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REASONS TO STAY ALIVE

When I was 24 I very nearly killed myself. I was living in Ibiza at the time, in a very nice villa, on the quiet east coast of the island. The villa was right next to a cliff. In the midst of depression I walked out to the edge of the cliff and looked at the sea, and at the rugged limestone coastline, dotted with deserted beaches. It was the most beautiful view I had ever known, but I didn’t care. I was too busy trying to summon the courage needed to throw myself over the edge. I didn’t. Instead, I walked back inside and threw up from the stress of it.

Three more years of depression followed. Panic, despair, a daily battle to walk to the corner shop without collapsing to the ground.

But I survived. I am days away from being 38. Back then, I almost knew I wasn’t going to make it to 30. Death or total madness seemed more realistic.

But I’m here. Surrounded by people I love. And I am doing a job I never thought I’d be doing. And I spend my days writing stories, that are really guide books, the way all books are guide books.

I am so glad I didn’t kill myself, but I continue to wonder if there is anything to say to people at those darkest times.

Here’s an attempt. Here are things I wish someone had told me at the time:

1. You are on another planet. No-one understands what you are going through. But actually, they do. You don’t think they do because the only reference point is yourself. You have never felt this way before, and the shock of the descent is traumatising you, but others have been here. You are in a dark, dark land with a population of millions.

2. Things aren’t going to get worse. You want to kill yourself. That is as low as it gets. There is only upwards from here.

3. You hate yourself. That is because you are sensitive. Pretty much every human could find a reason to hate themselves if they thought about it as much as you did. We’re all total bastards, us humans, but also totally wonderful.

4. So what, you have a label? ‘Depressive’. Everyone would have a label if they asked the right professional.

5. That feeling you have, that everything is going to get worse, that is just a symptom.

6. Minds have their own weather systems. You are in a hurricane. Hurricanes run out of energy eventually. Hold on.

7. Ignore stigma. Every illness had stigma once. Stigma is what happens when ignorance meets realities that need an open mind.

8. Nothing lasts forever. This pain won’t last. The pain tells you it will last. Pain lies. Ignore it.

9. Or, to plagiarise myself: ”Your mind is a galaxy. More dark than light. But the light makes it worthwhile. Which is to say, don’t kill yourself. Even when the darkness is total. Always know that life is not still. Time is space. You are moving through that galaxy. Wait for the stars.” (The Humans)

10. You will one day experience joy that matches this pain. You will cry euphoric tears at the Beach Boys, you will stare down at your baby daughter’s face as she lies contentedly asleep in your lap, you will make great friends, you will eat delicious foods you haven’t tried yet, you will be able to look at a view like this one and feel the beauty, there are books you haven’t read yet that will enrich you, films you will watch while eating extra large buckets of popcorn, and you will dance and laugh and have sex and go for runs by the river and have late night conversations and laugh until it hurts. Life is waiting for you. You might be stuck here for a while, but the world isn’t going anywhere. Hang on in there if you can. Life is always worth it.

145 Comments

  1. Thank you! I don’t care what anyone else says – I think it takes a fair amount of courage to write a piece such as this when you are so well known to the public.
    I’m very glad that you chose to live and hope that your words bring some hope to those who are still in their dark land.

    • And they did….! Miraculously!

    • I was a psychiatric nurse 15 years. I knew the theory but when depression hit me only later did I understand.
      I failed at suicide, despite my best effort, apparently found unconcious floating in on the tide, buy accident. When awake absconded from hospital that had no id.
      Someone tracked me and I got treatment whether I wanted it or not.
      All I know is I wanted the self criticism, pain and blackness to end.
      16 years in my life situation is far worse.
      I’m now half blind, I’m struggling with cancer, my partner walked out cos she couldn’t deal with it.
      So I’m alone.
      I promised I would not kill myself cos if my 2 beautiful grown up daughters.
      My chances of survival are low. I’m stood on a trap door waiting for it to open.
      Fortunately most the people I care about have disappeared at least when the door opens I know it won’t cause others any pain and it will end mine

      • How old are you Patrick? Where are you?

      • Anonymous says:

        You have been battered and bruised by life. Yes people abandon you when you are depressed. They have their own demons and ways to cope with life and humans can be selfish. You disappearing into nothingness is not the best solution. Look at Paula Yates and peaches geldolf history repeating itself. This would be the legacy you would leave for your daughters if you left this world. Speaking from a daughters perspective and someone who has had cancer… So for a solution get your head off the pillow each morning and breath the air you are alive. Learn to fill a day and the empty voids….with a bike ride, a swimming session, feeding ducks, volunteer in a charity tea room just to talk to others about life and living. When you don’t think you can class it as a day off and start again tomorrow! You can do this…..

      • I feel they same. I’m just living an waiting for the trapped door.

    • #10 was beautifully written. What a wonderful little piece. Thank you Matt.

  2. Beautiful sentiments. I wish I knew in those days, I wasn’t finished growing yet – mentally or physically. My spiritual journey was no where close to over.

    When I went deaf eight years ago, I honestly thought deaf was synonymous with death. Little could I know, this place I’m at now is the most alive I’ve ever felt or that I would even arrive here.

    We don’t know these things when we enter the depth of darkness we do. If only we could keep a candle of hope lit to guide us back. (Hugs)Indigo

  3. jim davidson says:

    It is the hardest thing to realise when you have reached that point are at that moment. That it is only the briefest and lowest point in what has the potential to be a long and wonderful life. This and your message specifically, is what should be taken into schools and colleges. The younger ones who don’t have the life experiences to call on find it hardest to see beyond the moment. Much Love and bosies (hugs) to you Matt

    • Absolutely! It’s perfect for schools and I think the 1-10 list would make an excellent flyer/poster for schools too.

  4. I’m going to keep #9 stashed away in my phone or on a Post-It by my desk or something, so I can see it whenever I forget. Thank you, Matt.

  5. Beautifully written, refreshingly honest.

  6. Keep telling people so they have hope. It is the worst when you cannot see the way towards that dirty word, hope.
    It doesn’t last forever, but it doesn’t get better neatly. It will be nice;shit;nice;shit;aaarrrrrrgh;yeah ok;shit;nice.
    It is ok to get better badly.
    Thanks for starting the debate. Hugs too.

  7. My son killed himself,when he was 23, 2 years ago. I wish someone could have shared such wisdom with him but no one knew he was depressed as he didn’t tell anyone. Thank you and I hope your words can reach out to anyone going through dark times and imprint the message, this too shall pass

  8. Brilliant – thank you!

  9. Thank you.

    The past 2 years for me have been the worst Iv had and I had a similar incident last summer.

    While I’m better in many ways I do still battle the voice that tells me I’m unlucky and attract bad results and things will always get worse…I am dealing with this because who am I to say I know the future??? When you see what can happen in 1 second, you are mad to predict the next few years.

    Iv found so much comfort in accepting that the world owes me nothing, no matter what I do. I can try as hard as I can as what I do, I cant drive myself crazy over it because Incant control fate. Accepting you don’t have that level of control is so relieving. Give your self a break people! You are all doing great.

    past is gone, future is not necessary. Treat like like its nothing like a series of moments. The moments of now. Let everything else go.

    may I also recommend Christine Breese on Youtube? She saved me.

    thank you so much for this!

    • Thanks for that I’m on the edge been on it before but never had a hurricane like this not doing it anymore most counsellors on phone get stuck when I tell them it all and say OMG I don’t know what to say even my mum says I don’t no what to say you’ve had more pain in your life than 10 people I don’t know how your still here no one knows what to say as I’ve been machine gunned with bad luck horrendous events horrendous people and non stop insane amounts of horror for years can’t do this anymore can’t started watching myself from outside 3-4 years ago to see if anything could change or I could make it stop nothing stops this bad luck kill me curse can’t find out what reason to stay alive WHY for what I matter to no one and people only hate me problem is I think I’m more Nice than most can’t take the confusion of that I don’t belong here

      • You do matter. Please read the other comments here, and realize that although no one may share your exact experience, many many have felt comparable pain and come out on the other side. It can get brighter.

  10. WOW just a very big WOW. You express this your feelings so well. Sadly only those who have suffered depression understand what you are staying. Sadly in the depth of depression you don’t “hear” the world. Sadly in the depths of depression you hibernate and being with people is just to painful.
    Matt so pleased you turned away from the cliff edge and can write this now. I am now 60 and wish I had the courage to write about my feelings when I felt so very very low. I somehow found the courage to walk away from my cliff, and if is many many years (decades) since I felt that way.
    Keep writing you are an inspiration.

  11. In some ways you are lucky that it was a slow burn that pushed you to jump off a cliff, my suicidal periods were intense flash fires inside of me.
    The fires didn’t last incredibly long, but the energy inside of them pushing me to swallow the pills, drag the knife down my wrists or wrap the cord around my throat was overwhelmingly intense.
    I think it is a positive thing that you had to try to pluck up the courage to jump to leave this world as I had to try to pluck up the courage to stand still and stay here. You were trying to push yourself over the edge, whereas I was trying to pull myself away from the edge.
    Dying is easy, it’s life that’s hard and the edge is a dangerous place to be.
    So, we have both faced our death and we have both survived. That’s good. Now the pain has subsided and my heart has mended I feel things deeper, I understand feelings better and not only can I hear the music, but I understand the emotions of the song.

    • Dan Brain says:

      I was reading for a while before music was mentioned. I wrote this earlier today.
      Music Medicine
      I can’t express the importance of music to me.
      I don’t ask to be happy. I just don’t want to be depressed.
      I spent two months in mental hospital for two different reasons, on two separate occasions.
      Good friends had used the words “gifted” and “famous. Words I wouldn’t use out of context.
      I’ve gone from not moving in bed to being comfortable with being alive. Those familiar with Pink Floyd may hear the early reference.
      I’ve always appreciated music but not experienced the impact it has on me now.
      I was laying in bed Late December 2015 when Adele’s “million years ago” struck me from the TV. Listen to it and read the lyrics. I had to listen to it numerous times as I couldn’t hear or see beyond my emotions. It was the only song I’d play for a while.
      A few months later I was having a cigarette in the garden, for the first time in 18 months I sheltered and felt temperature. I just had to listen to “little things mean a lot”. Not one I was familiar with. This song like Adele’s, hammered me.
      I’m not going to bore you any further. Here is an example of my personal playlist.
      “Million years ago”
      “Little things mean a lot”
      “Every breath you take”
      “Fix you”
      “Don’t try so hard”
      “Music is power”
      “Comfortably Numb” (as long as I feel this, life is o.k)
      “These days” (two days ago I lost a close friend. This is recognised as Dave Grohl’s favourite he’s written. He’s clearly writing about Kurt Cobain).

      Music is my anti-depressant.
      As long as we can see or listen, I think we’re able to be “Comfortably Numb”.

      Dan

      Sent from my iPhone

  12. I hear what you are saying, I believe that when people hear “Mental Health” they react badly for one reason or another.
    I feel very strongly that they should remove the “Mental” from the name.

  13. My son took his own life 2 years ago at 19. If only he could have read these words. You are a brave, amazing man and we need people to do exactly what you are doing. Thank you.

  14. I am so moved by your post. Since I wrote ‘Kite Spirit’ I have been very touched by messages from readers about how important it is that the there are people around who are open enough to talk to; that there are those who can support you out there. That a moment in time doesn’t cost a precious life. The tragedy of Dawn in my book is that you so know that if she had spoken out or found a way forward, she could have had a future. This is also the tragedy for Kite her best friend… and all Dawn’s family. This is why it’s so powerful that you are now able to look back on your younger self and share this hopeful story.

  15. Peter Halliwell says:

    Of course, in the darkest moments your words would have been meaningless. At the lowest point there is no future and no insight. As I sat slumped in the queue for ECT with my fellow lost souls I wouldn’t have believed you, I had lost the power to interact and understand. I was beyond/below your metaphors. Today, I can acknowledge the stirring words of a fellow survivor – the truth so well put. And be grateful we are both alive to discuss them.

  16. Thanks for sharing this. I’ve read it at a time where I pretty much needed to read something like this. I’ve been holding on for a while but this has prompted me to just grip a bit harder.

  17. Beautifully written bravely honest hope it gets published widely could help so many.

  18. I wept. I weep. Thank you for this.

  19. jo thomson says:

    When I lost my beautiful, talented, funny, feisty daughter 3 years ago (anorexia) the grief brought to the surface all the other shit she and I had endured. The pain was breathtaking. All I wanted was for it to stop, for good. Until I saw something in her brother’s eyes: a big, healthy, smart young man – who was suffering as much, maybe more, as I was; I also saw fear, in my fearless son’s eyes: that he would lose me too. He was worth ‘carrying on’ for. And so are Mark’s words. Thank you.

  20. Hello mate, very nice and informative article you have shared with all of us. I appreciate your efforts. Thanks

  21. It took me until last summer to accept that I was ill and needed help. Years and years of thinking I was a waste of space. But then last summer it became a lot worse, very fast and very scary. Somewhere deep down inside me I knew that I probably was worth more than a slug, but the me in the present couldn’t accept that. The most frightening thing was the speed with which the depression would arrive, it could take seconds for me to turn from okay to suicidal. I got help, I took SSRIs (and still do). I had a relapse that resulted in a police search with helicopters and friends and family out searching for me. When I returned and saw the hurt and fear I had caused, not to mention the immense expense of the police search I felt terrible. I realised that however bleak and low I may feel it did not justify the chaos I had caused. It doesn’t stop the lows, though the drugs make them less, but it does help me to put them in a better perspective and remember that there is a light at the end of the tunnel even if I can’t see it just yet.
    I don’t want to be a depression bore, but I want people to know that it happens to anyone and the person who looks as if they are holding it together just great … may not be.

  22. I love your madness.

  23. Thank you for writing this piece. I found you through a Cognitive Behavior Self Help website where I was searching to find help for suicidal ideation.

    Several months ago I was in a very similar situation as you, depression that had lasted so long that I just wanted it to end. I wanted it to end so that I did not trouble my family or loved anyone’s anymore, and to escape my own feelings. I had since recovered and things started looking up until most recently, I am back to where I was before with suicidal thoughts. I have to remember that suicide is a passing thought, though it hurts. Thank you again for your help, it was inspiring.

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  26. Found this link in a personal diary on Td where many struggle daily from chronic illness, rare diseases and mental health conditions. Your words are inspiring and I’m so thankful this person chose to share your wisdom with the millions on http://www.treatmentdiaries.com. You are welcome to visit us and get to know why words shared privately between those who can relate makes things better.

  27. megan ellen says:

    It’s still hard for me to comprehend how the depression and anxiety make us feel so completely alone and alien even though so many people suffer in this way. Thank you for sharing your story in this post, it helps so much to read other peoples storys. I cried and i think it may have been with the relief i feel when i realise all over again that life isn’t over for me yet and can be totally wonderful! These posts are the support that will get me through university and hard times, so again, thank you so much.

  28. Diane NEVE says:

    Thank you so much in the fight against the stigma & those who think we are weak. We’re not. We are stronger than they. It takes us more courage to open our eyes in the morning than it does for them to get through the next month.
    When something wonderful happens I consciously think “You would never have known this joy, if you’d have lost the battle”. It doesn’t last forever, should be a mantra that we try to hold on to.
    Thank you thank you thank you.

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  30. Thank you so much. I am going through a very tough phase in life. I have been emotionally abused by my third partner. I was weak enough to tolerate his mental abuse and i was weak enough to have left the first guy i dated for reasons like he didn’t love me enough as he didn’t show it enough. The second guy was a rebound and he cheated. It’s all been a roller coaster ride. My parents know all about my past, thanks to the abuser, and they are now distraught to say the least. Pray to Almighty that everything becomes fine soon and my parents don’t have to face any more humiliation because of me. I feel very hollow and undermined. Even though the choices in the past were mine and not influenced by anyone, I feel like I have let down my parents’ trust in me. I am feeling completely empty and negative. But your article has taken me a step ahead in feeling ok and that this too shall pass.

  31. Pls pray I survive I don’t believe I will I can’t I’ve tried to hard for too long and been through too much and nothing to look forward to accept losing my aging sick mother so don’t want to see that or be here for it my life is ruined but if there was any chance any real one that somehow I got to know niceness for once would come and not leave I could stay but I’ve only ever had loss

  32. Sue Krige says:

    As a fellow sufferer, I salute you!

  33. Nestor Gregorius says:

    I’m a US soldier in the army… And we are supposed to be the toughest sons of guns in the world. But we are still human… Still frail… Still able to be tainted by that feeling that we are a failure.
    I honestly thought about killing myself… Of hurting myself, of throwing away my life. Then I said…”Let me find a reason to live, let me try to hold on.” And here this page was.
    So i thank you sir… For actually caring about people, for actually going out and making a list of reasons to live… For helping me save my own life. Because without this help, I doubt I would have survived the night.

    So I’d like to add something to the list…
    One life, no matter how insignificant they feel like, can do something small, something, dare I say, casual or common, and makes waves. Deciding to do one last good thing, to just help people in whatever way you can…. That could mean the difference between life… And death.
    So stay strong… Someone out there needs you to be so that they can carry on the chain themselves.

    Always watch out for your battle buddies.

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  35. John Cope says:

    The best therapy I found was talking to other people with similar thoughts. Everybody has different levels of multiple feelings & thought patterns. Nobody can ever truly understand how anybody else feels. I found the best comforts were finding out I wasn’t the only person that thought he didn’t deserve to live and that those who think they are “fantastic” merely have an excess of self confidence that could outweigh their mental capacity. Doctors have been taught the chemical & biological categorizations of these conditions, but don’t know what you are feeling. Be careful if they want to put you on drugs. They can be more harmful than illicit drugs. I found brain surgery a huge relief. I no longer have severe depression, but I miss the feelings of euphoria. At times it makes life “boring”.

  36. John, what kind of brain surgery did you have?

  37. Funny thing I was listening to “The Beach Boys” when I read this. Awesome coincidence.

  38. My problem is that I have too many reasons to stay alive already. How can I go and leave my husband and my kids. How could I do that? I may be a misery guts, but I am a misery guts that does the dishes, makes the food etc etc. and I love hem so much, and I know they live me and would have too many questions if they went.

    But life hurts.

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  40. You’re here. I’m very grateful for that. For your effort to put it all into words, for sharing the words with us, for your vast caring of the whole lot. You’re a good man. Who writes great sentences. And cares. So much. Thank you for this post.

  41. thanks. i really needed this.

  42. Hi Matt,
    I’ve just read your blog & want to say thank you. I’m 41 now (and still alive) between the ages of 20 & 35 I attempted suicide several times – it worked out about 1 serious attempt every 5 years or so. The last attempt by pills was when I was 34/5 and landed me in hospital for a night & I wasn’t allowed out until I’d spoken with the hospital’s therapist. What I recall from that attempt are twofold. 1. My brother in law just sitting by the bed listening to me talk/complain/justify my actions for about an hour (it had probably been the most I’d said in a single burst for many years) and there being no judgement in his brief comments and interruptions. The second thing I remember was the therapist asking why I’d drunk booze with the pills… I really wanted to tell her that orange juice seemed too healthy, but didn’t.
    I think my brother-in-law non judgemental approach & ability to just let me talk was helpful. Way more than the therapist’s questions.
    As I say, I’m now 41. About 6 months after this attempt I met the woman who became my wife. I am so glad that I wasn’t successful -some people take a little longer to grow up (?) & find their path in life. Mine took a while and I continue to strive, work & write. Do I regret the attempts – a bit, especially what I now know I would have missed out on. Yet I always say never say never. I think like A say it’s 1 day at a time & being aware of your feelings & what your body is telling you – ultimately being true to yourself & your emotions.
    I’m glad you wrote this piece & I’m sure it will help someone out there.

  43. Nephthys says:

    I agree with this list, but is doesn’t make me feel better. Often-times I contemplate how all I want is to work, get paid, and get drunk as hell; all while being alone. Isolation is a good thing-it makes me appreciate (slightly) when I am around people. Working all day and coming home to a house with 4 other people while not being old enough to drink…fuck life.

  44. Thanks for posting this. Wish I had the courage to be so direct. I found a way for myself though. I write poetry, some of it means something to me and only people who have been through what i have would know which ones. I’d really like it if you (anyone) could take a look, who knows, I may find a friend in all this if someone does.
    Thanks Matt x

  45. Wise words, Matt. Glad you stayed alive. For purely selfish reasons, mind you; your books are awesome. Thank you.

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  48. Irina Negrea says:

    Thank you, Matt, for the candour of this tremendous encouragement ! We, Humans, should read your hopeful words every day of our lives down here.

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  51. Thank you, Matt. I stood on the edge of a ravine when I was in my early 20s and thought about throwing myself off. Glad I didn’t. Your list of reasons not to choose suicide is very good. If even one person reads it and it helps them to “keep passing the open window”, then the world is a better place. Glad that you’re still in it too. You always write such thoughtful posts. I hope I get to meet you in person some day.

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  53. Fakename Realnameson says:

    This is only true if it’s emotional. But there’s nasty shit out there. Nasty shit. And once it finds you, there is no joy. Only fear. Only ever fear. Realizing there is never any safety and that all the good things were lies. And it’s not a disease of my mind that I’m sad, it’s just having seen things no one can “it’s gonna be okay” away. Because it’s not. It’s out there. And it continues. All the time. It’s a business. People doing the worst of things. Registered and filed the proper paperwork. Contracts, waivers, and terms of service. Warning notices. Makes it all on the up and up. But it’s horror. Life-changing permanent horror, and death, and they sell it. There’s no answer to that. There’s no answer. There’s no going back. No return to life. No way to feel safe again. Not once some of them find you. Any of them. The people who mess people up. The people the people laugh at all together. It’s all just laughed off. Just joked about. You made it. You’re not one of them. What did they take from you? Who torments you? If you say you’ve been tormented, they lock you up to torment you more. Force things on you. Treat you like it’s your fault. Your illness. You see something terrible or people start in on you– the worst of people– and then you get sent away, to be told it’s a problem with YOU. That you’re sick. You need to be shamed and remember you have a problem and try to work on getting better, while the worst of the worst just do their worst with sadistic glee out there, and no one can stop it. No one will ever stop it. But round up anyone who cares– anyone who’s affected by any of it– and tell them THEY’re messed up. Need to work on not caring. Work on not wanting to feel safe. Reject the notion that some people are not safe and things are going badly and getting worse. Insist they must be delusional. Because nothing ever happens to anyone. Live in a fantasy world. Ignore all the videos and stories of people who things did not work out okay for. Pretend it all just doesn’t count. That the TV world of things being predominantly nice and always working out in the end or getting better at some point and nothing ever really being THAT bad, or getting as bad as we fear, is real– and that the real world, where people can just be raped or killed or suffer any horrible fate imaginable, without warning, is just fiction. Because in REAL LIFE, things are OKAY. And anyone who has reason to think otherwise must be wrong. Unbelievable. Delusional. Not worth looking into. Clearly not well. All the bad things… just passing laughable novelties… Like it’s not happening. Or we’re sick if we care and want to know why it’s not stopped. If you care, you get detained. No one has an answer to this. No one can say how it’s okay. They just tell me I must not be well. Because only good things happen in life.

    • TheManTheMythTheLegend says:

      I might as well be starting a huge flame war here, but this guy is right. I may be only what some consider a child, but by whatever is out there that does this to us, it’s true. There’s a lot of messed up stuff out there and this is a rather interesting example of how it all flows together. My best friend, now going to college, went through a similar phase at my age, and this was like what she said to me. It isn’t our fault, yet society places it upon us as if it were. The happy pills, the people who tell us we need more help….

      But then there’s a lighter side.
      Those who understand the same pain.
      Those who may not understand this pressure us to find ways to “fix ourselves”, but if you go to someone and work together to pull yourselves out of this mental rut, it can be done.
      Her depression was so bad she tried to commit suicide several times, and I could do nothing but video speak with her and do my best to bring her out. So far, after about three years, it’s worked. I’ve been slipping in a similar rut and she’s working to pull me out now. You must all try, no matter what, and as society frowns upon you, note to yourself you’re not alone, there’s millions out there in the same boat.

    • Lovestoreadd says:

      This guy is right. That’s the real deal.

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  56. What if the whole singular goal of your life for years has been to get high, one way or another; and you have no desire to change. Then you become jobless- but whereas most people adjust to living with loved ones and making ends meet; the idea is wholly repugnant to you. The loved ones chide your past choices and deride you. What then? Oh, and does anybody have a quarter for a “sandwich”?

  57. I’m in a bad place right now and your article just had me crying. I’m not sure it makes me feel better or hopeful or anything but it’s made me pause. At least for the moment.

  58. Pingback: Death. Suicide. Sexual Abuse. Physical Abuse. Abandonment. Isolation. Cutting. Voices. Bi-Polar. Depression. Pain. Loneliness. Alone-ness carrying a shedload of crap. | Just me being curious

  59. Hello Matt. Thank you for This.
    Chris

  60. I'mOnly16WhyMe?WhyFor6Years? says:

    Hey I just read your article after I had a fight with my mom, I know I’m complete trash, I’m useless,a bit fat,poor,not american,agnostic,pans,probably sound like the typical teenager who is “depressed” and I think I’m in the process of becoming addicted to porn which only makes me more antisocial,anxious and frustrated. My pills aren’t working, I’ve had depression since I was 10 or 11 and it took me 6 years to admit I won’t get over this myself and that the only thing that could help me is pills but they make me sleepy and distracted which will only make my grades worse…
    But I still have hope that one day this will change, that my fake smiles will become real and I can buy stuff I want and need, your article reminded me of that thanks dude unfortunately I don’t think I’ll be able to get my hands on your books without paying quite an amount of money but still thanks and I admire that you could survive your problem.
    PS: Writing this reply got me to calm down alot so thanks for this too

    • Rosemary Campbell says:

      Hi and hello to Only16 Why Me? Why For 6 Years,Your story saddened me when I read it .I hope you are ok .The book isn’t expensive if it is paperback.This is coming from a concerned person who cares and I am only wanting to give you positive encouragement and let you know you are not alone, yes I know it’s hard sometimes .Remember nobody is perfect in what we think say or do not one of us . Please hold on to yourself despite everything else and please be patient and kind to yourself. All you can do with your grades is the best you can do and keep studying. You are just as important as anyone else in this world and you are a worthwhile young person who has a future just like anyone else.The statements you said about yourself are not you .However they maybe coming from the part of you who is dis-satisfied ,worried ,anxious ,feeling unloved alone and frustrated with yourself or situation or life itself. .At your age I understand you have a lot going on in your young life and you have had a lot more to deal with at such a young age too. You will become stronger keep reading blogs such as this or go to your local library where you can join and borrow books that may help you keep positive( even Matts book maybe available for loan)You have hope which is a great thing .I feel the same as you about your smile I too wish that my fake smiles will become real one day .

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  62. Thanks for this Matt – I resonate with your story and experience – so glad you chose to live

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  64. I’m going through a really tough time right now. It seems like it’ll only get worse a lot of times. But this was comforting to read. Thank you for writing.

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  66. This is beautifully written and needs to be shared. However, I think the “it gets better” message isn’t always entirely true. Sometimes it gets worse. Sometimes it’s a life-long struggle with the lowest of lows, even when there’s medication/therapy. Speak from experience. Guess I haven’t really decided if staying alive was/is worth it.

    • Thanks anon, i had a similar reaction. It’s beautiful that this was the arc the author went on, but i think he doesn’t appreciate it as much as he should if he believes it’s waiting for anyone who was once suicidal. Sometimes you learn to carry on without any good stuff/ life goal achievement and with hateful things continuing to happen to you and even others loudly devaluing your life. It doesn’t always get better but you still don’t have to die.

  67. Paul Larcey says:

    Hi Matt, I have a very interesting story that relates to the law and its abuse when I was suffering with depression. It has involved some very unpleasant facts and has generated a great deal of support from my MP and the maybe the Sunday Times. Its an area I would like to get wider attention for and feel that you have the abilities to do this, if you are interested. I would like to have a private chat on email first before putting anything on your blog. So maybe you could get back to me.
    Many thanks,

    Paul

  68. Thank you for firstly for your bravery in writing this book Matt. I’ve struggled with depression for many years and am only still here out of pure luck and then support from my family. You hit the nail on the head saying guys just can’t talk about ‘this stuff’. I don’t read books mainly due to attention deficit, in fact this is the only book I’ve read since I left school but I absorbed every single word just hoping for some hope. Books don’t save lives? This one did today. Thank you for tomorrow!

  69. It is hard getting out off this deep pit. I have found it can be done. But it is a matter of reaching out and finding what works for you. I found that philosophy, besides therapy, worked for me. it gave me a new way of looking at myself, my place in the world and dealing with the big questions in life. I am now combining this with mindfulness and meditation to stay focused on the here and now. And not going back and forth over things that happened or might happen. These thoughts negative feelings which in turn evoke negative thoughts and before you know it there is no reason left to live.
    It took me a long time to allow myself to enjoy something just for my pleasure of enjoyment. But now I have I know it can never be as bleak again as I know I can survive it.

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  71. I listened to you on BBC Breakfast this morning and you talked about the physical link to mental illness / depression. Eating well, getting enough sleep and most importantly getting plenty of exercise all help. I have worked in the Health and Fitness Industry for twenty years and recently set up an online site http://www.myfitpass.co.uk to help people get access to gyms without having to enter into expensive contacts. Over the years I have seen countless number of people improve their mental condition through physical means.

  72. Francine savill says:

    I was advised by my daughter to look at your book, and gain insight from it. I, too have a book that I have written, 97000 words torn from my soul. My life has been full of tragedies that I am still trying to understand. Depression affected me because of these tragedies, and I understand the black void that we dissapear into.
    I hope that, one day, I will find someone who will think that my book is worth publishing.
    I have titled it ‘ you can’t explain death to a pigeon’.
    Thank you for writing your book.

  73. I’m reading this at the darkest moment of my life. Thank you. I needed this.

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  75. Thank you, Matt,for your book and for number 10 above.So true.
    I had a break-down in 2008 and at this point there are good days and there are still some really awful ones.As time goes on, like you, I have learned what helps and what doesn’t and that sometimes nothing seems to help at all but might be worth a shot as it couldn’t possibly make things any worse!
    I believe we all have many reasons to stay alive and I remind myself of mine regularly.Keep focusing on the good and let it over-ride the not so good(or at least balance it out a bit!)
    For me the things that help are sunlight,zumba dancing,gardening,rest combined with some level of activity,making an effort to do just one thing when my instinct is to stay under the duvet,ignoring my body’s’ instruction to dump my shopping basket and run the hell out of there,avoiding too much caffeine,alcohol and sugar,taking b-vitamins,pillow fights with my daughter,music,being up, showered and dressed early in the morning,the smell of freshly cut grass and the first daffodils in Spring,my cat sticking her nose in my face and purring loudly at 5am,belly laughing with my daughter,knowing that I love and am loved on good days, bad days and anything in between, a desire to be well and willingness to do something to help with that.

  76. “We’re all total bastards, us humans, but also totally wonderful” … I laughed out loud on that one. And I’m depressed! So thank you for making me laugh and reminding me that this too shall pass. Great post.

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  78. jef dray says:

    I just heard your interview on Radio 4 all in the mind. It was on as I left work so I didn’t catch all of it but the bit I did hear was like hearing someone telling my own story. I will have to go out and buy it ASAP
    Thanks.

  79. Matt I have read your book. I would like to pass it on to my daughter (35) who is currently suicidal, undergoing a mental health crisis, in care. I am worried that your piece about walking to the cliff edge but afraid to take the 21st step that would take you over will give her ideas. She may decide the opposite !! How do I get round this? She was struggling with anxiety/depression for 2 years before the boyfriend left her,claiming he couldn’t make her happy. They had been together 10 years, and had recently living bought a house and were about to move in when they separated. She has lost her partner, her home, and now her job because of her breakdown. How does she get back on her feet from here?
    We love her dearly. She is an only child and we are now elderly.

    • Hello Trish,

      I’m so sorry to hear about your daughter but I really don’t have any answers. Have you spoken to a professional? I’d recommend getting in touch with MIND. I’m very sorry that you are going through this. Take good care and do send my love to your daughter. x

    • Rosemary Campbell says:

      Hi Trish, Can I say from a personal perspective ,the most important thing you can do is be there and support her as much as possible. Even if you sometimes haven’t got a lot to say sit in silence( your daughter would surely know you love her anyway),knit, crochet, do a word puzzel or read a book. Sometimes nomatter what we say it won’t help if our loved one is lost in her/his own thoughts no amount of words will help . Just being there would mean a lot and when your daughter opens up just listen and listen some more.About certain areas in Matts book you are worried about just ask the medical staff or your daughters doctor about areas in the book that you are worried about ,I’m sure with their experience they will be able to offer helpful advice. I have experience anxiety and depression too .Anxiety can take a strong hold of a persons life and stop you living your life ,having gone through most of the roughest patches in my life without that close and caring support. I have always wanted someone to just listen. There have been many times when I had wished I had someone beside me it would have made the road more smooth. I am also the single mother of an adult child .He is in his late thirties and I still worry about him likehe was a toddler

    • Rosemary Campbell says:

      Hi Trish, From a personal perspective the most important thing you can do is just be there for you daughter .Sometimes being there even if there is nothing to say and you sit in silence, do a crossword, knit, crochet or read. Sometimes a person can be so wrapped up in their own thoughts or tied up in knots (especially with anxiety)no matter what we say they will only listen when they choose to. When your daughter talks just listen and listen some more .About Matts book talk to a professional such as medical officer ,nurse or your daughters doctor for advice concerning the areas in the book you are worried about. I have experienced both anxiety and depression and I had always wished I had someone to just listen or be there to let me know I wasn’t alone .I understand your fears abut having an only child.I was a single parent and have an only child ,he is now in his late thirties but I still worry about just as much as when he was a toddler. I hope some of this is helpful Trish .Kind Regards, Rose.

  80. Thank you x

  81. The only thing I can say is thank you for writing this book. You have come into my life at just the right moment.

  82. Wise words, Thank you.

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  85. Thank you. I was able to identify with so many of the experiences you wrote about. The relief this gave me, to know that others had to face the daily battle with unseen terror, was like an epiphany, and strengthened my resolve to continue the good fight.

    When I first started being so open about these horrific symptoms, several years ago, I found society, even close friends whom I have known for decades, to have little sympathy or understanding. Little has changed since then I am disappointed to report.

    It disturbs me that such an epidemic still has such a stigma attached to it, I hope that attitudes are changing. Your book is the closest thing to showing someone what you/I/we are going through daily, I will urge others to read it.

    Thanks again and take care.

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  87. petrina harley says:

    Thank you!! My 15yr old child is battling that dark place at the moment. Your words will help immensely.

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  89. Your interview on radio 4 gives me hope, I’ve listened to it 4 times now, its good to know there are people like you who understand and care?

  90. Pingback: My journey to hell: How depression hijacked my soul, and how I finally wrenched it back | Wolves' Wit & Wisdom

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  92. john canavan says:

    Hi Matt Thank you for your article and the radio 4 Four thought,it is helpful and interesting as I’m going through a bit of this myself and finding it hard to deal with so its good to listen to you.
    (Just a wee point to save you saying it again Genesis doesn’t say in the begining was the word its actually the book of John easy mistake to make right enough)
    I wish you well in your future and good mental health and thanks again.

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  95. My life suddenly stopped after Christmas, everything I had ever known had suddenly disappeared. I found myself submerged inside a huge black terrifying hole, not able to claw my way out.
    Anxiety gripped me like a vice with my bones feeling like red hot pokers burning me from the inside. The adrenaline pumping around my body paralysed me & I lost 2 stone in three weeks. I felt like I was the only person to ever experience these sensations. Everyone told me that these sensations were only thoughts & I could control them! Believe me I tried!
    I heard Matt on the radio & froze as I felt he was talking about me! I then bought the book & read it, quickly wanting inspiration & hope.
    I have just had three dark, painful & terrifying days, trying to appear happy to my two beautiful girls with whom I feel distant. It’s the out of body feelings I have that are so hard. I love my children so much but find it hard to enjoy being around them & this is the part that destroys me internally. Something that used to be natural is now so hard.
    Thank you Matt for bringing the dreaded topic of ‘depression & anxiety’ to light & talking from the heart. No-one wants to talk about it, but it could happen to anyone.
    I just hope that one day I can feel a sense of happiness again, not the dread & terror as each new day arises! Xx

  96. You are all very brave xx

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  100. It makes a huge difference whether you have depression early in life rather than later (I had both, so it comes from experience).
    When you are very young, even though you feel like dying, there’s an undeniable objectivity in the fact that your life is still ahead of you.
    Later in life, when the best years of your life are just a memory, there’s a lot less to live for and thus many of the arguments to stay alive that worked before no longer apply.
    Some of us objectively have no reason to stay alive other than the fear of death.

  101. Nice piece. And a good reminder. Depression is like the deceleration of happiness, and human minds are the most adept(on earth at least) at recognizing patterns. It’s hard to not feel hopeless but it’s possible. Cheers.

  102. I also went through a very dark period of my life. Although you are not thinking straight you must must as much as possible keep telling yourself (keep forcing into your own mind) the “reasons for YOU to stay alive”! Do not let that demon win. Force it out.
    I found that (not thinking straight) that I had nothing to live for – even though I have 2 beautiful young daughters, a decent job, a decent home. I had to force myself to concentrate on how much hurt and pain I would create in my loved ones FOR EVER if I let that demon win.
    I also did something that maybe others could try. I put a barrier in the way of me taking my life. My wife, who was my whole life, went off with her best friends husband – and then tried to take our 2 girls away from me and then throw me out of our house (obviously wouldn’t need the rooms if I lost my girls – irony!). All was done and more, in a very brutal way- I still couldn’t hate her?? – The Barrier – We had life insurance and I also would have a very large payout from the company I work for if I died in service which would go to my wife (and the man she now lived with obviously). I deliberately did not take her name off the insurance or company scheme! When standing on the edge and constantly during low thoughts – I just forced the thought into my mind of those 2 bastards getting all that money. It works!! Maybe try to find your own barrier.
    I’m better now – I’m out the other side – I kept my girls, my home, my job, my sanity, and of course removed my now X from the insurances! Demon Nil – Me One.

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  104. I cried
    I am in that hurricane
    I just can’t imagine any of what you wrote in #10 right now….

    Here’s what I wrote last night (slightly spooky):
    http://nanowrimo.org/participants/johnvdenley/novels/a-new-beginning-827302

  105. Thank you for sharing, reading this article has stopped thinking that life is not worth living and has made me think again. God bless you.

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  107. Thank you so much Matt, I really need these words. I am currently experiencing unsoothable pain due to the loss of romantic love. This made me feel better and merely increases my chances of having to start over later. God bless you.

  108. I’m reading the book right now. It always feels good to know that I’m not alone in how I feel, and gives me a bit of strength to try to live which I really don’t want to. The reason I’m not killing myself is because of my parents and a few younger siblings/cousins and nieces who really look up to me as a supporter. I don’t want to devastate them because I have always been giving them positive hopes when they are going through tough time. But mine is not just a tough time. I am very depressed and I can’t tell anyone. I feel worthless, my health is affected and I want to stop existing. I do think that I will one day end my life because living every day is hard with the worthlessness I feel, and I can’t explain that feeling, but I feel the weight of it, every single day.

    • Hi, I’m really sorry to hear how you are feeling. Have you ever spoken to anyone about how you are feeling? Mind have an information line that might help – it’s 0300 123 3393. Take good care of yourself. Matt x

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  111. I just read your powerful essay reprinted on Greatist. If only I had it seven years ago to give to my brother. . . I couldn’t stop his suicide, but I can help someone else who is contemplating it. And frankly, your essay has already helped one person — me. On days when I still feel angry with my brother for choosing suicide, your essay will remind me about the storm that roiled and churned in his brain. Thank you.

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  114. It is good that you talk so openly about this Subject. The anonymity of the internet seems to give people more confidence when it comes to the discussion of Taboo Subjects.

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