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Reasons to Stay Alive

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Reasons to Stay Alive is about making the most of your time on earth. In the western world the suicide rate is highest amongst men under the age of 35. Matt Haig could have added to that statistic when, aged 24, he found himself staring at a cliff-edge about to jump off. This is the story of why he didn't, how he recovered and learned to live with anxiety and depression. It's also an upbeat, joyous and very funny exploration of how live better, love better, read better and feel more.

259 pages, Paperback

First published March 5, 2015

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About the author

Matt Haig

107 books34.1k followers
Matt Haig is the author of novels such as The Midnight Library, How to Stop Time, The Humans, The Radleys, and the forthcoming The Life Impossible. He has also written books for children, such as A Boy Called Christmas, and the memoir Reasons to Stay Alive.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 10,558 reviews
Profile Image for Maxine (Booklover Catlady).
1,322 reviews1,253 followers
September 10, 2023

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 books and other things.

Profile Image for Cindy.
407 reviews116k followers
September 14, 2019
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.
Profile Image for Dr. Appu Sasidharan (Dasfill).
1,275 reviews2,444 followers
June 13, 2022

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.

5/5 This is a must-read book for anyone who wants to know more about mental health.
March 10, 2023
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.
Maybe love is just about finding the person you can be your weird self with. (c)
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)
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.
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
You are walking around with your head on fire and no one can see the flames. (c)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
Never say 'pull yourself together' or 'cheer up' unless you're also going to provide detailed, foolproof instructions. (c)
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)
Goals are the source of misery. An unattained goal causes pain, but actually achieving it brings only a brief satisfaction. (c)
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)
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)
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)
Where talk exists, so does hope. (c)
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)
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)
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)
Forcing yourself to see the world through love's gaze can be healthy. Love is an attitude to life. It can save us.(c)
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)
Misery, like yoga, is not a competitive sport. (c)
On books and emotions:
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)
... 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)
I CAN REMEMBER the day the old me died.
It started with a thought. (c)
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)
... the mind is infinite, and its torments – when they happen – can be equally infinite. (c)
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)
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)

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)
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)
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
2. Sip, don't gulp. (c)
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)
14. Look at the sky. Remind yourself of the cosmos. Seek vastness at every opportunity, in order to see the smallness of yourself. (c)
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)
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)
22. Live. Love. Let go. The three Ls. (c)
21. ... walk as if you are kissing the Earth with your feet. (c)
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)
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)
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)
31. Three in the morning is never the time to try and sort out your life. (c)
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)
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)
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.
Profile Image for BlackOxford.
1,085 reviews68.4k followers
August 19, 2021
I Did It My Way

I had a bum gall bladder for about 20 years. Twice a year I would provoke the thing to pass stones after a dose of anchovies or other purine-rich delights. I am told by several women-sufferers of the condition that the pain is comparable to that of childbirth. In my case it would often last three days with no respite, no sleep, and frequently no hope except for oblivion. Eventually, after specialist medical counsel, I had the offending organ removed. No problems since, although I do feel a little dread every time I sense a little heartburn coming on.

I recount this piece of medical history because although I have experienced the pain, and indeed degradation, of bodily disfunction, I don’t consider myself in any way qualified to give advice on the subject. I have much sympathy for fellow-sufferers and urge them to seek help when I’m aware of a need. But I would never suggest a treatment to someone else, particularly not in the middle of an attack. The likely response would be about the same as a woman in labour: ‘F-off and get this to stop!’

Matt Haig has a very different opinion of both himself and medicine than I do. He has gone through some pretty tough times. In his mid-twenties he suddenly developed acute depression that led him literally to the edge of suicide. His pain and despair were intense. His memoir is a blow-by-blow of the stages of his condition, his feelings and thoughts as it progressed, and his ultimate emergence from what many describe as a complete loss of self. His account serves two purposes he says: to publicise the character of the condition in the hope of reducing the stigma sometimes attached to it; and to use his skill as a writer to articulate his own experience as part of his own therapy. Both are laudable intentions.

But Haig, unfortunately, goes considerably beyond these intentions in offering advice and counsel to those suffering similar affliction. And it is here that I think he does a disservice to the rest of us as well as himself. Haig seems to believe that the way you should deal with people who have lost any reason to stay alive, the most dramatic symptom of depression, is to provide them reasons for staying alive. Yet he is very aware that people in severe pain don’t want his advice: “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.” But Haig carries on regardless in what seems like self-obsession.

Like other cases of depression, Haig’s is probably unique. Among other things he was desperately frightened of taking the drugs that might have helped him. This makes some sense since his condition likely may have been provoked by one drug in particular - alcohol. He considers himself fortunate to have recovered without meds because he was able to feel “very in tune” with himself during the process. His message from this side of his ordeal is pretty clear if more than a bit unexpected. Not ‘lay off the booze, it could catch up with you.’ Rather, ‘avoid the therapeutic drugs; they may not work, they’re addictive, and they deplete your inner resources for dealing with the malady.’ A sort of pep talk for lickin’ the thing like a real man.

Haig thinks that depression is the result of the mind lying to itself, about itself and about its future. According to Haig, the lying is mainly about self-worth - how disappointing he has been to those who live him and to himself in terms of potential. This is an interesting idea. It takes the essence of what we typically mean by ‘mind,’ namely conscious reflectiveness, and makes it its own worst enemy, an ultimate auto-immune condition, mental AIDS, only a lot more mysterious.

But then Haig ignores this interesting idea in favour of another suggestion: “All we can do, for the moment, is really all we need to do – listen to ourselves.” Yup, listen to our lying selfs. That’ll get us through. Haig claims “in the absence of universal certainties, we are our own best laboratory.” Flying solo. Listening to that inner auto-pilot who just led us to the brink of destruction. What could go wrong?

Haig’s auto-pilot in fact has a very rigid philosophical (or religious) programme: “It is a hard thing to accept, that death and decay and everything bad leads to everything good, but I for one believe it.” The defensiveness in the remark is obvious. He has no reason to believe this. It is literally a matter of faith which he needs in order to provide himself reasons for living. What he fears most, perhaps, is that this faith is a lie. To admit the possibility of the Gnostic conviction about utter corruption of the world would destroy his happy ending. So he won’t even consider it, even though he thinks, “The world is increasingly designed to depress us.” The Good is out there somewhere. It’s elusiveness is just part of its goodness apparently. Looking on the bright side is a therapeutic suggestion that is as impossible as it is trivial.

Love and books are what saved Haig, especially the latter and especially books about or by fellow-depressives. In other words things that allowed him to feel less alone. Other things - travel, running - fit into this basic therapeutic regime. But within this, there is the macho Haig, determined to beat this thing on his own: “each time I forced myself out there in the cold grey damp of a West Yorkshire morning, and pushed myself to run for an hour, it gave me a little bit of depression-beating power. A little bit of that ‘you’d better be careful with who you are messing with’ spirit.” His not infrequent suggestions that overcoming depression involves an act of will are… well, depressing.

Don’t get me wrong. Haig’s descriptions of his breakdown and what he went through subsequently are an important case study. But his suggestions, implicit as well as explicit, about how to deal with depression range from the trivial (eat well) to the absurd (tell yourself better stories), and sound like whistling in the dark. Haig says he has benefitted therapeutically by writing the book. I believe him. But being a depressive doesn’t make one an expert on depression. Yet Haig subsequently wrote a novel (https://www.goodreads.com/review/show... ) putting forth every one of his ‘tenets’ for successfully overcoming the condition.

Looking on the bright side, Haig’s memoir has convinced me not to continue with my book on gall stones and their meaning in the cosmos. I hope the world will not be less without it. It is after all a much needed gap in the market.
Profile Image for Rina.
143 reviews33 followers
April 2, 2017
Matt Haig recommends exercise and world travel as a cure for mental illness. He felt bad while living in Ibiza with his girlfriend but he's better now. Cool.

He says he's not anti-medication but also says that SSRIs aren't better than a placebo. He doesn't want to take anything because then he wouldn't be able to fully experience Life™. His lists of reasons to stay alive are shallow and he seems completely unaware that life is pretty difficult for people who aren't being financially supported by their families or emotionally supported by an understanding significant other.

I don't want to criticize his feelings or experiences, nor those of the people posting 5 star reviews. If you get something out of this, that's great for you, but I found it somewhat infuriating.

To each their own.
Profile Image for Hannah.
387 reviews41 followers
August 5, 2022
Warning: privileged white male author completely unaware of his privilege uses it to spew untruths and stereotypes about mental illness.

Actual sentences from a book that's meant to "destigmatize" depression: "Writing, reading, talking, traveling, yoga, meditation, and running [were some] weapons for the war." And, "I am happy that I largely mended myself without the aid of medication, and feel that having to experience the pain minus any 'anesthetic' meant I got to know my pain very well." SO MUCH NO. The first list assumes money, privilege, and time, and also underscores the gross notion that "yoga and exercise" can "cure" depression. The second sentence is a disgusting insult to people who need medication in order to LIVE. They are not taking "anesthetics." And they know their pain plenty well. Just as well as you, Mr. Haig.

Other grievances:
1. Mr. Haig does not attempt talk therapy.
2. He references white male authors with reverence (but respectful titles) while referring to female writers by their first names, as if they're coffee buddies. ("I loved Jeanette's writing," he says of Jeanette Winterson.)
3. He nowhere acknowledges that having the luxury of being unemployed yet financially supported by others is what enables him to spend all these months recovering.
4. Most of what he talks about here is generalized anxiety disorder, not depression. His conflating the two illnesses is SUPER problematic.
5. His "exposure therapy" (confronting situations that heighten the anxiety) once consists of a TRIP TO PARIS. See this review's opening sentence about privilege, and then think about BIPOC or LGBTQIA+ people who fear for their lives because of the bodies they inhabit or the people they love and how their exposure therapy consists of just existing in the world.

I find this book horrifying, and I find its success and high rating horrifying, too, because of the classism, elitism, and plain misinformation rampant on its pages. Please don't read this trash.

If you are struggling with mental health, there are so many good resources for you. Call the SAMHSA helpline. Confide in someone you trust. Consider finding a therapist (in-person or telehealth). Find a support group (in-person or virtual). But please know that taking medication is not a sign of weakness, being able to go to work/function does not make your suffering any less real or valid (some of us simply can't afford to take time off work), and you deserve to get help and feel better.
Profile Image for Reading_ Tamishly.
4,476 reviews2,411 followers
April 28, 2023
#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.


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.
Profile Image for Lotte.
559 reviews1,116 followers
February 9, 2017
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.
Profile Image for Sean Barrs .
1,119 reviews44.8k followers
September 5, 2021
“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.”

I find these words really moving because they are simple and true. Even during our darkest times, when life feels overwhelming and our plans go awry, it is important to appreciate the beauty of life and our surroundings.

This past year has been a strange one for many of us, and for me the beauty of nature has got me through it. Going for walks and runs has been essential for mental balance. Taking photographs of trees has been helpful too. Matt Haig suggests that we keep our thoughts focused on these elements to remember that life is, indeed, still worth living.

What makes this book particularly helpful though is the honestly and sincerity that has been poured into it. It’s a genuine book, one written to inspire you and to keep you moving. It tries to inject colour back into your life when perhaps it has become a tapestry of dull motionless greys. It’s a book that understands depression and one that also understands that moving out of it is very difficult, but it can be done with the right advice and actions.

For me, this isn't a book to be read just once: it's a guide to come back to when help is needed.

You can connect with me on social media via My Linktree.
Profile Image for Maede.
288 reviews412 followers
December 17, 2020
مت هیگ آبان پارسال به داد من رسید. خیابون ها پر از خشونت بود، اینترنت قطع شد و همه چیز سیاه به نظر میومد و اضطراب دائم من رو بلعیده بود. کتابش مثل تکه چوبی بود که من توی اون طوفان بهش چسبیده بودم. آبان امسال باز هم این بار با این کتاب به نجات من اومد. زندگی در بحبوحه‌ی پندمیک قرن، اوضاع تاریک اجتماع و یک ترمز شدید در زندگی کاری و حرفه ایم با وجود ماه ها مقاومت، من رو ته چاه افسردگی انداخت

کتاب برخلاف اسمش، پر از پیشنهادهای رنگ و وارنگ و دلایل جالب برای ادامه ی سخت ترین کار ما در این دنیا - زنده موندن- نیست. ماهیت کتاب سادست. بخش های کوتاه کوتاه دست و پا زدن مت با افسردگی رو به ملموس ترین شکل ممکن نشون میدن. تقلا برای بلند شدن از روی تخت، غیرممکن شدن ساده ترین کارهای روزانه و ذهنی که نور امید بهش نمی رسه. بخش هایی هم به راه هایی که در طول سال ها جواب دادند و ندادند می پردازه و در تعدادی هم، فقط باهات صحبت می کنه

با یک هایلایت و خودکار سر این کتاب نشستم و خط کشیدم و نوشتم. پایین و کنار صفحه هاش باهاش درد و دل کردم و از تجربه ی این روزهای خودم گفتم. گاهی با یک سری جمله هاش دعوام شد و مسخره شون کردم و گاهی هم، جمله هایی اونقدر من رو توی مشت خودشون گرفتند که مدت طولانی بهشون زل زدم و بارها خوندم

یکی از درمان های ذهن حرف زدنه. ذهن خسته و مریضی که با غول های اضطراب و افسردگی در حال جنگه، نمی تونه کلمه های درست رو برای توصیف اونچه داره بهش می گذره پیدا کنه. مت هیگ به من زبان صحبت کردن از این تقلا رو نشون داد و این بزرگترین کاری بود که این کتاب برای من کرد

نویسنده از کتاب ها هم زیاد می نویسه که بارها و بارها توی دوره های افسردگیش نجاتش دادن و چطور بهش اجازه دادن برای مدت کوتاهی داستان دیگری جز داستان خودش رو زندگی کنه. من اما، با همه وجود قدرت کتابی رو برای گذروندن این روزها حس کردم که به داستان خودم نور تابوند و باعث شد بتونم ببینمش

Profile Image for L..
176 reviews4 followers
January 3, 2017
reasons to stay alive was recommended to me by my dear friend, who said that this book "had changed her life." what a dangerous declaration.
this book consists of:
- random "deep" thoughts;
- random quotations - sometimes it seemed to me that the weak construction of this book would fail were it not for other writers or philosophers;
- random "funny" little remarks (often in parentheses);
- random book and movie titles important for the author.

let's say that i can understand why the author didn't decide to discuss taking pills at length. but the thing that bugged me the most is that matt haig IGNORES THE BENEFITS OF THERAPY. therapy is EVERYTHING in such cases. not "absorbing yourself in art," or, even worse, "absorbing yourself in somebody you love." it's THERAPY. the long lists of "reasons to stay alive" (one chapter is just a collection of tweets written by haig's followers) or things that helped the author... don't mention therapy, damnit.
this book is so worthless, it's so useless; it trivializes the experience of mental disorders. shower before noon and you'll be fine, y'all.

i am mad at this book.
Profile Image for Feyre.
102 reviews244 followers
July 25, 2018
“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


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 :)
Profile Image for Dalia Nourelden.
544 reviews760 followers
February 20, 2023
عندما رايت الكتاب لاول مرة قلت كتاب جديد لكيف تكون سعيدا !! وكن قويا كتاب اخر للتنمية البشرية .
لكنى كنت فى وقت اشعر به كالغريق الذى يريد قشة ليتعلق بها فقلت حسنا انا احتاج لسببا للبقاء على قيد الحياة .

لكن عندما بدأت الكتاب وجدته ليس مجرد نصائح وحديث لكنه على لسان شخص يتفهم معنى ان تكون مكتئب وقلق شخص عانى بالفعل من ويلات الاكتئاب والقلق ونوبات الذعر

"لقد كنت محاصرا في سجن . لم أكن اعرف انه من الممكن ان يسجن الإنسان داخل عقله "

جذبنى اسلوبه ووصفه عن مشاعره واعجبنى حواره بين ذاته القديمة وذاته الحديثة . كنت احتاج لشخص يتحدث عن اسوا الافكار التي تمر بخاطرك عن افكارك للانتحار.
من الاشياء التى احببتها ايضا حديثه عن مدى اهمية الكتب والقراءة فى حياتنا

"لقد كانت الكتب بحد ذاتها اسبابا للبقاء على قيد الحياة "

nearest huntington atm

وهناك جزء اوقفنى مذهولة امامه ربما لانه ماكنت افكر به بالظبط

" هناك فرق بين حب الكتب ، والحاجة الى الكتب . لقدكنت بحاجة الكتب . لم تكن قراءتها مجرد رفاهية بالنسبة لى فى تلك الفترة ، لقد كانت الكتب مادة شديدة الادمان "

القراءة والكتب كانت ملاذي الذي احتمي به وألجأ اليه ، مهما كانت حالتي النفسية أجد نفسي اقرأ حتى وان كنت أختنق فلازلت اتمسك بادماني .

يوجد الكثير من النصائح المعادة والحديث المعاد لكن ذلك لايمنع ان اسلوب الكتاب واسلوب نصائحه جيد خاصة انك تعلم انه حديث علي لسان شخص عاني بالفعل من الاكتئاب شخص يعلم ويخبرك ان الاكتئاب ربما يعود حتي بعد ان تشفي منه لن يذهب بعيدا لكنك تعلم انه سينتهي مرة اخري مثلما انتهي من قبل، ستمر باوقات سيئة واوقات جيدة .
جزء من تقييمي يرتبط بحالتي اثناء القراءة . لكنه فى النهاية كتاب جيد يستحق القراءة .

١٢ / ٨ / ٢٠١٩
Profile Image for oyshik.
219 reviews693 followers
February 7, 2021
Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig

Page count: 272
Published: 2016

This book describes how the author gradually conquered the mental illness and slowly found his way back to life. I feel it's an important book when depression, anxiety, frustration become the bigger problem. It's moving, witty, and as entertaining as it is touching.

herever 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.
Profile Image for Hattie.
100 reviews82 followers
November 2, 2014
I won this proof on twitter from Matt and though I don't often review books here, I thought that probably I owed him that. Not just for giving me a free copy, but for writing the book in the first place.

Let me be honest, I started reading this and thought "This book isn't written for me". But then I thought "There are people I would like to read this, because it feels so familiar to me." I would like to give it to people who are close to people with depression and anxiety, but don't really understand it. I would like every depressed person to have an unlimited supply of copies to hand out to anyone who tells them to pull themselves together. I would like to just leave it on tube seats and cafe tables because I just think, if a few more people could understand how depression and anxiety felt, then maybe the world would be better.

And then I think it became a book for me. Because if you've ever felt otherwise, it's always good to collect more reasons to stay alive. More ways to stay alive. Because there will come a time again when you need them.

So I think, maybe, this is a book for everyone. Required reading.
Profile Image for Thomas.
1,521 reviews9,014 followers
March 29, 2016
"Now, listen. 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."

A meaningful book about depression, anxiety, and creating reasons to stay alive. Like a modern day William Styron, Matt Haig shares his experience with depression and anxiety and how he fought to overcome suicidal thinking. He discloses how his mental illness has affected his work, his relationships, and his perception of life overall. The greatest part: he frames his mental illness not as a weakness or a strength, but just as another part of himself, a facet that provides both pros and cons as all traits do. Another great quote from the same page as the first one in this review:

"But actually, it wasn't easy. The weird thing about depression is that, even though you might have more suicidal thoughts, the fear of death remains the same. The only difference is that the pain of life has rapidly increased. So when you hear about someone killing themselves it's important to know that death wasn't any less scary for them. It wasn't a 'choice' in the moral sense. To be moralistic about it is to misunderstand."

I loved the insight Haig shared about depression. His view on resisting medication while seeking treatment resonated with me: of course you would use medication if you have to, but you can also learn to breathe on your own - depending on your condition - without the influence of pharmaceutical companies. I also appreciated his emphasis on mindfulness and breathing. We live in such a fast-paced world that feelings of aloneness and worry about emails, meetings, and deadlines seem natural. Haig encourages us to take a step back and give ourselves time for self-care.

Though I enjoyed Reasons to Stay Alive, I wanted more in certain areas. The short length of each chapter made the book easy to get through, but that same brevity prevented more thorough and developed trains of thought/arguments. From a memoir perspective, I also desired more of a consistent narrative, as I felt that the book jumped from idea to idea a lot. Still, I would recommend Reasons to Stay Alive, in particular to those interested in mental illness who have not already read too much about it. A final, hopeful quote:

"I stood there for a while. Summoning the courage to die, and then summoning the courage to live. To be. Not to be. Right there, death was so close. An ounce more terror and the scales would have tipped. There may be a universe in which I took that step but it isn't this one."
Profile Image for Babak.
85 reviews71 followers
April 22, 2022
روایت مت هیگ از زیست چند ساله‌اش با افسردگی؛ این کتاب به ۱. کس��نی که دچار افسردگی هستند، ۲. کسانی که ممکن است در آینده دچار افسردگی شوند، ۳. کسانی که در نزدیکی‌شان فردی در حال دست و پنجه نرم کردن با افسردگی است، توصیه می‌شود و با تقریب خوبی می‌توان گفت این دسته‌بندی تقریباً شامل همه‌ی افراد می‌شود.
در مورد این کتاب حرف زیاد دارم و نوشتن حرف‌هایم در موردش را به آخر این هفته موکول می‌کنم، ان‌شاءالله. این یک اهمال‌کاری نیست. بلکه این به تعویق انداختن به این دلیل است که باید در فضایی سرشار از تمرکز و صداقت و با صرف وقت زیاد این کار را انجام دهم. این یک قول به خودم است و به همه‌ی کسانی که این چند خط را خوانده‌اند. در مورد افسردگی باید حرف زد...
یک تجربه‌ی شخصی:
برداشت صفرم:
این احتمالاً تصویریه که اکثر کسایی که از دور یا نزدیک منو می‌شناسن از من دارن: شاد، امیدوار، معمولاً پرانرژی و دارای قدرت روبه‌رو شدن با مسائل زندگیش.
برداشت اول:
اوایل خرداد ماه بود، یعنی حدوداً شش ماه پیش؛ من تو فاصله‌ی حدوداً 400 کیلومتری از خونواده‌ام زندگی می‌کنم. چند ماهی بود خونواده‌ام رو ندیده بودم و حسابی دلتنگشون بودم. یه برنامه چند روزه برای سفر به شهرستان چیده بودم و داشتم راهی می‌شدم؛ در یکی از انرژیک‌ترین مودهای خودم بودم و سرشار از ذوق و شوق برای رفتن به خونه بعد از مدت‌ها. برای خواهرزاده‌هام کادو خریدم و راه افتادم سمت شهرستان. سه چهار روز اونجا بودم و همه چی داشت عالی پیش می‌رفت. کلی خوش م��‌گذروندم و از بُخارای خودم سرمست بودم.
برداشت دوم:
افسردگی به علت بیرونی نیاز داره؟ اینطور که من فهمیدم لزوماً نه. رفته‌رفته شکل می‌گیره؟ احتمالاً آره، ولی فکر می‌کنم خیلی سریع و پیش‌بینی نشده بروز پیدا می‌کنه و ممکنه یه وقتی یه جایی که اصلاً فکرش رو هم نمی‌کنی، خودش رو نشون بده، یهو بپره جلوت و دودستی یقه‌ات رو بگیره.
دقیقاً چی شد؟ اتفاقات و ناراحتی‌های جزئی‌ای پیش اومده بود، ولی نمی‌دونم دقیقاً چه فعل‌وانفعالات شیمیایی‌ای تو مغز من شکل گرفت که یهو خودم رو نشسته تو آشپزخونه‌ی خونه‌مون دیدم؛ در حالی که داشتم اشک می‌ریختم و احساس دردناک و کم‌سابقه‌ای رو تجربه می‌کردم. خواهرم منو تو اون حالت دید و شوکه شد. حق داشت. چند ساعت قبل داشتم می‌گفتم و می‌خندیدم و می‌خندوندم. چند دقیقه‌ای کنارم وایساد، خوش‌بختانه شعور به خرج داد و زیاد ازم سوال نپرسید و زیاد آزارم نداد و منو تو حال خودم گذاشت.
برداشت سوم:
هنوز دقیقاً نمی‌دونستم داره چه اتفاقی می‌افته، تغییر مود چیز طبیعی‌ایه و تو من به کرات اتفاق می‌افته؛ اما نه اینقدر سریع و نه اینقدر شدید و نه بدون عامل بیرونی جدی و دقیق.
جملات قبلی رو دقیق‌تر بگم: قبل از این اتفاق، من، احتمالاً مثل همه‌ی مردم دنیا (اگه شما اینطور نیستید ممنون می‌شم منو در جریان بگذارید)، فراز و فرودهایی رو تو حالت و رفتار و سطح انرژیم تجربه کرده بودم و در آینده هم قطعاً تجربه می‌کنم، اما اولاً معمولاً می‌تونم تا حد خیلی خوبی با یک سری از علل و اتفاقات قبلی توجیهش کنم و ثانیاً روند گذر از مود خوب به بد رو کمابیش حس می‌کنم. این دفعه اما همه چی فرق می‌کرد؛ خیلی خیلی فرق می‌کرد...
هر چی که بود فقط یادمه که نمی‌تونستم ادامه بدم، نمی‌تونستم جایی باشم که دوروبرم کلی آدم هست و تا حد زیادی من در مرکز توجه همه‌ی اون آدما هستم. بار سنگینی رو روی سینه‌ام احساس می‌کردم و شدیداً می‌خواستم تنها باشم. سفر رو نیمه‌تموم گذاشتم، بهونه‌ای جور کردم، فرار کردم به سمت تهران. از شهرستان تا تهران یه کم اشک ریختم، یه کم غصه خوردم و یه کم به زخم‌های عمیقی فکر کردم که حتی نمی‌دونستم دقیقاً چی هستند و از کجا سرچشمه می‌گیرن. اصلاً هم اهمیتی نمی‌دادم که دوروبرم چه خبره و ممکنه بقیه‌ی مسافرای اتوبوس در حال نگاه کردنم باشند.
برداشت چهارم: انکار، ضعف و فرار
اون‌چه برای من اتفاق افتاده بود، افسردگی بود. نمی‌خواستم و نمی‌تونستم باورش کنم، ولی افسردگی بود؛ وایساده بود جلوم، با وقاحت تو چشمام زل می‌زد و قدرتش رو به رخم می‌کشید. همه‌ی ادعاهای چندین ساله‌ام مبنی بر قوی بودن رو به سخره می‌گرفت و من در مقابلش ضعیف بودم،خیلی ضعیف، خیلی خیلی ضعیف.
تنها سلاحی که تو روزهای اول در مقابل افسردگی داشتم خواب بود؛ کارهام رو، به جز اون‌هایی که خیلی ضروری بودند، کنسل می‌کردم و تو رختخواب می‌موندم. اثر افسردگی، برخلاف برخی موارد، روی من بی‌خوابی نبود و اتفاقاً خیلی خوب می‌تونستم بخوابم و چه نعمتی بود این خواب تو اون روزها... مشکل اصلی اما این بود که افسردگی صبح‌ها زودتر از من بیدار می‌شد و شب‌ها بعد از من می‌خوابید. تو طول روز هم اگه امکانش بود ساعت‌ها می‌خوابیدم و خیلی سخت از رختخواب جدا می‌شدم. حتی بعضی وقت‌ها تو خواب‌هام هم حاضر بود و اونجا هم رنجم می‌داد...
برداشت چهارم: “افسردگی دروغ می‌گوید!”
این جملات مت هیگه که دارم مضمونش رو نقل می‌کنم: افسردگی یه چیز خیلی خیلی واقعیه و تو بودنش هیچ شکی نیست. افسردگی قطعاً دروغ نیست، اما قطعاً به‌شدت دروغ می‌گه.
افسردگی شروع کرده بود به گفتن دروغ‌های مختلف به من و چه دروغگوی ماهری بود لعنتی... دروغ‌های دردآور زیادی می‌گفت که خیلیاش رو الان یادم نیست؛ اما شاید مهم‌ترین‌هاش اینا بودند: برو گوگل کن تا بفهمی، تو به مریضی‌های زیادی دچاری! تو از وقتی که یادته همین‌طوری بودی! تو به طرز شدیدی دچار اختلال دوقطبی هستی و باید خیلی زود بستری بشی! تو باید هر شب فیلم “برادرم خسرو” رو ببینی و یادت باشه خسرو تویی،‌ خود خود تو... تو در معرض اسکیزوفرنی هستی! تو تا الان هیچ، مطلقاً هیچ، دستاوردی تو زندگیت نداشتی! تو نمی‌تونی از این وضعیت دربیای! نمی‌تونی... نمی‌تونی... نمی‌تونی...
من باورش کرده بودم. باورم شده بود که کار از کار گذشته و خیلی نمی‌تونم کاری برای خودم بکنم! چه روزهای دردآوری بود...
برداشت پنجم: عذاب وجدان
در کنار همه‌ی دردی که از افسردگی داشتم، عذاب وجدان خیلی عجیبی رو هم مدام تجربه می‌کردم. عذاب وجدان من دو بخش بود: بخش اول به‌خاطر نگران کردن کمابیش دوروبری‌هام و اینکه دیگه نمی‌تونم اون نسخه‌ی امیدبخش از بابک باشم که همیشه بودم. و دوم به‌خاطر فکر کردن به این‌که درسته که تو ناراحتی‌های جمعی‌ای داری و به‌خاطرشون حق داری حالت بد باشه، اما افسردگی شخصی توجیه‌پذیر نیست. تو همونی که همیشه می‌گفتی معتقدی که اگه قراره برای این دنیای به‌دردنخور کاری بکنی، باید از افسردگی شخصی دور باشی. حالا چت شده بچه جون؟! تو که درست تو روزهایی هستی که در جنبه‌ی شخصی همه چیزهایی که می‌خواستی رو داری. چرا داری ادا درمیاری و رفتی تو فاز ناامیدی؟! چرا بابت شغل و خونواده و سلامتی و دوستای خوب و بقیه‌ی لاطائلات شاکر و خوشحال نیستی؟!
برداشت ششم:
دو سه هفته گذشت. با خواب و خواب و خواب و افکار پریشانی که گفتم. من باید یه کاری می‌کردم، کم‌کم داشتم به این واقف می‌شدم که لازمه کاری کرد، اما نمی‌دونستم چیکار.
روانشناس پیدا کردم. وقت گرفتم و رفتم پیشش. چندین و چند مورد. افکار پریشان من اجازه نمی‌داد روی درمان تمرکز کنم و مدام جلسات رو متوقف می‌کردم. پیش روانشناس رفتم و بعد از مدت کوتاهی تقریباً از این‌که بتونه کمکی بهم بکنه ناامید شدم.
اتفاق خوب جلسات مشاوره این بود که کم‌کم احساس می‌کردم لابه لای این جلسات مشاوره‌ی بی‌نظم، کم‌کم داره یه نظمی توسط خودم پیدا میشه و هر جلسه‌ای که می‌رفتم انگار یه چیز جدید رو درک می‌کردم و می‌فهمیدم فلان ایراد از کجا می‌تونه باشه. مشاورم تو تمام جلسات مدام می‌گفت که تو درون‌نگری خیلی خوبی داری و این واقعاً گنج بزرگیه. این شاید مهم‌ترین چیزی بود که از اون همه جلسه تراپی عایدم شد. این که مشکل همون درونه،‌ خودت می‌تونی بری درون خودت و بکشیش بیرون و حلش کنی. صادقانه بگم برای من جلسات تراپی چندان موثر واقع نشدند و نهایتاً مشاورم از دستم خیلی ناراحت شد که چرا جلسات رو متوقف کردم. اما من فکر می‌کردم راهش رو خودم پیدا کردم یا لااقل می‌کنم... در واقع می‌خوام بگم اون چند جلسه تراپی یه جور کاتالیزگر بود و یه ذره منو جلو انداخت، با این‌که اصلاً اون چیزی نبود که ازش انتظار داشتم... و البته شاید همه‌ی رسالت روانشناس و روانشناسی همینه...
تو یکی از این جلسات بود که من به طرزی غیرمستقیم، عمیقاً مفهوم استغفار رو درک کردم و به عنوان یه روش برای حل خیلی از مسائل ازش کمک گرفتم.
برداشت هفتم:
یه نکته‌ی خیلی مهمی هست که به نظرم می‌رسه اینجا باید خطاب به هر کس که داره افسردگی رو تجربه می‌کنه بگم؛ نکته‌ای که من عمیقاً بهش قائلم و مت هیگ هم توی کتاب در موردش به شکل‌های مستقیم و غیرمستقیم حرف زده:
لعنت به هر کس که داره از بیرون در مورد بیماری و مشکل تو قضاوت می‌کنه، لعنت به هر کس که می‌گه این راه کمکت نمی‌کنه یا اون راه کمکت می‌کنه. این حرفا پشیزی ارزش نداره. من رنج افسردگی رو درک می‌کنم و می‌گم اصلاً اهمیتی نده که قاعده‌ی بازی بقیه چیه. ما گونه‌های خیلی متفاوت و بعضاً متناقضی از افسردگی رو تجربه می‌کنیم و در مورد هر کس ممکنه خیلی از روش‌ها جواب بده و خیلی از روش‌های دیگه نه.
اینجا می‌خوام بگم خیلی از کارایی که از نظر من احمقانه است، قطعا حال یکی دیگه رو بهتر می‌کنه و برعکس. تویی که مهمی، تویی که باید بهتر شی؛ هر جور که میتونی؛ فیلم ببین، گریه کن، دارو بخور، جلسات تراپی رو دنبال کن، سفر برو، تنها باش، تو جمع باش و و و...
افسردگی بیماری پیچیده‌ایه، خیلی پیچیده. و ما انسان‌های قرن بیست‌ویک هنوز روش مناسب و قطعی‌ای برای درمانش نداریم.
برداشت هشتم: یه کاری بکن... یه کاری بکن... یه کاری بکن...
این یه قاعده‌ی خیلی مهمه. افسردگی مدام داره به تو میگه تو نمي‌تونی هیچ کاری بکنی، اما چرت می‌گه. یه کاری بکن، یه کار هر چقدر ساده. یادت نره تو همون آدمی هستی که تا اینجای زندگیت کلی کار و احتمالاً تعدادی کار خیلی مهم کردی و از این به بعد هم قراره کلی کار بکنی. افسردگی داره بهت دروغ می‌گه که نمی‌تونی. باید از بالا مسئله رو دید و هر جور شده راه برای منطقی دیدن و نگاه درست به دوروبر رو پیدا کرد. باید قدم برداری. گاهی باید یه قدم شل و در حال تلوتلو خوردن برداری تا یادت بیاد هنوز می‌تونی راه بری.
برداشت نهم:
کم‌کم تونستم با خیلی از چیزها کنار بیام و به تعبیر مت هیگ، برای خودم دلایلی برای زنده موندن پیدا کنم. در جنبه‌ی شغلی، روابط، معنویت، برنامه‌های مالی، دوچرخه‌سواری، کتاب خوندن و احتمالاً خیلی چیزهای کوچیک و بزرگ دیگه... روز به روز سعی کردم وضعیت روحی خودم رو پایش کنم و سع�� کنم بهتر شم. و خدا رو شکر بهتر هم شدم...
تو این روزای سخت، کتاب‌ها خیلی بهم کمک کردند. دو تا از مهم‌ترین‌هاش: یکی همین کتاب دلایلی برای زنده ماندن و یکی هم از دو که حرف می‌زنم از چه حرف می‌زنم هاروکی موراکامی. مت هیگ هم یه لیست بلندبالا داره از کتاب‌هایی که تو روزهای افسردگی بهش کمک کردند.
برداشت دهم: افسردگی همین نزدیکیاست...
درسته که این روزها بهتر (و نه کاملاً خوب) شدم، اما خیلی مراقبم هرز نرم و دوباره افسردگی برنگرده. راستش حسم اینه که افسردگی همین نزدیکیاست و منتظره دوباره قدرت‌نمایی کنه. از طرفی مطمئنم دوباره سراغم میاد، اما این بار در مقابلش خیلی قوی‌تر از دفعه‌ی پیشم. این چیزیه که از این دوره 5-6 ماهه باید بمونه برام و قطعاً چیز ارزشمندیه.
خیلی از آدم‌های مهم و مشهور تاریخ درگیر افسردگی بودند و با وجود افسردگی‌شون، یا حتی بعضاً با پذیرش افسردگی و به دلیل افسردگی‌شون، کارهای مهمی کردند؛ آبراهام لینکلن، چرچیل، همینگوی، تولستوی، ون‌گوک، جیم کری و... نکته اینه که باید با افسردگی ساخت و باهاش کنار اومد. معمولاً قرار نیست برای همیشه از شرش خلاص شد.
برداشت یازدهم: نگاشت دو مفهوم از شغلم به زندگی
۱. مانیتور کردن وضعیت روحی روزانه و بعضاً ساعتی. ما یه سیستم الکترونیکی رو به حال خودش رها نمی‌کنیم و مدام در حال مانیتور کردنش هستیم. مغز و روح ما که جای خودش رو داره. باید مدام مراقب�� و وضعیت روحی رو پایش کرد و حواسمون باشه خیلی از وضعیت بهینه فاصله نگیریم. اگه دیدیم داریم دور می‌شیم باید یه کاری بکنیم قبل از اینکه دیر بشه...
2. فردا مثل امروز نیست. تو تکنولوژی می‌دونم و بارها و بارها دیدم که اتفاقاتی می‌افتند که دیروز اصلاً فکرش رو هم نمی‌کردم. تو دستشویی یه راه‌حل برای یه مشکل به ذهنم می‌رسه، یه مقاله‌ی جدید برای انجام یه کار پیدا می‌کنم و هزار تا اتفاق دیگه که شاید مال امروز نباشند و قرار باشه فردا سر برسن. زندگی هم همینه، زمان به خودی خود خیلی کارها می‌کنه و باید به زندگی و مشکلات روحی‌مون فرصت بدیم و رنج رو برای مدتی تحمل کنیم. مطمئناً برای حل کردن مشکلات روحی‌مون فردا میتونه از امروز مهم‌تر و مفیدتر باشه...

پس‌گفتار: اگه تا اینجا این متن رو خوندین من باورم نمی‌شه و خیلی خیلی خوشحالم و واقعاً امیدوارم که وقتی که گذاشتید ارزشش رو داشته باشه. لطفاً از طریق کامنت یا هر جور که صلاح می‌دونید در جریانم بگذارید و چه بهتر اگه در موردش حرف بزنید و نکاتی رو اضافه کنید. من معتقدم باید از افسردگی حرف زد و با کمک جمعی برای درمانش راه‌کار پیدا کرد. این رسالت من بود که بنویسم و البته هنوز این یادداشت آن‌چه باید باشه نیست. گودریدز بهترین جایی بود که می‌تونستم برای شروع اینا رو بنویسم و در معرض قضاوت و صحبت و ... قرار بگیرم. البته این روزا تو دنیای واقعی هم هر جا گوشی برای شنیدن این لاطائلات پیدا کنم، شروع می‌کنم به حرف زدن در موردش...
پس‌پس‌گفتار: این یادداشت هنوز کامل نیست و بخش کمال‌گرای وجودم می‌گه فعلاً نباید منتشرش کرد و برخی مطالب رو باید بیشتر تشریح کرد، اما از طرفی می‌دونم که این یادداشت شاید هیچ وقت اون‌طور که من انتظار دارم کامل نشه. ما در مورد افسردگی دچار فقدان کلمه‌ایم و حتی نویسنده‌‌های زبردست هم در نوشتن در موردش دچار مشکل می‌شن. من که جای خود دارم...
Profile Image for Nat K.
427 reviews160 followers
August 30, 2018

5**** plus.

”You are going to go mad. Like Van Gogh. You might cut off your ear.”

Whether you have a large black dog lumbering behind you, or a playful puppy bounding by you side, your mental health is one of your greatest assets. It is more delicate than the most intricate Swiss watch. We often don’t think of it too much, until things go skewiff. It’s something we take for granted, like the sun rising and setting.

”Life is hard. It may be beautiful and wonderful, but it is also hard. The way people seem to cope is by not thinking about it too much. But some people are not going to be able to do that. And besides, it is the human condition. We think therefore we are.”

I adore Matt Haig’s writing. He is empathetic. He doesn’t preach. He is real. And he’s darn amusing (whether intentional throughout this book or not…I guess that’s where the phrase “black humour” comes from).

There are so many “ah-ha” moments in the book, that I could relate to. From minor niggles to major problems, Matt Haig discusses the insidiousness of mental health. How because it can’t be seen, it can be difficult to diagnose the fine line of having “one of those days” to actually having deeper issues which need resolving.

”I just sat there looking at the pink blossom and the branches. Wishing my thoughts could float away from my head as easily as the blossom floated from the tree. I started to cry. In public. Wishing I was a cherry tree.”

A fabulous book. It spoke to me on so many levels. It had my mind racing in a thousand different directions reading it. And it brought a lump to my throat more than once. This is more profound than most of the “esteemed” self-help books out there.

I'll end this review with some more words from Matt Haig about depression, which are utterly beautiful.

”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."

Here’s to wellness – mind, body & soul 🍃
Profile Image for Whitney Atkinson.
943 reviews14k followers
November 20, 2017
4.5 stars

If you’re easily triggered by descriptions of other people’s mental illnesses, I would advice against reading this during low points. There’s some very in-depth descriptions of his dark thoughts and the panic and depression he felt, and it was really uncomfortable to confront. I think the title misled me because I picked this book up on a bad night hoping it would be uplifting, but I almost immediately had to put it back down when I realized it wasn’t going to help at all, just add to my spiraling. So definitely pick this up when you feel emotionally stable enough to confront very real descriptions of mental illness.

Matt talks several times about how he doesn’t take medication and it scares him and he doesn’t want to, which is a personal choice and that’s fine, but there are so many people that do take meds and it works for them, and if I would have read this before getting on my anxiety medication, it probably would have scared me away from it even further than I already was.

The way that Matt phrased a lot of things was just spot-on. I don’t suffer from depression, but when my anxiety is bad, it can be debilitating. I related to all his descriptions of the fear and the agoraphobia and almost everything else he touched on. Parts of this book were so powerful they brought tears to my eyes. He truly is a brilliantly talented writer, and i'm tempted to pick up some of his other books just because he had that much of a knack with words. But more than that, he just put the experience of living with debilitating mental illness into words. There were a few "solutions" to anxiety that I disagreed with (such as his telling the audience to avoid distractions because they're unhealthy, when I use distractions almost every day as a coping mechanism), but overall, I did tab several parts of this book to return to in the future.
Profile Image for Joanne Harris.
Author 94 books5,772 followers
October 28, 2014
I received an ARC of this book from Canongate. My usual technique, when reading an ARC, is to read 5 pages, then take a view as to whether I'm going to actually read the book. With REASONS TO STAY ALIVE, I'd passed the 50-page mark before I remembered to take a view, and by then I was down the rabbit-hole. Matt Haig is a marvellous writer: limpid; tender; passionate. In this memoir (and it's short, barely 200 pages long), he manages to articulate, both the bleakness of depression and the means of dealing with it, little by little, day by day, without ever sounding maudlin, or self-indulgent, or preachy. For everyone who has ever felt the snap of the black dog's teeth, this book is wise, funny, affirming and redemptive. Sometimes depression can be like falling into a wordless pit. Matt Haig finds the words. And he says them for all of us.
Profile Image for Emma.
986 reviews1,005 followers
December 29, 2015
So good that it should be required reading. In schools. For GPs. Everyone. Haig says that each mind breaks differently, but I think his heartfelt words will say/mean something to anyone who has felt anxiety or depression. Some sections were so real that I had to put the book aside for a while.

It's brilliant and hopeful. My thanks to Matt Haig for sharing so much of himself. It's not something most of us are able to do.
Profile Image for Bharath.
643 reviews474 followers
September 11, 2020
I came across many references to this book and have wanted to read it since some time. This is the story of how Matt Haig fought depression. The book is extremely important – it deals with the topic of mental health which needs more attention, and his personal account is very well written and inspiring.

Matt is unable to reason how and why it happened, but he slips into a very deep depression. His self-esteem is dented severely, and he develops extreme anxiety – so much so that even walking to the store and buying something is unbearable. The descriptions of what he goes through are vivid and moving. At one point, he is only seconds away from taking his life. His girlfriend (and later wife) Andrea sticks by him as a pillar of support, and so do his parents. Drugs do not help, and it is only when he develops a high degree of self-awareness (as outlined on Eastern philosophy which is now the cornerstone of most mindfulness teachings) that his mental state improves.

As he points out, many people face depression and suicide takes so many lives every year. More men than women end their lives, though more women suffer from depression (while he does speculate on this in the book, there are good pointers on why this is case in the philosophies of Carl Jung & mythology commentaries of Joseph Campbell). Mental health is a critical subject and various simple habits you can easily inculcate can help.

It is not that he offers revolutionary new advice – however, it is simple, sensible and comes out of a very traumatic personal experience.

A book I strongly recommend. I hope to read more of his work shortly.
Profile Image for Ruth.
262 reviews13 followers
February 10, 2016
Middle class pep talk, which I found very annoying. Takes no account of social inequality and the effects of poverty, poor education, lack of employment opportunities, inadequate mental health services, etc. Depression is an illness, but some people also have very difficult, depressing lives - reading Graham Greene novels and taking up yoga is way down on their list of priorities.

Review here https://icannever.wordpress.com/
Profile Image for Heba.
1,093 reviews2,136 followers
October 1, 2022
عن تجربة الكاتب مع الاكتئاب ، وفي محاولة منه ليخبر كل منا.. بأنك لست وحدك لطالما أنك تصارع في معترك الحياة لابد وأن تعلق بنفق مظلم ولو لبعض الوقت ، حتى ولو عدت اليه مراراً ، اعلم بأن الحياة تباغتنا بمنحها إيانا اسباباً بل قد يكون سبباً واحداً للبقاء حياً.....
Profile Image for Vanessa.
464 reviews300 followers
March 3, 2018
Wow. Wow. Wow. What an absorbing and powerful read. This was a book I purposefully set out to read slowly and in snippets mainly because many of the books themes took me to places too familiar and disturbing but I also couldn’t look away instead I devoured this in almost one sitting. Like a tragic car accident you can’t help staring at, I couldn’t stop reading. There’s times this book felt suffocating and uncomfortable like reliving a past nightmare. I even felt while reading this book a resurfacing of old feelings a sense of heightened anxiety...transference much? A lack of sleep was inevitable. Learning about someone’s pain and suffering is not fun but it was comforting. I commend Matt Haig for his brutal honesty in depicting the agonising realities of anxiety/depression. The descriptions almost gave me a twist in the stomach so gut wrenchingly real and awful. Being a lifelong anxiety sufferer the words on these pages were unbelievably accurate and insightful. I only wish this book was around when I was gripped in the worst periods of my life, how reassuring it would have been to know I didn’t suffer alone. I won’t forget this book. If I could hug it I would. 5 life affirming and enlightening stars.
Profile Image for Dream.M.
509 reviews90 followers
August 30, 2023
۲/۵ ستاره.
حقیقتا نمیفهمم چرا این کتاب اینقدر سر و صدا کرده، بنظر م�� در حد همون کتابخانه نیمه شب ضعیف بود و نصیحت طور، با اینکه اون رمانه و این بیوگرافی.
دو تا پیام هم دارم برای اونایی که این کتابو خوندن یا میخوان بخونن.
اول اینو بدونید دارو خوردن برای افسردگی یا هر اختلال دیگه ای نشونه ضعف نیست و درد و رنج کسی که دارو میخوره به اندازه کسی که دارو نمیخوره واقعی و بزرگ و سخته و حسش میکنه. همونطور که توی رنج کشیدن و انتخاب درد هیچ امتیازی وجود نداره، انتخاب دارو و کمک گرفتن از پزشکی هم به معنای بی خیالی و بی هوش و حواسی نسبت به رنج و دردمون نیست.
دوم اینکه اگر ما باوجود افسردگی یا هر اختلال روانی دیگه ای، همچنان در جامعه عملکرد داریم و سر کارمون حاضر میشیم، باعث نمیشه رنجی که میکشیم کمتر واقعی بشه چون خیلی از ما مجبوریم با وجود بیماری همچنان برای تامین هزینه هامون کار کنیم و کسی رو نداریم که ازمون حمایت مالی کنه. پس بدونیم کسی که تمام روز رو کار میکنه الزاما کمتر از کسی که تمام مدت توی خونه میخوابه افسرده نیست.
دیگه اینکه به هم کمک کنیم و سعی کنیم نمیریم.
3 reviews
August 2, 2017
I have no problem with someone writing a personal memoir of depression. This review is not to critique the author's "authenticity" of experience. Rather, I'd like warn those who may be in the depths of depression that this book may come across as simple, pandering, smug tripe. The solution is simply "bootstraps" which may do more harm than good at increasing understanding and reducing stigma of mental illness.

I read this book after several days of experiencing ideation of suicide and a lifetime of depression. This book made me mad. It did not provide authentic "reasons to stay alive". In fact, I cried at the hashtag chapter, which compiled public tweets of such "reasons" as not leaving loved ones or pets. For me, my elderly parents and my elderly cats ARE the only reasons I'm alive, but they will all be gone shortly.

I just turned 36. I've been depressed since I was 12. Like the author I had a major depressive episode in my early 20's. unlike the author, my relationship with my parents was almost destroyed, my boyfriend left me (because I was horrible to be around), my friends didn't stick around either. I dropped out of university.

After years of medication (Effexor - which I credit for saving my life) and therapy, I was able to finish my degree, work steadily.

But now, I'm 36 and IT IS NOT BETTER. I wouldn't be able to speak to my 22 year old self and say "it gets better". I run, yoga, journal, read, go outside, shower, eat healthy. It makes me feel like a failure every day that I am still so depressed.

My main issue with the book is the lack of pain and portrayal of relationships (read Prozac Nation for an author/memoirist willing to portray themselves negatively). The lack of diagnosis, intervention, treatment, therapy (yoga and running are healthy activities but they are not therapy), the girlfriend/wife who miraculously sticks around (perhaps through therapy you may uncover an unhealthy codependent relationship here!), dismissal of drug therapy, and no real insight into how you got better. How?! That is what I was reading for. Not, "It was bad, now everything is fine cause I'm married with kids."

My main impression is that the author has an anxiety disorder, that was triggered/exacerbated by heavy drinking and led to a major depressive episode. I'll admit I couldn't relate to a lot of this book as I don't suffer from anxiety. I'm truly appreciative of the author sharing his story, and trying to help to reduce stigma. Unfortunately, I feel that this might just encourage the "bootstraps" approach to mental illness treatment.
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