Reasons to Stay Alive

Reasons to Stay Alive

Title: Reasons to Stay Alive

Author: Matt Haig 

Review by Anita Laryea

The physical and mental effects of depression are a challenge to adequately communicate in print. To be able to successfully paint a picture of this multifaceted mental condition with words is extraordinary. Matt Haig has done just that. Reasons to Stay Alive is a beguiling work of non-fiction on a subject matter that affects many. It is eye- opening, edifying and honest.

Haig was 24 when depression, or the ‘black dog’ as he refers to it, came upon him. He describes the onset of the disease as an ‘intense flickering’ at the back of his skull. From then on, his life changed. In addition he suffered bouts of anxiety. As a result, simple daily endeavours such as going to the local corner shop to purchase milk and marmite became panic-inducing voyages.

As well as various accounts of his lowest moments, Haig includes a number of lists. One in particular to look out for is the ‘Things people say to depressives that they don’t say in other life-threatening situations’ list. Although comical in tone, this list cleverly serves as a tool to showcase the magnitude of ignorance there is towards depression. A statement from this section reads as follows: ‘Okay. Yes. Yes. Maybe your parachute has failed. But chin up.’ This list is brilliant because, although it warrants a chuckle, it is thought provoking. Haig’s humour in his book is partially why it is such a great page turner.

Truth and wisdom

The writing is digestible, conversational even which is what makes it a pleasurable read. Haig has a unique way of connecting with his readers. Truth sits on every page, the whole of page 189 is Instagram worthy! It is evident that Haig has accumulated a lot of wisdom through his experience and his book is a source of nourishment.

This creative memoir will certainly be an eye opener to individuals who view depression and anxiety as just being ‘a little bit sad’ or just ‘over-worried’. It will be a comfort to those who are or know someone who is in the midst of depression.

Reasons to Stay Alive is an endearing read. There are brilliant nuggets of research sprinkled sparingly throughout the book and stories of triumph over depression. It is educational as it is funny. Matt Haig is an overcomer and he did well to share his story in print. He has demonstrated bravery in having done this, a fundamental prerequisite for non-fiction writing. It should be read often and recommended to fellow book lovers, medical professionals and students. It has been said that this book should be on prescription, which is quite right, it should!

Review by Anita Laryea

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