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!