WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO FEEL TRULY ALIVE?
Aged 24, Matt Haig’s world caved in. He could see no way to go on living. This is the true story of how he came through crisis, triumphed over an illness that almost destroyed him and learned to live again.
A moving, funny and joyous exploration of how to live better, love better and feel more alive, Reasons to Stay Alive is more than a memoir. It is a book about making the most of your time on earth.
‘I wrote this book because the oldest clichés remain the truest. Time heals. The bottom of the valley never provides the clearest view. The tunnel does have light at the end of it, even if we haven’t been able to see it . . . Words, just sometimes, really can set you free.’
Some books are read for fun, some for education, some of them are read for escapism but then a book like Reasons to Stay Alive comes along and it falls into that elusive category – books you NEED to read. There are people that would question as to why they need to read a memoir. My answer to this is because Reasons to Stay Alive is so much more than a memoir of a person but it is an insight into one of the scariest most heartbreaking illnesses that there is – mental illness.
Now I don’t claim to be an expert on mental illness but I can only go with my own experiences – both as a spectator and (at times) sufferer of panic attacks to know how harrowing it can be. Matt Haig has opened the door to anyone who has no personal knowledge of this chronic condition.
In my own personal case I can justify my panic attacks; mine are down to suffering from Ulcerative Colitis. My IBD closes me off somewhat. Long journeys, walking to the local shops that are literally three minutes away – in fact, travel in general causes a stir in me that I find difficult to control. Going out is like a military operation. Routes are planned ahead with maximum places to stop in mind should my IBD play up. It probably won’t but that doesn’t stop the slow crawl of panic. The reason I am telling you this is because in Haig’s book he wrote my experience. Not something about me but his experience is exactly what I go through on a daily basis. It was eye opening and I felt – for want of a better word – ‘normal.’
The difference between Haig and I is that I know when my brain closes off and I can’t find that ceiling to the panic. Haig, it seems, does not have that luxury. That he deals with mental health issues on such a vast scale (everyday, no less) makes him a superhero in my eyes. Equally, I am eternally grateful to him for writing a book that, without a shadow of a doubt, will help those who read it. It helped me.
Whilst Reasons to Stay Alive is a book about mental health disorders should be depressing it is somewhat ironic that it leaves you feeling upbeat and positive after reading it. Matt Haig, in his almost painful honesty, may have written the book of 2015.
Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig is available now.
Follow Matt Haig (@matthaig1) on Twitter.