I did a little poll on twitter yesterday about what I should post today and this was your choice – a book review. And if you read my twitter yesterday you will also have seen that I finished the book I’m about to discuss in one morning (well sort of, between 7am and 12:30pm but I had physio and lab time too) because it was just that good.
After Kayleigh reviewed Reasons To Stay Alive back in September, I’ve been meaning to pick it up. I ended up buying it on Amazon at the start of the month and finally sat down to read and and boy was I glad to. This is essentially a memoir of a young author who suffered with mental illness and his struggle to overcome it.
If you’ve been around these parts for a little while you may be aware that I have mixed depression and anxiety disorder, which is very similar to what the author had (at no point is a clinical diagnosis given, but it’s pretty strongly hinted at). I know mental illness isn’t a competition, but I have never struggled in the same way as him – I’ve never thought I should kill myself. Sure, suicidal thoughts maybe on occasion but I’ve never got to the point where I would actually do it (I’m scared of death so I don’t think I could do it).
However, that’s a key point of this book – Mental Health is not a competition. Everyone struggles with it differently. Matt Haig who wrote the book states this very early on, that this is his experience. His experience will differ to mine, and Kayleigh’s (sorry Kayleigh – just using you since you also talked about this book), and the several other people I know with depression or a similar illness, but it doesn’t mean that this book won’t help. There were so many key points that stuck out to me and were particular poignant, and I just want to share a few with you.
You can be depressive and happy, just as you can be a sober alcoholic I remember around a week after my clinical diagnosis I went to a museum with my boyfriend. There was one of those pictures where you put your head through so you have a different body and we took photos of that and few other things. I really struggled to decide whether to post that photo to facebook or not because what if people thought I was ‘making up’ the fact that I had depression (my close friends and family knew). But you are allowed to be happy, you just don’t feel right. Just because I was empty inside, it didn’t mean that I wasn’t allowed to have fun. And it took me a long time to realise this.
If someone loves you, let them My boyfriend is my rock. There is no way I would be where I am today without him (I said thanks a few posts ago to him for this). And when I finally learnt that he really loved me and wanted to help, everything became 100x easier. I’m not saying you need a significant other but you need your friends or your family around. They love you and they care about you and they want you to get better. They just want a healthy, happy you.
Nothing lasts for ever. This pain won’t last. The pain tells you it will last. Pain lies. Ignore it. Pain is a debt paid off with time. And I’m bloody ready to pay off this debt. 2016 is the year I’m going to tackle my mental health problems head on. In fact, on Thursday I’m going to my first session of a 6 week course on Stress and Anxiety Management – how to tackle my my problems and not let them affect me in such a detrimental way.
From experience of friends/family friends, I know that there’s a good chance I will never not have depression and anxiety, but I want to fight it. And this book makes me truly believe that I can. I know the warning signs, and I know that I’ve come out of it before so I can do it again. Depression is smaller than me and I can get through it.
If you suffer with a mental illness, know somebody who does or you’re just interested in how people with mental health issues really feel then you need to read this book. There are mini self-help tips, things to do/say to someone who suffers from mental illness and research and statistics surrounding mental health that I’ve never even though about. I’ve already put it in my boyfriend’s book pile because I find it so difficult to explain myself to him but this sums it up in just over 250 pages. If this hasn’t already saved a life, it’s only a matter of time before it does.