Did you know that one in five people suffer from depression?
This means that the woman next to you on the bus or the man in front of you in the line at the supermarket might be struggling and in pain with no visible symptoms. The girl who’s lagging behind in school or the boy who’s constantly picked on during lunch break may be suffering silently. According to statistics from MentalHealth, major depression is thought to be the second leading cause of disability worldwide, and a major contributor to the burden of suicide and ischemic heart disease. What’s most striking is that anxiety and depression are so easily overlooked, since the symptoms don’t manifest themselves physically, but rather intrinsically.
“To other people, it sometimes seems like nothing at all. You’re walking around with your head on fire, and no one can see the flames.”
Matt Haig’s Reasons to Stay Alive can easily catch the reader’s attention simply by glancing at the title. This book is not a self-help guide book, but rather a personal memoir of a man falling into and the struggles of falling out of depression. It’s a true story of how the author falls into a depression crisis, how he managed to overcome this illness, and how he finally fought for his life back. Haig describes his frequent panic attacks, the misconceptions about depression, and what worked for him to overcome it and what failed.
“And most of all, books. They were, in and of themselves, reasons to stay alive. Every book written is the product of a human mind in a particular state. Add all the books together and you get the end sum of humanity. Every time I read a great book, I felt I was reading a kind of map, a treasure map, and the treasure I was being directed to was in actual fact myself.”
The most intriguing aspect of this book is that although it tackles a very serious topic, it manages to keep an uplifting and sometimes humorous tone. It’s the story of a man who proves that there is indeed light at the end of the tunnel.
“Talk. Listen. Encourage talking. Encourage listening. Keep adding to the conversation. Stay on the lookout for those wanting to join in the conversation. Keep reiterating, again and again, that depression is not something you ‘admit to’, it is not something you have to blush about, it is a human experience.”