I bought this book when it came out, ready for an event for it that we attended about a year ago in Doncaster. We went to another, much bigger one recently at HOME in Manchester which Sarah is going to upload a post on soon. I only just read the book before the HOME event after wanting to get round to it for about a year (we all know how we are with our TBR piles…) and I was really looking forward to it because it seemed really relevant to how I had been feeling the past year or so. Read on for my full review! I absolutely adored Reasons to Stay Alive – I read it a good few years back now and thought it was amazing. It helped me out a lot at the time and to be honest it still does. There are parts of it I still often think about or flick to in the book. Actually just writing down my own reasons to stay alive has become a habit when I’m feeling very low which is truly a great thing for me.
Notes on a Nervous Planet is more centered around anxiety than depression. Neither are exclusively about one or the other, nor are they limited to those two but they definitely have more of a focus on one each. In particular, Notes focuses on the world and society and how that can have implications on our mental health, both positive and negative. It isn’t just about our one brain each but our collective brains you might say. A large chunk of it talks about technology and social media.
This is the main thing I knew about the book and why I really knew I needed to read it soon. I have spoken about this a couple of times on here now but social media has a big impact on my mental health (as I feel it does on probably everyone’s) and when I read it I was at a point where I was much better overall in terms of my relationship with social media. Many of these sections did stick with me as I read them. I related very much to it and found some new techniques for ignoring notifications and sometimes just purely switching off and not feeling guilty about it.
However, some of the sections and info in this book I found myself wanting to skim over. I felt like it didn’t flow great and this did break my focus on it at times, especially when he started to write quite long bits about historical factors. I also wasn’t a huge fan of the format even though it was very much the same as Reasons. I think it worked really well for Reasons but I don’t know with this. Some of the chapters where he may repeat something over and over I wasn’t a fan of.
I’m unsure whether this is to do with when I read it. I think some books are best to read at certain points in your life; if I ever get very overwhelmed by technology and social media again I may pick this back up and some parts that didn’t really work for me might do. It could just be that this is how I would feel whenever I read it!
However I did really appreciate so much of what he wrote and I truly do think a lot of Matt Haig. What he has done for breaking stigma by talking about how he feels is brilliant. Especially as it is helping out many men who don’t feel they should talk about their feelings and mental health.
I would recommend this to pretty much anyone, if not everyone! I know some people who feel similar to me about it and I know some that adore it. One thing is that every single person I’ve spoke to who has read it has taken something positive away from it, be that relating to it when they’ve always felt alone, learning a new way to work on their mental health or finding a way to speak to someone about how they feel.
His books are doing so much good and I will always be so appreciative of that.