Fighting For Pilots' Mental Health

My home is not far from the centerline of the localizer for an ILS approach of an airport just to the south of my home. I sometimes will sit on my patio and watch aircraft as they are on approach for landing. As I watch I wonder to myself if I will ever be back in the sky instead of watching from my home.

While I ponder to myself about returning to flying I often question myself as to why I would go on antidepressants knowing that I could not renew my medical. I did this knowing it would end my career. Why on earth would a person do such a thing? Did I do the right thing? How was I supposed to support my family?
I worked with my doctors in recent weeks to go off of the medications. My wife said she could tell a difference in my mood. I also could tell that I did have this feeling of something that just seemed dark inside to me. I had this same feeling before the medications even when I was doing what I loved. It is hard to describe what I felt. Depression is something that can take control of someone in a way that is difficult to explain. It is more than a feeling of deepened sadness that a person will feel when having something tragic happen. Depression is more of a feeling of deep dark despair. Depression is a feeling of hopelessness.
As I look at life now I often wonder if I can ever feel total happiness. I question how I could feel this way. I have a great wife. I did have a job that most people could only dream of doing. Yet, here I am with feelings of inadequacy. I remember back before the medications as I would fly having doubts as to my capabilities as a pilot. When I would go to the simulator for training I did not look at things as if I were in control of things. I was always relieved when my training was finished. I was afraid of doing what I loved.
Now I am working with the doctors to get my medications back to the right dosage. I look now at the false hope I was giving myself by thinking I could actually go off of the medications. I should be able to look at things and be totally happy even if I am not flying. Happiness should not be based on what a person does for a living. I sometimes actually realize that I was using flying as my medication. Yes, flying did give me some positive feelings, but it could never create true happiness in my life.
OK, so why did I go on the medications knowing I would not be allowed to fly? I guess because I had to be honest. I could no longer lie to myself. I knew that the darkness within me was caused by something. But now that something has a name. And that name is depression. I would love to return to the sky. But I also long to no longer feel the darkness.
So, is it worth not flying? I will put it to you this way. If I never fly again I will probably always miss doing what I love. However, when the meds are working, I never miss the darkness.
Keep an eye on the sky.
Prozac Pilot

2 Responses

  1. Way to GO Collin! I am looking forward to flying again, too! ATP w/3 type ratings! Feeling fine now… just "normal", and happy. Why not!

  2. Brilliant Collin! I applaud you for opening the doors for pilots, so they can spread their wings and fly, whether it be on the ground or in the air.

    Your blog will be helpful to many other people who deal with depression and child abuse. I was never abused but have suffered from depression and most people just don't get it! It is so frustrating. The Darkness was an intense read for me and I am not a pilot, although I have flown a couple of times. Charlie is now my co-pilot in another zone…

    Keep up the good work.

    Thank you again.

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