“You will one day experience joy that matches this pain.” ~ Matt Haig
Those of you that have been following my blog for a while will know, I love the author Matt Haig. I love his honesty, his writing style, his humour and his perspective on life.
I have read many of Matt Haig’s books including his fiction work; The Humans, How to stop time and Echo Boy. But it’s his books about anxiety and depression, Reasons to stay alive & Notes on a nervous planet, which are written honestly from his own struggles, that are the ones I relate to the most.
He is not scared to show his flaws, his emotions, his insecurities, or the ugly side of mental illness. But he also shows that living with mental illness makes us quite incredible humans. We may experience extreme lows, but in contrast we also experience extremes highs. And we notice the beauty in the world that can often be overlooked by people without mental ill-health. We are also often caring and compassionate, understanding, loyal, appreciative, and empathetic people.
Our minds seem to work in a similar way. It feels like Matt Haig is telling my story – like he has climbed into my mind and scooped out my thoughts.
He inspires me, and so many others, to talk about our mental health struggles. He gives us hope when in the depths of despair. He shows us that we can have a bright and happy future.
This post isn’t a book review, but rather a message to anyone who is struggling to find their reasons to live right now – a message of hope.
Suicide is not chosen
About 5 years ago, after a very long battle with my mental and physical health, I gave up fighting. My health deteriorated so much that I couldn’t see the point in continuing to live. I had fought the pain, exhaustion, anxiety, depression and a myriad of other symptoms, for so long, I had no fight left in me.
I lost my independence, my ability to care for myself. I was in constant pain and was unable to sleep. Exhaustion caused palpitations which triggered panic attacks, and I was suicidal 24/7. I could not see a future without pain. I could not find any reasons to stay alive.
I go into detail about this desperate time in my life in the following post: Suicide is not chosen. It’s not an easy read and I discuss my own battles with active suicidal thoughts. But I knew it was a story that needed to be told. If you feel strong enough, please head over and have a read.
I first started reading Matt Haig’s book ‘Reasons to stay alive’ about 4 years ago, when I was at the lowest point in my life, but I didn’t make it past the first few chapters. Matt’s experiences and thoughts mimicked my own, and they were just too raw.
I was so exhausted I could only manage 5-10 mins of listening to an audiobook a day, and even that caused palpitations. For the sake of my health, I couldn’t continue reading the book.
Reasons to stay alive also compelled me to analyse my own situation, something I wasn’t strong enough to do at the time – I didn’t have the strength to face my demons.
Fast forward a few years and I felt strong enough to pick up the book again, and I’m so glad I did. As usual, Matt Haig is brutally honest about his experiences with depression and anxiety, and I want to thank him for this. Reasons to stay alive has brought me much clarity about my own situation.
Never underestimate the comfort of reading that someone has been in the same depths of hell that you are currently in, but has managed to claw their way out. Never underestimate the need for the hope that this creates.
Although my physical health is still very poor, I am a lot stronger mentally. I haven’t had any suicidal thoughts now for over three years, and I’m so proud of how far I have come. My life isn’t easy but it is worth living. I may cry a lot but I also laugh a lot. I may get depressed but I’m also optimistic.
So I wanted to write this to let people know; things can, and will get better – The storm ends. Please don’t give up, please know you are loved more than you’ll ever know. Please know you do have a future, a future where you will be happy again. A future where you will rediscover the joys life can bring – you deserve happiness.
I know everything seems impossibly hard right now, I know how overwhelming it feels. I know how exhausting the pain is. But please know you don’t have to have it all figured right now – Just breathing is enough.
I wrote a post about this very subject as a message to anyone who is feeling overwhelmed. To anyone that feels like they can’t face another moment in pain. To anyone who feels they are not worthy of love, or do not deserve happiness: Just breathe.
Matt Haig quotes that have inspired me
Matt includes many insightful messages in his books, and to conclude this post I would like to share a few of my favourites with you. These words of wisdom have brought me much comfort, and have reinstalled my hope for the future.
The following quotes are taken from Reasons to stay alive and Notes on a nervous planet.
“Life is waiting for you. You might be stuck here for a while, but the world isn’t going anywhere. Hang on in there if you can. Life is always worth it.”
“We are all so weird that, really, none of us are. There are seven billion versions of strange on this freak wonder of a planet. We are all part of that. All freaks. All wonderful.”
“If someone loves you, let them. Believe in that love. Live for them, even when you feel there is no point.”
“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.”
“The key is in accepting your thoughts, all of them, even the bad ones. Accept thoughts, but don’t become them.”
“Reading isn’t important because it helps to get you a job. It’s important because it gives you room to exist beyond the reality you’re given. It is how humans merge. How minds connect. Dreams. Empathy. Understanding. Escape.”
“Living with anxiety, turning up, and doing stuff with anxiety takes a strength most people will never know.”
“Everything we need is here, if we give up thinking we need everything.”
“What you learn when you are ill, about what hurts, can then be applied to the better times, too. Pain is one hell of a teacher.”
“Don’t let anyone or anything make you feel you aren’t enough.”
“I feel we need to stop seeing mental and physical health as either/or and more as a both/and situation. There is no difference. We are mental. We are physical. We are not split up into unrelated sections. We are not an existential department store. We are everything at once.”
“Don’t be a perfectionist. Humans are imperfect. Human work is imperfect. Be less robot, more human. Be more imperfect. Evolution happens through mistakes.”
“Don’t beat yourself up for being a mess, it’s fine. The universe is a mess. Galaxies are drifting all over the place. You’re just in tune with the cosmos.”
“The storm ends”
Thank you for reading. Take care x
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