Imagine that. Imagine feeling as though your whole world is crumbling around you, without anyone noticing. Awful, right?
Well, it’s a reality for the thousands of people suffering with depression and/or anxiety around the world right now and I know you’ve probably heard it before but at least you get some morsel of sympathy when landed with a broken leg or a brain tumour. With mental health issues, unless you say something about how you’re feeling, nobody knows about it, nobody notices and therefore nobody can (or at least try to) help.
This is where this book comes in.
Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate that the title will probably put you off purchasing it at the airport ahead of your summer holiday (unless you are struggling to think of reasons to stay alive, of course) but please, take it from me, it is a great read. With a keen interest in mental health and as someone looking to understand the depths of depression a little better, I was intrigued to see what Haig had to say on the subject of staying alive.
So many books that have been designed to help those suffering with depression, anxiety and lots of other mental illnesses seem to patronise the reader and repeat, time and time again, what we already know, which becomes frustrating to the sufferer. Haig avoids this through maintaining a sense of humour and much needed perspective throughout. From listing celebrities who have suffered, to describing the physicality of depression and anxiety and having conversations with himself across time, I think he helps those in need to feel as though someone finally ‘gets it’ when it seems like nobody in the world does- a common symptom of depression.
Interestingly, I found ‘Reasons to Stay Alive’ a really enjoyable and uplifting read. I had finally found something that made depression make sense and I had finished it by the time I pulled into Paddington from Bristol. Since then, I have placed it into the hands of someone who I know has benefitted greatly from it and believe me, said person has never wanted to pick up a self help book in their life and has always had very little interest in advice or solutions to their illness.
As Haig so perfectly puts it: ‘Where talk exists, so does hope” and I am hopeful that if we begin to take as much interest in depression and anxiety as we do cancer research or help for the elderly, we will be able to – at the very least – ease the pain for those in need.
It’s a sobering fact that suicide is the biggest killer of men aged under 45 in the UK. Forget cancers or HIV, depression is, quite literally, the deadliest and most dangerous of them all and it’s time we acknowledged this reality. Depression is a ghostly disease with very real consequences and I think we’d all be able to see this a little more clearly if we took the time to read this book.
And don’t forget, once you’ve read it, be sure to pass it on.