Genres: Non-Fiction, Self Help, Memoir, Mental Health
I have received this book via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.
Will I read anything Matt Haig ever publishes? Well, probably. I’ve loved his Reasons to Stay Alive, a book that means so much to me and that came to me in a perfect time and helped me face and deal with my own mental health. So I was beyond excited about his new book, Notes on a Nervous Planet!
Notes on a Nervous Planet is about Matt Haig’s experience with anxiety caused by modern life, especially by social media. Like Reasons to Stay Alive, this is part memoir and part self-help, an honest and unapologetic view on what it’s like to live with an illness so many people still consider to be something to be ashamed of, to hide or that it doesn’t even exist.
I’ve got a long experience now with anxiety, especially social anxiety. It got so bad at one point that I had to leave work for medical reasons for months – only to get better from that and be hit on the face with depression. So books like these are always a helpful reminder of what I went through, what so many people go through and to keep yourself aware of what is going on with you so that you can prepare (and sometimes prevent) for the times when it gets bad. A book like this could literally save a life.
I still enjoyed this one very much, and I took to heart so many things Matt Haig talks about. I absolutely can relate to feeling so silly because OTHER people had worse problems than me and didn’t have depression, that I didn’t have such an awful life to really be depressed about, that it feels so stupid to not be able to go out sometimes. I loved the part where he tells the reader to look at the sky when it feels too much, too crowded. There is such a great sense of freedom and space looking at the sky, and takes you out of mundane worries for a moment. I also really liked when he talks about marketing and unhappiness – it’s absolutely true and rings even more so being a woman, I believe.
The reason I gave this three stars is because a huge part of the book is about social media – and I don’t know if this is a topic of particular anxiety and stress to other people, but I felt very disconnected from that part of the book. I think it’s just because that has always been more or less easy for me – in fact, I sometimes forget my phone in places and remember hours later that I ignored someone on social media. So while I commiserate and do feel very much for him – it sounds absolutely awful to have an addiction and to feel so drawn to something that is so bad for your mental health. I just didn’t relate by experience with it, which made the book an interesting read about something that I didn’t really have a problem with – which is still an amazing read, just not what I wanted to read the book for. It felt to me also that a lot of the advice he gave was perfectly reasonable, but only applicable for some people, who have some flexibility with their lives to avoid certain tasks or have some control over the way they work, for example.
For some reason this time I didn’t love the way he wrote either. I liked it and enjoyed it more as I progressed with the book, but was never really as engaged as I was with his other memoir, or his fiction books.
Still a great read and I recommend it! I hope he continues writing about anxiety and depression, I will surely keep reading his books!