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Matt Haig has this message for people who say he had to “beat” mental health issues to be successful

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Lauren Geall
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Matt Haig

Mental health activist Matt Haig spoke out about a recent headline which claimed he had to overcome his mental health problems in order to achieve success.

According to statistics from Mind, 1 in 4 of us will experience a mental health problem each year - and thanks to the work of celebrities and activists alike, it’s becoming more acceptable for us to share these struggles with the people around us. 

Whereas even ten years ago the concept of a mental health day would have been unheard of, now more and more of us are aware of the need to look out for our mental health and engage in a proper self-care routine - whether that’s by indulging in some much needed TLC or seeking the support of friends and family. And we’ve not only come a long way when it comes to simply accepting peoples mental health struggles - we’ve also come to learn how it’s possible to live a great life with mental health problems, not just in spite of it.

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And that’s exactly what writer and activist Matt Haig is doing, despite recent suggestions that he had to “beat” his mental health issues in order to become successful. 

The Reasons To Stay Alive author was quick to correct a recent MailOnline headline which suggested he’d overcome his mental health problems and therefore found success - and reminded his followers that living with mental illness does not exclude you from achieving things. 

Posting a screenshot of the article - which reported Meghan Markle’s choice to feature one of Haig’s poems in her recent Vogue guest edit - Haig stressed how his success and mental health issues co-exist.

“Just for the record: I didn’t beat my mental health issues to become successful,” Haig wrote. 

“I still have mental health issues. And any success I have in life sometimes co-exists with those issues. I wrote my first book unable to leave the house.

“You can have issues and do stuff.”

Twitter was quick to respond to Haig’s point, with many of his followers praising the message that people living with mental illness can still do great things. 

“This is so important! And it exists in lots of different areas,” one response read. “For myself and colleagues working in mental health there seems to be a real thing of people only speaking about their lived experience if their mental health issues are a thing of the past.”

“I just completed my BA hons with a first while battling anxiety and depression, now I’ve got the degree, those issues are still there. You are such a wonderful human Matt,” wrote another.

“I’m a University lecturer and I have bipolar. My success exists with my MH issues,” added a third response. “Sometimes I think it might be partially because of them!”

It’s important to realise that no matter how you frame it, mental illness is not a linear journey to be easily fought and conquered. Mental illness is messy, recovery is not a linear process, and living (and succeeding) alongside mental health problems is entirely possible with the right help and support.

Sometimes we just need role models like Matt Haig to keep reminding us of that.

Image: Getty

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Lauren Geall

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