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Ella Botting (Founder / CyberWomen.co.uk)
Books have helped me with just about every decision I’ve ever made. One that sticks out to me was reading How to Stay Alive by Matt Haig. There’s a moment in the book where Matt talks about wanting to kill himself but not having the gusto to go through with it. And I’ve been there before, in pretty much the exact circumstances he describes. I thankfully got help and I’m all good now, but it felt reassuring to read that experience and almost share it with him and know that he and maybe other people get it. It’s hard to explain but sometimes when you feel suicidal having people worry makes you feel annoyed, but being able to almost joke about it, in the way Matt does, feels quite cathartic. Although I’m certainly not saying anything about suicide is funny!
Like nearly one in five people, Matt Haig suffers from depression. Reasons to Stay Alive is Matt’s inspiring account of how, minute by minute and day by day, he overcame the disease with the help of reading, writing, and the love of his parents and his girlfriend (and now-wife), Andrea. And eventually, he learned to appreciate life all the more for it.
Everyone’s lives are touched by mental illness: if we do not suffer from it ourselves, then we have a friend or loved one who does. Matt’s frankness about his experiences is both inspiring to those who feel daunted by depression and illuminating to those who are mystified by it. Above all, his humor and encouragement never let us lose sight of hope. Speaking as his present self to his former self in the depths of depression, Matt is adamant that the oldest cliché is the truest—there is light at the end of the tunnel. He teaches us to celebrate the small joys and moments of peace that life brings, and reminds us that there are always reasons to stay alive.
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