Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The Life of Mitch Mayborn

Not only was Monday worldwide Suicide Prevention Day, this whole week is National Suicide Prevention Week. In that vein, I wanted to go a little more in depth about the life and times of Curtis Mitchell Mayborn, my dad, since he did do a lot of living in the 54 years before he pulled the trigger. For the record, he didn't go by Curtis, as that was his mom (the one with the raccoon). He went by Mitch. Or Dad.

First and foremost, he was a lover of all things aeronautical.
I think his greatest dream was to be an Air Force fighter pilot, though it was a dream unfulfilled. He was a pilot, and was a corporate pilot for Dresser Industries in the late 60s, possibly into the early 70s. In the 1980s, he flew the Virgin Island Seaplane Shuttle. Other airplane activities included painting pictures of them, photographing them, and dragging his family from hot tarmac to hot tarmac to see airshows around Texas. I'm told that at one time he had one of the largest collections of airplane photographs in the country. Photographs that he personally had taken.

He also wrote and edited guidebooks, not just about planes, but also about historical automobiles.
For many years, between flying gigs, he worked for his dad, Ted W. Mayborn, at Associated Publishers, where they published Drillinq-DCW, an oilfield trade journal. This was often a fallback job, and in hindsight, it was probably that for most of his adult life he suffered from bipolar I disorder. Looking back on my childhood, it did seem that he always had so many projects going, and the life that he dreamed of living always seemed just out of reach.

While in hindsight, my childhood was quite dysfunctional, I don't remember it being horrible. On the contrary, I think we had fun, for the most part. Dad was kind of like a big kid, which, of course, must have been hard for my mom. And, yes, I was a "Daddy's Girl."
 That is an awesome white belt, is it not?!!

Sadly, in the mid to late 1970s, he turned to alcohol for his psychiatric medication because not as much was known about mental illness, and it certainly wasn't talked about in polite company. Or even not so polite company. I'm pretty sure the #1 rule in our dysfunctional family was do not talk about the bad stuff. To anyone. Anywhere. Anytime. Perhaps if we didn't talk about it, it wasn't happening. At any rate, Dad was never formally diagnosed, but since one often, post-suicide, tries to figure out what happened, that all the events of his life were put together and analyzed.

Could his suicide have been prevented? Boy, people agonize over this question about every suicide, I imagine. They ask themselves what they could have done. Specifically, I believe he was on a suicidal trajectory at least most of his adult life, spiraling faster and faster downward (not unlike an airplane shot out of the sky). One of his heroes, after all, was Ernest Hemingway. When I got the call from my aunt, I was understandably shocked and devastated, but not actually surprised. Well, after I got over the shock, I was not surprised.

So the big question... could it have been prevented? It was not pre-meditated or planned. He was backed into a corner, so to speak, and apparently saw no way out. It's my belief that had he gotten help decades before, perhaps he would not have met with such a violent end. And that's why I have such hope today.

The more people talk about it, share their stories and struggles, both for themselves and their loved ones, perhaps the stigma of mental illness can be chipped away at and lives can be saved.

Help is out there.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for sharing your story. I found this blog by accident. I've heard great stories about your father from his brothers.