Fighting For Pilots' Mental Health

Yesterday I sent an email with a link to this blog to the AOPA so that someone there would have the opportunity to respond to some comments I had put on my blog yesterday. It was less that 24 hours later I had an email responding to me.

I was told by a representative of the AOPA that they had sent a proposal to the FAA requesting a change in policy regarding antidepressants. Additionally, I was informed that AOPA had posted an update as to what is going on with the current status of the FAA proposed policy change.
I have invited the AOPA to allow me to post this information here on this blog. I feel that would be a good addition to what this blog is intended to do.
In writing back to the person at the AOPA I started to reflect a little bit on my own situation. If the FAA does change its policies what will happen to pilots who bit the bullet and grounded themselves so that they could go on antidepressants? I have been grounded now for nearly a year and a half. If suddenly the FAA says I am allowed to have a first class medical again that would be great. But now lets take it a step further. How do I truthfully explain that type of gap in my flying to a potential employer?
I can see it now.
Potential Employer (PE): I see that you have not flown for two years. Why is that?
Me: I went on medications that were not approved by the FAA and did not renew my medical.
PE: And these medications are now approved?
Me: Yes
By now the interviewer is probably clued in as to what type of medications we are talking about because the entire aviation community will hear about the change if it happens. There is still a stigma in our society regarding people who suffer from a mental illness. I could just hope that I am interviewed by someone who has compassion and will look at my qualifications and not get hung up on the fact that I suffer from depression. It could happen. Therefore, an interview like this could go either way. However, I feel that this will limit my employment opportunities.
I want to be hopeful that I will again return to the sky. I do miss everything that comes along with the life I once lived. The ability to leave one end of the country and be on the other side in just a few hours has always amazed me. It was fun to leave home in the morning on a flight to take passengers several hundreds of miles away and then return home later that same day.
I do miss the passengers. Doing charter work is not like working for the airlines. A charter pilot is also a customer service representative. A charter pilot works one on one with each passenger. Charter customers pay thousands of dollars for one flight. Someone who pays that much money expects the best customer service. I am of the opinion that all customers should be treated like royalty regardless of the price of the product being purchased.
I am looking forward to posting the information from the AOPA if they give me permission to do so. I think this will be good reading. It would also be nice to see that there has been someone out there working to correct this injustice.
Keep and eye on the sky!
Prozac Pilot

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