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Adulting: Anxiety is NOT...

My friend gifted me the book Notes on a Nervous Planet. In it, author Matt Haig opens his heart and shares his struggles with anxiety. It's a "messy book" (his words!), where he mixes in wisdom and wit that has me thinking deeply and asking myself questions that can bring healing.

What really impresses me is the design of Haig’s chapters. They are filled with little bite-sized sections of text, perfect for the moments you want to read, but you may not have a long chunk of time. The Guardian adequately sums it up in one sentence:

The book jumps from subject to subject, setting out problems, offering advice and sometimes just presenting lists of small good things to remember.

One of those good things to remember is a chapter section titled “Mental health problems are not:” and, I believe, it is a section that should be read by everybody. The statements are so simple, yet powerful, and stand strong among the more chaotic feel of the text:

Mental health problems are not:
A bandwagon.
A fad.
A celebrity trend.
A result of growing awareness of mental health problems.
Always easy to talk about.
The same as they always were.

Seven simple statements reminding readers that mental health is serious, and it should be handled boldly and directly.

Well done, Haig. Because he identifies popular lies that might be whispered in our minds. And then he essentially says: NOPE.

And sometimes that firm “nope” is just what we need. It’s another one of those beautiful situations in life when a negative is indeed a positive.

I have spent so much time looking into what mental health problems are, I love the reminder to focus on what they are not. Because while they may feel like it, they certainly are not everything.

“Life is hard. It may be beautiful and wonderful but it is also hard.”

Matt Haig, Reasons to Stay Alive


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