Review of 'Reasons to Stay Alive'

Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig

reasons_to_stay_alive.jpg Matt Haig suffers from both depression and anxiety. In “Reasons to Stay Alive” he explains how he was first diagnosed and how he ended up coping with these disorders. Told with a dry whit in short chapters Haig attempts to describe exactly what it was like for him during his bouts of depression which is enlightening for those who have never had such an experience. Many may belittle or under estimate the impact of depression and anxiety but it is made clear that these are very serious and in combination often deadly. At his worse he contemplated ending his life and so here he returns again and again to the theme of coming up with reasons to stay alive or “reasons to live” some of which are mundane but more often they are profane and touching. The support he has received since being open about his disability is heart-warming illustrated here with various tweets and comments from others.

The prose is a mixture of narrative, self-introspection, and lists such as “things that makes me worse” or “depression is…”. This format very much engages the reader more than we might if it was simply a self-help book. Indeed, Haig makes it clear that what worked to get him out of depression would not necessarily work for others and that getting through it is a matter of devising strategies for coping rather than ever being entirely “cured”. For me it is where he attempts to describe what it felt like was the most enlightening. It does feel though that even in this rather short book he does often repeat himself so the mixture of narrative formats does help keep the momentum in discussing what, let's face it, is not the most enjoyable of topics but one we all need to aware of and understand.

As you might expect, the back of the book has a number of helpful resources for those wishing support or wanting to know more.

An interesting and insightful, short, book that highlights disabling disorders that many may often dismiss.

Rating: “I have absolutely no complaints”

Review Date: 2023-01-07

Genre: Non-Fiction

Publisher: Canongate Books

Publication Date: 2015

ISBN: 9781782116820

Other reviewed books by Matt Haig: