Fighting For Pilots' Mental Health

Have a good flight. 

Have a smooth flight.
Have a safe flight. 
These are all terms people use when talking to someone departing on a trip by air. How many times have we either heard these terms or said them ourselves? As a pilot, any flight without incident is a safe flight. Also, any flight without an unruly passenger, maintenance problem, weather delay or any other number of problems is a good flight. However, rarely is a flight totally a smooth flight. Occasionally, there will be a flight without any turbulence.  But usually there will be some amount of turbulence somewhere along the way during a flight. 
Some flights may experience just a minor bump or two along the way. Then there have been flights that have sent people to the hospital due to encountering severe turbulence……… Side note for those afraid of flying.. Encountouring that type of turbulence is rare and when the seatbelt sign comes on SIT DOWN!……Well actually everyone should sit down when the seatbelt sign is on not just those afraid of flying………  Ok, I digress, now back to the topic at hand, turbulence. My point is that some flights have a great deal more turbulence than do other flights. 
Another thing I have noticed about turbulence is how passengers react to being bumped around. Some passengers will have a death grip on the arm rests at the slightest bump while others appear to be relaxed as if they were in a recliner at home. Each person has his or her own comfort level. 
How people react to turbulence is much how we respond to the ups and downs of life. Each day of our lives can be compared to flying. Some days are smooth. Then there are those days that we feel the biggest bumps of our lives. Dealing with “life turbulence” is much the same as dealing with flight turbulence.  For some people a minor bump in life is major event. For other people a major event appears to be a minor bump. We all handle “life turbulence” in our own way. 
What can be said about people who look at light turbulence in life as extreme life turbulence? Can we say that they are weak? For some people perhaps. But you never know what other people have been through in life. What about those who can take the most extreme life turbulence as if it were nothing? Does that make them stronger and more capable of handling difficult situations? Not necessarily. Just because someone may appear outwardly strong is not always an indication of inward feelings. In other words, we all react differently to stress in life. 
I came up with the idea for this post after a phone call with someone I am close to in my life. This person is going through a difficult time in his life. I attempted to console him. I told him that everyone goes through difficult times. But his reaction was to tell me how easy I had things in life. He felt as if I had no troubles at all. I became extremely blunt with him at this point and asked him if he had ever lost a child. I did this only to make a point to him that everyone has hard times in life. He brushed it off saying that was different than him not being able to pay his bills and that I would not understand.  I then told him that I had lived out of my car for a time. He had no answer to that. 
The point that I am trying to make is that we all have turbulence in life. We each handle those rough rides in our own way. Some people tend not to do so well with turbulence while others appear to handle the bumps better. Some people would say that it is all in the attitude in how a person approaches life turbulence with. Trying to have a positive attitude is helpful, but some people need more than that. Some people need professional help. There is nothing wrong with seeking professional help in dealing with life turbulence. There will always be turbulence in life. If you need help dealing with it, do not be ashamed to reach out for help. 
At times family members need to reach out to give tough love and nudge a loved one into getting help. Guiding someone to get help who needs it just might save that person’s life. Do not be shy in talking to someone you may know who is having a hard time dealing with life turbulence.  
Fasten your seatbelts,
Collin Hughes
The Prozac Pilot

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