Date finished: Jan 8th 2016
According to the Mental Health Foundation, 1 in 4 of us will experience a mental health problem in a given year. 1 in 5 of us claim to feel anxious ‘all or a lot of the time’. In the UK, suicide is the leading cause of death in men up to the age of 49.
These are things we need to know, yet rarely talk about. Mental health problems remain contentious and many sufferers still feel that these issues are stigmatised. Books like Reasons to Stay Alive are the weapon with which we can fight this stigma.
Novelist Matt Haig has created something rather magical in this work: a book about depression that manages to be uplifting. Starting candidly with his own mental collapse at the age of twenty-four which saw him at a cliff-edge contemplating whether or not to jump, Haig descends into a part-biography, part self-help, part general-overview of depression, anxiety, suicide and everything inbetween. He recounts his own experience from his initial breakdown to the bad days, the good days and how he eventually begun to recover and become the successful author he is today. Along the way he shares some of the things he learnt from his experience – vital little things that could mean the world to someone going through the same problems.
There’s a lot of warmth, wit and wisdom in this accessible little book, composed of bite-size vignettes of narrative, advice and factoids. Aside from the author’s own candid journey, there’s a lot of important information about depression and anxiety and much valuable insight into the mindset of a depressive. This book contains a lot of useful and comforting content for fellow sufferers, but perhaps more vitally Haig does his best to elucidate what can be a rather bewildering disorder to those lucky enough to avoid it.
Reasons to Stay Alive is a very important and necessary book about a topic that should receive a lot more exposure in our modern society. Rather than descending into statistics and medical jargon, Haig discusses depression with an ease and honesty that is crucial in exploring such a delicate subject. Quite simply, for anyone who has ever suffered with their mental health, this is a perfect little book to pull off the bookshelf on a bad day and take comfort in. Sweden recently made Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s We Should All Be Feminists a reading requirement for all sixteen year olds. Reasons to Stay Alive is exactly the sort of book we should be considering for similar status.