SPMind, Share Love, Share Experience, Live with Disease TOGETHER

During the disease progression, treatment and self-care may bring about anxiety and worry. Through the wealth of patients’ stories and articles of HA colleagues in “SPMind”, which revealed disease combating experience with courage and willpower, patients are encouraged to live with their diseases positively and smartly.

HA Colleagues

My Pride
Ex-mentally Ill Person
My Pride is a popular song sung by Joey Yung. It has a line “make me proud, make me smile” in the lyrics. In real life, the one who has made me proud and given me hearty laughs is my mother. My mother, though educated to Secondary 5 level only, knows a lot of things. She could type and has learned the English language but has been out of practice. Nevertheless, she is smarter than my father.
My mother was a salesperson at the clothing department of Yue Hwa Department Store and performed very well at work. She expected me to behave maturely and be as good at work. Life was hard for her as she had to work and take care of the family at the same time. She wanted me to share the responsibilities when I grew up. I have grown up now, but as I am living in a halfway house, I can hardly stay at home to help her with the housework. Besides, I am very active and love online games so much that I seldom help her out. She would want me to help but I rarely offer my assistance. I will help her more after I come out from the halfway house, though I am not good at housework and cooking. I want to do as much as I can, even if my mother does not need me to do that.
Since I was sick, my mother’s hair has grown whiter and whiter as time passed. I used to have a bad temper and quarreled a lot with my mother. Now we argue less frequently. I will avoid conflicting with her and try my best to make her happy.
Why am I proud of my mother? It is because my mother is so dedicated to the family that she has spent her life taking care of us. As a result, she has got a poor health and many illnesses. There are plenty of things that she is unable to do now. She cannot come to see me a lot at the hospital as she has to work, yet I feel the warmth of her love. She loves me more than she loves herself. I have nothing to be proud of, but comparing with my friends’ mothers, my mother’s love for me is something I can take pride in. You may think that my pride should come from personal achievements, academic qualifications or social status. However, there is nothing worth mentioning about my work and my social status. Although I have a university degree and I sometimes find a sense of success in my work, these do not give me any sense of pride. My mother has touched me deeply with her selfless love. This is something I am very proud of.
Ten Years Agreement
Ex-mentally Ill Person
Sam, I hope when you come out, you will have succeeded in quitting drinking. I hope your children, becoming lovelier and happier, will continue to make you proud. And more, your husband will become less anxious and more relaxed, so that he can enjoy mid-life, stay pleasant and calm, and pursue things that he wanted to have accomplished. In addition, your manic depressive disorder will be under control or even cured. I hope you will become stronger, holding on to your wishes and not be easily stricken. Besides, you will be sanguine and able to view things with a balanced state of mind. It is also my hope that you will have a deeper understanding of the Buddhist teachings. Everyone will be well-to-do and blissful, and can enjoy good health. By then, your mother will turn 90. She can go to the paradise she well deserves without grave sufferings and regrets.

I hope your family will stay close together, live in harmony and learn to approach challenges in a relaxed manner and a positive way. Be grateful and do not dwell in the past. Sometimes misfortune might be a blessing in disguise. Take it easy, let things take their natural courses and always be content with what you have.

Siu Ching's Diary
Siu Ching
Ex-mentally Ill Person
Time crept and I have suffered from mental illness for more than 10 years. Again and again, I stumbled and picked myself up, going in and out of the hospital five times. My journey to recovery has not been easy. Luckily, the mutual support between my patient peers and me has given me the will to go on.
I got psychosis in 2001. The doctor told me to suspend schooling for six months, but I finally gave up my studies as I had difficulties with handwriting under the influence of drugs. I failed to graduate.
My family underwent great changes at the same time. I moved out to live with my maternal grandfather and we took care of each other. At the beginning, I got a job as a government contract clerk. I also worked as a private tutor for an hour each day before going home for dinner. However, I could not perform my work when my health got worse. I then joined the Community Mental Health Link of Fu Hong Society, where I took part in their activities and worked as a volunteer. I felt happy. Then came a period of time during which I was very depressed and only longed for sleep. I could sleep for 18 hours a day. I lost my drive in life. At that time my grandpa passed away. With a social worker’s referral, I moved to the semi-privately run hostel of the Neighbourhood Advice-Action Council. People getting in there were all unhappy. They were from different backgrounds and had family problems of their own. Fortunately, the Phoenix Clubhouse, which provides rehabilitation services to mental patients, was just nearby. I went there to get job training everyday. After a year of training, I was referred by the Clubhouse to work as a part-time clerk at a private company in Causeway Bay. I felt good about being back to work after a long break. A sense of success came to me as I could contribute to society and tithe to the church.

Now I have left the hostel and am residing in a unit in a public housing estate. My journey to recovery has been long, taking 10 years to complete. I am very grateful to my doctor, the social worker at the hospital, social workers and staff of the Community Mental Health Link, as well as staff and the priest of the hostel. I am deeply obliged to my patient peers who have been supporting me all the way. Unlike ordinary people who spend most of their time on work, what I came across has enriched my life experience. Last, I hope every patient will cherish life, accept themselves as who they are and learn to create a better future for themselves.

Love self and live a new life
Lai San
Ex-mentally Ill Person

“Outside the window are lush bushes and green leaves. They greet people with smiling faces and care. Good deeds come from a good heart. Blessings and love bring warmth to the earth.” This is the poem I personally wrote to Tai Po Hospital as a present to them.
In April this year, all sorts of frustrating things, about work, family and relationships, happened to me. I was dealt a great blow and unfortunately, I got psychosis.
During the early days of hospitalisation, I did not want to eat and was put on a saline drip to obtain essential nutrients. I would unconsciously bang my head against the cabinets and speak incoherently. I even needed a nurse to bathe me.
I was emotionally unstable when I was in the hospital. The nurses kept me in bed or a chair when I got agitated and grumpy. After countless nights of tears, I began to pray to seek spiritual solace. At the same time, my father told me to extend my helping hands as a way to get along with other patients. I prayed a lot, and with what my father has taught me, I started to look at myself from the bright side. I came to know a lot of patient friends in the hospital and we supported each other.
There was a period of time when I was fed up with being asked by other patients when I could be discharged from hospital. I later found out that they asked because they cared.

With the care of the doctors and nurses, I gradually recovered after six electro-convulsive therapy treatments. When I was in the hospital, I reflected on the causes of my stress and planned my post-discharge life. For instance, as I realized that the greatest stress on me actually came from work, I decided to take some interest courses on painting and piano. I also planned to take a few months’ break before looking for a job. I once read an interview article on a celebrity who said it is better to do something you have a good grasp of than doing some arduous and fruitless things. I therefore decided to rebuild my self-confidence in the world of painting, piano playing and dancing. Besides learning something for personal interest, I thought about furthering my education and studying psychology.
The days in the hospital might be boring, but I took a positive approach in all kinds of things. For example, I was keen to join the occupational therapy and physical therapy sessions provided by the doctors. I took part in the colour filling and Chinese brush writing activities with a learning attitude. In order to let my family understand more about how I was doing, I kept a diary of things happening in the hospital. For instance, I wrote down some points from news articles, verses from books and interesting incidents in the hospital, and shared these with my family.
Perhaps because of my confidence in my religious faith and my strong will power, I have been willing to fully trust my family and to entrust my life to Lord. I also consider the nurses part of my family and do not have any doubt in them.
I want to thank the medical staff of Tai Po Hospital for taking care of me. I also thank my family and my boyfriend for supporting me all along, which has enabled me to recover soon. It is my sincere wish that all mental patients can learn to love themselves and live a new life.

Watch the World by Heart
Ho Ching Man
Occupational Therapist I

Sometimes we dare not to express ourselves, fearing that our ideas may not be agreed with by others. At a photography therapy session, “The Girl Who Gets Water” found a new perspective on hospitals. In her eyes, a hospital is no longer a boring or miserable place for treatment. From a new angle, it can be seen as a door facing the sun. The author of “Sun Bathing” was aroused by the clothes lying on a bench in a hospital. He was inspired to cherish sunshine and came to understand the truth about sharing with others. The therapy session might be a simple activity by itself, but it has inspired the patients to expand their creativity and allowed us to understand each other.

Be Happy
Ng Ka Yan
Occupational Therapist II
A smiling face is most easily recognisable in a crowd. In recent days I always find her at the Occupational Therapy Department. About a month ago, she was still looking sad, as if she was worrying about a lot of things. She refrained from sharing her thoughts with others and was always sitting alone at one side.
She, like many other patients, went through some very rough days. She was too occupied with work, preparing meals, doing housework and taking care of her children everyday. She never had a chance to think about what kind of life she wanted to live. Even after retirement, her life still focused on her children.
Not until she was admitted to hospital this time then she was able to have a chance to think about her own life. She began to actively participate in various recreational activities such as gardening, cooking and pottery making. She also picked up a favourite sport she used to practise - Qigong. She enjoyed each activity very much. She used to think only about her children and how to make their lives better. Now she would tell you she fully enjoys her days in the hospital. Not many people would have such an experience and feel like this. All I can say is that she is optimistic and, most importantly, she has come to understand that people need to have our own lives. Now she has already worked out a schedule for her post-discharge days!

Credit must definitely go to her for the great progress she has made within such a short period of time. She reminds us that we have to review and suitably adjust our lives to become happy and joyful.

Chim Chun Ho
Occupational Therapist II
Ah Yee is a 35-year-old housewife and new immigrant with a daughter. She lived a happy life until her husband died from illness seven years ago. Since then, her life has undergone significant changes.
The death of her husband has dealt Ah Yee a great blow. She was very depressed and subsequently got manic depressive disorder. Adding to her stress was the need to take care of her daughter. As a new immigrant, Ah Yee found herself in a strange environment and community. This apart, she was very annoyed and upset that her neighbours were spreading gossips and rumours about her.
During those years, she became very bad tempered and would severely scold her daughter when the illness struck. She felt gravely depressed every time she thought of her late husband or after a quarrel with her daughter. During the early days of hospitalisation, Ah Yee was emotionally unstable, failing to accept the death of her husband and worrying about her daughter who was studying Secondary 1. She was particularly anxious about her daughter’s academic performance and personal conduct, and whether she would go astray under bad peer influences. Ah Yee told people that she had spent all her time on looking after and teaching her daughter. She could not afford to lose her daughter as she is the only person close to her.
Like many other housewives, Ah Yee has been dedicated to her family and daughter, spending half her life taking care of them. These housewives’ dedication and contribution to their families deserve our respect and appreciation. However, for a long time they have single-mindedly focused on their families and neglected other aspects of life, such as socialising with friends or pursuing personal interest. They do not know how to relieve the pressure on them. One day when their children grow up, they will feel empty and lonely.
In rebuilding Ah Yee’s life, she and I reviewed her past schedule to help her understand that taking care of her daughter is an important part but not all of her life. I suggested her to join the activities organised by the rehabilitation centre for mental patients after her discharge from hospital, so that she can develop her interest and meet more people in the community. Ah Yee took the initiative to go to church where she made a lot of new friends. She also joined the parent-teacher association of her daughter’s school and worked as a volunteer. Early after hospital discharge, Ah Yee always felt tired and did not have enough time to do things. It turned out that she jam packed her days with various tasks, with the hope to improve her life as soon as possible. In doing so, she actually exerted more pressure on herself and made herself exhausted. I therefore reset a more reasonable schedule with Ah Yee to spread out her daily activities. Ah Yee worked according to the new schedule and subsequently made improvements, getting her life back on track.

A balanced lifestyle can help us relieve stress and make our personal developments more dynamic, allowing us to unleash our talents in different areas. Whether you are a youngster, a working folk or a full-time mother, you can always find greater satisfaction and meaning in a balanced mode of life.

Exit of Soul
Leung Wai Ting
Occupational Therapist II
As time goes by, are you tired of your life?
Are you tired of facing a heavy workload and people of all kinds everyday?
Why not go out and walk away from the hustle and bustle?
And run about on the green meadow,
And swim and surf in the blue sea at the beach.
When you look back, all those things are not important anymore.
Leung Wai Ting
Occupational Therapist II

How are you? How have you been these days? Are you getting used to things there?

I still remember the first time we met. You were filling colour. It was a simple task but you seemed to use up all your energy to complete it. You were not incapable of doing it, just that you had developed stiffness in hands and feet after taking the drugs, which made it difficult for you to hold a colour pencil. Despite the stiffness in hands and feet and poor concentration, you did not give up but insisted on completing the daily training.

Your conditions gradually improved over time. During our discussions on hospital discharge arrangements, you were actively involved and very cooperative. I understood that you looked forward to leaving the hospital. Your thinking was to find a job and take care of yourself, so that your parents do not have to worry about you. At the beginning you unrealistically insisted on doing things beyond your capability. I worried about you when you had problems at work or hampered some irrational thoughts. Whenever I offered my suggestions, you were very resistant and clang tightly to your own ideas. I was pleased that after several heart-to-heart talks, you finally started to listen to others.

We set different objectives every time we met. You actively participated in the training and worked step-by-step towards the objectives. Seeing you smile more often, I firmly believed that your efforts were worth it.

Although you have been discharged from hospital for quite a while, I always think of your smile when I am at work. This keeps me motivated to work and to help other patients.

How are you now? Are you working hard to pursue your ideals? Hope you will live a life you want in the near future!

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