Wednesday, 10 June 2015

You Need to Feel Life's Terror

Something that's been a under-rated help for me over the years is reading about depression.
Learning about other people's experiences normalises it. It helps you feel so much less alone. And it's allowed me to grow with my mental illness and better understand it.

Matt Haig has become the latest in a line of authors to write about their experiences with mental illness. His book 'Reasons to Stay Alive' is a small little hard-backed book full of recollections, lists and surprisingly for a book about depression and anxiety - humour.

Whether it's those things your depression tells you, or what it's like to go to the shop in the height of your low, Haig doesn't ignore the fact that the behaviour of a depressive is highly irrational. By looking at irrational actions and thought patterns from a distance, they are funny, because it's strange to look back at how it effected your behaviour and how  far you've come.

He talks about the gulf between what you feel and what you're expected to feel. How you can have everything going for you and still fall apart. He points out how we should say 'because of my depression', rather than 'in spite of'. I am happy now BECAUSE of my depression, not in spite of it. I found what my true passions were BECAUSE of my depression, not in spite of it.

It can be tough reading books like this. They always remind you of  part of your mental illness that you'd forgotten.
"Oh, my brain felt fuzzy a lot of the time back then, just like how Matt describes it." "I remember always feeling clammy too."
It brings back repressed moments, emotions, and pain. But again, you must tell yourself that it is just a reminder of how far you have come.

One of my favourite parts of the book is Haig's list of celebrities. Rather than repeating those lists of dead celebrities, those who took their own lives in lost battles with the 'black dog', Haig celebrates those who made it through. Over two pages he names famous people who chose to live, who continued and continue to fight the 'black dog', who overcome mental illness on a daily basis.

Haig says;
"You need to feel life's terror to feel its wonder."
and I completely agree. I feel and experience true happiness every day now because I have come from something so awful. This book is a must read.

"The tunnel does have light at the end of it, even if we aren't able to see it."

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