A mixture of emotions

Anthony Seldon
Anthony Seldon

It took a long time for the chair of this Wigtown Book Festival event to read the accolades associated with this highly decorated historian, educator and political adviser.

He looked pretty grim as they were all read out but finally allowed to speak for himself Sir Anthony bounced to the front of the stage where it immediately became clear why this man has been so admired for so long.

Charming and charismatic he entranced his audience with a profound and yet delightful talk dealing with the nature of happiness.

His aim was simply to change our lives.

He argued that he was telling us nothing new, that the ability to be happy has been with us since ancient times and yet modern society seemed to be producing greater levels of anxiety and depression.

Through a series of simple exercises he encouraged us to choose to be happy.

The author Matt Haig has struggled with depression since his early 20s.

In his first non-fiction book “Reasons to stay alive” he explores his history with depression and anxiety and how he has dealt with them through his life.

After briefly discussing these issues at the end of his previous book “The Humans”, Matt Haig decided to write about them fully.

Although admitting he is cynical of self-proclaimed “self help” titles, the book explores his methods for dealing with his feelings and how they have affected him.

During the talk he discussed his , unknown to him previously, family’s history with depression.

Matt Haig also went through how books offered the greatest respite to his emotional trauma. Remarking “Books are our maps”, he spoke about how immersing yourself in another world, another life, greatly helped him feel somewhat better.

Through this he began to express himself through writing. Although describing these early pieces as “like lyrics to the worst heavy metal song”, these brought him into writing, leading to his success today.

These are issues worth discussing as in Scotland we have one of the highest rates of depression.

With audience questions at the end, the same issues seem to be arising to the way mental health is viewed. There is no go to cure that will work for everyone and each case should be considered individually.