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.'
Reasons To Stay Alive by Matt Haig is published by Canongate in hardback on 5 March 2015.
Reasons To Stay Alive is a brave, poignant and honest account of Matt Haig's experience of living with depression. Part memoir, part self-help manual and part research, it is clear that this must have been a difficult book to write. It's also, at times, a difficult book to read, I felt uncomfortable, almost voyeuristic at times, but I appreciate the importance of this book. I appreciate that for many people, this book will help them to understand themselves, it will make them feel less alone, it will go some way to enabling them to take some control of their day to day life.
I've never suffered from depression, I've never had to support anyone with depression. I have friends who have had depression, they've told me about it, but I've never seen it for myself. I guess that I'm lucky, or maybe I'm blind, for it's clear that depression is an illness that affects so many people at some stage in their life. Maybe it will happen to me one day, or to a friend, or a family member. If it does, then I believe that this book will help me.
It's really difficult for someone who has not had first-hand experience of depression to examine the impact of the writing. I am reassured by the review quotes on the cover, from people such as Stephen Fry and Nathan Filer, for I know that they can comment with far more authority than I can.
There were parts in Reasons to Stay Alive that really made me think, and consider how society as a whole perceive the issue of mental illness, and it is that term in itself; 'mental illness' that sparks an interesting debate. Matt Haig talks about how we separate mental illness from physical illness, how the brain is seen to be so separate from the rest of the body. Why do we do this? Why do we assume that our brain is not part of our body and not realise that when our brain misfires, then the rest of our body can be affected too? Or, sometimes, when our body malfunctions, this makes our brain start to suffer too? As someone who suffers from an 'invisible physical illness', I can really understand how frustrating this must be to someone who is suffering so much that they want to die, that they cannot see a future, that they just want the pain and anguish to go away.
Matt Haig has opened his heart in Reasons to Stay Alive. He is brutally honest about himself, he exposes his vulnerabilities. His writing is engaging and warm, he has learnt so much about himself, and he is offering his wisdom to others. He cares and it shows.
I'm probably not the target market for this book, but I am pleased that I have read it. I will remember it and I will use it if I need to. I admire Matt Haig, he's a talented writer and he didn't have to open up and share his wisdom, but he has, and I have no doubt that in doing so, he will help many many people, and hopefully he will help himself.
Matt Haig was born in 1975. His debut novel, The Last Family in England, was a UK bestseller.
The Dead Fathers Club, an update of Hamlet featuring an eleven-year-old boy, and The Possession of Mr Cave, a horror story about an overprotective father, are being made into films and have been translated into numerous languages.
He is also the author of the award winning children's novel Shadow Forest, and its sequel, The Runaway Troll.
A film of The Radleys is in production with Alfonso Cuaron. Matt has lived in London and Spain, and now lives in York with the writer Andrea Semple and their two children.
For more information, visit his website at www.matthaig.com
Follow him on Twitter @matthaig1