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Monday, December 30, 2013

Life is Not Always Easy

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

Friday, December 27, 2013

What to Write?

Since my interview with CNN I have had people tell me I should write a book. I have been going though my mind over and over as to what I would actually write about. I have been told I have had an interesting life and it would be something that many people would find appealing. I have never considered myself an interesting person. I have done some things in my life that not many people have done. For example, I rode bulls for eighteen years. Additionally, I am now an airline pilot. My guess is that there are not many people who have done both of these things.

I have actually started this book. I have one whole chapter almost done. I came up with what I think is a catchy title, "The Prozac Pilot, My Flight From the Darkness Within."

When I made my video a few years ago I had no idea that it would get the attention that it has. I did hope to possibly help others when I started this blog. But I did not fathom that I would get world wide readership with people from all over writing to me asking for assistance. 

Even after all of this attention it is still not easy to talk about mental health issues in public. There is still a stigma that surrounds people who suffer from depression. Yes the FAA has approved four different antidepressants for use by pilots. However, this is still not a topic that many people are comfortable talking about. My guess is that there are still pilots who are on medications that have not come forward and are keeping their ailment a secret. 

Part of the reason that many people who are medications may not come forward is the one year waiting period to reapply for their medical. Being grounded for a minimum of one year for a professional pilot can be financially devastating. Also, when a pilot reapplies for his or her medical after the waiting period he or she is not assured that his or her medical will be reinstated.

For nonprofessional pilots the options may be opening up soon. There is currently legislation in congress that would allow smaller aircraft, including twin engine pistons to be flown without a medical certificate. There is one thing to keep in mind regarding this possible new ruling. I am guessing that this will be similar to the medical qualifications for Light Sport Pilots. Light Sport Pilots are not required to hold a current medical. However,  Light Sport Pilots must ground themselves if they know of any medical reason that would make them unsafe. Additionally, a person who has been denied a medical does not qualify for a Light Sport certificate. 

I am looking forward to see what happens with this legislation that is in congress now. Currently, there are some limitations that I feel need to be removed from the bill. Pilots without medicals will be limited to VFR flights only. I feel that if a person is instrument qualified there should be no reason that they should not be allowed to fly under instrument flight rules. I think this is an area that we should contact our elected officials and make it known that these types of limitations should be lifted.

It seems as if I have drifted from my original topic of this post about me writing a book. I guess I am going with what my sweet wife told me to do when I told her I had writer's block today. She told me to start free writing and things will come to me. Therefore, I am on here just typing away as things come to my mind.

Much has happened since I made that silly video back in 2008. I have been without a medical and now have it back. I have done some flight instruction and sold airplanes. I am now flying for an airline. I even had a period of selling insurance when I thought I would never have an FAA medical again.

Since the original CNN interview I have received emails from around the world. Some of these emails are from people expressing thanks for me speaking out. Other emails are from people asking questions regarding the current regulations. I have been able to offer words of encouragement to some people wanting to get into aviation. I enjoy being able to help in any way I can. Hopefully, if I can get rid of this writer's block so I can write a book that will help others. 

Well, enough free writing for now.

Keep an eye on the sky!

Collin W. Hughes

The Prozac Pilot

Thursday, December 26, 2013

The Joys of Life

Life is meant to be filled with joy. However, many people go through each day not knowing how to experience life to their full potential. Enjoying life does not always come natural. Some people actually have to work at being happy. However, just because life is not always easy does not mean that life cannot always be enjoyed.

I know my last statement seems somewhat odd. Well, I have never been accused of being normal. But yes, even in times of dismay and difficulties life can still be enjoyed. Many people may ask how do you enjoy life in times of tragedy. That is a fair question. Here are some examples.

One of the most difficult things to experience in life is the lost of a loved one. Yes, the death of someone close to us is tragic and causes great emotional pain. Depending on who that person is there may be sadness that will be felt the remainder of the survivor's life. However, do not mistake this sadness for the lack of joy in life. Sadness is a natural emotion people feel for a variety of reasons. Sadness does not need to diminish the joy you feel about life.

How on earth can someone feel joy and sadness at the same time wold be a fair question right now. Let me go deeper into my thought process. When we loose someone close to us we most certainly feel sadness. Some people go into deep depression. But that deep depression is an entirely different topic than what I am talking about today. Lets focus on normal sadness. 

There are some religious funerals that the service is more of a celebration of the person's life than anything else. If we take the time during our sadness to remember the good times and what that person meant to us then we are experiencing joy amid our sadness. Yes, it is a difficult time. But we can still make the best of these times to become better in our own lives. 

I have experienced great loss in my life. I am also a survivor of childhood abuse. For years I let these difficult things in my life keep me from what was important. The important thing I refer to is enjoying life and doing the best I can at being the best me.

The best me. I like that phrase. I just came up with it. What does it mean to be the best me? The answer to that will differ for everyone. Each of us has our own limitations as to what we can do in life. For example, being the best me to someone confined to a wheelchair is certainly different than the best me to an NFL football player. We each have things in our lives that we can work on to improve and become better in our lives.

I do not talk about personal accomplishments either such as sports. I am talking about being the best person each of us can be in life. When I was without my FAA medical beginning in 2008 I had to learn all over how to be the best me. I was a pilot. That is who I thought I was. I did not have a medical and could no longer fly. This was a great lesson to me in life. I leaned that flying was something I did, but not who I was.

Most of us relate our lives to what we do for a living. As we do this we fool ourselves into believing that is what life is all about. Life is not about flying airplanes, playing football or anything else related to what we may do for a living. These are simply things that we do.

Life is about becoming better people each day. Life is about doing for others. Life is about growing through our personal joys and pain. Life is about finding the courage to move forward when we are certain that we cannot. Life is about treating ourselves and others in a positive manner and with dignity.

When I could not fly I could have just thrown in the towel and gave up on life. But I did not. I moved forward. I overcame the odds that were placed before me. I became a better person for this. I was able to take this negative thing in my life and turn it into something positive.

Each of us has good within. It is up to us to tap into that good and do something with it. I have seen people who have severe mental and physical disabilities yet they were able to do something that helps others. In some cases these disabilities may be so severe that they are confined to a wheel chair and do not even have the ability to speak. But what they did was smile. If you have ever known a person like this and had that person smile at you, then you know the heart warming feeling when that person smiles at you. There is no denying the great feeling to receive a smile from a severely handicapped person like I have just described.

This brings to mind a fond memory from years ago. I was at church and feeling down. I do not recall what had me feeling so bad. I was sitting in a chair in the foyer of the church I attended. There was a family that had a sixteen year old down syndrome child named Cody. As I was sitting in this chair Cody came along and sat on the arm of the chair. When he sat down he put one arm around my shoulders. With his other hand he gently stroked my left arm in an attempt to comfort me. He did this for a couple of minutes, then he stopped. When he stopped he pointed to a picture of Jesus that hung on the wall behind us. As he pointed to the picture he said, "Papa." Cody then returned to caressing my arm. After a couple of minutes of doing this he again stopped, pointed to the picture and said with more emphasis, "PAPA!" After doing this Cody stood up and walked off. I will never forget how warm this made me feel and the wonderful thing that this young man did for me. Cody was being the "best me" that he could be.

Yes, sometimes life is difficult. Life is not always easy. Some people will say that life is never easy. But whether or not life is easy we should always strive to be the "best me" that we can be. We should each look at our own abilities and not our limitations to do the best we can each and every day. Life is meant to be enjoyed. Life can only be enjoyed if we make an attempt to do so.

Keep an eye on the sky!

Collin W. Hughes 

The Prozac Pilot