I have spent the better part of the last week since I finished this book trying to figure out how I was going to talk about it.
I can not remember the last time I took so many notes on a book. I kind of wished I had just bought it instead of borrowing it from the library. So many notes.
For a while now I have had a “soft spot” for mental health. I think it is an area that is seriously lacking assistance and support. Not to mention the stigma that comes with it. It is almost embarrassing to admit you or someone you love is having mental health issues.
The author, Matt Haig, spends his time talking about mostly depression. (He touches on anxiety but I think that is covered more in-depth in his next book) Haig speaks of his own battle with depression – open and honestly. He talks about what worked and did not work for him. Also how he suffered for a long time in silence because he had no idea what was going on with him. I am not sure if he ever seriously considered killing himself but he drives home that it is okay to feel the way that you feel; talk about it, listen to others, seek treatment in whatever way works for you.
Most of us think that the only cure for depression or mental illness is pills. Haig tells us how pills did not work for him. He tried, but it was not his thing. Overall, the reader learns what is most important is a support system. A group of people or peoples that know what you are going through and support you through the good days and especially the bad.
I am writing this the morning that the world finds out Anthony Bourdain killed himself in his Paris hotel room. I am writing this three days after Kate Spades hangs herself in her NYC apartment.
Depression is real. Mental Health is just as real of a disease as Cancer.
“Monsters are real” Stephen King said. “And ghosts are real too. They live inside us, and sometimes they win.”
Mental health concerns show themselves in different ways to different people. Some people drink. Some people shop. Some people can not leave their homes. Some people are celebrities, who to the outside world, seem to have it all. Some people are serial cheaters.
“Fame and money do not immunize you from mental health problems.”
The world of stuff and advertising is not really a life.
- Life is the other stuff
- Life is what is left when you take all that crap away or at least ignore it for awhile.
- Life is the people who love you.
- No one will ever choose to stay alive for an iPhone. It’s the people we reach via that phone that matter.
My personal belief is that if you stop and watch and listen. You will see the tip of the iceberg of the mental health issues people are dealing with.
Towards the end of the book, Haig goes into how depression has actually played a positive role in some people’s lives. His example was that a lot of people will say someone did something DESPITE of a mental illness. While in some cases, his specifically, he is doing something BECAUSE of mental illness.
Haig states he writes BECAUSE OF his depression. He was not a writer before.
Fear makes us curious. Sadness makes us philosophize.
Haig also talks about how reading became a big part of helping to deal with his depression. And much like depression itself, how people have this image and assumption about people who read a lot.
What I took away from this book was to SLOW DOWN. LISTEN. FEEL. TALK.
People take their lives all day, every day. Only when a few celebrities follow down that same path do people stop and think for a millisecond.
Personally, I feel like I gained a lot of perspective from this book. In the last couple of years, I have felt in a fog mentally. Very Ground Hog’s day. I don’t know what is next. I have been bored and lonely which ultimately leads to sadness. All my life I have felt like I have no fit in with most people. I have always tended to walk down the path less traveled and have been most comfortable with myself. I have always been myself. It is very hard to find genuine people.
Thankfully I have not had the problem of not being able to leave the house. Or contemplating killing myself. But, it has still been a struggle overall.
This book left me with hope. That some days will be better than others but you have to keep going. There is light at the end of the tunnel. You will find the thing that will bring you out of that darkness, but you have to keep moving. You have to find something that keeps you going.
It is okay if you do not fit into society’s box of “normal”. Everyone is fighting their own battles, even if they are not admitting to them.