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Below is an excerpt from my book, "My Battle with Depression", published in 2002. Thank you for reading.
God Bless You.
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by Dr. Lai Fong Hwa -MBBS (Malaya) M. Psy. Med. (Malaya)
Consultant Psychiatrist - Penang General Hospital
I am greatly honoured to be given the privilege to write a few words of introduction for the author of this book.
I first met the author when she came to see me at the Penang General Hospital about 6 years ago. She was suffering from one of mankind’s most common emotional ailments: clinical depression.
Through these years of her treatment, I had witnessed not only her struggles and pain, but also her desire and willingness to understand and accept her illness. I also noted her uncompromising stand and strife in her battle to overcome her problem. Personally, I have been greatly encouraged to see the positive results of her recovery and continual personal growth these last few years.
Clinical depression, unlike normal sadness, is an illness, which causes the one who suffers to feel a sadness of an intensity unknown to others who have not experienced it. It has been with mankind since the beginning of human history. The ancient Greeks called it melancholia. Great men and women through the ages had come face to face and did many a great battle with this hideous fiend. Among them were John Bunyan, the author of Pilgrim’s Progress, Abraham Lincoln, Sir Winston Churchill, Mark Twain, the late Princess Diana Spencer and the late Tan Sri Eusoffe Abdoolcader.
Despite being present since time immemorial, clinical depression is still seldom recognized by us, much less treated. Much of the ignorance is due to the unwillingness of sufferers of depression to share their experience with others.
Therefore, I would like to state my great appreciation for the author’s courage as well as the support given her by her family and friends to come out into the open to share and speak about her experience with clinical depression. I sincerely believe that her sharing of her experiences in this book will be a great encouragement for those going through the same dark valley of depression and an eye opener for others who may have come across this monstrous chameleon in its various forms in our society today.
(taken from back cover of book)
"Irene's battle with depression is a story of determination and grace. She has shown that there is hope in darkness and grace in pain." - Dr. Chew Yu Gee
"I believe this book will be of great help to sufferers of depression and to those who wish to understand and care for these people. Furthermore, this is written from the perpsective of an Asian in her own context. We have many books on depression written from a western mindset. Here we see an account of one who struggles, finds help, and has freely opened herself with the hope that others can find help too." - Rev. Daniel Yaw (Grace Church)
When I first started writing this book in April 1997, it was merely to record my personal experience on paper in order to have a better perspective of my illness. In a way, it was a form of therapy. Initially, I meant it to be read only by my psychiatrist and some close friends and family members.
Of course, I am not medically qualified to write about depression and certainly some may even think it presumptuous of me to do so. But having personally suffered years of depression, knowing of others who are similarly afflicted and society’s general ignorance and misconceptions, the least I can do is write about my own painful experience and hope that this will help others understand more about the illness.
Surprisingly, I received very encouraging response from those who read my original draft, which has since then been revised more times than I care to count. This in itself, indicates my progress from the time I first wrote this book up to the present. As my health improved and I began to allow God to work in my life, the changes became more apparent and the subsequent revisions of this book reflected these positive changes in my life.
My own psychiatrist told me it would be a waste to keep it private as he felt other people would benefit from it. Two very close friends, who are themselves doctors, told me my book had helped them view depression from a more personal perspective rather than just a medical illness. One of them was of the opinion that impersonal medical definitions and jargon alone are not enough and that my "experiences from the heart", as he termed it, which are both personal and real, could be an effective, additional tool to help others through their pain.
It was their comments that prompted me to consider circulating my book more widely. I now also strongly believe that God wants me to use my experience to help others. Why then did He allow me to suffer so many years of pain and anguish? At this point of time, I may not see the whole picture, but in due time He will reveal all His plans to me.
He has promised in Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” If His plans are for my good, surely they can be used for the good of others as well.
So, if my writing can reach out and touch people, help them understand or even cause a sick person to seek help and be cured – that will be my reward and satisfaction. At least my own painful experience would not have been in vain.
I must point out again that I do not claim to be an expert on depression. I am merely recording my personal thoughts and experience. However, I do hope that whoever reads this will do so with an open mind and with a genuine desire to want to understand depression as an illness.
** To read the other chapters, please go to 'Next Page'. **
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