Books to Love: Reasons to Stay Alive


"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." - Matt Haig

It's a very difficult thing to listen to somebody explain their anxiety or depression to you. People have tried to explain it to me before and whilst I told them I was understanding and sympathetic, I didn't really get the full extent of the situation. It's like when somebody shows you a photograph of somewhere and you get the general gist of what it was like to be there, but you'll never know what that sand felt like between your toes, what the ocean sounded like when it hit shore or how that ice-cream tasted on a such a hot day. We see the picture but it's flat, two-dimensional. It doesn't tell the whole story.

When I struggle to put my thoughts or feelings into words, I read. I read because so often other people say what I need to much better than I do. They explain things in a way that makes total sense even though the words won't come together in my head when someone asks me, "How do you feel?"

I love Matt Haig as an author and when I bought this book it wasn't for any other reason but that. I like his writing. For the past few months it has been buried underneath a mountain of other books, forgotten. A couple of weeks ago I wrestled it out from the back of my back shelf and devoured half of it in one afternoon.

Haig share his personal experience of anxiety and depression in Reasons to Stay Alive but he understands that not everyone suffers in the same way, so he shares useful advice but not in self-help guide kind of way.  He knows that what works for him might not necessarily work for everyone. He says, "When we are trying to get better, the only truth that matters is what works for us." And it's his honesty that makes this book so special and worth reading. It highlights so many of the problems that develop as a result of anxiety and depression - physical, mental, personal - making it a useful read for not only those who suffer but also those who know somebody that suffers.

It's such a relatable and uplifting book, one that makes you realise how big the world is and how beautiful it can be.

"You need to feel life's terror to feel its wonder." - Matt Haig