Yesterday weÂ drove the two hours up to Les Angles to goÂ snowboarding again. It was hot and sunny, as it has been for days now, and the pistes were slushy and running with water and I knew it was the last time this season. Snowboarding is one of the things I live for so how do I deal with it when something wonderful like that comes to an end? How do I stay happy? I learned various techniques when I was writing How To Be Happier (Teach Yourself).
Hemingway wrote a marvellous short story called The End Of Something. I’m a great admirer of Hemingway. As a craftsman in words he never has been equalled and probably never will be. And, yes, when I’d finished reading everything of Hemingway’s that was ever published I felt sad about that, too.
What I love in Hemingway is the feeling of enjoyment that comes right off the page. No man seemed to relish life more. And he, too, loved the mountains and wrote some short stories about skiing. And yet Hemingway sometimes suffered from depression. And, of course, eventually committed suicide. AtÂ around my age.
How could it be? I was pondering that along with the news that there’s been a 43% rise in antidepressant prescriptions in Britain since 2007. The figure now stands at 23 million a year. Some commentators are interpreting the figure asÂ evidence that doctors are getting better at diagnosing and dealing with depression. I’d say the figures show the opposite. All my research for How To Be Happier suggests that antidepressants cannot be the correct solution for those many people.
Depression is not the same thing as anxiety and it’s not the same thing as sadness. It’s normal to feel anxious or sad in certain circumstances and that, in my opinion, is something we have to accept. It’s what makes us human. Genuine depression is most often the result of distorted, negative thinking and the best solution is to correct those errors. Antidepressants don’t teach you how to change your thinking and if you rely upon them alone you’ll never learn how to deal with life’s difficulties.
But you can teach yourself through self-helpÂ books like mine or by seeing a properly qualified therapist. If you’re depressed get hold of How To Be Happier or something similar as a first step.
So where did it go wrong for Hemingway? Well, there were the years of alcohol abuse which had left him in terrible shape. If he were here today I’d try to cut down the alcohol and get him exercising. Exercise has been shown to be as effective as antidepressants. Not being in shape he couldn’t make love as he used to, either. I’d teach him some Tantric sex techniques that help older men, becauseÂ sex releases various ‘happiness chemicals‘.
But where Hemingway really went wrong is that, because of his health issues, heÂ couldn’t see any worthwhile future. Rather than concentrate on the things he could do he focused only on what he could no longer do.
At the moment I seem to be in good shape so although I’m having to give up snowboarding for a while I can always switch to something else. I’m going to try surfing.
SoÂ I’ll be checking out surfing on the internet, watching surfing on youtube, maybe getting a video or buying an instruction manual – in other words, forgetting snowboarding,Â planning for the future anhd looking forward with a sense of excitement to something new.
That’s very important for preventing or overcoming depression.