In May of 2000 I graduated Valedictorian of my class from a prestigious aviation college. I had excelled as a student and to all concerned, including myself, the future seemed bright. Within a week of walking across that stage life as I knew it ended. At first nobody knew what was wrong. I was sick to my stomach, nauseous, ALL the time. I could not sleep, but I craved it. Slowly fear became a regular part of my life and motivation became hard to maintain.
It took a couple months to establish the problem wasn’t physical which led to my first visit with a shrink. I remember learning about the dangers of saying “what if” and learning to ask myself “what’s the worst that could happen if X or Y occurred” Of course four years of training to be a pilot had programmed my brain to work on “what if” scenarios and the worst was not something a pilot wanted to think about. Intellectually I heard what I was being told, but in practice I could not apply it.
I struggled down this path for nearly a year before I took the first pills. Taking those meds meant the end of my piloting career, and it took a couple very scary experiences to get me to swallow them, but in the end it was inevitable. My experience with psychotropic medication will likely come up often in this blog. They have been a blessing and a curse. I hate them with a passion hotter than the fires of hell itself, yet life without them is sometimes nearly impossible. It’s the story of a true love hate relationship.
As the years have passed my first chosen profession is not the only thing this struggle has taken from me. I have now lost two careers do to the struggle itself, and the very opportunity to pursue a third due to decisions made in the early days of this fight. I nearly lost my wife before she was my wife, and the impact of my mood and her ability to deal with it remains the single biggest obstacle in our marriage. I have faith that our love is strong enough to see us through anything, but like all marriages there are days when we both question.
Like anybody who has struggled with mental illness, PTSD, or addiction I have been to some pretty dark places and found my way back again. I hope that this blog may help others find their way back from the darkness, and maybe together we can learn to make the most of what we have while limiting the power of the things that try and hold us back.