Reasons to Stay Alive Book Summary - Reasons to Stay Alive Book explained in key points
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Reasons to Stay Alive summary

Matt Haig

An optimistic memoir about depression and anxiety

4.4 (322 ratings)
24 mins

Brief summary

"Reasons to Stay Alive" by Matt Haig is a memoir that explores the author's struggles with mental health and his journey to finding hope and happiness. It's a powerful reminder that things can and will get better, even in the darkest of times.

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    Reasons to Stay Alive
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    Matt Haig suddenly began to experience intense anxiety, and it affected every aspect of his life.

    On a warm sunny day in Ibiza, Spain, Matt Haig experienced a rush of panic so intense that he couldn't get out of bed. He was 24 years old, and had been living in a beautiful villa with his girlfriend, working at a nightclub over the summer.

    He'd been drinking a lot and was sometimes worried about what to do with his life, but up until then he hadn't felt particularly depressed. Then the panic began.

    For three days, Haig could neither sleep nor get out of bed. The panic was constant, unrelenting. His heart pounded so hard he felt sure he would die.

    The key message here is: Matt Haig suddenly began to experience intense anxiety, and it affected every aspect of his life.

    At one stage, the feeling of panic became unbearable, and Haig seriously thought about taking his own life. He even went and stood at the edge of a cliff near the villa, willing himself to jump off. But the thought of the pain his death would cause his loved ones held him back.

    His girlfriend, Andrea, was, understandably, very worried. She insisted they visit a doctor, who prescribed some tranquilizers. They didn't help much, but at least they dulled Haig’s senses long enough to allow him to return home to the United Kingdom, where his parents were anxiously waiting.

    To an outsider, their lives in the United Kingdom might have seemed very peaceful. Haig lounged around the house, read the paper, did some cooking. But his thoughts were anything but peaceful. He was in the grip of a toxic combination of depression and anxiety. While the depression filled him with dark thoughts, making him feel worthless and futureless, the anxiety flooded him with constant panic.

    Even a trip to the corner store became a major ordeal. Haig would set off to buy something simple like a bottle of milk, and start hyperventilating as soon as he left the house. He'd start hallucinating that demons were taunting him, or imagine that something terrible was about to happen.

    Inside the shop, his anxiety would become even worse. He'd become so overwhelmed by all the products with their bright labels that he could barely find the milk. When he finally found it, he still had to suffer through a social interaction with the cashier, trying desperately to appear normal.

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    What is Reasons to Stay Alive about?

    Reasons to Stay Alive (2015) tells the story of Matt Haig’s struggle with depression and anxiety, which was so severe that he had constant panic attacks and feared leaving the house. It reveals how Haig learned to channel his natural intensity into the creation of art and developed some unusual techniques for easing his distressed mind.

    Reasons to Stay Alive Review

    Reasons to Stay Alive (2015) by Matt Haig is a powerful memoir that offers a candid and uplifting account of the author's battle with depression and anxiety. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • Through honest and raw storytelling, it provides a real and relatable perspective on mental health, shedding light on the struggles and triumphs.
    • Combining personal experiences, research, and reflections, it gives valuable insights and practical strategies for coping, offering hope and inspiration to those who are fighting their own battles.
    • The book's poignant and introspective tone keeps readers captivated, ensuring that the topic never becomes dull or lacking in emotional depth.

    Best quote from Reasons to Stay Alive

    If you find it hard enough to let yourself be free, your self breaks in, flooding your mind in an attempt to drown all those failed half-versions of you.

    —Matt Haig
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    Who should read Reasons to Stay Alive?

    • Memoir lovers who want to read a heartfelt story of personal growth
    • Social workers and psychologists who want a glimpse of what’s going on in their clients’ heads 
    • People struggling with depression and anxiety who want to borrow some faith and optimism

    About the Author

    Matt Haig is the author of the widely acclaimed memoirs Reasons to Stay Alive and Notes on a Nervous Planet. He’s also the author of six best-selling novels for adults, including How to Stop Time, The Humans and The Radleys. He’s sold over a million books in the United Kingdom, and his work has been translated into over 40 languages.

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    Reasons to Stay Alive FAQs 

    What is the main message of Reasons to Stay Alive?

    The main message of Reasons to Stay Alive is finding hope and purpose in the midst of mental health struggles.

    How long does it take to read Reasons to Stay Alive?

    Reading Reasons to Stay Alive takes several hours. The Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is Reasons to Stay Alive a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Reasons to Stay Alive is worth reading for its honest portrayal of mental health and inspiring perspective on resilience.

    Who is the author of Reasons to Stay Alive?

    The author of Reasons to Stay Alive is Matt Haig.