Book Review: “Reasons to Stay Alive”

By cryotosensei | diaperfinancingfund | 26 Feb 2023

It may look like I was bored stiff by “Reasons to Stay Alive” but in actual fact, I thought @mattzhaig did an excellent job writing about a topic as serious as depression in an easy-to-access manner. So easy that I dared to bring this book to an outdoor camp, where the student noise threatened to rupture my eardrums.

Back to the book. I used to think that anxiety leads to depression but after this book, I realise that anxiety and depression are 2 distinct conditions. Matt described the difference in a striking metaphorical manner: depression is like being stuck in a swamp while anxiety is like having whirlpools swirling in the swamp. I think I get it.
One of the greatest strengths of this book is how Matt writes poignant truths via breathtaking literary devices. I found myself dogear-ing the pages ever so often. Take his depiction of mindfulness for instance: “as a way of adding punctuation into the breathless sentence of your life”. I don’t mean to say that he romanticised depression, only that he made it relatable for those of us who are spared from its clutches.
Besides being vulnerable and sharing his struggles, he also wrote how undertaking various pursuits (running, reading, travelling) helped him manage his condition. I thought how remarkable he was to tackle depression from a position of resilience.
The thing that I thought was lacking in the book was his relationship with his then-girlfriend (now-wife), Andrea. How did Andrea support him? Why didn’t she leave him? How did Matt choose to lean on her? Given that connections are the one factor that provide ammunition against life’s challenges, I thought describing how they coped with depression would add another dimension to the book.


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