Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig

Reasons to stay aliveMatt Haig has written a very powerful book about anxiety and depression, combining the story of his own experiences with advice and helpful tips. It’s full of poetry, and humour, and compassion. As someone who has experienced both anxiety and depression, I found this book to be the best on the subject that I have read (now running close second is Gwyneth Lewis’ ‘Sunbathing in the Rain: A Cheerful Book About Depression’!). I am drawn to personal stories of someone weathering the storm and coming out the other side because it offers me real hope.

The self-help books and workbooks listed in the Reading Well: Book Prescription Scheme can be extremely useful, but because of the dual personal/self-help nature of this book, it’s helpful on a different level. The short chapters mean this book is actually practically accessible to those experiencing depression – at my worst, I found I couldn’t read a lot because I couldn’t concentrate for long or summon much energy. The advice Haig offers is often practical too – and resonates more strongly because he shows us how he has successfully incorporated it into his daily life, e.g. using exercise and meditation. Also the structure of the book means the content is varied throughout – for example, you might get a bit of Haig’s own story, then some advice, followed by a witty list.

I actually found it very compelling to read, tearing through half of it in one go, and finishing the rest within 24 hours. I felt as if he’d given me a voice – I find it very hard to communicate effectively to friends and family during periods of extreme anxiety. Now I can ask them to read this, and it will help them to understand me and my behaviour. It explains what anxiety and depression really feels like.

I would recommend this not only to anybody experiencing depression and/or anxiety, and their partners, friends and family, but really to anyone and everyone. A short, truthful and really enlightening book. Wonderful.

Beth

Reserve a copy.

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