When I first read 'Reasons to Stay Alive' a few years ago, in one go, lying on Clapham Common, I felt as if my burdens were lightening. Matt Haig explained his experience of depression and anxiety so well that I was immediately consoled, as if a friend had said 'hey, it's okay. I've felt this way too and it will get better.' It chimed with my own experiences to the point of being uncanny. I felt as if I had a twin out there who just understood it all, could explain it all simply and beautifully, and told me that things will get better. This guy was becoming my hero.
Now, he is my hero.
Matt Haig's 'Notes on A Nervous Planet' goes a step further by looking at the bigger picture around mental health in the western world. If 'Reasons' was the microscopic dissection of mental health, then 'Notes' is macroscopic (if such a word exists). It examines the impact that society, technology and our ways of living impact or even exacerbate our anxieties and stresses. And in this Matt Haig writes so profoundly and concisely that it is hard to ignore what he sets out. On reading one passage about the damage mobile phones can do to our mental health my wife decided to change her habits for the better. Matt Haig has this superb ability to communicate about the human condition eloquently, humbly and with a weight of importance.
I am so impressed by Matt Haig, and feel consoled by his mere existence, that I am going to see him in London soon. I can't recommend his books enough (including his fiction) and can only hope that he continues to shine a light on our messy human lives.