I asked my former colleague for a copy of Reasons to Stay Alive, and it may have taken me a while, but I’ve read it — over a day, no mean feat if you’re a mum of a(nother) baby who doesn’t like to sleep unless she’s being held.
(Thanks, Mum, for holding her while I lay in bed resting to overcome a possible case of mastitis.)
To be perfectly honest, I approached it with a little trepidation. I have not felt comfortable mentioning what I’m about to mention, as I feel it is not my right to do so, but in the last few weeks I have had news of an old friend losing a battle with depression. I have been dwelling on thoughts of him — and his family who survive him — on a regular basis ever since.
If you’re suffering from the condition, it may help you to read an honest account of someone else’s experience and how they’re getting through it, I don’t know. It made me sad that my friend could have made a different decision — like Matt did — with the support of his family. But I heard he didn’t talk about it.
And so. My friend did what he did.
Matt’s (I think I met Matt Haig when Canongate published The Radleys, so it’s not pretentious that I’m using his first name. Heh) style in this book is so personal and does seem like the most genuine peek into the mind of a depressive. I can’t imagine what it must be like to feel there is no light at the end of the tunnel, that you just need to make it go quiet by becoming nothing. But Reasons to Stay Alive gives me a clue. It helps me understand a little why my friend made that choice.
If only he had found a reason not to.