I am SO angry. Indescribably angry in fact about the way depression is once again being portrayed by the media. Not only are they perpetually encouraging stigma and ignorance, they are also creating an unneeded fear. Not only are newspapers to blame, we then get people like Katie Hopkins suggesting that being depressed is actually ‘fashionable’. What planet do these people live on?
In my twenty one years on this planet, seven of them have been spent in a fuzz of depression, panic disorder and agoraphobia. I know what it’s like to hit rock bottom and feel that there’s no way out. I know what it’s like to feel afraid to leave your bedroom, let alone walk out of the front door. I know what it’s like to cry yourself to sleep, to suffer from insomnia, to face ignorant people and their opinions, to feel frightened to get help. I know what it’s like to sit in a school toilet and cry for a whole hour because no one understands you. I know what it’s like to feel alone. As though there is no one else in the world who understands what you’re going through. But, I also know what it’s like to find help. To get better, to start to live a ‘normal’ life again. I know what it’s like to have a real job where you get paid, to be able to commute to work on the train and not have a panic attack, to walk into a room full of strangers and not feel the need to run back out again. I know what it’s like to fall in love, to wake up in the morning with the sun streaming through the curtains and smile just because you can. I know what it’s like to go through rough patches, to be constantly living in the shadow of anxiety. But I also know that there are ways to deal with it and ways to still live a meaningful and happy life.
I’m writing this letter to say THANK YOU. Although ‘thank-you’ doesn’t feel sufficient. Even a million ‘thank-you’s’ wouldn’t be enough to convey how truly thankful I am to you and your book. Over the past seven years of my life I’ve tried so hard on numerous occasions, on numerous different platforms to share my story; to vocalise what such hellish illnesses feel like and to help people feel less alone. But I’ve never felt satisfied with my ability to convey how it feels with the words we have. There is something magic about you because you’ve done it. You’ve turned the indescribable into words. You’ve so perfectly captured what it’s like to be depressed, how it feels to have a panic attack, the thoughts that go through your mind as you contemplate suicide.
You’ve written the most incredible book.
Reasons To Stay Alive should be read by everyone, everywhere. Depression is a universal experience – it doesn’t matter if you’re rich or poor, fat or thin, old or young, tall or short, black or white, male or female – it can, and does, happen to anyone. Like you’ve so perfectly described in your book and in recent articles, some of the most well known people have been depressed – even with tons of money, responsibility, a gorgeous house, lovely partners, perfect children…depression can still exist.
Reading your book was like reading my own story. I found myself feeling as though I had a friend in you and I think anyone else who reads this book will too. You are an inspiration and with your constant battle to fight the stigma, your selflessness to help others and with you being living proof that depression doesn’t have to destroy you, you are one of the most important people we have.
I just wanted to say thanks. Thank you for it all. I feel like I have a Matt Haig fighting in my corner. In fact, everyone with a mental illness can feel truly blessed that they too have a Matt in their corner. Not one of us is alone when someone like you is there, fighting for us and being a voice in the crowd that people truly listen to.
You inspire me.
You are an incredible man with an incredible story.
Thank you for sharing it and thank you for being our friend.
So, today, my reason to stay alive is You.
Yesterday it was the promise of a warm bath at the end of a long day at work. And tomorrow my reason is so I can go to bed cuddling the person I love.
There are so many reasons to stay alive and even when it feels like the worst possible day, I’ll always remember that your book is there, waiting for me.
P.S, Send my love to Andrea. She’s one of the most selfless, dedicated, beautiful people in the world. The true unsung hero of Reasons To Stay Alive.
“Depression might be a hell of a price to pay for waking up to life, … But it is actually quite therapeutic to know that pleasure doesn’t just help compensate for pain, it can actually grow out of it.”