How to keep going

Matt Haig has written a memoir about making the most of life, is response to his debilitating depression

by Suzy Walker

Read Matt Haig's new book

‘The most beautiful view in the world could not stop me from wanting to kill myself.’

Award-winning novelist Matt Haig was 24 when he considered throwing himself off a cliff. He has now written a memoir about making the most of our time on earth, in response to his debilitating depression.

Here are some extracts of his advice on how to live, love and read better. ‘Words, just sometimes, really can set you free,’ he writes.

  1. Remember that the key thing about life on earth is change. Cars rust. Paper yellows. Technology dates. Caterpillars become butterflies. Night morph into days. Depression lifts.
  2. Wherever you are, at any moment, try and find something beautiful. A face, a line out of a poem, the clouds out of a window, some graffiti, a wind farm. Beauty cleans the mind.
  3. Sit down. Lie down. Be still. Do nothing. Observe. Listen to your mind. Let it do what it does without judging it. Let it go, like Elsa in Frozen.
  4. Don’t believe in good or bad, or winning and losing, or victory and defeat, or up and down. At your lowest and at your highest, whether you are happy or despairing or calm or angry, there is a kernel of you that stays the same. That is the you that matters.
  5. Read Emily Dickinson. Read Graham Greene. Read Italo Calvino. Read Maya Angelou. Read anything you want. Just read. Books are possibilities. They are escape routes. They give you options when you have none. Each one can be a home for an uprooted mind.

Reasons To Stay Alive by Matt Craig (Canongate, £9.99), is out on 5 March

Photograph: Corbis

More inspiration:

Read The power of perseverance by Susannah Hebden Moore on LifeLabs

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