Fighting For Pilots' Mental Health

Life seems to be easy for some people. However, when we look at these people we do not know what is going on in their lives. Everyone has struggles. Many people would argue that money would solve all of their problems. But money is not the answer. There have been many people with money take their own lives because they could not deal with reality. Look at Michael Jackson. He did not commit suicide, but he certainly was not dealing with life in a positive manner. Whitney Houston is another example of someone who was rich and famous yet turned to drugs in order to deal with life.

Everyone has issues in their lives that they deal with. Some people are able to deal with difficulties better than others. What is the answer? How do we get through difficult times in our lives. The answer is different for everyone. The simple answer is that we just go on with life. Take life day by day and move forward. We also need to protect ourselves emotionally. Sometimes that even means putting aside relationships of people who may be close to us, but are not healthy for us emotionally.

Yesterday was a difficult time for me. I saw my mother for the last time. She and I have had a strained relationship for some time now. In recent years I thought things had improved. However, a lifetime of emotional abuse came to an end yesterday. I went to visit her in the facility that other family members had put her in. This was the second time this month I went to visit her. Since I live in Las Vegas and she is in Iowa it is has not been easy to see her. I have been able to bid for some Omaha overnights that give me enough time to visit family.

I went to the facility where she has been for the past few months. We talked for a while until she started saying hurtful things. I realized at that point that I did not want to return and allow her to treat me in the manner in which I was all too familiar with after a lifetime of not being able to please her. I told her I was done with her emotional abuse, that I was leaving and would not return to see her again. Her response was something that was pretty typical for her. She did not ask why I was upset. She did not ask me to stay or why I was not coming back. The only thing she wanted to know was if I would take her outside so she could have another cigarette.

I know many people will think that my leaving was harsh and cold hearted. Everyone is entitled to their opinion. However, there are times that moving on is the best thing. I made a decision based on what I felt was best for me. Some people may call it selfish. I call it surviving emotionally. People who have not suffered from abuse of any kind will most likely not understand. I am a survivor of both physical and emotional abuse. I accepted these things a normal for years. It has only been within the last few years of my life that I realized I need to stop making excuses for those who would abuse me and move on.

I did not know what real love of others was like until I married my wife, Jeanmarie. She grew up in a home where people cared for each other and valued both family and friends. I thought at first that I might regret walking out yesterday. But then I remembered how I had to force myself to go see her due to the fear of things she might say to me. I have experienced her sharp tongue way too many times. Now what I feel is relief. I will no longer have to force myself to go visit her.

In a perfect life parents would treat their children with love and kindness and the children will show respect towards their parents. However, this is not a perfect world. Life is not always as we wish it would be.

I have had other people in my life who were great role models. People like Al Tidlund. Al was a man I went to church with when I lived in Springfield, MO. He was a man of honor and integrity. He and his wife were married close to sixty years. For the last few years of their lives his wife was homebound. I remember Al being at church some times and saying to me that he could not wait to get home and see his sweetheart. His son Russ adored and loved his parents. Al was the type of man that I wish I could be.

The highlight of all my hours of flying was being able to take Al flying one night and let him get his hands on the controls of the Cessna 172 that I took him up in. He was a bomber pilot in World War II and had not flown an airplane since the war. Being able to take him flying and control the airplane was a joy for both of us. I miss my friend Al. He was a person who knew how to love and treat others.

So what is the answer on how to get through difficult times? First, do not dwell on the past. Second, take the negative and turn it into positive. For example, if you were abused take that abuse as a lesson in how not treat people. Third, surround yourself with people who can be positive influences in your life. People like Al Tidlund.  Forth, do what you can for others.  The more we do for others, the less we worry about our own problems. When you do for others you just might find out that your problems are not as difficult as you thought they were.

Keep an eye on the sky!

The Prozac Pilot

Collin W. Hughes

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