice. It is a choice in the way jumping out of a burning building is a choice. If we could see inside the minds the way we could see burning buildings we would understand the real tragedy was the fire in the first place.”
On understanding emotions as a part of being human, he adds -
“The key is in accepting your thoughts, all of them, even the bad ones. Accept thoughts, but don’t become them. Understand, for instance, that having a sad thought, even having a continual succession of sad thoughts, is not the same as being a sad person. You can walk through a storm and feel the wind but you know you are not the wind.”
On life and the hope of the future, he says -
“Life is waiting for you. You might be stuck here for a while, but the world isn’t going anywhere. Hang in there if you can. Life is always worth it.”