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Summary

Whether you suffer from depression yourself or hope to gain a better understanding of someone who does, Reasons To Stay Alive is an unfailingly honest account of life at its bleakest, but one that simultaneously manages to deliver a powerfully positive message.

What does it mean to feel truly alive? Aged 24, Matt Haig's world caved in. He could see no way to go on living.

This is the true story of how he came through crisis, triumphed over an illness that almost destroyed him and learned to live again.

A moving, funny and joyous exploration of how to live better, love better and feel more alive, Reasons to Stay Alive is more than a memoir. It is a book about making the most of your time on earth.

"I wrote this book because the oldest cliches remain the truest. Time heals. The bottom of the valley never provides the clearest view. The tunnel does have light at the end of it, even if we haven't been able to see it . . . Words, just sometimes, really can set you free."

©2015 Matt Haig (P)2015 Canongate Books Ltd

Critic reviews

"Maybe the most important book I've read this year." (Simon Mayo)
"A life-saving book." (Amanda Craig)
"Brings a difficult and sensitive subject out of the darkness and into the light." (Michael Palin)

What listeners say about Reasons to Stay Alive

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  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

If you’re depressed, get money, a partner & family!

I’ve seen SO many rave reviews of this book, and it just made me rant. I do like Matts writing and reading but to me this is ‘miss-sold’ as effectively you learn that his ever present girlfriend and well off family enable him to ride out his depression.. and those are not things available to huge amount of people who suffer from depression.

This could be made ok if he made any allusion to the fact there may be people out there that suffer alone, broke and forced to work, but it seems to be written solely for those able to approach things in the same way as Matt.

I’m really glad he’s managed to work his way through and found ways that work for him, but don’t recommend this book for those looking for solutions or understanding unless you’re middle class, masters educated and have money for travel.

197 people found this helpful

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Amazing

I purchased reasons to stay alive on audible and so heard the story of Matt's journey into, through and out of depression told as if he were explaining it. I believe this made the experience much better although I also think that you can probably hear his voice in the book too, he is such an amazing author.

I loved this book and frequently listen to chapters just to remind myself of the message that Matt is sharing. I won't tell you what that is because I think it will be something different for each of us. I think that you should hear it though :) What I can say is that this stopped me in my tracks , more than once. It made me think about my life and the lives of people around me . It helped me to know about dark times and light.

I wish that the whole world would read this book, and I'd love it if , once we have, we could all talk about its content .

24 people found this helpful

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A brave work for which I am so grateful

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Firstly, I would recommend this to people who don't suffer with mental illness but who want a better understanding of those who do. Partners, employers, politicians.

Primarily, I would recommend this book to friends suffering with their own mental health battles because Matt Haig's words give us permission to feel like normal, natural human beings again, despite and because of the struggle that is depression. This book is brave and terribly personal and it reassured me to know that I am not the only person to struggle as I do.

And, above all, I would recommend this book because Matt reassures us, in a calm and resounding voice, that depression does lift and that we will feel joy again.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Andrea was my favourite character, just as my partner is my favourite person in the world. To someone living with depression, the strength, patience, understanding and LOVE shown by our nearest and dearest is astounding, especially in those times when depression wears its ugliest face.

What about Matt Haig’s performance did you like?

I loved Matt Haig's performance and it meant more to me that this personal account was read by the person who lived through it to tell the tale.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

I listened to it pretty much all in one sitting.

Any additional comments?

Thank you to Matt Haig, you've helped me more than you know and I hope I'll meet you one day and thank you in person.

48 people found this helpful

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Not for me

I feel for Matt regarding his experience, and it’s good to hear that he is managing it now and has come through the other side. The account of what depression and anxiety are is good, as is the way Matt tells the story, but I didn’t really take anything away that could actually help, other than managing the situation. There is little reference to dealing with the root cause, and I find that this is an issue in the society we live in, in general. I feel that the work of Dr David Hawkins, Lester Levenson, Eckhart Tolle, and many more, around working with the feeling and dissolving it resonates much more with me.
Having said that, this is probably a great book for those feeling isolated about their depression and anxiety - it’s an honest account that can help people to feel more connected to others and also understand their own challenges more.

31 people found this helpful

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LIVING with depression rather than dying from it

The word enlightening in greatly over used but this book is just that. Enlightening. With brutal honesty as well as humour the author sets out his own baffling journey from the onset to his eventual recovery from depression. This story gives those who have not have experienced severe clinical depression great insight into what that illness is and what it means to go through it, for the sufferer and for those close to them.

When talking about suicide the author says "I didn't really want to die. I just wanted the pain to stop." That really made me think about what prompts people do take their own lives and it has nothing to do with attention seeking or selfishness.

Everyone should read or listen to this book.

15 people found this helpful

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reasons to stay alive

I did have to stop reading this book it made me feel even more depressed

14 people found this helpful

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Disappointing Conclusion

The first half of the book was life changing, as someone who currently suffers from panic disorder I loved Matt’s descriptions and depictions of experiencing mental illness, with the “going to the shop” inner monologue a particular highlight. However from there it jumped very quickly from agoraphobia to neutral thoughts to “and then I started running and was better” without a lot of insights into the process. The last few chapters were overly philosophical and waffly, and the twitter chapter seemed insensitive to people at the darkest end of mental illness (who I assume are the largest demographic of readers!), who wish that family, friends, and bacon sandwiches could be enough to pull them from depression, but alas they often are not.

13 people found this helpful

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Life changing

I have been searching so long for a book like this, it couldn't have come at a better time, thank you to the author, truly truly amazing. To anyone with anxiety and depression this should let you know you are not alone. As its narrated so well and by the narrator himself it is sincere and made me smile, my final thought was.... Maybe we are all a bit crazy and..... It's ok! Best
wishes

18 people found this helpful

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Words of wisdom

Matt Haig delivers exactly what you expect in this book. This is an achingly intimate account of his descent into depression and his description of his experience is vivid and disturbing. He then goes on to explain that depression isn't a personal failure or an inevitable downward spiral. If anything his appreciation of life, things and the people he loves has been enhanced by his experience. This is a book that should be shared with people who suffer from depression and anxiety and the people who are close to them. There is so much joy in this little book and I felt ten years younger after listening to it.

I recommended reading The Humans after this. You will get the link.

35 people found this helpful

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moving and very helpful

haven't read any of his other books but would now. Very uplifting and inspiring for those who have suffered with illness. Thank you Matt.

11 people found this helpful

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  • David Lipschitz
  • 11-01-17

Helpful

Short chapters well narrated and even though the subject is "fear" there is a lot of fun in the book. I really enjoyed the book & the way it was honestly written & narrated & I intend listening to it again.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Frannie
  • 02-12-16

Powerful. Raw. Hang on and don't give up, not yet.

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

So... real.

It wasn't enlightening nor technical nor did it teach me anything new about mental health issues.
But it made me feel perhaps understood. As if, I'm not the only one who struggles or has struggled with this, as if yes, that's exactly how you feel.

I would definitely recommend it to those who have suffered and/or are still suffering from depression.
You can win it. You can come out of it alive. Please don't give up.

Ps. Didn't like Matt Haig as a narrator. Sorry but it just didn't work for me.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Jere
  • 08-05-16

Easy to reach!

It makes you feel better, even it is about dark things. Depression needs to be normalized. Good experience!

2 people found this helpful

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  • Ann Higgs
  • 11-06-15

From the heart.

Excellent book written from the heart with absolute sincerity. A book I will go back to many times.

1 person found this helpful

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  • WCC
  • 28-01-20

Nice audible book for knowing experience in depression

The narrator, which is the author himself, has a very calm voice that helps you keep listening to the whole story despite some of the words were so overwhelming!
Generally a great book and I get to know more about what depression and panic attack are like as some friends of mine have been affected by these conditions.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 13-07-18

Honest even with the redundancy

I found the narrative a bit superfluous and because of that, I was dying for it to be over. That said, I stillI appreciated the author's courage to talk about his experiences, despite the redundancy. I listened to this book because I was hoping to learn how others document their experiences with depression. While I don't struggle with anxiety, I am plagued with chronic loneliness and also trying to document my experience.