ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Review: Reasons To Stay Alive by Matt Haig

Updated on May 8, 2015

"You must read it"

I have suffered from anxiety and depression for roughly five years and only recently have I accepted the severity of the issue and started the infinitely long journey of scraping myself out of the black hole.

The book was first brought to my attention by my dad who insisted I read it. I didn't want to. Who wants to read a book about a guy who has had your illness but is now a successful author, happily married and loving life? Everyone gets jealous but depression escalates it to a point where you are so envious of 'normal' people it makes you despise yourself even more. Still insistence led my dad to convince my mum to read it (15 years divorced makes this point more interesting.) When she said I should read it I was still reluctant. Then my younger sister got in on the act and even bought me the book! Which, of course, I'm very grateful for (plus it's a signed copy... nice touch.) So after much family based persuasion, even though I knew it was going to be tough, I gave it a go.

Startlingly Accurate

I hated it. I hated reading a book that is basically an autobiographical account of me, just in someone else's shoes. I hated reading how similar our depressive episodes are and I hated the fact that we have very similar personalities. How accurate this book is to my own experiences of depression are painstakingly scary and I hated reading it. Whilst battling through it my symptoms escalated. I was itchy, uncomfortable and fidgety. The 'fog' descended and stuck around for the entirety of the book. My tinnitus enveloped my brain like sufferers can only understand. It was painful but luckily it is incredibly short and I had finished it in a couple of days.

It's the pace of the story that also bothered me. At no point does it give the correct inclination of just how bad those dark days are. Or how long they last. Or how he coped with them. Years pass in an instant in this book yet anyone who suffers from depression knows that hours last days. Although he does refer to this issue of time, and how it is desperately slow in spells, the pace of the narrative and jumps through time don't fairly reflect the tormentingly difficult process of just getting through a single day.

I took no comfort in the fact that he learnt to manage his illness either. Instead of believing it will get better, which is the purpose of the book, getting better seemed a distant hope I am never to achieve. His constant acknowledgement of celebrities through the ages that have suffered but survived only angered me further. How does knowing Angelina Jolie or Russell Brand suffered from depression meant to give me hope? At the end of the day they don't have financial constraints. They could easily allow the time necessary to get better without the worry of your car being repossessed. Or pay for the top doctors to help diagnose and treat. No. Knowing that doesn't help me or give me comfort. It just fuels the anger.

The Positive Side

Despite my difficulties in reading this book. It is possibly the most important thing I have read with regards to depression. I would definitely recommend it. This may surprise you considering how much I despised reading it but that's just me. I am at a stage in my recovery (if you can call it that) where I need to find my own path and reading about someone else's doesn't help. It's worth pointing out as well that although I can relate to the majority of the issues Haig expresses, everyone with mental health issues have difficulties unique to themselves and therefore different tools help different sufferers.

I think the most helpful and most important aspect of this book though has nothing to do with me reading it. It is in fact that my family have read it and it has not only given them a much better and accurate portrait of depression but it has given them hope that their son/brother/grandson/nephew will get better. As the cliché goes, there is light at the end of the tunnel and for them believing that coupled with a better understanding of the illness comforts me.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)