Fighting For Pilots' Mental Health

I have been looking back lately at the things I miss about flying. I remember early on right after I earned my private pilot license the feeling of release from reality I would get right after takeoff. I so enjoyed turning out onto the center line and pushing the throttle forward causing the aircraft to accelerate towards rotation speed. Then, when I reached that magical point I would gently pull back on the yoke and I was released from the confides of gravity.

It was not just leaving the surface of the earth that gave me the feeling of release, but also so many other restrictions were removed. No longer was there a speed limit to adhere to. There were no roads to follow. I could bank the airplane into a turn and go where ever I wanted. Flying was my way to escape reality.
I look back at my life and and realize that flying did much more for me than give me a way to earn a paycheck. Flying gave me power over demons within myself. Demons that could have turned me into a drunk or a drug addict. I have suffered many afflictions in my life. Many due to circumstances of my surroundings and others due to poor choices. I have often told my wife that I am lucky. I have seen many people who have been through much less in their lives that have found themselves in a gutter somewhere.
I have thoughts coming to my mind now that are causing me to change what I write. When I first sat down at my computer I had a general idea of what I wanted to say, but as I script the words my mind seems to go another way. I just started to think that I really was strong enough to overcome the hardships of my past without flying. If it would have not been flying that I found release in perhaps it would have been something else. I simply thought that my love of flying was what gave me character and strength. In a way that makes my love of flying seem more pure to me. I do not love flying to make me a better person, but I simply love flying, well, because I do.
Does a person need a reason to love what they do? What makes a person love anything they do in life? Why does a chef love to prepare meals for others? Does not a florist receive great joy in watching planted seeds sprout to life as plants? What is it in each of us that makes us love what we do?
I remember meeting a young man who worked with my wife. (My wife is a social worker.) He was impressed that I was a pilot and got to fly jets all around the country. I told him all I did was push the power levers forward and fly rich and sometimes famous people around the country. I then told him what he did truly made a difference in the lives of others. I liked the humble and appreciative look in the young man’s eyes.
I think that we too often judge ourselves by what we do for a living. I guess that is also what makes it so hard to not be able to pursue my chosen career any longer. I have lost my identity. If you have watched the video I made you might have noticed I hide my face. I did this in part to have some fun with my alter ego, Prozac Pilot, but also as a reflection of how I feel. I wonder who or what am I now? Yes, I am doing other things as a source of income, but it just is not the same. If a chef could no longer cook or a florist no longer plant seeds would they feel the same way?
I know what I am writing now are just ramblings from the mind of a grounded pilot. These things may not be of any significance to anyone who has taken the time to read this far. But then again, if you are still reading this post and gotten this far it must be of interest to you for some reason.
Well, I have gone on long enough for now. If anyone has read this entire post I hope that perhaps I have given you some things to ponder on. What I was trying to get across in my ramblings is that life is what we make of it. Luck just does not happen. There is good and bad in this life and we have to take both to become better people. Flying was a great part of my life, but it was not my entire life. There is life after flying. My true identity is not being a pilot, but the man that I am.
I am a man who has been very blessed to be able to go after childhood dreams and make them realities. WOW, I guess I am stronger than I thought. LOL
Keep your eye on your strengths.
Prozac Pilot

One Response

  1. I know this is an old post but just want to say it's very nice. Not many would choose to live so honestly and give up the thing they love.

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