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We thought we would kick this page off with a book review. We have been really focused on men’s mental health this month due to the ever growing rate of suicides amongst men of all ages. This can not keep climbing at this rate in this day and age, it is quite literally a tragedy. Mental health is so much more accepted and out there now, but it isn’t enough. There is still fear and stigma attached to it, causing people to stay silent in their pain and men in particular seem to still really feel a judgment with it “not being manly” to talk about your feelings or get help with their emotions and thoughts. We must continue to work on changing this.

The lovely Sammy Allaway has kindly read and reviewed this book and has sent in her personal feelings and opinions on it as well as pulling out parts of the book that have stood out to her.. Thank you Sammy…

Reasons to stay alive is a memoir written by author Matt Haig and is an insight and reflection on his own experience of living through life with mental health issues.  Matt Haig suffered from the age of 24 (although he touches on warning signs he now recognizes from his childhood) It starts when he lived with his girlfriend Andrea in Ibiza and how depression hit him hard leaving him feeling suicidal. He explains the reasons he chose not to take his own life, giving him the title of his book ‘reasons to stay alive’ and the journey he took to get through his depression and learn to live alongside it.

‘Depression looks different to everyone. Pain is felt in different ways, to different degrees, and provokes different responses.’ ― Matt Haig, Reasons to Stay Alive

It is slowly coming to the surface of the crisis that we are facing when it comes to men’s mental health. A stigma is often attached to men suffering from any form of mental health and has often been a taboo subject. Luckily many more people are starting to come forward and talk about these issues. Even well-known public figures such as Freddie Flintoff, Joe Wicks, Jim Carrey, Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, and many more. Matt Haig included a chapter in his book ‘Boys Don’t Cry’ where Matt Haig writes ‘I want to talk about being a man.’  He points out some serious and terrifying statistics on the suicide rates in males to females with the UK being 3:1, Greece 6:1, and US 4:1. The author discusses his opinion on why he feels many men still kill themselves. His opinion being that in men, mental illness can be a significant weakness causing the male species to feel reluctant to seek help. (Matt Haig we hear you and we agree!)

‘You are no less or more of a man or a woman or a human for having depression than you would be for having cancer or cardiovascular disease or a car accident.’ ― Matt Haig, Reasons to Stay Alive

I truly admire the honesty within this book and appreciate how hard it must have been for Matt Haig to write about something so personal to him. He discusses the good the bad and the ugly. Reflecting on his darkest times and the emotions running through him. I love in the book that he includes chapters of conversations to himself then vs now. It helps to show you the shift in his mind space and how far he has come within himself.

‘It took me more than a decade to be able to talk openly, properly, to everyone, about my experience. I soon discovered the act of talking is in itself a therapy. Where talk exists, so does hope.’ ― Matt Haig, Reasons to Stay Alive

Some may argue if this book can be described as a self-help book and used as I tool or whether it is purely just a memoir about his experience in this subject. I would say it can. Matt Haig dedicated a chapter on ‘seeking help for a mental health problem, including: When do I seek help and how?  Who can I talk too? How to prepare?
He provided useful organizations such as Mind, rethink mental Illness, and Time to change with information on the organizations and contact information. Although he discusses the tools that he used to help him with his major depressive disorder and anxiety disorder he makes it clear that it may not work for everyone but can give you ideas on what may work for you as an individual.

“Depression is also smaller than you. Always, it is smaller than you, even when it feels vast. It operates within you, you do not operate within it. It may be a dark cloud passing across the sky but – if that is the metaphor – you are the sky. You were there before it. And the cloud can’t exist without the sky, but the sky can exist without the cloud.” ― Matt Haig, Reasons to Stay Alive

I found the book was beautifully written and I could honestly go on and on and discuss all of his chapters but that would ruin the book for you all! The chapters themselves are short and snappy and always straight to the point. For someone who is low in mood and has ‘brain fog’ this would be a very suitable book as the chapters are punchy and I feel the reader would only need short bursts of concentration. Although I found the book hard to put down I would advise that due to Matt Haigs’ honesty in the book you may find some chapters triggering and heavy. This is a book I would highly recommend, for anyone. Those who have experienced mental health issues, those who have not, those who are currently supporting loved ones through it, or just someone interested in the subject and a good book. It has provided me with an insight into what it can be like for someone struggling with mental health!

Thank you to Matt Haig for writing such an outstanding book and addressing a topic that may help many more people open up! #reasonstostayalive

‘How to stop time: Kiss
How to travel in time: Read
How to escape time: Music
How to feel time: Write
How to release time: Breathe’
                                     

― Matt Haig, Reasons to Stay Alive 

ISBN -978-1-78211-682-0

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