Reasons to Stay Alive

By Matt Haig

58,686 ratings - 4.14* vote

Matt Haig’s accessible and life-affirming memoir of his struggle with depression, and how his triumph over the illness taught him to live.Like nearly one in five people, Matt Haig suffers from depression. Reasons to Stay Alive is Matt’s inspiring account of how, minute by minute and day by day, he overcame the disease with the help of reading, writing, and the love of his Matt Haig’s accessible and life-affirming memoir of his struggle with depression, and how his triumph over the

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Book details

Paperback, 256 pages
February 23rd 2016 by Penguin Books

(first published March 5th 2015)

Original Title
Reasons To Stay Alive
ISBN
0143128728 (ISBN13: 9780143128724)
Edition Language
English

Community Reviews

Maxine (Booklover Catlady)

FINALLY! A real book about depression that makes sense, that those with depression will read and sit nodding their heads and agreeing all the way through it. No psychobabble here (from Psychologists who have never experienced depression) - just real raw telling of Matt Haig's journey with the dreaded black dog.

This book should be given or bought by EVERYONE battling depression, or has a loved one battling it. It's everywhere you know.

I first read this and reviewed back in 2015 and I decided to read it again this year (2021) as my depression has escalated as has my anxiety during the fear of COVID and isolating lockdowns. Never more timely to get yourself this book. So many are suffering with depression.

Matt so simply explains how it feels, he is so darn honest and all of what he says is true (trust me I know). He breaks it down into simple formats, like lists of what you feel like on a bad day or what you are thinking and it's all stuff that NONE of the other books cover, it's really genuinely what is going on in your dark mind.

He tackles the issues of suicidal thoughts and tendencies and how scary it can be, nobody wants to talk about that right? But we need to. When those thoughts hit and you start thinking how you should do it, where, will it work, what if I stuff up then I’m more damaged?

Often surprising to many people these thoughts come calmly and logically. Not just a split-second decision. Did you know the most written words on suicide notes are “you’ll be better off without me” because those fighting mental illness feel they are a burden on others, you feel ashamed and less than. Most don’t truly want to end their lives but desperately want to stop the awful pain and loss of hope.

A bit that resonated with me was about how withdrawn you become from the world, scared to go out on your own, or even with others, you need people but you can't cope with them. It's overwhelming.

Matt mentions staring out of a window and watching people go by and thinking he just wants to be normal like them. I have done that, hundreds of times, with my cat by my side, wishing normal was in my scope.

It made me laugh in places too, it's gutsy and so freaking RIGHT. Loved this book, I read it in the wee hours of the morning relating to everything Matt has gone through and cheering for his moments of coming out of the darkness that is so devastating.

I’ve lived with severe depression and suicidal ideation since I was quite young, something that started in an abusive home and bullying at school. I didn’t get help or diagnosed until my early 30’s.

I know now I’ll probably have depressive episodes for life but with a trial of medications now that help mostly I’m okay but I still go into the blackness and want to sleep and never wake up. I’m now doing trauma therapy to tackle the deep seated damage done to me.

If you need mental health support and are in the U.K. there is an awesome text conversation service you can use to text with a trained volunteer called SHOUT. You can be anonymous and it’s often easier when low to text than speak on the phone to strangers. They respond immediately and are really genuinely helpful. I’ve used it and recommend it. Pop the number in your phone.

Let's get real about depression, it can hit anyone, it's not a choice, you can't just positive self-talk your way out of it. If you have a broken leg people want to help you, they can see the damage, they don’t assume you are just lazy or lying about the pain you feel but by golly are you judged wrongly with depression and mental health issues. Where the brain chemistry is broken.

Just buy this book! It’s the best I’ve read of hundreds on this topic. 5 paw prints from the Booklover Catlady for this little gem.

Nice job Matt, this one will help so many people. It should be given out at every counselling and therapy session for anyone with depression around the world.

For more of my reviews follow me here as Booklover Catlady or request to friend me. You can also find me on Amazon UK under the same name to check out more reviews I do of a zillion products and books.

Nice job Matt, this one will help so many people. It should be given out at every counselling and therapy session for anyone with depression around the world.

JV (semi-hiatus)

"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. I am satisfied just to be."
2018 — The demon came. 'Twas the year I lost a part of myself. My soul wept and mourned for that someone I once truly cherished — the previous me. Looking into the mirror, I saw nothing but hopelessness, worthlessness, and sadness in those eyes — bereft of joy and love. The demon succeeded — almost. Menacing and taunting, it dragged me helplessly into the insatiable abyss — the unfathomable, frigid depths of the ocean. The agonising pain was consuming every bit of my sanity. And I was left wondering if ever my fall will ever be caught by someone or something. It was definitely my end — as I once saw in my dreams, precognition of my own death, my finality. As the demon plunged me into the murkiest depths, I told myself I needed to go back to where I came from. This is not the coda I was expecting and yet, the proverbial light seemed to be receding. Yes, it was dragging me into its deeper, darker, and suffocating embrace muting and subduing all the prismatic colours that once enveloped me. A part of me died and no one could ever notice because "the weirdest thing about a mind is that you can have the most intense things going on in there but no one else can see them." All hope was nearly lost, yet I clung to that spark of light, saving most parts of myself that are slowly disintegrating and dissipating into that vast expanse of infinite darkness.
"If you have ever believed a depressive wants to be happy, you are wrong. They could not care less about the luxury of happiness. They just want to feel an absence of pain. To escape a mind on fire, where thoughts blaze and smoke like old possessions lost to arson. To be normal. Or, as normal is impossible, to be empty."
And now, here I am. Not the same and never will be, but now stronger and still keeping the demon at bay. Well, I think "it" is going to be a part of me anyway, being an empath and a highly sensitive individual all my life. Reading this book gave me comfort, offered hope, validated my experience, and made me accept things that I cannot change and still be hopeful and stop "worrying about worrying" and all that. My sincerest gratitude to Matt Haig for sharing his story with such remarkable candour. This is a book that is meant to be read by everyone — for those who wanted to understand what depression/anxiety is, for those whose light has been consumed by the darkness but are still looking for the momentary spark that will truly guide them into the light and out of the blue; and for those who are carers of depressed individuals.
"Depression is an illness. Yet it doesn’t come with a rash or a cough. It is hard to see, as it is generally invisible. Even though it is a serious illness it is also surprisingly hard for many sufferers to recognise it at first. Not because it doesn’t feel bad – it does – but because that bad feeling seems unrecognisable, or can be confused with other things."
Like Haig, I also write and read to escape, know myself, broaden my perspective, and it's my way of resisting and restraining the demon.
"One cliché attached to bookish people is that they are lonely, but for me, books were my way out of being lonely. If you are the type of person who thinks too much about stuff then there is nothing lonelier in the world than being surrounded by a load of people on a different wavelength. [...] Books were about movement. They were about quests and journeys. Beginnings and middles and ends, even if not in that order. They were about new chapters. And leaving old ones behind."
You might ask me, what keeps you going? Well, having a fictional hubby like Dean Winchester inspires me, what more if I can find an actual Dean Winchester in this reality called life? At least, that is one of my Reasons to Stay Alive. Life is still full of possibilities even if some are quite implausible.

And please remember, whoever is reading this, you are, definitely, not alone!

Audiobook rating (narrated by Matt Haig):
Narrative voice & style - ★★★½
Vocal characterisation - ★★★½
Inflexion & intonation - ★★★
Voice quality - ★★★½
Audiobook verdict - ★★★

Cindy

3.5 stars. I think I was expecting the book to be more profound than it actually turned out to be. It's more a series of thoughts and reflections that the author has. I appreciate Haig sharing his struggles with depression and his sensitivity, but I'm not sure if it does much other than being relatable. This might suit better for someone who is starting to understand depression; otherwise, it doesn't add anything new to the conversation we've already been having about mental health.

Swaroop

So relevant for these strange, uncertain and stressful times!

"Words, just sometimes, can set you free."

'But in the end one needs more courage to live than to kill himself.'
~ Albert Camus, A Happy Death

This book has been an incredible read. I am not sure if there is an ancient saying about this, but this book surely appeared when the reader needed it. Matt Haig's Reasons To Stay
Alive
is just wonderful. It brought many bright rays of hope and sunshine, at a time when life's become so very uncertain and it seems to be all about getting through one day at a time. One of those books which that need to be reread and referred to.

Thank you, Matt Haig!

"The storm ends. Believe me."
"I am you and you are me. We are alone, but not alone. We are trapped by time, but also infinite. Made of flesh, but also stars.

Lotte

4.5/5 stars. If you've suffered from depression and/or anxiety yourself at some point in your life or you know someone that has (and it's very likely that you do) this book is an absolute must-read.

☘Misericordia☘ ⚡ϟ⚡⛈⚡☁ ❇️❤❣

One of the most beautifully written books I have ever read. Inspiration almost drips off the pages. It's honest and vivid enough to make difference even for people who have done no personal trips to the hellish planet of Depression.
And the imagery! Don't get me started on it or I won't get any sleep today! I love when concepts are mixed with guidelines and wisdom of someone who has been there and done all that.
I can't imagine why I never knew about this author before! It's a sure must read and a must reread and even a must keep copy on my bedside table at all times!
NB! Careful if you have the tendency to trigger negaive emotions via empathy as this book is honest about what the author went through regarding his psychological experiences.
Inspirational:
Q:
Maybe love is just about finding the person you can be your weird self with. (c)
Q:
So every human inhabitant on this freak wonder of a planet shares the same core. I am you and you are me. We are alone, but not alone. We are trapped by time, but also infinite. Made of flesh, but also stars. (c)
Q:
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.
(c)
Q:
Your mind is a galaxy. More dark than light. But the light makes it worthwhile. ... Even when the darkness is total. Always know that life is not still. Time is space. You are moving through that galaxy. Wait for the stars. (c)
Q:
You will one day experience joy that matches this pain. You will cry euphoric tears at the Beach Boys, you will stare down at a baby’s face as she lies asleep in your lap, you will make great friends, you will eat delicious foods you haven’t tried yet, you will be able to look at a view from a high place and not assess the likelihood of dying from falling. There are books you haven’t read yet that will enrich you, films you will watch while eating extra-large buckets of popcorn, and you will dance and laugh and have sex and go for runs by the river and have late-night conversations and laugh until it hurts. Life is waiting for you. You might be stuck here for a while, but the world isn’t going anywhere. Hang on in there if you can. Life is always worth it. (c)
Instructional:
Q:
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.
That is how we must be with our minds. We must allow ourselves to feel their gales and downpours, but all the time knowing this is just necessary weather.
When I sink deep, now, and I still do from time to time, I try and understand that there is another, bigger and stronger part of me that is not sinking. It stands unwavering. (c)
Q:
So, as was often the case, a big fear was beaten by a bigger fear. The best way to beat a monster is to find a scarier one. (c)
Q:
This isn't a question of strength. Not the stoic, get-on-with-stuff-without-thinking-too-much kind of strength, anyway. It's more of a zooming-in. That sharpening. ... You know, before the age of twenty-four I hadn't realised how bad things could feel, but I hadn't realised how good they could feel either. That shell might be protecting you, but it's also stopping you feeling the full force of that good stuff. Depression might be a hell of a price to pay for waking up to life, ... But it is actually quite therapeutic to know that pleasure doesn't just help compensate for pain, it can actually grow out of it. (c)
Q:
THE WORLD IS increasingly designed to depress us. Happiness isn’t very good for the economy.
If we were happy with what we had, why would we need more?
How do you sell an anti-ageing moisturiser? You make someone worry about ageing.
How do you get people to vote for a political party? You make them worry about immigration.
How do you get them to buy insurance? By making them worry about everything.
How do you get them to have plastic surgery? By highlighting their physical flaws.
How do you get them to watch a TV show? By making them worry about missing out.
How do you get them to buy a new smartphone? By making them feel like they are being left behind.
To be calm becomes a kind of revolutionary act. To be happy with your own non-upgraded existence. To be comfortable with our messy, human selves, would not be good for business. (c)
Q:
You are walking around with your head on fire and no one can see the flames. (c)
Q:
I’d always considered myself to be a person who liked books. But there is a difference between liking books and needing them. I needed books. They weren’t a luxury good during that time in my life. They were a Class A addictive substance. I’d have gladly got into serious debt to read (indeed, I did). I think I read more books in those six months than I had done during five years of university education, and I’d certainly fallen deeper into the worlds conjured on the page.
There is this idea that you either read to escape or you read to find yourself. I don't really see the difference. We find ourselves through the process of escaping. (c)
Q:
MINDS ARE UNIQUE. They go wrong in unique ways. My mind went wrong in a slightly different way to how other minds go wrong. Our experience overlaps with other people's, but it is never exactly the same experience. (c)
Q:
Once the storm is over you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure, in fact, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm’s all about. (c)
Q:
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. (c)
Q:
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 cancer of the stomach?’
‘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. (c)
Q:
Never say 'pull yourself together' or 'cheer up' unless you're also going to provide detailed, foolproof instructions. (c)
Q:
We are all echoes of each other. We are all humans and feel both despair and happiness. Our similarities, as a species, are staggering. And our mental fragility is directly tied up with our humanity. We have nothing to be ashamed of in being human, any more than a tree should be ashamed of having branches. Let’s accept our own nature. Let’s be kind to ourselves and to each other. Let’s never add to the pain by blaming ourselves. We are all so weird that, really, none of us are. There are seven billion versions of strange on this freak wonder of a planet. We are all part of that. All freaks. All wonderful. (c)
Q:
Goals are the source of misery. An unattained goal causes pain, but actually achieving it brings only a brief satisfaction. (c)
Q:
Life is hard. It may be beautiful and wonderful but it is also hard. ... Life is so infinitely hard. It involves a thousand tasks all at once. And I am a thousand different people, all fleeing away from the centre. (c)
Q:
That's the odd thing about depression and anxiety. It acts like an intense fear of happiness, even as you yourself consciously want that happiness more than anything. So if it catches you smiling, even fake smiling, then - well, that stuff's just not allowed and you know it, so here comes ten tons of counterbalance. (c)
Q:
The weirdest thing about a mind is that you can have the most intense things going on in there but no one else can see them. The world shrugs. (c)
Q:
Where talk exists, so does hope. (c)
Q:
If you have ever believed a depressive wants to be happy, you are wrong. They could not care less about the luxury of happiness. They just want to feel an absence of pain. To escape a mind on fire, where thoughts blaze and smoke like old possessions lost to arson. To be normal. Or, as normal is impossible, to be empty. And the only way I could be empty was to stop living. One minus one is zero. (c)
Q:
I wanted to be dead. No. That's not quite right. I didn't want to be dead, I just didn't want to be alive. (c)
Q:
What doesn't kill you very often makes you weaker. What doesn't kill you can leave you limping for the rest of your days. What doesn't kill you can make you scared to leave your house, or even your bedroom, and have you trembling, or mumbling incoherently, or leaning with your head on a window pane, wishing you could return to the time before the thing that didn't kill you. (c)
Q:
Forcing yourself to see the world through love's gaze can be healthy. Love is an attitude to life. It can save us.(c)
Q:
Unlike a book or a film depression doesn’t have to be about something. ...
Books were about movement. They were about quests and journeys. Beginnings and middles and ends, even if not in that order. They were about new chapters. And leaving old ones behind. (c)
Q:
Misery, like yoga, is not a competitive sport. (c)
On books and emotions:
Q:
People place so much value on thought, but feeling is as essential. I want to read books that make me laugh and cry and fear and hope and punch the air in triumph. I want a book to hug me or grab me by the scruff of my neck. I don’t even mind if it punches me in the gut. Because we are here to feel. (c)
Q:
... we are humans. We are a clandestine species. Unlike other animals we wear clothes and do our procreating behind closed doors. And we are ashamed when things go wrong with us. But we’ll grow out of this, and the way we’ll do it is by speaking about it. And maybe even through reading and writing about it.
I believe that. Because it was, in part, through reading and writing that I found a kind of salvation from the dark. (c)
Q:
I CAN REMEMBER the day the old me died.
It started with a thought. (c)
Q:
I had put off being an adult for as long as I could, and it had loomed like a cloud. A cloud that was now breaking and raining down on me. (c)
Q:
... the mind is infinite, and its torments – when they happen – can be equally infinite. (c)
Q:
But this was illness. This wasn’t having a crazy thought. This wasn’t being a bit wacky. This wasn’t reading Borges or listening to Captain Beefheart or smoking a pipe or hallucinating a giant Mars bar. This was pain. (c)
Q:
In a world where possibility is endless, the possibilities for pain and loss and permanent separation are also endless. So fear breeds imagination, and vice versa, on and on and on, until there is nothing left to do except go mad. (c)

Funny!
Q:
The woman I wanted to be was not particularly fast at her job. I think she was the slowest person there had ever been at her job. I think she may well have been the incentive for the later move towards self-service checkouts in many shops. ...
‘Do you need a bag?’
I sort of did need a bag, but I couldn’t risk slowing her down any more. (c)
Q:
So, annoyingly, scientists aren’t all singing from the same hymn sheet. Some don’t even believe there is a hymn sheet. Others have burnt the hymn sheet and written their own songs. (c)
Q:
THE DEMON SAT next to me in the back of the car. He was real and false all at once. ... This is weird. Mum is talking about Matthew Bourne and her friends who have seen this production and there is a happy demon on the back seat licking my face. (c)

How to live
Q:   
2. Sip, don't gulp. (c)
Q:
10. Wherever you are, at any moment, try and find something beautiful. A face, a line out of a poem, the clouds out of a window, some graffiti, a wind farm. Beauty cleans the mind. (c)
Q:
14. Look at the sky. Remind yourself of the cosmos. Seek vastness at every opportunity, in order to see the smallness of yourself. (c)
Q:
17. Do not watch TV aimlessly. Do not go on social media aimlessly. Always be aware of what you are doing, and why you are doing it. Don’t value TV less. Value it more. Then you will watch it less. Unchecked distractions will lead you to distraction. (c)
Q:
18. Sit down. Lie down. Be still. Do nothing. Observe. Listen to your mind. Let it do what it does without judging it. Let it go, like the Snow Queen... (c)
Q:
22. Live. Love. Let go. The three Ls. (c)
Q:
21. ... walk as if you are kissing the Earth with your feet. (c)
Q:
25. Read a book without thinking about finishing it. Just read it. Enjoy every word, sentence, and paragraph. Don't wish for it to end, or for it to never end. (c)
Q:
24. Beware of the gap. The gap between where you are and where you want to be. Simply thinking of the gap widens it. And you end up falling through. (c)
Q:
30. Jules Verne wrote of the 'Living Infinite'. This is the world of love and emotion that is like a 'sea'. If we can submerge ourselves in it, we find infinity in ourselves, and the space we need to survive. (c)
Q:
31. Three in the morning is never the time to try and sort out your life. (c)
Q:
32. Remember that there is nothing weird about you. You are just a human, and everything you do and feel is a natural thing, because we are natural animals. You are nature. You are a hominid ape. You are in the world and the world is in you. Everything cconnects. (c)
Q:
39. Just when you feel you have no time to relax, know that this is the moment you most need to make time to relax. (c)
Q:
40. Be brave. Be strong. Breathe, and keep going. You will thank yourself later. (c)

Things to engoy!
SUNRISES, SUNSETS, THE thousand suns and worlds that aren’t ours but shine in the night sky. Books. Cold beer. Fresh air. Dogs. Horses. Yellowing paperbacks. Skin against skin at one in the morning. Long, deep, meaningful kisses. Short, shallow, polite kisses. (All kisses.) Cold swimming pools. Oceans. Seas. Rivers. Lakes. Fjords. Ponds. Puddles. Roaring fires. Pub meals. Sitting outside and eating olives. The lights fading in the cinema, with a bucket of warm popcorn in your lap. Music. Love. Unabashed emotion. Rock pools. Swimming pools. Peanut butter sandwiches. The scent of pine on a warm evening in Italy. Drinking water after a long run. Getting the all-clear after a health scare. Getting the phone call. ... Cities twinkling at night as you drive past them, as if they are fallen constellations of stars.

Dr. Appu Sasidharan


(Regular Review) This book tells you the journey of the author through depression and anxiety. He depicted all his feelings openly when he was depressed without any filter. He also writes how he overcame the disease with the help of books and his wife Andrea's love. He tells how depression made him a better person and how he appreciated life more after it. This is not a book that everyone will understand. You might be feeling that the author is exaggerating stuff when you read certain parts of the book, like afraid to go to a grocery store unless you are a medical professional who knows more about mental illness or you have your friends or relatives who have a mental illness or you yourself had to struggle with dealing your mental illness. I can guarantee you that there is not a single bit of exaggeration in this book. This book will help many of you understand and recognize what many people are going through in their lives and how they are overcoming their problems and how you should behave when talking with them.

What I learned from this book
1) Depression
American Psychiatric Association says that Depression (major depressive disorder) is a common and serious medical illness that negatively affects how you feel, how you think, and how you act. Fortunately, it is also treatable. Depression causes feelings of sadness and a loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed. It can lead to various emotional and physical problems and can decrease your ability to function at work and home.
“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."

Many people are not able to distinguish between normal grief and depression. We should be able to distinguish between normal grief and depression as the latter needs medical treatment to cure it. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM- 5) delineates the criteria for diagnosing depression. I am enclosing it below.





2) Anxiety and depression
The medical literature tells us that depression and anxiety are like two sides of the same coin. Being depressed often makes you anxious, and vice versa. It is crucial to treat both conditions.
"Adding anxiety to depression is a bit like adding cocaine to alcohol. It presses fast-forward on the whole experience. If you have depression on its own your mind sinks into a swamp and loses momentum, but with anxiety in the cocktail, the swamp is still a swamp but the swamp now has whirlpools in it. The monsters that are there, in the muddy water, continually move like modified alligators at their highest speed. You are continually on guard. You are on guard to the point of collapse every single moment, while desperately trying to keep afloat, to breathe the air that the people on the bank all around you are breathing as easily as anything."


3) Bibliotherapy, Excercise, yoga and Meditation
First and foremost, a person with a mood disorder should be willing to open up to someone. Where talk exists, so does hope. If depression is severe and you have suicidal thoughts, you should immediately consult a Psychiatrist like an exigency and get medical treatment. The below-mentioned methods can also act as expedients to extricate yourself from depression along with the medical treatment.

Bibliotherapy is a form of therapy using literature to improve your life by providing information, support, inspiration, and guidance through books. It is a form of therapy that many people are not familiar with even though this term was coined more than 100 years ago., Bibliotherapy shouldn't be mistaken with other therapy modes like DBT and CBT, even though some therapists provide bibliotherapy using CBT. It is used as an adjunct part of treatment. Even though this method was successfully used in many patients, only very few medical studies were done on this topic. More medical research on this topic might make this method more popular in the future. The author hasn't used the term bibliotherapy in any part of this book, and we can't see anywhere in the book that he specifically read the books given for bibliotherapy. He read a wide variety of books (where the books used for therapy might also have been included), which gave him some sort of therapeutic effect.
“And most of all, books. They were, in and of themselves, reasons to stay alive. Every book written is the product of a human mind in a particular state. Add all the books together and you get the end sum of humanity. Every time I read a great book I felt I was reading a kind of map, a treasure map, and the treasure I was being directed to was in actual fact myself."

"One cliché attached to bookish people is that they are lonely, but for me books were my way out of being lonely. If you are the type of person who thinks too much about stuff then there is nothing lonelier in the world than being surrounded by a load of people on a different wavelength.

There is this idea that you either read to escape or you read to find yourself. I don't really see the difference. We find ourselves through the process of escaping."

Multiple studies have proved that exercise really helps in treating depression. The feel-good endorphins help you in enhancing your sense of well-being
"Exercise definitely helps me, as does yoga and absorbing myself in something or someone I love, so I keep doing these things."


Another good antidote for depression is traveling. Travelling gives a sense of perspective and tells your mind that you might be stuck in your minds, but you are not physically stuck. Yoga, meditation, building solid relationships, getting proper sleep, stopping smoking, decreasing alcohol and recreational drug use, and even petting your cat or dog will help you a lot in reducing depression.

4) Social Media and depression

Multiple studies have shown that there is a link between social media and depression. Teenagers who spend most time on Instagram, Facebook and other social media platforms were shown to have a substantially (from 13 to 66 percent) higher rate of reported depression than those who spent the least time.

Instagram was found as the worst social media app for young people's mental health in multiple studies. Many individuals can function perfectly after using social media, and some even are able to use it for inspiration. But it is only a minority here. So it would be best if you were extra careful while using social media to avoid getting addicted to it that might affect your mental health.
“Do not watch TV aimlessly. Do not go on social media aimlessly. Always be aware of what you are doing, and why you are doing it. Don't value TV less. Value it more. Then you will watch it less. Unchecked distractions will lead you to distraction”


5) The importance of diagnosing and treating depression
Please don't consider depression as a foible which you can deal with yourself. It is nothing ephemeral that goes out of its own. A garrulous friend who suddenly went into a shell can be a harbinger of depression. So always talk to them to see whether everything is ok.

Depression is something that even the erudite had struggled to deal with alone. As the author tells in this book, we might be all familiar with the names of geniuses who lost their lives due to depression. Ernest Hemingway, Sylvia Plath, David Foster Wallace, Robin Williams are just a few of them. Some of them were reluctant to take adequate treatment and were non-compliant with their medications. But there are many others like Stephen King, Abraham Lincoln and Isaac Newton who battled depression and lead a successful life. It is vital to diagnose and treat depression as it is a severe condition that can even take your life.
"Even more staggeringly, depression is a disease so bad that people are killing themselves because of it in a way they do not kill themselves with any other illness. Yet people still don't really think depression really is that bad. If they did, they wouldn't say the things they say."


6) Taboo associated with mental health problems
I request everyone reading this not to be fatuous, see mental illness as a sign of weakness and make you reluctant to seek help. It can happen to anyone at any time.
"I think that basically we are all helping people. All the time. Every time any of us speaks openly about mental health, we are helping normalize an illness that is still handled with protective goggles and safety gloves"


7) Love
If we ask what saved Matt Haig's life, the answer is just one word, Love. Many things helped him in facing the crisis. But when we come to the most important thing, it will be Andrea's love towards him. She stood beside him like a pillar of support. She encouraged him to read and to write; She earned money for the family when Matt was ill; she spent a lot of time with Matt to make him comfortable. His parents also helped him a lot. Despite all the sufferings he had to endure, I will say that Matt Haig is an extremely lucky person. Only lucky people will get a gem of a person like Andrea as a life-partner who can bring felicity into your life amid all the storms.
“Love is anxiety's greatest killer. Love is an outward force. It is our road out of our own terrors, because anxiety is an illness that wraps us up in our own nightmares. [...] Forcing yourself to see the world through love's gaze can be healthy. Love is an attitude to life. It can save us."

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.”


My favourite three lines from this book
“To other people, it sometimes seems like nothing at all. You are walking around with your head on fire and no one can see the flames.”


"Just when you feel you have no time to relax, know that this is the moment you most need to make time to relax."


“Life is waiting for you. You might be stuck here for a while, but the world isn't going anywhere. Hang on in there if you can. Life is always worth it."


What could have been better?
It was sad to read that medication didn't work well for the author. I was still happy to read that he was open enough to write that he himself was partly to blame. But I still can't fully agree with what he wrote about medications and the reverse placebo effect.

Rating
5/5 This is a must-read book for anyone who wants to know more about mental health.

Reading_ Tam_ Ishly

#reasonstostayalive: High five to the one who said "... my TBR pile"! You made my day!

I am so glad I waited all these years to read this book. One of the most important books which deal with depression, anxiety and panic attacks which totally made me feel like this person knows me.

And I bawled like there's no tomorrow while reading the second half of the book.

I have been quite restless all day, being snappy at everyone, trying to calm myself down and I wanted something to rely on which would tell me that things would turn out okay. No specific reasons for all that unhappiness but I was feeling a bit irritated with how my parents didn't trust me enough to cook the fish curry on my own. Yes, little things like that. But my day started out that way.

And then I left the kitchen and... everything; went to the terrace carrying my water bottle, a cushion and I browsed through my current read pile like they needed the sunshine thinking to let my parents do what they do best. They just wanted me to enjoy their cooking. So yes, it's better that way.

But

I left all my current reads and frantically searched through my 1000 plus unread books and after half an hour or so, this book jumped out right in front of me. And yes, I just had to embrace it.

And yes, now I got the comfort I needed.

The first half of the book was hard to go through as it details the struggles of someone in depression and suffering from anxiety. But the second half swallowed me whole in its cocoon. I needed it.

I love the book/author/famous personality references made in the book. I am going to pick up some books entirely because of these references.

And yes, get ready to learn some horrifying facts of what happened to some famous personalities mentioned. I wasn't ready for that. And I cried for them too now that I have learnt the truth.

? One of my most favourite 2021 reads.

*More thoughts on this book coming up alongwith updates of my most favourite lines from the book.

Imane

“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


description

This was OK ! There were some bits i related to, others not so much. However, the writing style was simple and accessible, the paragraphs; short and concise. This is a good read if you're beginning your journey of learning about depression :)

April (Aprilius Maximus)

Beautiful. Informative. Powerful.Around the Year in 52 Books Challenge Notes:- 34. A book about mental illness

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