Favorite Quotes from Matt Haig’s ‘Reasons To Stay Alive’

Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig was my first read of 2018. I was scrolling through Goodreads, and stumbled upon this gem. Matt has penned down his journey of recovery from depression, separation anxiety, and panic disorders. He went through a series of turmoils, of helplessness and frustration, and after struggling for a few years, finally found a way out. What appealed to me the most was his honesty. There was no sugar-coating. He wasn’t being preachy or pompous. He was just describing what it’s like living with mental illness.

Throughout the entirety of the book, I came across several quotes that were profound and telling that I kept underlining and marking. (As is visible from the picture)



So I decided to compile a list of my favorite quotes and maybe, you too, can pick up this book in the future. (One can hope, right?)

  • It is invisible. It is not ‘feeling a bit sad’. It is the wrong word. The word depression makes me think of a flat tyre, something punctured and unmoving. Maybe depression minus anxiety feels like that, but depression laced with terror is not something flat or still. At its worst you find yourself wishing, deperately, for any other affliction, any physical pain, because the mind is infinite, and its torrents– when they happen–can be equally infinite.
  • The weird thing about depression is that, even though you might have more suicidal thoughts, the fear of death remains the same. The only difference is that the pain of life has rapidly increased. So when you hear about someone killing themselves it’s important to know that death wasn’t any less scary for them. It wasn’t a choice in the moral sense. To be moralistic about it is to misunderstand.
  • I think life always provides reasons to not die, if we listen hard enough. Those reasons can stem from the past–the people who raised us, maybe, or friends or lovers,–or from the future–the possibilities we would be switching off.
  • From the outside a person sees your physical form, sees that you are a unified mass of atoms and cells, Yet inside you feel like a Big Bang has happened. You feel lost, disintegrated, spread across the universe amid infinite dark space.
  • Life is hard. It maybe beautiful and wonderful but it is also hard. The way people seem to cope is by not thinking about it too much. But some people are not going to be able to do that. And besides, it is the human condition. We think therefore we are. We know we are going to happen to everyone we know, everyone we love. But also, we have to remember , the only reason we have love in the first place is because of this. Humans might well be the only species to feel depression as we do, but that is simply because we are a remarkable species, one that has created remarkable things–civilization, language, stories, love songs.
  • Everything is slippy. Life is so infinitely hard. It involves a thousand tasks all at once. And I am a thousand different people, all fleeing away from the center.
  • Nothing lasts forever. This pain won’t last. The pain tells you it will last. Pain lies. Ignore it. Pain is a debt paid off with time.
  • What doesn’t kill you very often makes you weaker. What doesn’t kill you can leave you limping for the rest of your days. What doesn’t kill you can make you scared to leave your house, or even your bedroom, and have you trembling, or mumbling incoherently, or leaning with your head on a window pane, wishing you could return to the time before the thing didn’t kill you.
  • Depression might be a hell of a price to pay for waking up to life, and while it is on top of you it is one that could never seem worth paying. Clouds with silver linings are still clouds. But it is quite therapeutic to know that pleasure doesn’t help compensate for pain, it can actually grow out of it.
  • One cliched attached to bookish people is that they are lonely, but for me books were my way out of being lonely. If you are the type of person who thinks too much about stuff then there is nothing lonelier in the world than being surrounded by a load of people on a different wavelength.
  • The best way to beat a monster is to find a new one.
  • Sometimes, simply doing something that I had dreaded–and surviving–was the best kind of therapy. If you start to dread being outside, go outside. If you fear confined spaces, spend some time in a lift. If you have separation anxiety, force yourself to be alone for a while. When you are depressed and anxious your comfort zone tends to shrink from the size of a world to the size of a bed. Or right down to nothing at all.
  • We might be stuck in our minds, but we aren’t physically stuck. And unsticking ourselves from our physical location can help dislodge our unhappy mental state. Movement is the antidote to fixedness, after all. And it helps. Sometimes. Just sometimes.
  • Fear makes us curious. Sadness makes us philosophise.
  • Depression is also smaller than you. Always, it is smaller than you, even when it feels vast. It operates within you, you do not operate within it. It may be a dark cloud passing across the sky, but — if that is the metaphor–you are the sky. You were there before it. And the cloud can’t exist without the sky, but the sky can exist without the cloud.
  • Sometimes on the rocky, windy path of recovery, what feels like failure can be a step forward.
  • If the stone falls hard enough the ripples last a lifetime.
  • You need to feel life’s terror to feel its wonder.
  • Pain lengthens time. But that is only because pain forces us to be aware of it.
  • The key is in accepting thoughts, all of them, even the bad ones. Accept thoughts, but don’t become them.
  • Remember that the key thing about life on earth is change. Cars rust. Paper yellows. Technology dates. Caterpillars become butterflies. Nights morph into days. Depression lifts.
  • Be brave. Be strong. Breathe, and keep going. You will thank yourself later.

That’s all, folks.

What are your favorite quotes? Let me know in the comments.

3 responses to “Favorite Quotes from Matt Haig’s ‘Reasons To Stay Alive’”

  1. Loved the first one, but I disagree with “The best way to fight a monster is to find a new one” this mentality of “fighting problems with bigger problems” are really dark. Some people fight depression with addiction because of this mentality, but anyway, the rest is great! I also share some insights into anxiety/depression on my blog Tabula Rasa (tabularasa.ml), feel free to read 😀

    • I agree with your statement, too. But I think mental illnesses are highly personal and subjective and the author in no way was trying to preach his statement. That’s how he coped with his depression.
      I shall definitely check out your posts. Thank you for reading 😊

      • Yeah definitely, and maybe I misunderstood him, but who knows… great post though, maybe I’ll read this book (after I finish the Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck :D)

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