Since graduating University, I forgot what it was like to read for fun. As a kid I was an avid book worm and I once read all the Harry Potter books in 5 days. I wanted to fall back in love with reading and the worlds that authors created. I’ve not only been reading books I’d usually pick up, I’ve been reading ones I would never have thought to pick.
If there’s any book I urge people to read, it is Reasons to Stay Alive* by Matt Haig. It’s been one of those books that I have had on my wish list for a while and it was only recently that I finally got round to purchasing it. My only regret is that I didn’t buy it sooner. Reasons to Stay Alive is a memoir written by Matt Haig who writes about his personal battle with depression and anxiety. It’s beautifully well crafted, extremely personal and my favourite thing about it is that Haig makes you feel less alone.
Living with my fiance who suffers from depression it opened up the part of him that I do not know of my partner. The times when he’s unrecognisable and drowning in his own thoughts. It will always be one of the most heartbreaking things for me to watch and live with because there is barely anything that I can do. In 7 years, I have some understanding of his depression; I know how to battle it and not let it take over our lives, but, Haig’s work really opened my eyes of how my partner feels.
One of the biggest lessons I learnt being with my partner is that depression is an illness, not a feeling. That’s what is present through out the book. It’s an illness that no one is immune from, as Haig points out in his list of celebrities that suffer with depression or anxiety. Anyone can suffer. It really struck a chord with me because for the past few months I’ve been battling negative thoughts that have taking over my brain. I know I do not suffer with a mental illness but it doesn’t mean my brain is immune from feeling ill.
Haig talks about what works for him and helps him battle his illness every day. He briefly mentions medication and how it helped but he focuses a lot on meditation, yoga and running. Personally, things like meditation aren’t for me but to an extent I could relate. I drill this into my life and blog all the time but nothing makes me feel better than going outside and walking with my dog. My 40 minute walk after work with Rufus is often my biggest pick me up after a day at work or a rough day. Fresh air calms me and spending time with my dog who always projects happiness is a constant mood booster.
The best thing about it is that Haig offers hope. Haig creates a narrative where his current self speaks to his past self and offers hope that everything works out in the end. Haig highlights how low mental illness can make you feel which helps people like me understand even more. Although the stigma with mental illness is constantly being challenged with more and more people are speaking out, there are people that are still afraid to try and explain how they feel. Haig puts these nonsensical thoughts onto paper challenging the stigma and making people feel less alone in their own heads. It gives people insight into thoughts of mental illness.
All I can say is pick up the book and give it a read. It’s one of those books that I keep on my bedside table at all times as a constant reminder that it’s OK to feel lost at times, no matter where you are in your life. That my relationship is stronger than my fiance’s depression and that it’s an illness that I choose to fight with him every single day. That although I will never know the way someone who suffers feel, that maybe I can help a little bit more after reading this book.