Sometimes one of the best forms of therapy is knowing that someone else has been there. It cuts away some of the loneliness and makes you feel like you’re not going out of your mind.
This is how Reasons to Stay Alive felt to me. Matt Haig, who has an incredible way with words, pours his heart and soul in to this extremely helpful book about depression, anxiety and mental illness.
When Matt was 24, he was crippled by depression and almost ended his own life. Love saved him. And it’s the thing that will save us all in the end, mental illness or not.
He talks about his experiences in the most candid and relatable way possible. And even though he talks about his own life and experiences, it is always linked back to the wider picture of helping others.
Mental illness still has a massive stigma that surrounds it and Matt himself rabbles off a list of things that has gotten him more sympathy than his depression including getting bad Amazon reviews and stubbing a toe.
“Pull yourself together” and “chin up” are phrases we hear frequently and further proof that there’s still a lot of work to do to break down those barriers and recognise that just because something is a disease of thoughts doesn’t make it any different to a physical illness.
Reasons to Stay Alive discusses a host of things that can help. Embracing your mental illness instead of ignoring it is one way to reign in control. Exercise, yoga, meditation and connecting with others are praised too.
It’s an incredibly simply and succinct account of mental illness and how you can ease its burden. I think its a must-read for anyone, whether they have suffered or not, as it will help you understand these issues deeper.
It’s something that I am truly passionate about and this book is one step closer to crushing the stigma around mental illness. As the saying goes, ‘Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be kind. Always.’