Postscript to Hamlet: Matt Haig’s Reasons to Stay Alive

We still haven’t reached consensus on whether or not Hamlet is fat (see The Paunch of Denmark), but here’s another question: is he, as Matt Haig says, “literature’s most famous depressive”?

Whether you’re in Greenland or Tierra del Fuego, if you’re inclined to be glum you’ll enjoy this interview on ABC radio’s excellent All In The Mind. Haig, who has suffered severe depression and anxiety, has published several novels, childrens’ books and most recently this memoir, Reasons To Stay Alive, which hit the headlines when Stephen Fry tweeted that it was the best book he’d ever read on the subject.
On depression itself Haig says:
It literally makes you feel like you’re not real.It’s a very hard thing to explain. It’s partly physical, as well. It’s like you’re kind of invisible, even though you can see yourself. You look at yourself in your mirror and you don’t really relate to that person and everything feels like you’ve been cut and pasted from some other reality, and it’s very alienating.

Reasons To Stay Alive is a collection of advice Haig gives himself.
Over time you learn little tricks he says, and one of his little tricks is, yes, read!


7 thoughts on “Postscript to Hamlet: Matt Haig’s Reasons to Stay Alive

        1. I think it depends on the origin of it. There are certainly lots of the “worried well” but I’m sure there is a real illness in many cases.This guy was hit by panic attacks and depression out of the blue in his early twenties, and has worked his way through it by learning to manage it – hence the book. William Styron has also written a great book about going through a period of years of suicidal depression.

  1. I wouldn’t call Hamlet depressive. He’s just stuck between a rock and a hard place, and being cushioned by fat (if he was) unfortunately didn’t help. But Matt Haig’s book does sound authoritative.

    1. No, it’s not the way I think of him either. He’s not all that cheerful, but he certainly has drive, of a sort, and passion. And in spite of his self-lacerations I think he has quite a high opinion of himself.

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