Book review: Reasons To Stay Alive

IN an author’s note to his 2013 novel, The Humans, Matt Haig said it was partly a metaphor for his mental illness.

Matt Haig

Canongate, €12.99;

ebook € 11.55

Reasons To Stay Alive extends this in a genre-straddling mix of memoir, blog and self-help. It is a vaguely chronological stream of consciousness that explores his struggle with depression and anxiety, which began 14 years ago with a nervous breakdown.

Haig tries to explain depression, but has to resort to metaphor — he wants to escape his “mind on fire”. Instead, he lists symptoms, facts about depression and its high occurrence, tips for coping and tweets with the hashtag #reasonstostayalive.

He emphasises the importance of love — especially the vital presence of his wife, Andrea — and of physical health in counterbalancing the effects. It is enlightening for someone without mental health problems and a comfort those with them. As Haig says in a ‘dialogue’ with his 24-year-old, suicidal self: You make it, and on the other side of this is life.


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