Autobiographical · British Culture · British Literature · Classic · Contemporary · Excerpt · Health · Memoir · Mental Health · Non-fiction · Passage · Psychology · Quote · Self-help

Matt Haig

“I have a thin skin.

I think this is part and parcel of depression and anxiety – to be precise – being a person quite likely to get depression and anxiety … I don’t fight it. I accept things more. This is who I am. And besides, fighting it actually makes it worse. The trick is to befriend depression and anxiety. To be thankful for them, because you can deal with them a lot better. And the way I have befriended them is by thanking them for my thin skin.

Sure, without a thin skin I would have never known those terrible days of nothingness. Those days of either panic, or intense, bone-scorching lethargy. The days of self-hate, or drowning under invisible waves. I sometimes felt, in my self-pity, too fragile for a world of speed and right angles and noise. (I love Jonathan Rottenberg’s evolutionary theory of depression, that is to do with the being unable to adapt to the pendent: ‘An ancient mood system has collided with a highly novel operating environment created by a remarkable species.’)

But would I go along to a magical mind spa and ask for a skin-thickening treatment? Probably not. You need to feel life’s terror to feel its wonder.

—  Matt Haig, Reasons to Stay Alive. (Canongate Books; Main edition March 5, 2015)


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