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Dealing with Mental Health, Anxiety and Depression

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Dealing with Mental Health, Anxiety and Depression

Old 30th Mar 2024, 11:09
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Dealing with Mental Health, Anxiety and Depression

I am interested in others views on dealing with mental health while going through flying training and a career as a pilot, and what helped you, especially if you have had a similar journey to me. I am in the process of changing careers and getting my CPL, however one of the initial hurdles has been getting past the medical evaluations, including the Psych review. I have had independent Psych review sessions with a consultant and I have now gained the Class 2, and hope to convert to Class 1 in July when reviewed by the CAA.

Just a brief history, I gained a PPL back in 1998, and did a year of air squadron at university, and I wanted to get into a flying career but at the time didnt have the self belief or funds to progress. I tried a few sponsorship interviews but wasn't succesful. I'm sure there are plenty of people who have been in that position. I have had periods in my life where I have felt the pressure of study, life changes, and an IT career which I never wanted to be doing. Some of those times during periods of work pressure I have taken time out of work as I couldn't deal with the job while feeling the anxiety. I have had medication, which I didnt feel helped, and I continued to function in my job and progressed to a decent salary and role. About 3 years ago issues with my marriage came to a head and separation and divorce happened, which added to the pressure. I since got paid out of my IT career over a year ago, during the divorce when I couldn't keep the job going to the level needed. I am in a good place now but am concerned about my history and it does play on my mind when thinking about the new career. I'm 46 now so that does bring other pressures, but I can see a future and am funding my way into a modular route to CPL, building hours and getting started on the ATPL ground school. I'm building campervans to pay the bills, but its not what I want to be doing as a main job.

Any advice would be appreciated, I am keen to find the right support. However, I am worried about going down a medical route to find help and keep my stable mental health as I don't want more on my medical history going forwards, and worry about losing the Class 1 once I've got it.

Many thanks
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Old 1st Apr 2024, 20:45
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Best of luck

Minimise your financial expenditure as much as possible until you've got the class 1 situation clarified

If you need medical help to maintain your health then i strongly suggest that you take it - even if that sacrifices your goal of flying commercially.

I'm sure you can see how a situation where you feel you want help but are afraid to ask for it could rapidly add to your stress and anxiety levels and snowball into an undesirable place.

Commercial aviation can be a brutal environment particularly for those joining later in life when everything is just that wee bit harder work.

Either way - all the best and make sure you look after yourself!

OH
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Old 2nd Apr 2024, 09:19
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Thanks OH, I am doing everything I can to keep myself in the best shape mentally and physically, and it's working for me right now. I am talking about how I feel and finding the right people to support me through tough times.

Do you mind if I ask, have you had to deal with it personally or have you had colleagues who have? I'm interested in how it's managed and dealt with in aviation, given the working environment.
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Old 2nd Apr 2024, 15:10
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Firstly, well done on managing such a condition and seeking appropriate help. Secondly, well done on maintaining both mental and physical fitness. As you well know, the 2 go hand in hand.

May I ask what are your goals re flying? Airlines? Instructing? General Aviation?

I am sure you're well aware of the issues that the first officer of Germanwings had? He's the individual that decided to crash the Airbus into the French hills. His mental health had not been adequately managed, not saying you're not managing well, but folks may get twitchy about it.
At work we've had some mental health cases. One was returned to work successfully, others, unfortunately have left the industry. Others decided alcohol was better than treatment. The pilot that had a severe bout of depression had authority mandated time off and assessment before getting his medical back. Then under a very carefully managed programme he was returned to flying status.

Some authorities are ok with SSRIs and prescribed medication for depression and mental health issues. Other authorities are a strict "no".

Good luck with your Class 1 medical.
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Old 2nd Apr 2024, 16:50
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Thanks Redsnail
I am also aware of the tragic GermanWings incident and the steps now required of airlines and the industry as a whole as a result. I can see that those working alongside those struggling with these issues may be twitchy, given the pressures and responsibility of the role and the dependency on a clear thinking colleague in the cockpit. I would also want to be on top form and to not be a risk, hence the need to manage it. I am not an alcohol risk taker, but know that I need other ways to manage it, including sports, meditation, nutrition as well as measured progress towards my goal.
I am hoping to get into private jets, cargo or general aviation, not necessarily the airline route, but am open to options once qualified.
thanks for your support on the medical
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Old 4th Apr 2024, 03:27
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Thanks for sharing about your experience - it takes courage. I can relate to the pressures of changing careers and life transitions adding to anxiety. A few thoughts from my own coping journey:

Focus on one day at a time and small wins. Comparing to others just adds stress. You've come so far already in getting your cert back - that's huge.

Keep close your support system. For me, daily exercise, journaling feelings, and friends/family who understand without judgment help so much.

Maybe look for flyer mentor you vibe with, to ease worries about coworker perceptions over time. We all have things we navigate. You've clearly got this!
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Old 5th Apr 2024, 09:24
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Thanks Milestogo
top advice, it's easy to be too focused on the long view or past history, i'm sure the path will become clear with the first steps.
When did you change career if you don't mind me asking?
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