Mark Archibald.jpg

Mark Archibald is a Daily Sun columnist. His column, On the Mark, runs in the Friday edition of the Daily Sun.

During a post-show interview the co-coordinator of the Corsicana AirSho told me one of the reasons the Corsicana Coyote Squadron holds the annual Commemorative Air Force show, is to inspire the next generation of pilots; another is so veterans can hear those engines once again.

Not being a veteran, I can’t imagine the feeling of seeing, working on, or once again climbing aboard a plane so important during a hero’s youth. But I can attest that the experience was important to me.

Thank you to all the AirSho pilots, crew and organizers who put the event together. The vendors and those who labored in the heat ensuring that everyone was entertained and safe also deserve copious amounts of praise.

The 21stt Annual was a great show, I already can’t wait until next year.

It’s no secret that I love aircraft and air shows. I’m drawn to the power of the engines and the beauty and history of those birds. Several people who saw me at the show last weekend commented that the smile never left my face.

What some may not know is that I have dealt with intermittent depression since high school. Manifesting itself as a heavy weight on my chest, at times I’ve struggled to see the value in my life. Often, I’ve felt insignificant and trapped in a body which failed to meet my expectations or easily work for me. That frustration caused me to consider suicide on more than one occasion, a leading cause of death in the United States. National Suicide Prevention Week is Sept. 8-14.

I’m not ashamed that I went to a counselor while in college. I called again when my thoughts got dark last year. I am getting help to work through issues, in what I can only describe as an ongoing process. Someone out there might have similar thoughts or feel uncomfortable about getting the help they need. To them I say, reach out, seek help, you aren’t alone. Though a stigma remains attached to mental health and treatment, education and awareness are beginning to break down those barriers.

Depression is insidious. It wraps itself around people like a blanket, obstructing the view of those who suffer with its effects. Those afflicted often continue with daily activities smile, have fun, and are still depressed.

Counselors told me that I would need to continue seeing them until the dark clouds around me went away. I’m not sure when that might happen, but last weekend I left my wheelchair and climbed aboard “That’s All Brother,” the C-47 which led the Allied Invasion of Normandy.

CAF crews routinely do an excellent job restoring and flying amazing aircraft. I enjoyed hearing about her history while sitting in one of the jump seats.

A C-47 named “Southern Cross” provided my first non-commercial flight. As I climbed aboard and got in a seat I became emotional. I accepted help to do something important for me. As the engines roared taking us above Corsicana, I realized the clouds were thinner at that altitude.

The sentiment that suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem never fit my situation. A quote which I recently discovered seems more applicable, it reads: “Give yourself a chance to get to the part where it gets better.”

Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. Remember, no one is alone in their struggles. Professionals are available to talk 24 hours a day.

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