Resurrection. Part 1: The Beginning.

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Almost 10 years ago, I succumbed to a debilitating physical/physiological problem that nobody could diagnose or treat correctly.

At the time, I was writing software to aid database developers who worked with the FileMaker database system. I spent day after day working on it for months. Many programmers will tell you that it's difficult to pull yourself away from a project once you get involved, and I often spent 12 to 15 hours a day working on the software. Most nights, I slept only 3 or 4 hours, and not very soundly because one ear was kept open while I slept to listen for fights and incidents involving a village puppy I'd befriended earlier in the year.

After 3 or 4 months of this schedule, my body gave up and I lost the ability to do anything conscientiously. It was a hard time for my family. I saw a doctor and was promptly prescribed anti-depression medication because my ailment was not understood and therefore deemed to be psychosomatic in nature. People around me and at TVB were telling me to buck up, get back in the game, stop moping, pull yourself together, etc. They simply didn't understand, and that's the biggest problem with this ailment; nobody understands it except those who have experienced it personally.

The symptoms are terrible and life changing. You feel exhausted and fatigued all day every day. You are unable to do anything that your responsibilities dictate should be done. Hormonal rage becomes an unpredictable part of daily life. And for me, stage nerves transformed into stage terror. This was perhaps the most serious symptom for me because where I once loved performing on stage, I was now in fear of it, or rather in fear of the terror that I would probably experience on the stage. It was extremely debilitating (and life threatening) and there were many occasions when I considered giving up performing because I felt so tired, and more importantly to avoid the fear and the terror.

A mystery to me, I was still able to function at TVB although it was very strenuous trying to maintain the energy in my characters while on set. I distinctly remember my role as Marco Polo, thinking at the time that Marco Polo would probably have been an extraordinary man with unlimited energy, intelligence and curiosity, and then using every ounce of my limited energy to try and portray that in the character. It was hard.

The last 10 years have been very difficult, but my family and I survived and it's almost over.

In August this year, I flew to L.A. to begin recording my album. While in L.A., I was suddenly besieged by multiple sources of significant stress; health, financial, responsibility. Where most healthy people would be able to continue with their lives, my body's reaction was instead pronounced. The muscles in my upper body, shoulders and neck all responded by tensing up as hard as possible. This included the muscles in my throat, and I was no longer able to sing. I saw a wonderful ENT specialist in L.A., and extended my stay by two weeks in the hope that I'd recover and be able to record my songs, but I didn't recover and the recording had to be postponed indefinitely.

Since then, I've reflected and analysed these past years since the programming period 10 years ago, and I've realised that my body in its current condition is unable to handle stress. If I'm to turn my life around, accomplish worthy goals and fulfil my dreams, I will need to cure my body and make it strong again.

Fortunately, I may have discovered the true nature of my ailment, and that makes it possible to repair my body. The healing has started and the future is beginning to look bright!

More later.

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4 Responses to “Resurrection. Part 1: The Beginning.”
  1. Keong says:

    Hope that you get well soon. Looking forward for your album release : )

    By the way, have you heard of Phiten titanium necklace? It is said that it has the ability to balance the positive and negative charges on your body when you weaer it, which is the caused of stress and muscle aching.

    I play regular badminton every week, and always have muscle pain problem on my back. I bought one X30 Phiten necklace on October, i find it helps to reduce my back pain. I have also talked to my physio therapist on this. They said that they don know for sure if it really works, but many of their patients are wearing it, some said it helps and some said otherwise.

    Anyway, if you are interested, below is the official dealer web-site in Japan. Hope that you will get well soon.
    http://www.phiten-store.com/products/index-6.html

  2. Ordman says:

    Have you tried some of those mental relaxation exercises? I know someone who saw a psychologist in Australia and found that doing those exercises gave him the ground to start recovery from anxiety or stress.

  3. Albert from Sydney says:

    Hi Gregory,
    I was was looking for " White People speking Mandarin" in YouTube and thru a series of links came to one of your youtubes...which lead me to you blog.
    At last after many years , I can put a name to your face !

    I like to share my thoughts about you medical condition, if I may.
    Since you didnt provide many details, Im only guessing using the little info you provided:-
    1. debilitating physical/physiological problem
    2. anti-depression medication
    3. muscles in my upper body, shoulders and neck responded by tensing up as hard as possible
    4.deemed to be psychosomatic in nature
    5.nobody understands it except those who have experienced it personally.
    6.was now in fear of it, or rather in fear of the terror that I would probably experience on the stage.
    7.I felt so tired, and more importantly to avoid the fear and the terror.
    8.symptoms are terrible and life changing.
    9 You feel exhausted and fatigued all day every day. You are unable to do anything that your responsibilities dictate should be done.

    To make a LONG story shory, I too suffered form something similar 5 years ago for about 2 year period and your symptoms seem to have a high degree of similarity
    ..AND I found out the cause despite the utter failure of 5 Western Doctors and 4 Chinese Medicine Doctors.
    It was one Chinese Medicine Doctor/ Naturopath who correctly diagnosed I was suffering from:

    1. Mineral deficiency cause by poor nutrient absorption
    2. Soy products was block my minerals
    3. I was deficient in Magnesium ( primarily) , Iron , Calcium and Zinc

    My Symptoms
    1. Depression (never had it in my life before), feeling hopelessness
    2. Panic Attacks
    3. Foggy mind, unclaer thinking , poor memory, irritable , easy to anger
    4. Muscular tension ( had to crack my back , neck 10 times a day)
    5. Teeth grinding whilst sleeping ( Bruxism)
    6. Tired
    7. Sleep disorders, cant fall asleep or wkae up 5 times a night
    8. Frequent urination, strange bladder sensations
    9. Cramps in leg

    I started researching Magnesium deficiencies, and read several books on this subect.

    Dr. Carolyn Dean ( Wester medicine doctor Naturopath)
    http://www.amazon.com/Magnesium-Miracle-Carolyn-Dean/dp/034549458X

    90% of western medcine doctiors are ignorant about this.
    The only people who know most are the western trained Naturopaths,
    Cuz western medicine doesnt emphasis food as medicine. They try to treat every ailment with drugs
    See what this US Doctors has to say about his colleagues
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GUWL1o2hSrs

    I am now 98% better !

    Magnesium has changed my life around massively, and since recoveringsome years back I have become a Magnesium EVANGELIST.
    I have been able to help improve the lives of many people who suffered from "mysterious"
    and ' incurable disorders"

    Eg
    a Tai Chi classmate who suffered Fibromyalgia Depression for 5 years...
    a guy who had Panic Attacks, and foggy mind , tiredness and stopped working for 3 months
    a guy who had Chronic Fatigue Sydndrome (CFS)and was getting the flu on off for 5 years ....
    a relative who suffered from slippped disc for 7 years ( improvement in 1 month)

    Since you say you have identified the cause of your trouble, I'm not sure if magnesium is the answer ...
    But if you some of the symptoms I have listed , you may like to try Magnsium

    Magnesium deficiency is common 50% peopl in USA are deficient, AND worst if:

    1. You drink a lot ( alcohol flushes Magnesium from Body)..all acholics are Magnesium deficient which expalins why most are depressed
    2. You dont eat green leafy veggies or nuts
    3. If you consume Soy milk ( contains phytates ) which block magnesium absorption ( Google this)
    4. If you drink tea too close to a meal ( tea block magnesium )
    5. Sweat excessively, which is why people often get cramps after a long run

    Please contact me if you need further info....
    I am VERY impressed by what you have achieved in HK and also doing programming at the same time
    ....and you Canto is better than mine !

    I'm also at your age group , in IT and am trying to learn Mandarin ...
    Best of Luck
    Albert Yap My facebook: facebook.com/fastfound

  4. Natasha says:

    Thank you for sharing your experience with us. It is very true that depression is still a taboo subject. I'm still hesitant to tell people that I had a mental illness. I only share with people who are close to me.

    Here is the link to an interesting article.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2010/aug/02/depression-mental-health-breakdown