Reasons to Stay Alive Book Summary - Reasons to Stay Alive Book explained in key points
Listen to the Intro

Reasons to Stay Alive summary

Matt Haig

An optimistic memoir about depression and anxiety

4.4 (325 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.

Table of Contents

    Reasons to Stay Alive
    Summary of 8 key ideas

    Audio & text in the Blinkist app
    Key idea 1 of 8

    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.

    Want to see all full key ideas from Reasons to Stay Alive?

    Key ideas in Reasons to Stay Alive

    More knowledge in less time
    Read or listen
    Read or listen
    Get the key ideas from nonfiction bestsellers in minutes, not hours.
    Find your next read
    Find your next read
    Get book lists curated by experts and personalized recommendations.
    Shortcasts New
    We’ve teamed up with podcast creators to bring you key insights from podcasts.

    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
    example alt text

    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.

    Categories with Reasons to Stay Alive

    Book summaries like Reasons to Stay Alive

    People ❤️ Blinkist 
    Sven O.

    It's highly addictive to get core insights on personally relevant topics without repetition or triviality. Added to that the apps ability to suggest kindred interests opens up a foundation of knowledge.

    Thi Viet Quynh N.

    Great app. Good selection of book summaries you can read or listen to while commuting. Instead of scrolling through your social media news feed, this is a much better way to spend your spare time in my opinion.

    Jonathan A.

    Life changing. The concept of being able to grasp a book's main point in such a short time truly opens multiple opportunities to grow every area of your life at a faster rate.

    Renee D.

    Great app. Addicting. Perfect for wait times, morning coffee, evening before bed. Extremely well written, thorough, easy to use.

    People also liked these summaries

    4.7 Stars
    Average ratings on iOS and Google Play
    31 Million
    Downloads on all platforms
    10+ years
    Experience igniting personal growth
    Powerful ideas from top nonfiction

    Try Blinkist to get the key ideas from 7,500+ bestselling nonfiction titles and podcasts. Listen or read in just 15 minutes.

    Start your free trial

    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.

    What to read after Reasons to Stay Alive?

    If you're wondering what to read next after Reasons to Stay Alive, here are some recommendations we suggest:
    • The Midnight Library by Matt Haig
    • Notes on a Nervous Planet by Matt Haig
    • The Comfort Book by Matt Haig
    • Everything I Know about Love by Dolly Alderton
    • Make Your Bed by William H. McRaven
    • Good Vibes, Good Life by Vex King
    • Atomic Habits by James Clear
    • The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey
    • Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari
    • Raising Mentally Strong Kids by Amen MD Daniel G. & Charles Fay