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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Tough Road Ahead

I received an email from a pilot who came forward during the amnesty period. He has allowed me to post some of his comments, but not his identity. I would first like to comment to him and others like him who have come forward. I know what you did was not easy. You have risked your careers for the hope of improving your health. I understand this was not an easy decision. I applaud you for what you have done as should anyone. I hope and pray that these words can raise a better awareness for what you are going through.

"I am a 36 year old pilot for a major airline. With the support and encouragement of my family I am undergoing the evaluation and re-certification process. As far as I know I am one of about a dozen pilots doing this. I stopped flying on July 25th of this year. At this point I am waiting to hear back from the Federal Air Surgeons office. My experience has been one of frustration. 
The biggest hurdle for me was not in taking the neuropsychological testing, but the lack of infrastructure in the process. I live in a major city and could only find one neuropsychologist who was familiar enough with the FAA to complete all of the testing. I had to call the regional FAA office where I live to find him. My HIMS AME did not even know about him. He actually gave me more of a battery of tests than required just so the FAA could not come back and say that they wanted additional testing on me.
Another hurdle was the monitoring process between my company and the FAA. My company was not going to take me back because the did not want the additional legalities of monitoring me. They have since resolved that issue and once I have my medical back they will put me back online.
While going through this process it seems ridiculous to me that the FAA gave pilots only a six month window for amnesty. I believe the FAA should allow pilots to openly come forward anytime they want. The FAA allows alcoholics to come forward and at any time. There should be the same option for pilots who suffer from depression and are trying to take care of themselves."
 It is obvious from the experience of this pilot that the process needs some improvements. I myself have attempted to contact the HIMS office to locate an HIMS AME so that I may start the process, but have not received a response to my messages.

I have hope that things will get better. I still think the biggest battle that we have comes from the stigma placed on people who say they suffer from depression. Were it not for the supportive emails I have received from around the world I wish I would not have given the CNN interview. I have many people who now look at me differently. I see looks in people's faces that say, "Oh, poor Collin. I feel so sorry for him." Either people that seem to think that depression is nothing and that those who say they suffer from it should just, "Suck it up."

However, I have put myself in the spotlight. Now I must stand tall and take on the responsibility that has been handed to me. I have done some public appearances. I hope that I am able to make many more presentations. The main topic of my talks has been regarding education to the public. I want to help remove the stigma that surrounds depression.

I have rambled on enough for now.

Keep an eye on the sky!

Collin Hughes

The Prozac Pilot


 



Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Has anyone on antidepressants successfully received an FAA Medical?

I am have not heard much about what is happening with the FAA ruling since it was announced back in April. I had one person write claiming that he took the tests, but that these tests were extremely difficult and not meant to be passed by an average person. I have some people comment that they feel this is a "trap" by the FAA to lure out pilots on medications and destroy their careers. Could this be true or could those people be suffering from more than depression? Paranoid personality disorder perhaps?

I have been so wrapped up in my career change lately and worrying about paying the bills that I have neglected anything having to do with the Prozac Pilot. I did take the time to look at the statistics on my blog tonight. I thought due to my inactivity of posting that the traffic would be down to zero. However, I am actually getting several hits.

I noticed that many hits are coming from areas where the United States has military personnel. I am guessing that these hits are coming from members of the United States Military. If so, thank you to all of the military readers. I thank you not just for reading my blog, but for the unselfish sacrifices you make for your country. I have always admired those who serve our country.

I am hoping that if I am more regular in posting that people will return to this site and the hits will grow in numbers. I would like to hear comments from any view point. I am sure that people would like to hear from anyone who has gone through the process and has received the special issuance on their medical certificate.

It is good to see that there are some companies that are starting to hire again after such a long period of furloughs. XOJet is one of those companies. I have read some great things about XO that shows this company is growing and does not have plans to slow down. What a great thing to see in this economic downturn. American Eagle and a few other regional carriers have also started hiring. I occasionally go to www.climbto350.com to see what jobs are being posted. For the longest time most of the jobs were in Asia. Now there are more jobs popping up in the U.S. Perhaps we really are coming out of the recession.

Please keep the comments coming. I enjoy reading what people think. I just would ask that there be no vulgarity.

Keep an eye on the sky!

Collin Hughes

The Prozac Pilot

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Response to a blog that opposes pilots using antidepressants.

The following is a copy of a post that I did on a blog that opposes pilots using antidepressants. This blog was written by an organization that believes the new rules are all to help the pharmaceutical companies make money.



Currently, there are pilots who suffer from depression, but will not seek help due to the fact they will no longer have a job. Even under the FAA’s new mandate a pilot will be grounded for one year after he/she is stable on medication. To me this is more of an issue of honesty. I would not trust someone who lies about their condition to keep a job. I grounded myself over two years ago when I went on antidepressants.
The one year stabilization time is more than enough time to know how a person is going to react on the medications. This decision was made in order to help pilots who need medical attention. I do not know of other jobs that would prohibit workers from taking antidepressants.
Surgeons can take medications. Bus, taxi and truck drivers can take medications too. Aviation is the only area that I know of that has had such a limitation. It is ludicrous to think that this decision was made so pharmaceutical companies could make more money.
I have had my career taken from me. I have found an alternate form of income. But if I am able to safely perform the duties of my chosen profession why should I not be able to do so?
Perhaps everyone on antidepressants should also not be allowed to drive a car. There is more danger on the roads than there is in the air.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Accomplishments


Since my CNN interviewed aired I have received emails from all around the world. Most of the communications were basic comments. I have had some people ask for advice and other people have told me about their struggles. One story in particular touched me. A woman wrote to me and told me about the death of someone close to her. I wrote briefly about it in my blog. I titled this particular blog entry, “The Loss of a Brother.”

Writing about such a tragic event has made me reflect on some of the things that are important in life. I have written that the main thing that has helped me through my struggles is my faith in God. That is the most important thing in my life. But I would like to reflect upon other things that sometimes we take for granted.

Until I forced myself to take a good look at life I have not realized all of the wonderful things in this earthly existence. I looked back at my childhood and realized that most of my childhood dreams have come true. I remember as a child there were two things I wanted to do when I grew up. I wanted to be a cowboy and a pilot. For those of you who have followed my blog or this article you know that I flew a CitationJet 2+ before I lost my medical. One thing I have not written much about is my life before flying. Therefore, not many people who have followed my writings know that I rode bulls for eighteen years. Yes, I got to be a cowboy and a pilot.

Recently, I have realized at how important positive memories are to a good attitude.  I was reminded of this when I got together with an old rodeo friend of mine. I had not seen this friend in twenty years. He sent me a message that he would be in Las Vegas and that he would have time to get together. As my friend I talked we remised about other people that we knew and what they were doing. It was great fun to ponder the days of yore.

Since my friend and I talked I have thought much about how many wonderful things there are in this life. When I became too old to ride bulls I felt badly that I was no longer a cowboy. When I was grounded for medical reasons I was sad that I was no longer a pilot. However, in visiting with my friend I realized that the things I have accomplished in life would always be a part of me.

I look back through my life and remember the fun I had when I was traveling down the road with friends going to the next rodeo. I remember the jokes we used to play on each other while we were behind the chutes waiting to compete. The friendships made in those days will last the rest of my life.

Now I also look back at my days of flying. My contact list in my phone and my friends list on Facebook contains people I used to fly with. These also are bonds that will endure throughout my mortality. The bonds that we form with others while on this earth are important. The opportunity to care about others is such a wonderful part of life.

I have also been thinking about the beauty I have seen as a pilot. I remember being in the flight levels and watched as a small cloud grew into a huge thunderstorm. Being able to watch nature develop in such a manner was amazing.

Through all this rambling I have done the thing I want to point out is my hope that I can encourage others to take a stronger look at the wonders of this life. Do not let the downside of life hold you back. Be sure to let the positive side of life have a strong influence on how you live. We are each made to be great. I hope we all can work to be the best that we can be.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Loss of A Brother

I have not posted on my blog in a few weeks. But today I received a message from a woman who just lost someone close to her due to his depression. I received an email from a young lady who found her friend dead in his garage. He had taken his own life. Ironically, this man ended his life just two days after the FAA made its announcement about the approval of some antidepressants.

It is sad to hear about anyone who has lost so much. What is even sadder is that this man's life could have been saved if he would have reached out for help. Either the thought of ending his career as a pilot or having to admit to himself that he needed help most likely stopped him from seeking the help that he so badly needed. Either of these two stumbling blocks lead to his death.

There is hope in the world. I urge anyone who is reading this and needs help to reach out to those near to you. Staying in the air is not worth your life.

Keep and eye on the Sky!

Collin Hughes

The Prozac Pilot

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Forgiving

One of the things that I have learned over the years is that I have let things from my past hold me back. I have hoped and prayed for the anguish of painful memories to just go away. However, that just is not how life works. When something hurtful happens to someone the memory will always be there. Pain from emotional trauma is like a scar on our skin, it can last for life. What I have learned throughout the years is that I just needed to deal with the pain and turn it into something positive.

Being able to find something positive in a memory of childhood abuse may not seem possible to some people. But in life everything has its opposite. Where there is up there is down. Where there is in there is out. Where there is black there is white. Therefore, where there is bad there is good. I will admit that finding something good in the pain of a child is difficult. This may not be possible until many years later. It is entirely up to the individual and the treatment that is sought out.

There is one thing that is a must in the healing process that I have found. In order for a person to move forward from emotional pain forgiveness is needed. Hate is a negative emotion. Hate only breeds rage and feelings of inadequacy. If a person cannot forgive someone then the victim is still under the power of the abuser. Emotional trauma may come from other sources than abuse. One example would be parents using a child to get what they want in divorce or custody proceedings. Even though this can do more damage to the child than it can either adult, the adults still need to forgive each other to fully move on.

In the last example I would actually question the mental stability of any parent that would place a child in the middle of a dispute between adults. Doing so can have lasting emotional scars upon the child. No matter what one parent feels towards the other speaking badly about each other to children only adds to an already difficult situation.

Without forgiveness hope diminishes. Without hope happiness is sacrificed. Is it truly worth jeopardizing happiness for a person who has harmed you? Forgiving others can be extremely difficult. However, forgiving ourselves may be even harder.

Keep an eye on the sky.

Collin Hughes

The Prozac Pilot

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Writing the first chapter of the book.

I am almost finished with the first chapter of my book. It brought out some feelings and memories that I have not felt for a long time. However, in looking inside myself to write down these thoughts I did not feel the pain and darkness that I once would have. I am not sure I can described what I felt.

The healing process I have been through has strengthened me. I believe I am a better person for what I have been though. Being able to look at the negative events in my life and not allow those things to hold me back anyone longer certainly is a huge step forward.

I look forward to each day being a new adventure. I no longer want to sleep the day away. I get up and find things to do. I have been asked to submit an article to the National Alliance of Mental Illness or more commonly known as NAMI.

I am amazed at the attention I have been receiving from this. My name is all over the internet. I sent an email to Don Friesen who does a comedy routine that has been called Prozac Pilot. I think he may have thought I was upset at him when he responded. I wrote him back to let him know that I had taken no offense. I just hope that I have not offended him.

For so long I have kept my condition a secret. Now the many people throughout the world know I suffer from depression. I have been receiving a great deal of feedback. In future videos I will read some of the emails that have been sent to me. I will of course not reveal anyone's identity.

I hope I can go forward and reach out to people who need help.

Keep an eye on the sky!

Collin Hughes

The Prozac Pilot

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Alive In The Chesapeake!!: "PROZAC PILOT" MAKES HILARIOUS VIDEO-MEDS OBVIOUSLY WORKING.

Here is a blog I found that some guys are having some fun with this. Thank you for your comments guys. You look great. Buy the way if you are selling the bags, please send me the royalties.

Collin Hughes

The Prozac Pilot

Alive In The Chesapeake!!: "PROZAC PILOT" MAKES HILARIOUS VIDEO-MEDS OBVIOUSLY WORKING.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Looking Forward For Tomorrow

The CNN crew has been here and gone. The story has aired an people know my name. I have been getting a variety of comments mostly positive with a few negative. I had one person post a comment on my blog telling me to stay out of the cockpit. However, this person posted it anonymously. I feel if I was able to show my face on national TV that anyone who wants to make negative comments should at least have the courtesy to reveal their identity.

There have been several comments posted on the CNN website below the artical. I have responded to some of them. For the person who called me a liberal I say it really does not matter, but for the record I am conservative. I have actually given presentations at TEA Party Rallies and was encouraged by some TEA Party Organizers to run for Congress.

There is a person on CNN's website with the user name saniflush. Yes that is actually me posting comments on CNN.com. I take no offense at you doubting the validity of my identity on CNN.com. However, that picture of my is one of my wife's favorites. It is the first picture she saw of me before we met and she claims it helped her fall in love with me. Come on, for my please tell me you like the picture.

I was contacted today by a representative of the show Inside Edition. Jeanmarie and I will be interviewed for Inside Edition tomorrow and it should be airing as early as Monday. I do not know where all this is heading. Things are moving fast with the attention from CNN. I just hope that what ever happens that I can reach out to people who feel they are alone and let them know there is hope in the world. Do not give up on the joys life can bring.

Keep an eye on the sky,

Collin Hughes

Prozac Pilot

Friday, April 9, 2010

Look for my book.

With all that has transpired over the last few days my wife and I have talked about what path to take from here. I never imagined my blog getting the attention it is about to receive after my story comes out on CNN. I want to be able to take this attention and reach out to others and let them know they are not alone.

We came up with the idea of writing a book. We even came up with a good title.

The Prozac Pilot

My Flight From Inner Darkness

I hope there will be enough attention ahead of time that I can actually attract a reputable publisher that will want to work with me on this.

I look forward to hearing from anyone who may be able to point me in the proper direction.

Keep an eye on the sky!

Prozac Pilot

Look for my book.

CNN Interview

I am now sitting in front of a camera with a CNN film crew. I am coming out of the hangar on national TV. My feelings at this time are mixed. I have hidden my illness from the world for so long. Now I am faced with what will happen after this news segment airs. I am hopeful. How that the FAA has lifted the restriction of antidepressants I can possibly return to flying.

The world will know of my disease when the CNN story airs. It was somewhat of a relief bearing my face to the camera knowing that a mass audience will see me soon. It gives me hope that I will no longer have to hide the shame I feel from depression.

I am guessing that anyone who has seen my introduction video when I started this blog may want to see the man behind the mask. However, at this time I will not reveal myself. I will wait for my face to be shown on CNN. I will then post another video of me being me.

I hope what I have done will give others some hope for the future. I hope that others will seek the treatment they need. I ask others who suffer from depression to hide yourselves no more. Come out from behind the mask of depression and go on with your lives. Do not let the darkness hold you down any longer. Stand up with courage in your hearts and beat back the demons of depression. You deserve to live a life filled with joy.

Keep an eye on the sky!

Prozac Pilot

Monday, April 5, 2010

FAA Will Allow Pilots on Antidepressants to Fly

I made a brief post regarding this news the other day. Since the announcement I have been getting emails and phone calls from friends and supporters worldwide. I actually first heard the news on Friday April 2 when a friend of mine called me from the Bahamas and told me he had seen it on the news there.

Thank you to everyone who have given me moral support. I have made some calls to the FAA regarding the procedure I will have to go through. It looks as if it is not going to be an easy process and could take some time. All applications that go to Oklahoma City will be redirected to Washington D.C. for review.

I was not sure what I would do with this blog if the FAA were to ever approve the use of antidepressants. However, since the announcement was made last week I have been contacted by CNN. I may be doing an interview with CNN later this week. If this happens this website may get a great deal of attention. I feel I can use this blog as a tool to reach out even more to people in my position. This site can still be useful to help other pilots in my position.

I shall continue to post on Prozac Pilot as I go through the process. I would like to use this as an outlet for others to tell their stories and encourage pilots to "come out."

I am sure that there will still be many people who will be uncertain of what to do. Due to the policy of having to be on the medication for one year prior to being approved by the FAA many people will be uncertain about being able to be laid off for that amount of time and if their jobs will still be there when they are ready to return to work.

This will not be an easy transition for anyone. But hopefully if the pilots, companies and the FAA will work together we can make it worthwhile for everyone.

Keep and eye on the sky!

Prozac Pilot

Friday, April 2, 2010

Returning to the sky!

The FAA has announced that it will allow a few antidepressants for the use of pilots. I need to find out more about what hoops people like me will have to jump through. I just hope this is done in a manner that pilots with depression will truly be able to take care of themselves and do the job that they love.

I am hopeful, but still somewhat skeptical about this announcement. It has been two years since I grounded myself. But I am excited about the possibility of returning to the sky. I am at a loss for words at this time. But I do have one question.

What am going to do with this blog?????????

Keep an eye on the sky!

Prozac Pilot