Friday, July 17, 2009
Stop the Discrimination!
I saw my doctor yesterday and told her about the blog. She was excited to hear about what I was doing and encouraged me to be an activist for pilots with depression. She went on to ask me more questions about other types of conditions that may disqualify a pilot from obtaining a medical. She still finds it hard to believe how an antidepressant can keep a pilot from performing his or her duties.
I was getting hopeful for a while. I had started a plan with my doctor to reduce and then come completely off the medications. At first, I thought the plan was going well. However, as I was close to being completely off the medications I discovered the timing just was not right. My wife and I are going though the process of moving closer to family. With the added stress of planning a move--which also means looking for employment that will meet our needs--I could tell that I needed to go back on medications.
The experience was not a fun one. I can understand why there should be a waiting period to be able to fly for someone just going on medications. The side affects at first until a person's body is accustomed to the meds can really do a number on someone. For economic reasons my doctor tried a new medication with me. This particular medication did not work well. I went through periods of higher anxiety and was physically ill. We found that this particular medication did not work for me. Now we are getting things squared back up on a med that does cost more money. But from what I am finding it is the best thing to do. Ahhh, but I am so grateful to the doctor's office for SAMPLES. Samples are free.
In going through this change of meds I had many thoughts about what I was going through. However, the one thing that stood out was the fact that I may never fly again. This is a thought that truly saddens me. I think of all the pilots that are flying that suffer from depression and cannot reveal their secret due to the knowledge they will no longer have a job. I am still trying to figure out which is worse.
What I did discover is that when first coming to grips with the disease that keeps me grounded is that it gets worse before it gets better. I sat around the house for several weeks doing nothing and feeling sorry for myself. Once I got through that and started to deal with the facts I was able to pull myself out of my slump and start looking for another source of income. It is hard to try to start a new career in todays economy. Well, now I am trying to start my own business.
I know this sounds like rambling to many who may read this. But hopefully it may help someone else who may be in a similar situation. My story may not seem like a good example of hope on the outside, but take a closer look. I have the energy and drive to start this blog. I made that silly video (more to come soon) and I am at least working on some plans for feeling better.
I guess the hardest part is when people find out that I suffer from depression. I get looks like I am a total outcast. I am not sure why those of us who suffer from such a disability are made to suffer even more by others. Why do people have to look at us with such degradation? Are we really that much of a social stigma?
In a day and time where views are so liberal how is it that a person with a mental illness is still made to feel so unwanted by society? It is ignorance that drives the publics perception. It is such ignorance that keeps pilots who are medicated and fully able to perform the duties of their jobs safely that grounds them. It is this same ignorance that forces pilots with depression from seeking help and keeps them flying without treatment and putting public safety at risk.
I was even ashamed to tell my own mother the reason for which I can no longer fly. I have never felt such discrimination. Is it worth it? Time will tell. Hopefully, I can touch some people with this blog. Hopefully, the right people will read this and help do something. I am also contacting my elected officials. But I am only one person. Pilots with depression need to stand up for what is right. The so called pilot advocacy groups need to help more in this struggle.
Please, stand with me and let's put an end to this discrimination. Let's put good pilots back in the sky. Let's get help for those who are forced to hide their pain. Let's do the right thing.
Keep an eye on the sky.