March 24, 2016

New Book, Fighting Depression Without Drugs

[From review]
Matt Haig, a British novelist, had a nervous breakdown at 24 and slipped into a suicidal depression. But when medications left him feeling even worse, he decided to battle against the disease on his own. Within a decade, he had climbed his way out of the depths, a harrowing journey he chronicles in his new book, “Reasons To Stay Alive”(Penguin Books, out now). The 40-year-old father of two tells The Post how he’s thriving despite mental illness.
[. . .]
There is something therapeutic about reading. For a story to be a story, it has to involve change to a character or a situation. When you are stuck in a situation or in that moment, just believing in change is nourishing. Even if it’s not good or positive, just the idea of it is positive.
[. . .]
I found the writing experience very therapeutic. Being published isn’t always good for your mental health, because you are suddenly very exposed and there’s a fear of criticism. But the act of writing was.
Slowly, the fog lifted.
[. . .]
And many therapists I’ve spoken to since say I was actually getting therapy — I was just doing it to myself, by making myself face my own fears.
But I wouldn’t say that I’m cured. I still get bouts of anxiety, but I know how to manage them. I just allow myself to feel them. It’s not going to kill me. It’s unpleasant, but it’s a way to cope.
I thought that by my mid-20s, there was going to be nothing great in my life again. But there has been far more happiness and far more meaningful relationships after the illness.

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