I picked up Reasons to Stay Alive in a quiet corner of the Charing Cross Waterstones in between meetings. Often, I will pop in to bookshops in London for a moment of quiet – they are my happy place! I have read some of Matt Haig’s fiction – How to Stop Time and The Humans. However, on this occasion I wanted to read the story behind his mental breakdown, which he often talks about openly online.
Reasons to Stay Alive is a hybrid between a memoir and a self-help guide to dealing with depression and anxiety. I wasn’t sure how it would be classified by booksellers, and after some searching, found it in the health and wellbeing section of the bookshop.
Matt came close to ending his life, when he nearly walked off a cliff in Ibiza. He has dealt with crippling bouts of depression and anxiety that made leaving the house almost impossible at times. His book is detailed, poignant and brutally honest about what he went through.
While telling his story and his path to recovery, Matt offers advice about what to say to someone struggling with depression. He provides solace and hope to those feeling beaten by their emotions. He lists further reading and useful resources around depression and suicide.
Matt is excellent at breaking down and articulating these illnesses in a way that many think, but struggle to verbalise. His aim, is to end the stigma and open up the conversation around these difficult subjects, which I believe he does to great effect.
This book has been hugely popular, as has the follow up Notes on a Nervous Planet.
How to stop time: kiss.
How to travel in time: read.
How to escape time: music.
How to feel time: write.
How to release time: breathe.
Matt Haig, Reasons to Stay Alive